Meridian Star

Life

February 23, 2014

French painting for art class at Meridian Activity Center    

MERIDIAN — People are often intimidated by the idea of a painting class. “I can’t even draw a straight line!” some may say.

    That’s no reason not to paint if you have a chance to watch Mike French at work – which he did this past week at Meridian Activity Center. There are no straight lines in his portraits.

    Mike studied art with Homer Casteel at Meridian Community College, as did other members of the painting group at the center. Anyone who was in one of Casteel’s classes knows what it was like learning from Homer, he taught so much in so short a time and if you didn’t get it quickly he was down your throat just as fast! He certainly had a temper, but most of it was bluster. Of course, this is mostly from memory. But practically all the fundamentals of art I learned in his classes. He set a seed in many of his students.

    French worked about 20 years at the White House painting and repainting the walls (he painted the oval office four times!) After returning to Meridian, he began his serious painting study again with local artist Greg Cartmell.

    French will occasionally give a demonstration for Peggy Harmon’s painting class at the Meridian Activity Center. In portraiture, he feels it is really better to work from a live model rather than a photograph, because with a photo you are just copying a photograph. The entire time he is painting, French is talking to the class about paints, colors — the "in nominate" color, the three magic colors: orange, purple and green.

    “I can teach you all I know in 10 minutes,” he told us. “But the real skill is in practice, practice, practice.” His paintings can be seen at The Atrium in north Meridian.

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