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alan

ALAN MORYAN, 1959-2013

In 2013, our good friend Al, aka "Rattlesnake", left us for a better place. It came as a surprise, as Al kept his illness confidential. He had left the studio for a while, and nobody knew. Alan did not want us to see him sick, I guess.

Looking back, it was quite typical of him. A man of great character, without complaint, always volunteering his time and knowledge. Passionate for the arts, expert in biblical studies, history, politics, full of many accomplishments and honors unknown to most, like being a member of "The Queen's Guard "at Rutgers, or his involment with the Boy Scouts.

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During his time at the studio, there were the stories about his dog, "Shorty", and his parrot "Hannah" always looking for a bout with the canine. While painting, Alan always had an ear bud hooked up to a small FM radio. It was very discret, unless the political news of New Jersey were not going "Al's way'. He would shout out of nowhere, defining our elected officials with less than gracious names, making everybody jump. I loved it!

I did this portrait of him, and I know his wife Ellen is very fond of it. Personally, I feel honored to have had the chance to paint it. Naturally, the outfit he wears in this picture was of his choosing! History buff, art lover, big hearted bear, what's not to love about "Rattlesnake"? To some, he might have been too honest and loud, especially when it came to the love of his country, or ethics, or moral values as well. To me, he was whole, without flaws. Many of my most faithful students had the privilege to know him, and to this day, stories about Al still put a smile on our faces...

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Below are a few samples of his work; Alan would pick challenging subjects, eager to learn oil painting in the most traditional way. He would take his sweet time, listening to his tiny radio, or sharing a cup of coffee and a few good laughs with us, sometimes lighting up his pipe. For a while, I was smelling the aromatic tobacco he would smoke, in the studio on Ridge Road, where he never painted (Alan painted at my house, then to the studio in Milltown). Maybe he was visiting his old friends, or keeping an eye on his last painting we are finishing together for Ellen. Maybe it was just me. Either way, you are always welcome, Alan, as we miss you.

It all started with this Indian Chief... For a very long time, Alan wanted to paint this portrait. When he met me, he asked if I could help him, after years of frustration, as the only advice he received from his art professors of his college years was quite stunning:"before painting this, maybe you should go live with Indians for a few years". To which I replied:" Good thing you do not wish to paint pigs!". After a big laugh, Al and I got along just fine! He went through the painful drills I imposed without mercy. He did quite well, and very quickly became one of the "pittoresque" characters of the studio: this big man, with a big beard, a big voice. And an even bigger heart. Always ready to help without being asked. Help clean the studio floor ( he was an expert), or hang a show, drive somewhere in his "Red Baron", a more than decrepite red car that he kept on maintaining and driving, rarely exceding 40 miles/hour. Or anything else that needed to be done. Al was always present.

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