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His collection of beautiful vases, many hand-painted, lined the fireplace mantle in the living room and shelves in the dining room windows. Even the dining room table bore the burn marks of his cigarettes and small streaks of varnish from his brushes. Several of his Japanese-inspired painted screens were scattered throughout the house as well. Even out in the yard were the rose beds he had tended and the old grape vines that still grew in the arbor. As I recall, nearly everything in the house and the yard seemed to have some link to my grandfather.


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There was, of course, his studio, a large one-room building that stood next to the house. That studio was kept locked except when my aunt Constance Forsyth was home in the summers and used it for her own studio.

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That was when I was allowed in. Packets of his pigments were in the cupboards along the north wall, and on top of those cupboards under the large north windows were sculpted heads by my grandfather, as well as jars full of his paint brushes, pallet knives, and many other tools. There were even a couple of his painted screens used as room dividers in the studio. An unknown error has occurred.

Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Forsyth: The Life and Work of an William J. No cover image. Read preview. Synopsis Closely associated with artists such as T. Excerpt William Forsyth was my grandfather. Read preview Overview. Cora Crane: A Biography of Mrs. Notes, Vol. This is a precursor of how his daughter Constance Forsyth , an artist in her own right, summed up his career: "Perhaps his most outstanding characteristic was his independence. He painted what he wanted to paint and in the way he wanted to paint it.

He preferred to work in his own way, regardless of what other artists were exploiting in the way of styles and fads. He was never the kind of artist that followed theories or intellectual ideas about what or how to paint. He very early, before studying abroad, developed his own brush technique which varied very little over the years. Even though the general look of his work changed over periods of time, that same technique was still there. Another letter foretells his future involvement with a group of artists whose goal would be to interpret a particular region "in all the varying moods that are its charm" to the world at large: "Love Hoosierdom?

Misc. Monday: William J. Forsyth’s Irvington Connections

I should think so, there's many a woodland nook and breezy field and quiet brookside that is consecrated ground to me. Forsyth finished his studies in the spring of but stayed in Europe another two years, sharing a studio with J.


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Ottis Adams , who would also later be called one of the Hoosier Group. Growing tired of the commute, the two opened their own school in Muncie, where Adams was living, in the fall of , where he became the teacher of well-known American Impressionist painter Francis Focer Brown , and his wife Beulah H. But Forsyth left after the spring term of to live again in Indianapolis. Here he joined Steele, and became a principal instructor in Steeles Indiana School of Art, which was located on the circle. Steele resigned in , but Forsyth stayed on to teach both day and evening classes until June , when the school was torn down to make way for an expansion of the English Hotel.

It was during this period that the exhibition of the works of Forsyth, Steele, Otto Stark , and Richard Gruelle at the Denison Hotel attracted the attention that led to the Hoosier Group exposition in Chicago, which also included works by Adams. The attention given to this exhibition, and the mood that had created it, led to his joining together with Steele, Adams, and fifteen other Midwestern artists to form the Society of Western Artists in He remained a member until it disbanded in and participated in its annual shows which were held all around the Midwest in order to guarantee the artists a place to show, and thus sell, their works each year.

As he had in Europe, Forsyth always reserved a few weeks in the summer in which to travel and paint with friends. In he brought along two of his sisters, and one of his pupils, Alice Atkinson. Chances are he brought his sisters along so that he could ask Alice to come too. The trip that year was to a friend's childhood home, a farm along the Ohio River near Brandenburg, Kentucky.

When the time for painting wound down in the fall, William and Alice made their way up river to Louisville where they were married at the Grace Episcopal Church in Louisville on October 14, They returned to the farm for their honeymoon, and winter had set in before they made their way back to Indianapolis.

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With the art school closed, Forsyth began offering classes on his own during the winter and spring months and painting in various places in Indiana and Kentucky during the summer. Three daughters were born all buried in the family plot with their mother and father and grandparents , Dorothy in , Constance in , and Evelyn in To provide the family with a more country feel all year round, he moved his family in the spring of from Fletcher Avenue to 15 South Emerson, which was then in the tiny college town of Irvington with its winding wooded streets and Butler University campus.

He attached a studio to the house and planted many gardens of flowers, eternally frustrated that his roses would never grow quite right. In the fall of that year he joined the faculty of the Herron School of Art , replacing his friend J. Ottis Adams as the principal instructor of drawing and painting.

The school had recently outgrown its beginnings in what had been an old house Steele had lived in at 16th and Pennsylvania, and had just moved into its new building at the same site. It was to be a long association, one from which his former students recalled him both as a fiery, sometimes tactless and sarcastic teacher, and as their lifelong friend and encourager. In , when the economic pressures of the Depression led the school's administrator to let him go, along with daughter Constance, Paul Hadley, and five other teachers, the student's protested by hanging an effigy of the director from one of the trees on the campus.

Forsyth, though well into his seventies, had not been prepared for his abrupt dismissal from Herron, emotionally or financially. He received a commission for some Public Works Administration pieces for the Indiana State Library , two of which now hang on the fourth floor of the Indiana State Museum. His daughters Dorothy and Constance contributed financially, and Alice tried to make do with less. In February , he experienced a heart attack. Never recovering completely, he would sit outdoors as much as possible, surrounded by his family, friends, and flowers, and try to do a little painting each day.

William J. Forsyth : the life and work of an Indiana artist in SearchWorks catalog

On March 29, , he finally succumbed to kidney failure. In , Forsyth had varied his usual summer schedule to supervise the painting of 33 murals throughout the Indianapolis City Hospital. He himself painted a large landscape for the entrance hall, while he enlisted Steele, Stark, Adams, and eleven other Hoosier artists to do works in other parts of the building, including many gaily painted scenes of childhood stories for the Children's Ward. All of them worked for house painter's wages, and while Steele and Adams had provided works from their studios in southern Indiana, several of the artists lived at the hospital while executing their murals.


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Forsyth, in his essay entitled "Art in Indiana," written for the state's centennial, was perhaps the best spokesman for this Hoosier group of artists and the following could easily serve as his epitaph:.