Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sally Strand Workshop

Last week I was among the lucky 18 to spend the week with Sally Strand exploring her style of painting. The 5-day course was named The Color of Light and it was held at the beautiful and well-appointed Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester. There was a lovely display of color and light on the Green (looked purple-blue to me) Mountains touched with warm autumn foliage and sun. But this was not a landscape class.

We worked from still life and live costumed models all week. Sally made sure we left our comfort zones, so we could learn something new or at least re-enforce solid principles of value and the ways light affects and changes colors. It was a wake-up call for me; easy to fall back on one's old ways of working and not SEE the subtleties and beauty in familiar scenes. Sally's instruction will prod me to practice and increase my skills and abilities. Yes, I felt like going home at some point on Tuesday, but the week ended on a brighter note.

Thank you to gifted teachers, wherever you are. Thank you for forcing us to step outside our comfort zones.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I did a Marathon!

OK, stop laughing, it was a 12 hour life drawing marathon at the River Gallery School of Art in Brattleboro VT. I can't believe I finished it...totally surprised myself. At the end of the 12th hour there were only a handful still standing (slumping over my easel trying not to fall off my stool and fearing I wouldn't walk the next day) just me and some cute boys about one third my age, who must have shared some of their youthful energy.

Matt Peake, one of the instructors from the school, facilitated the event; coordinating models and setting up lights, backdrops, poses. There was no official instruction, but Matt was generous in helping participants achieve success with their drawings and paintings. I usually sketch in ink and I think I was the only one using it. Others used charcoal, pencil, conte, watercolor, acrylic and pastel. It was a great chance to experiment with medium or just to stick with one thing and really explore that for all poses....about 35, counting some very short warm-up poses. I hope they do it again so I can finally say at the end of a life drawing session, "I'm ready to stop drawing and go home." I am usually the one who does not want it to end. Apparently I am not alone. Why else would someone even think up a life drawing marathon?

BTW, if you are not a committed sketcher of the human figure, you may not understand the purpose life drawing has traditionally and still fulfills for an artist. Since the human form is complex and difficult to draw accurately it hones the observation skills of artists who practice it regularly, often frustrating and infuriating them, too. It is undertaken for the practice, not for the end product. That is why my life drawings can most often be viewed at Recycling.

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