Memories

Sam played the trumpet but would never toot his own horn. Humble to a fault, he seldom shared his personal work or talked about himself. Did you know Sam? What memories do you have of him?

15 Responses

  1. My favorite Sam story: I had taken his drawing class in graduate school at Marywood and gotten to know him. He asked me what I was going to do after I graduated. I told him I was going back home to upstate NY. He said, “You mean Yonkers?” Still cracks me up. Best drawing teacher I ever had. He will be missed.

  2. The first summer I taught at Marywood in the “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA Sam wasn’t there. It was the first summer he wasn’t, due to health concerns. What struck me is how adoringly everyone spoke of him and I looked forward to meeting him. What I wasn’t prepared for, when we did meet the following summer, is how funny he was. We taught together that first week in the program for the next dozen years.

    Soon after I began teaching the History of Graphic Design in addition to the studio course, and I was still getting my footing teaching a lecture class. I would begin my lecture, and a student would raise their hand and ask, “Are you going to cover Raymond Loewy?” Since I hadn’t planned to, I was caught off guard. The next day another student raised their hand and asked, “Are you going to cover Norman Bel Geddes?” Again, I was thrown. It was only after the third day the students confided to me after class that Sam was feeding them the questions.

    I miss the laughter, I miss his intelligence, his insights, and warmth. I miss Sam, a truly wonderful human being I have had the honor of knowing.

  3. I studied with Sam 37 years ago at the School of Visual Arts. He has always been a huge influence on my career. I have written articles and given presentations about my work that always begin with the story of my first art teacher, Sam Martine.

    I first met Sam when I was attending his evening Illustration classes at the School of Visual Arts. At that time, I had not taken any formal art classes in life drawing, painting nor composing, but Sam encouraged me to keep at it. Later, I was incredulous when he advocated for me to jump ahead and attend his Drawing and Illustration Portfolio classes with 4th year students. This was what I refer to as my “Lucky Break”. I attended these classes with Sam for several years. I felt so fortunate for the opportunity to learn under this inspiring, generous and well-respected teacher and to be counted among his students. My study coincided with what was a dark time in my life personally, and these classes at SVA soon became my anchor. It was here that I would learn the valuable lessons that have lasted a lifetime, inspiring me with the confidence I needed to take my life back and commit myself to my journey in art.

    Years ago, when my professional career blossomed, I reached out to Sam to share my excitement and to honor the start that he gave me.

    Here are a few of the things Sam influenced that I still hold dear:

    – Always practice drawing from life (sometimes he would write “Rusty” on my sketchbook if he saw I was not keeping up with it)!

    – Go to museums and see art in person. (It was Sam who suggested I go to Brandywine Museum and see the work of Howard Pyle and NC Wyeth and who introduced me to the incredible work of Sorolla at an IBM Exhibit – all important influences on me to this day.)

    – Sam recommended the answer to the requests of friends or family members regarding ideas for birthday or Christmas presents to his students should be “art books”. At almost 62, I now have a HUGE collection!

    Thank you for putting together this website and for giving Sam the attention he deserves. At last I get to see his wonderful work! Despite my requests for him to bring his artwork into class, he never would. He wanted to make the teaching about the student.

    I remember his deep humility and his valuable lessons like it was yesterday. Without his encouragement and inspiration, I might never have had a career in art. I will always feel both tremendously grateful and indebted to him for that and will never forget to tell my story without my “Lucky Break”.

  4. I met Sam in 1981 or 82. He had one of the best drawing classes at SVA. Quiet and thoughtful it was Sam who looked at my paintings and my drawings and said to me, “You work two different ways… you paint and then you draw… why don’t you just paint your drawings?” It was an eye opener and I never looked back.

    He also gave me a piece of odd advice one spring when a bunch of my friends wanted me to go to Europe to draw and paint. He told me not to go. He knew me well and told me that if I went to France or Germany I would probably get so visually over loaded that I wouldn’t draw or paint. He said… don’t go yet. go later. I think he was right.

