WILLIAM UTTERBACK (1931
William Utterback truly embodied the idea of a mentor. Anyone who has shared
the privilege of his influence is fortunate.
Bill studied at the Chicago
Academy of Fine Arts before going on to study with Joseph Henninger at The
Art Center in the 1940s, when art schools still taught traditional drawing
and painting. Best known as a pioneer illustrator for Playboy in
the 1970's, Bill was also the official illustrator for Chicago’s Second
City drama group (their building lobby is wallpapered with his work), and
a great portrait painter. I had the privilege of knowing Bill as a committed
mentor and a great guy.
I always valued Bill's selfless approach to teaching and painting. Bill gave
of his time almost without limit, because he wanted to. From our first weeks through his final days,
Bill would call me up with a new revelation about painting, and we would talk for an hour about
edges in painting.
I first met Bill as an undergraduate student at Wheaton College. I wandered into
the local DuPage Art League, where
our mutual interests in caricature and portraiture drew us together. The lessons I learned
were invaluable and filled in some voids in my understanding
of drawing and painting at the time. I learned the importance of a background,
how to use a mirror, and began the discipline of painting from life. I gained
insight into the long and tedious work to which a career artist is dedicated.
Bill introduced me the writings of Andrew Loomis, the work of John Singer Sargent, and constantly encouraged me to capture the effect of light in my own painting.
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