Jack Potter: “I want a full meal, not a nibbly snack!”

By guest author Daniel Zalkus

When I first stepped foot into Jack Potters class, back in 1997, it was intimidating. Jack, with his bald head and strong voice, had us draw with a “big punchy pencil” on white paper.


The focus was on shape and composition. He wanted us to interpret what we saw rather than draw it as accurately as possible.


There was great energy in the room and much of it had to do with his enthusiasm for his students and the work they were doing.


Jack would find his models at flea markets or anywhere he could during his daily routine. He sought out models that he felt had a certain look that would make our drawings better.


Sometimes he’d have his models pose by themselves but usually he’d put them in some sort of scene. Maybe two models at a table watching television. Or a few models set up to look like a murder scene.


Whatever it was he wanted us to draw the entire composition, get us seeing the shapes and the big picture.

Towards the end of class he’d take one or two drawings, tape them to the wall and give a talk. I remember him telling a student “I want a full meal, not a nibbly snack!” and another time he compared the good in a drawing to MSG in Chinese food.


He was a serious artist but also had a sense of humor. He told us that he became a “caricature” because of his students. He spoke in an exaggerated manner because he felt that he had to be clear when pointing out an idea.


At times he’d also do “diagram” drawings to show us what he felt could be better in our work. The wall talks helped me grasp a visual example of what he was verbally talking about. He gave his all and did his best (in his words) to “push us up the mountain.”

Concluded tomorrow...

* Daniel Zalkus is a freelance illustrator, graduate of the School of Visual Arts and loves to wear plaid. To see samples of his artwork please go to www.zalkus.com

* My Jack Potter Flickr set

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