She taped her first television show in , buying time on a New York City station to paint with a palette of primary colors on the black-and-white screen. Since then her career has followed the explosive growth of the medium, outlasting the TV shows of the men with whom she painted a picture during a succession of guest spots: Two years ago Gordon logged her sixth appearance with David Letterman, attempting to guide Dave through a chop-chop painting of a clown.
A video of the segment shows the pair standing before two prepared easels. Gordon immediately starts slapping paint on her canvas, while Letterman looks on skeptically. He reluctantly follows her lead, dabbing the outlines of the clown's face on his canvas in an awkward copy of Gordon's picture.
And she keeps smiling, even when her host reaches out and childishly draws a line of orange paint through the middle of her clown's face.
Is that the object of painting? Conni Gordon has heard that criticism before, acknowledging that people often question the artistic worth of her paintings. Undaunted, she insists that the hundreds of clowns and lions she has painted in her lifetime have a special kind of value. But to make a picture that's recognizable in minutes makes people believe in themselves. For the most part, people are so sensitive about their art that if someone says, 'That doesn't look like a tree,' they stop. They think they have to be a genius from the first or they're no good.
But what it does is open the heart and mind to self-esteem. The original stage and dance floor from Bill Jordan's Bar of Music the building also went through incarnations as a church and a gay nightclub are still the centerpieces of Gordon's large, open studio, a room that exhibits the comfortable disarray that can be achieved only through time.
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Dozens of boxes containing Conni Gordon Method books and painting materials are stacked all over the place. Bulging file cabinets line one wall. Rough sketches, color charts, and photographs of horses and koala bears cover a large metal desk where Gordon has been working on an animal drawing course for Dade County schoolchildren.
Paints and brushes lay haphazardly on a table in the center of the room next to an enormous black-and-white cat named Lizzie, who's lounging in a cardboard box. Framed paintings of lions, parrots, babies, clowns, street scenes, and landscapes, many now faded with age, crowd the walls. Among them hangs a large portrait of Gordon as a young woman.
The mirrored stage holds a display of painted handicrafts and household items, including an eye-catching beige toilet seat decorated with a woodsy scene and the word his. Gordon with Oprah Winfrey. With Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, each holding a gilt-framed landscape. In several pictures, a grinning Gordon gives the thumbs-up sign or holds her arms above her head like a winning prizefighter. Pictures of the Guinness induction ceremonies appear toward the back of the album: In one photo, Gordon positions the world's longest cucumber at a slight angle below the waist of the world's tallest man.
She turns to a second scrapbook, this one filled with photos and flyers from corporate conventions at which she has been a featured speaker. They show hundreds of men and women in business suits seated side by side, furiously covering their small canvas squares with paint.
Another photo depicts a group of Chinese executives proudly gripping their renditions of an oriental garden. Each executive participant takes home his or her painting as a souvenir. I just don't talk about creativity, I prove it," Gordon emphasizes. Now that we have the computer, somebody has to feed it. Gordon argues that painting a simple landscape can release the inner child in everyone, increasing confidence and productivity in all aspects of people's lives.
A similar theory was popularized by Dr. Gordon scowls at the mention of Edward's name. It's actually a matter of applying both sides of the brain. It's really about learning to see more, and realizing that everything is connected to art. How far they go is unimportant. What it does is make people believe in themselves. They can do more than they think if they're led into it easily, with fun and humor. This is the basis on which I conduct my convention presentations.
Richard Israel, a Miami-based lecturer and writer, whose book Brain Sell will be published in England later this year, has teamed up with Gordon on the corporate self-improvement circuit. The two will appear together at business machinery giant Hewlitt-Packard's upcoming convention in Boblingen, Germany, where Gordon will give a painting class and Israel will deliver a supplementary lecture on brainpower development. How do they find new ways to tackle old problems?
This shows them how to do it, using the pattern of Conni's four-step method. One local resident who has participated in Gordon's classes attests to the personal rewards of completing a painting. Elayne Weisburd, a former Miami Beach commissioner who attended one of Gordon's classes with her husband, had a typical reaction: We sat there one night and became artists. We still have the paintings, and they're as good as a Renoir or a Monet as far as we're concerned. Stanley Burns stands beside an easel in Gordon's studio, holding his "little girl," Suzy, a blond ventriloquist's dummy wearing a blue dress.
Suzy holds a paintbrush in her hand. Sitting on nearby chairs are two of Burns's "young men": Bruce, who wears tinted glasses and suede high-heeled boots, and Cecil, dressed in a velvet jacket and short pants.
Conni Gordon (Author of YOU CAN Watercolor in Minutes)
Bruce poses with a large painting. Known as the Magical Ventriloquist, Burns has been a friend of Gordon's ever since she was a young girl. Her father, Jack Gordon, served as the ventriloquist's theatrical agent, booking him into nightclubs along the East Coast in the Thirties and Forties. A few years ago Burns and Conni put together an act they have taken to community centers and senior citizens' homes around the country. While she teaches Suzy how to paint, the audience follows along. Suzy just takes a brush and splashes it all over!
A distinguished vaudeville veteran who still performs occasionally, Burns is seeking a publisher for his recently completed history of ventriloquism. The aging performer suffers from health problems, which have brought him to Miami Beach for a two-month sabbatical. The important thing of all this was that I had the right parents," she adds wistfully, launching into a description of her family's Hartford, Connecticut, home, where her father's clients, including Burns, often spent the night on their way to performances in New York.
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Until I was a teenager, I thought everybody lived that way. Gordon brings a vaudevillian flair to the visual arts. Like a magician performing tricks, she makes painting look easy, and like an illusionist, she accents each brushstroke with a smile and a flourish. Fueled by an Ethel Merman-esque gusto and brandishing an optimism worthy of the unsinkable Molly Brown, Gordon hawks art as creative therapy, a sort of miracle tonic for loneliness and low productivity.
I've taken art and made it entertainment.
Gordon, who was once married and had no children, picked up numerous honors for her work. Gordon gave back, too. She was a true visionary and pioneer in the field of art education who believed that everyone had the innate ability to be creative. Her generous spirit and steadfast belief in the power of art inspired generations around the world to think outside the box. Funeral services will be at 10 a. A bus will leave at To place a Death Notice, please call or email obit miamiherald. Be sure to include: To place it online click here.
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The honor was for teaching 17 million people how to paint through her various classes, TV shows and appearances, books and sessions in Miami Beach for more than 60 years. Al Diaz Miami Herald file By Howard Cohen hcohen miamiherald. Updated with services information below. Be the first to know.
You Can Paint A Picture In Full-color Oils In Minutes Conni Gordon Method Book
Candace Barbot Miami Herald file. Art teacher and entertainer Conni Gordon, 80 at the time of this photo, struck a pose in front of a wall of photos that chronicled her rise from World War II Marine — where she got her start teaching art to 50, Marines — to becoming a staple on the lecture circuit. Dan Bowden, Ransom Everglades teacher who inspired generations of students, dies at Ike Seamans, legendary newsman, dies at Larry Kahn, founder of Miami-based Lowell Homes, dies at