I am a deeply superficial person. – Andy Warhol
As a lad in Pittsburgh, I studied art at the Carnegie Institute under Joseph C. Fitzpatrick, a hardy Irishman who called girls lasses, boys lads and Guinness angel piss. (Okay, I made the Guinness part up, but two of the three claims are true.) He was Andy Warhol’s former instructor, for 15 minutes or 15 years, whichever is longer. In spite of all the excitement, distractions and circus atmosphere that defined the college scene of Pittsburgh’s Oakland district in the late 1960s, Mr. Fitzpatrick provided fundamental training in drawing and painting that was as solid as the cinder block wall of the Ryan Home in which I lived, and he taught me that an artist doesn’t need shock to create awe.
Everybody knew who Warhol was. We’d read the papers and seen his work around town and at the Carnegie International art exhibition, but Fitzpatrick’s message was: Yes, we may paint like a pop artist, but no, we may not paint like a pop artist yet. He wanted us to learn how to run before we could walk, and walk before we could crawl. Make it until you fake it. Talk it like you walk it. Lay it as you play it. Grow it as you crow it. And don’t take no wooden pickles in the process. They’re too hard to process.