A Rare, Amazing Inner Artist

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Andrew_pose_082914Andrew King’s paintings speak for themselves. The compositions are engaging, the colors arresting.

“These are amazing,” said professional artist and teacher Mary Schneider. “Some of them are better than my own—and I’ve been painting for many, many years.”

Perhaps even more impressive is how eloquently the 20-year-old Manhasset resident’s art speaks for him. In painting, he has found the pleasure and peace of creative self-expression that is a challenge for him in many other aspects of his life.

Andrew has autism, and self-expression as well as communication with others are typical challenges. So is the ability to sit patiently and focus on a single task.

“I think he has found his niche,” said his mother, Loren, herself an accomplished artist. “He has experienced tremendous frustration, without the ability to articulate his feelings. But it has been clear since he was a young child that he had artistic ability. He worked with an art therapist, drawing and in other media, and we could see that he had a sense of composition and color.”

When his therapist relocated, Andrew didn’t have to look farther than across the street. For many years, Schneider has been working one-on-one with artists in the sunny studio of her Rockywood Road home. She is well-known not just for her own work, but also for her ability to develop a safe, trusting environment where students can explore self-expression.

That’s why she invited Andrew to work with her.

“At the beginning, Andrew was nervous, and when he drew, his lines were very hard and heavy, and rigid,” said Schneider. “But I saw that he also had a sense of shading in his drawings—and so we decided to try painting.”

Both Andrew’s teacher and his mother studied at the Stevenson Academy of Fine Arts that was in Sea Cliff. Their training was traditional in that they weren’t permitted to paint until they had learned to draw, mastering line and shadow. But Andrew was able to bypass that step.

“The values of light, to truly sense the gradations of light versus dark,” seem to be grasped innately by Andrew, said Schneider. “Some people can’t see it—but Andrew is strong at that.”

Andrew works fast and sure. He completes a small canvas in a few hours. He starts by quickly choosing a scene from one of the many books of photography that Schneider keeps in her studio, and then meticulously follows his teacher’s advice.

“He is wonderful working with a brush—steady but patient, and eager to continue and explore,” she said. “As we work together, I offer instruction in art technique as well as guidance.”

For Andrew, it is uncompromised self-expression.

“He is not concerned about what others think, he is not concerned to take a chance—and you can feel that freedom from judgment in his work,” said Schneider.

As family and friends clamor for his paintings, Andrew has come to see himself as an artist.

“Painting together is a very relaxing, calm experience,” said his teacher. “And he leaves my studio proud and happy.”

The phone number for Mary Schneider’s studio is 516-365-1153.

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