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Interview with Leila McConnell, conducted by Sarah C. Reynolds.

Always an artist

When I was a senior in high school I went to the Museum of Fine Arts and took Robert Joy’s class. I was 16 years old and very silly—going to teas and coffees every Saturday—so I don’t really remember my experience with him, but I did take his class. Anything I wanted to do—sewing, whatever—my mother would see that I had the supplies to do it. People ask, “When did you start [painting]?” and I say, “I never did start. I just always took it.” I guess I’ve never thought of myself as anything else [but an artist]. There’s a point when you’re in school and studying and everything—you know, sometimes people are perpetual students—and they’ve never decided that they are an artist or a painter and somehow or another it has to click in your head that you’re through with school and you know what you’re doing—that you’re not dependent on anybody else for what you do. I think I always had it!

We came to Houston when I was six, and I was at Montrose Elementary School in the first grade. We had done some watercolor paintings on old yellow paper—all sort of pink and blue—and the teacher put them up on the blackboard. Then one day she was pointing out something and she pointed to one of them, which was mine, and said it was somebody else’s. And I said, “No—it’s mine.” She said no. It was the first time that I had ever encountered injustice. And I am still painting what I call sky paintings, so I don’t know if that’s related or not, but I think it may be.

I never really liked anybody who painted on my paintings or touched them, and Frances Skinner (at the Museum school) would work on people’s paintings, just to show them what the painting needed or something; a few strokes or something like that. But I never wanted anybody to do that to my painting. It was mine. I certainly wondered what I would do if she tried it with me, and she never did.

Blue painting

By Leila McConnell, 1961. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

Student days

I studied architecture at Rice. I would have studied art if they had had an art department, but I studied architecture and never regretted it because I thought it was a really good background for art also. And Mr. [James] Chillman was my greatest influence. He taught freehand drawing where you draw with charcoal and you’re looking at plaster casts—what you’re doing is you’re learning to see realistically. And I remember one day crying because it was so hard, and you know, he could be very kind but he was the professor. He was a friend in a way, but he was [also]the teacher. Then I had art history, architecture history, watercolors, design and freehand drawing, all from Mr. Chillman. I consider him the greatest influence on me as far as taste and design sense—things like that. He was half the time at Rice and half the time as head of the Museum.

I graduated in ’48-’49, a B.A. then a B.S. in architecture. And I had taken a year off in 1946, just because it was so intense, you know. My background at Rice was very realistic and I could paint anything I could see, so that’s the way I started out. In 1949 I visited the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco for the summer term. I had planned to go to Stanford, and when I got out there I thought, “This looks just like what I’ve been doing at the Museum—the work I saw there.” So then I visited the California School of Fine Arts and boy—it was built around a courtyard—and they were having a student show and the paintings that I saw there were abstract, and I thought, “This is where I need to be.” All the famous California painters and teachers were there. Mark Rothko came out for the summer term and I painted some apples—a white background and green and red apples—and he said, “Why don’t you do another painting and abstract that?” I said, “What do you mean?” And he said, “Well, do flat patterns of color.” So that’s what I did. I did another painting, and I’ve still got those two paintings. That experience of just those couple of months was what I wanted and needed to shake me up a little bit.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
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Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
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Source:  OpenStax, Houston reflections: art in the city, 1950s, 60s and 70s. OpenStax CNX. May 06, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10526/1.2
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