Art Student League with Ricky, Alex, Max and Grace. A day of firsts.

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Philadelphia 30th Street Station, photo Martin L.

Philadelphia 30th Street Station, photo Martin L.


My daughter Grace and my friend and great artist Ricky Mujica

My daughter Grace and my friend and great artist Ricky Mujica

Grace (my daughter) and I caught the 7:15AM train to NYC last Saturday.  We met my friends Ricky Mujica and Alex Haskel for some all day painting at the Art Students League.

Alex Haskel decided to draw instead of painting that day.

Alex Haskel decided to draw instead of painting that day.

Every Saturday at the ASL there’s a live model and anyone can come and paint or draw for $12.00.  Grace tagged along to take photos and hang out with us.  She had never met my friends Ricky and Alex before.  She has, however, heard me talk about them enough.  Actually, Alex and Ricky had never met before either.

The Art Students League

The Art Students League courtesy of Jim Hendrix

When you first get to the ASL you need to sign in.  The first one to sign up gets first pick of an easel and then the second and so on.  The earlier you come the better your spot will be.  We got there just after 9:00 AM.  I at least got a spot next to Ricky.  Here was another first.  I have never actually painted with Ricky before.  He’s literally critiqued every painting I have made in the last 2 years, but only in cyberspace.  Alex came at noon and luckily got a spot drawing in the chairs in front of us.


Ricky’s good friend and old high school teacher, Max Ginsberg, was painting in a class upstairs.  I found it sort of funny that he would be taking a class.  I always say you should never stop learning.

Ricky and I painting side by side.

Ricky and I painting side by side.

Painting with Ricky is unlike painting with any other friend or teacher I have ever known.  It was great but he will call you on everything and anything he thinks is not a good idea.  Which is terrific!


Great Eye Opening Tips on Painting From Ricky:
  1. He made me use one of his big brushes.  I think it was a 6 or an 8 round.  It was really big!  I understand from Max Ginsburg it’s also Max’s favorite.
  2. He pulled me way back from my easel–far enough back that I could clearly see my entire canvas and the model at the same time.  I could exactly reach my canvas with the tip of my brush.
  3. He would only let me paint one stroke at a time.  I had to remix my paint with every stroke.  Now this was VERY hard to do.
  4. He must have told me 37 times to take more chances.  Jeez, I don’t think anyone has ever told me I need to take more chances before.  It was great to hear.
  5. He kept telling me to squint.  Now this is something I do a lot, but I guess not often enough.

I must admit all these little tips helped me find my way to the next level of painting for me.


Shelli Alford is an artist and author, who enjoys learning from master oil painters from around the world and reviewing their classes, workshops and demonstrations.

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