    He was a great talent and loved to teach. When I draw or paint I think of five people…. Robert Weaver, Marshall Arisman, Jack Potter, Gil Stone and Sam. I feel so sad about his leaving this world. It was a much better place with him teaching so many so much.

    mp

  5. Sam was my drawing instructor when I was a student at the “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA program at Marywood University. It had been a while since I had a drawing class, so my nerves were a bit heightened. Sam made me feel very comfortable. His approach to teaching was so genuine and supportive. At the last day of class, he had everyone layout their drawings from the entire time in the class. He had us hang them on the walls anywhere in the room. I placed all of mine together in a cluster. When it was my time to get feedback from Sam, he said, “wait, are these yours?”, I said yes sir…. oh, well I am going to change your grade then. I had a perplexed look on my face. He smirked and showed me what he had as his initial grade for me, but after looking at all of them together, he had changed it from a B+ to an A. I was floored. He then took the time to tell me what it was that made him change his mind. He wanted me to know what I had done that made it improve. I so appreciated his wonderful way of teaching. I will never forget him. It was his class that I also first met my husband, so I will also always be grateful to Sam for that as well!

  6. I graduated SVA – well, more than 40 years ago – several teachers had left impressions on me that touched me deeply as a person. Sam was a wonderful influence, his spontaneity his creativity was alive, and at the same time it brought out the best in my attitude and love for art. Sam fit so well in the structure of education at SVA – and I can safely say the best – the very best instructors teach at SVA – Sam was one who helped create that atmosphere.
    Thank you Sam
    With deep respect
    James Sarfati

  7. Sam did not teach me or any of us to draw.

    All of us came to SVA with skills and talents. Instead, what Sam taught us to do was to see—to see what was right there in front of us, instead of what we thought we were seeing. I still tell stories of my classes with him, like when after a solid three hours of drawing he would have us hang our sketches along the wall, and he would always have a piece of tracing paper handy to lay over a drawing, and with a few confident strokes, would draw the lines that tied it all together. Whether it was a forceful line to show where the weight and strain was on a weight-bearing leg, or a barely perceptible line to hint at the form or structure of something, he had a gift for showing the way without too heavy a hand. He showed us the way.

    He never used a lot of words to convey his wisdom, and it would often manifest in the form of a scribbled word like “form” or “shape” that, out of context, would look like nothing but the obvious was being taught, but those scribbly, stoic moments were life-changing.

    Often when I draw with my children, I catch myself in a Sam Martine moment as I help them to discard the stock images in their minds in order to see what is already there.

    Thank you Sam, for teaching me to see.

  8. We called them “the Sam tapes,” the instructions he repeated until they slipped from being embedded in your brain to being native to your hand. I haven’t seen Sam since I graduated in ’78, but after spending 4 years with him as often as 5 days a week, his mastery of the medium became his everlasting gift to me. Rest In Pencils sifu.

  9. Sam was my drawing instructor at SVA (class of ’86), taking his class several semesters over the course of my time there. After I graduated I could still hear his voice in my head whenever I drew. Many years later the voice has become mine, but the words and phrasing are still his. I can still remember his reassuring presence as he stood behind me assessing my art.

    The art world will be a little less richer with the loss of Sam.

    Thank you Sam for what you gave me. Your memory will live on in all the students you touched over the years.
    Michele

  10. This news of Sam holds such sorrow. To think back on his wonderful class, was a space that lifted me with the joys I found in drawing, on occasion when we drew next to him was also very informative for he was the only instructor who would draw with us during the entire class while he taught. I think there was something to his nature, a unique ability to teach and explain the practical skills of how to draw which resonated so well, where very quickly your work appeared professionally executed, for me that was his magic. I use techniques I learned from Sam to this day. There were no better teachers you could be lucky enough to have at SVA in the early eighties as Sam Martine and Jack Potter. I was fortunate to have both. Each so different from one another.

