Painting With Self-Assuredness

Henry eyes a subject with the longing not to recreate a scene, but to change it. “The first thing that comes to mind when I approach a subject is ‘How can I make it different than it is,’ ” he says. His paintings are more about his ideas and his reaction to a scene than physical reality. And he preaches this principle to his students: “I see my students struggling with shapes, trying to find the courage to change things around. Too often, they get fascinated by the little things that are before them,” he says. “I say, ‘Let the big shapes count. The little things will take care of themselves.’ If you need something, suggest it. You don’t have to paint every brick on the wall, when two bricks will do.”

One of the ways Fukuhara encourages his students to focus on big shapes is by encouraging them to paint with a large brush. “I look at what they have, tell them to pick out the largest, and put the others aside,” he says. Fukuhara himself uses a 1 1/2-inch synthetic Grumbacher brush he’s had for 20 years for “90 percent of my painting.” grumbacher no longer makes that particular brush, but Fukuhara has no plans to replace his. “The great thing about synthetic brushes is they don’t wear out like sables,” he says.

Contributing editor Mark Gottsegen is an associate professor of art at the Univer-sity of North Carolina at Greensboro and the author of The Painter’s Handbook (Watson-Guptill).

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