Barely 20: I was applying for a dish washers job at The Banff School of Fine Arts, when this very beautiful woman approached me and asked me if I’d like to be a model for an art class taught by Eric Fischl.

I told her I would love to but due to the fact I had no experience and also being so broke I couldn’t pay the tent fees at tunnel mountain and that I hadn’t eaten 5 days… it was probably best if I declined. I was certain that they would want their models to be a little more together. I was also terribly thin and horribly self conscious about my body.

She introduced me to Eric who said I’d do fine, and then she handed me a cheque for $900.00, a key to my room for the next 2 weeks and a card pass for the cafeteria for my time there.

It was here, sitting naked with a female model named Jane, terrified of getting an erection, that my eyes were opened.

A Q and A session between the 14 students and Fischl brought the comment from the woman I was most attracted to. ” I thought the male model would be more masculine. ”

The fears of the erection faded .

Fischl said. “Dennis has the same body type as Jane with the obvious difference in sexuality… What I want you to recognize is tone. Dennis is red. Jane is green. If you get nothing else out of this class… recognize tone.

In that transcendent horrible moment of self-conscious shame I SAW TONE..

I was red and she was green. I saw TONE..

I saw colour everywhere after that. Before if I’d have been asked to paint a tree, it would have been one shade of brown. After I saw the blacks and purples, the greens and whites. My eyes were opened.

10 years later I met Paul Fournier and began to paint.


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