    I few artists I remember back then, Joice Ramondo, Andrew Castrucci, Michael Paraskevas, Mark Johnston, Larry Jackson, in some of those drawing classes. I even taught drawing in my twenties and used all my knowledge from his course thanks to Sam. I think he even told me once “Anyone can learn to draw, anyone because it is a skill.” His class was a place I knew belonged because of his warm nature, easy going know-how and simply he was a very nice guy. I felt so comfortable in his class and years later, I went back to SVA for live model classes offered alumni to keep up my craft as an artist, I often would think of Sam’s lessons while I drew. I have him to thank for my love of drawing. I’m deeply saddened by this news of his loss, Sam you are surely missed!

  11. I forget how I met Sam but I’m glad I did. It was my first year directing the Marywood Program and I needed a life drawing teacher. I really didn’t know Sam but his reputation preceded him. Sam became one of the most valuable assets of the Marywood Program. The students and the faculty thought very highly of him. The students all talk about how much he helped them improve.

    I also had the opportunity to meet up with him in France where he introduced us to an incredible restaurant in Cannes and then the following night we sat around and had a great conversation at his apartment.

  12. I was lucky to have taken Sam’s illustration class in my junior year at Pratt. Sam was great– laid back, wry, resplendent in a uniform of a light blue denim shirt and jeans, silver hair, deep tan. I always said that if fine Corinthian leather was a person it would have been Sam Martine. He was the Ricardo Montalbán of the Pratt Illustration Department. Sam challenged me as an artist and made me a better illustrator. When I was asked to write a book on illustration, Sam was among those whom I contacted to participate. I was truly honored when he did. I will forever owe Sam a debt of gratitude– I’ve been illustrating professionally since 1988 and teaching illustration since 2006. The impact he made on me as a student has absolutely carried over into both my careers. I am privileged to have learned from him. Thank you, Sam.

  13. Sam was our first year foundation drawing instructor at Marywood’s “Get Your Masters with the Masters” MFA program. The year was 2002. Even though I was a “middle-aged adult,” everything felt new, unfamiliar, anxiety-producing. But not Sam’s life drawing class. It was a haven devoid of outside distractions. We would meet with Sam every morning for 4 hours for 5 days. Thirteen students and Sam. It set the mood and approach to our study over the course of the next 3 years.

    How can I convey how awkward it felt to be an adult back at school, living on campus, thousands of miles away from family, spouse, the job? Yet Sam was kind and helpful. He was patient and firm. His expectations were high but never pedantic. Our drawings got bigger, better and surprised most of us for the skill we developed under Sam’s tutelage. At the time, I did not know of his revered reputation, it didn’t matter. He was loved by all and made his unique mark on our hearts.

    He opened my eyes to the visual act of converting three-dimensional space seen by a pair of eyes onto a two-dimensional plane. As one rotates their gaze about the room like a panoramic camera, space bends, the perspective contorts, and the artist must decide how to convey this onto the page. Yes, any artist who sketches from life does this instinctively, but Sam knew this secret! Likewise, his sense of humor would catch you up and bend your seriousness into a levity and lightness of being. Thanks, Sam!

  14. I took drawing with Sam from the fall of 1973 to spring 1977.

    Sam considered the student’s needs first. He never overwhelmed, was aware of the student’s progress, their sensitivity, what they could handle and he built up their confidence.

    One line of his that never left me was that the artist doesn’t compete with other artists, but with themselves.

    He was an excellent teacher and a wonderful man.

  15. I had Sam as a professor at SVA from 89-91. He had an understated sense of humor and teaching style. His instruction and critique were always gentle and always focused on you finding your eye. He is one of the few teachers that left an indelible mark on me and to this day I still silently critique my own work in his voice now and then. Wonderful man, great teacher.

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