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 Lu Haskew  (1932 - )

About: Lu Haskew
 

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Lived/Active: Colorado/Oklahoma      Known for: domestic still life

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Classically trained in art, Lu Haskew paints lush, realistic still life from her studio in Loveland, Colorado. She began her serious career at the age of fifty-six, after raising a family including a son, Denny Haskew, also an artist.

She is a native of Oklahoma and a member of the Potawatomi tribe. She studied at Southwestern Institute of Oklahoma, a teacher's college in Waterford. In 1942, she married John Haskew and during World War II worked as an aircraft production scheduler. After the war, the couple moved to Salt Lake City, Utah and Lu took weekend painting classes for ten years from Ethel Daynes, beginning with pastels.

She and her husband then moved to Longmont, Colorado where she studied in master classes nearby at the Loveland Academy of Fine Art and also took workshops at the Scottsdale Artists School in Arizona. But she earned special recognition for the quality of her artwork, and in her later years is having a successful career.
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Though she embarked on her career as a serious artist just twelve years ago at the age of sixty-eight, Lu Haskew was not unfamiliar with brushes and oils or watercolors. "I've loved painting all my life, but I painted as a hobby on Saturdays."

Now painting in Loveland, Colorado, there were no art museums near the tiny Oklahoma town where Haskew grew up, close to the land of her grandmother's Potawatomi tribe. "My parents weren't educated, but they encouraged us to get an education, telling us that if we didn't go to college, we wouldn't amount to anything."
After grade school, young Haskew fulfilled her parent's wishes by studying at the Southwestern Institute of Oklahoma, a teacher's college in Weatherford just fifteen miles from her home. "I took only one art class there, a teacher's course in art. I remember one assignment that I didn't have done, so I did a pencil drawing of trees while I was walking to class. And I got an A on it!"

The year she graduated, 1942, she married John Haskew, with whom she recently celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. After World War II, during which Lu Haskew worked as an aircraft production scheduler and John served in France and Italy as an air traffic controller, Lu settled into her career as an elementary school teacher.

In 1950, when John accepted a job manning the airport control tower in Salt Lake City, Utah, Lu began taking weekend painting classes from local teacher Ethel Daynes. "She started me out with pastels and really taught me to work from models and to draw. I guess you'd call it classical studio training. I studied with her every Saturday for ten years, and eventually, on days she had to be gone, she'd let me take over the class."

Haskew's devotion to painting classes found new inspiration when her husband's work led to a transfer to Longmont, Colorado, just sixteen miles away from the regional art colony of Loveland. There she took occasional workshops at the Loveland Academy of Fine Art. But most of her time remained devoted to elementary school teaching. Even after her official retirement in 1981, she remained a substitute teacher for six more years.

Her priorities, though, soon began to shift, in good measure as a result of the influence of her son Denny. After earning a degree in business, and working in a variety of outdoor-oriented occupationsincluding ski instructor, river guide and carpenterhe became interested in sculpture, eventually serving a two-year apprenticeship with sculptor Fritz White. By the late 1980s, Denny had begun to enjoy his own success as a figurative sculptor of Native American and nature-based subjects. "When I saw him get his own studio and really get to work, I decided that at my age I'd better start acting like I was serious about art, too." In 1988, she rented her own studio.

Her first award came the following year, when a still life titled "Lesa's Dolls" took second place at the Thompson Valley Regional Show. Though the prize marked her emergence as a professional artist, Haskew says, "it's not a good painting, and I've tucked it away. I tucked away my 1990 first-place winners, too. Not everything I do is wonderful, and if it doesn't measure up, I just put it in the basement."

Such an admirable attitude demonstrates Haskew's character and the growth of her professionalism, which manifested itself even more clearly in the master classes she began to take in 1992 at both the Loveland Academy and Scottsdale Artists School. Since that time she has studied with Richard Schmid, Clyde Aspevig, Joyce Pike and Jan Kunz.

She paints at least six days a week, in her studio from 8:30 until at least 4:30 in the afternoon. Her still lifes are in the traditional manner of her teachers. As much as possible she works from life. She will work outdoors when the weather allows it. "I want to be able to see the beauty in everything, whether its flowers or trash cans or litter."

From Southwest Art, July 2000
By Norman Kolpas

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