This weekend one of my best and favorite teachers, Rob Anderson, passed away. I can’t begin to describe the sadness I feel for losing his presence to the world.
I met Rob nearly a decade ago, when, starving for the knowledge of how to draw stuff-that-looks-like-stuff, I began a serious study of life drawing at the Atelier School of Classical Realism. For 4 years, every other Saturday except during summer, Rob taught us how to visually describe the human body. I learned, slowly at first, then in leaps and bounds. Those days were long, exhausting, and exhilarating.
I couldn’t have had a better teacher in that time and place. Rob was kind, patient, and careful, yet could kick butt when he thought you were slacking. He showed me how to slow down; look closely; and really observe what I was drawing. He imparted his love of portraits. He taught me that drawing class isn’t a competition; we’re all just where we need to be.
And it wasn’t just drawing skills he gave me. Oddly, I also came away from that period of study with something else: more confidence. An assurance that traveled with me from the easel into other areas of my life. I’m grateful to him for those value-added skills.
I once told him that nearly every time I pick up a pencil or a brush, I hear him behind me, saying, “Did you measure the width of that leg? What about the angle of that arm as it supports the head? Are your proportions accurate? Is that really what you’re seeing, or are you making it up?” And the weekly exhortation: “Go Darker!”
He arched his eyebrow when I told him that and he said, “Well, do you listen?”
Yes, I do listen. I haven’t seen Rob in a few years, yet I still hear his voice. I wish that I could have studied with him once more, but I think he left me with a lot that I’m only yet beginning to internalize. I’ll miss him, but I’ve got his lessons in my head and hands.
Dear Readers, if there’s someone you want to connect with, to study with, to learn from, to mentor, be friends with: do it now. You know why.
To see some of Rob’s beautiful work: