Working with the belief that at age 77 his best painting will be done tomorrow, Marshall Bouldin is passing on his evolving painting techniques and traditions to his son Jason. But their painting relationship is far from being master and student. Instead, each criticizes and appreciates the other?s talent. And while Marshall taught Jason to paint, he also says, ?I learn from Jason all the time. I always ask him, ?How did you do that?? I feel as if I?ve made tremendous strides lately that are largely due to understanding some of the things Jason does, especially in terms of handling my paint and the way I put it on the canvas.?
?Since I was a boy, my brothers and I all painted little projects in the studio,? says Jason, the youngest of four sons. ?Dad encouraged us to be around the studio; he never barred us from coming in. It was always a creative place to be. I learned as much by osmosis—just being around my father and in this space—as I did from my more formal instruction.?
Jason started his college career by taking science courses. But after his freshman year, he was ready to commit more fully to art, and went on to major in art history at Harvard. His studies were balanced with painting in the studio under his father?s tutelage during his summer breaks.
The techniques Jason learned from his father have been finely honed. Marshall has been painting professionally for 43 years. ?The only thing I ever wanted to be was an artist,? says Marshall. To that end, he won a scholarship to The Art Institute of Chicago after high school. ?It was the early 1940s,? he says. ?The impressionist school was pretty much on top, and abstraction was just coming into power.? Marshall, however, wanted to be the next Norman Rockwell. ?And that was just the worst thing they could think of at school.?
?The nicest thing about having an artist father is that we as a family, and dad and I in particular, have always had a very good relationship,? says Jason. ?Our painting relationship is based on the familial relationship. It helps that our aesthetic choices are so similar, and that we choose to paint the same things. We have the same goals.
?Our criticism comes with a bit of understanding of how hard it is, how much it hurts to tell somebody that the thing he?s been working on for two days needs to be changed,? he continues. ?We?re able to support each other sympathetically.? In particular, they discuss ?things we?re trying to come to grips with compositionally and value-wise, color choices, even just drawing. It?s nice to rely on a fresh set of eyes to help with that, and nice to know I?ve got somebody in my corner.