Week 3: Painting is Hard

I don’t have a great deal of experience painting realistically. Ok, I don’t have ANY..you may notice most of my figures are blue, purple or red. And I haven’t used oil paints in 10 years.

This past week has been dedicated to the poster study. My job is to break the form into little abstract shapes and generally paint the correct color.

Every day this week I have felt like I’ve been twisting my brain like a wet towel trying to squeeze something out of it. I go home pooped at 5:30. I haven’t been able to join in the Ultimate Frisbee activities because of the mental energy I’m exerting on color matching.

Additionally I have not been able to stop singing “Golden Brown” by the Stranglers under my breath as I attempt to mix the perfect golden brown.

I think…I THINK… I am approaching some sort of understanding with the paint that is going to get me somewhere in the vicinity of the right direction to accomplish some sort of goal. Today’s painting seemed to have the right lightness/darkness and colors (sorta) but looked like it had been painted on with a chainsaw. I’m not even going to bother with pictures (well that and the paintings are all locked up for the weekend and I forgot to bring them home or take a photo).

My mantra this week has been “Fail Again, Fail Better” a quote from Samuel Beckett and used as the basis for the current Pema Chodron book I am reading. Fail again, fail better. Yes. Will do. Working on it diligently.

On the other hand, DRAWING is in just a lovely little place right now. I have never drawn so well and I know I have much room for improvement. For those of you who don’t spend 30 hours a week in a studio, let me explain to you how figure drawing works.

Throughout the world you will find life drawing sessions. For $15 – $25 I can sit in a room with fellow artists and enjoy the privilege of having a model (real person, preferably naked) to work from. This is steeped in classical tradition. Drawing from life is paramount to the success of any artist seeking to represent reality on any level.

At the public studio sessions the model will twist and turn and offer 1 minute to 5 minute poses as a warm up. The good stuff happens later… The model will settle in for a 20 minute, 1 hour, 3 hour, 536 hour pose, taking breaks every 20 minutes or so then resuming the pose so we may continue our artistic crusade. An artist who is working from life will hire a private model, find a pose and stick with it for 15-30 hours.

The drawings I am posting today were created from 5 hours of drawing over a period of 2 days. Each. I only completed two drawings next week.

Drawing and painting well takes time, effort, rent, food and a live human that demands a living wage for his or her time. It takes education, practice and patience. Painting in this realm requires beautiful and expensive materials. When it comes time to sell the results of this labor, a gallery will take 50% off the sale. On top of this, how often do you really think someone is selling their work?


Hands down the best thing I have ever drawn. Looking forward to future improvements.

THAT is why art worth a damn is expensive. Consider that the artist also wishes to make a living from this and must charge accordingly. I have never met someone who “just wants to cover costs” in order to go to work every day. I’m sure that person is out there, but personally, I want to buy a luxury now and again or go on vacation. It is supposed to take a human 10 years to master anything. Consider what that time, education and investment is worth in the final product.

In other news, it has been raining daily. Thunder and lightning. I’m in heaven. I’m also very grateful to take this weekend and do nothing that I don’t want to do. Today was yoga, running, meditation, blogging and some calligraphy practice. I think I’m getting better.

view from the studio.




Studio Escalier : Week 1 Update

This week has been an incredible learning experience. I am delighted to know that I have 9 more.

I think the major improvement in my work thus far is the general proportionality and depth of my figures. Without going into detail about the training and process, I find that I am able to see the figure in a far more intense, in depth and careful manner. One of my favorite notions this week is that prior to photography artists, generally speaking, had no concept of a flat picture plane. They considered their figure in a sculptural manner.

The below photos are technical drawings completed thus far. I find I am constantly running out of time with a pose. I think about high school students who want to rush through everything. Can you guys imagine – most of these drawings took me 40 minutes and they aren’t anywhere near RESEMBLING a finished product. I could easily spend another 3-25 hours on each pose.  

I feel very comfortable in the atelier environment and the magical pursuit in which I am engaged. Much of what I am learning speaks to ideas I seek not only in my artwork, but in life. I hope to do away with this imaginary veil that separates us from one another and the universe as a whole. Our worlds exist because of our whole, not our individuality. Our diversity or juxtaposition provides contrast that allows clearer vision.

I feel less afraid about my future and finding secure employment. I can honestly say that my only goal is to pursue the joy and integrity of an artistic life. I firmly believe this is where my greatness lies. Otherwise what on earth is the point?

I ordered two books this week: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Pema Chodron’s lecture Fail Big, Fail Better. Preparing…

Argenton-Chateau is lovely and quiet. I find that I am immersed in my own retreat. There is no urgency to my life and that is a gift of unspeakable value. Yoga, meditation, long walks, short runs and creative pursuits are a part of my daily routine.

I did purchase a wedding dress prior to this trip, so no more pain au chocolat for now.


We began with whirlygigs – They turned out to be pretty awesome once I learned how to use them properly.








Probably my best work so far. I feel pretty good about it. A few of the concepts that were taught really sunk in for this drawing.




This and the above two photos were my last drawings of the week. I think my brain started to shift into overdrive and things began to fall apart. 
I don’t know who this guy is, but I am going to find out. There are at least two of him. Right now, I call him Mr. Umbrella Pants.

Hand Lettering

My mom always told me I’d be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

There is no act of creating that has failed to capture my attention. New this month is hand lettering. I have been working on my first lettering project for about a week now (on and off amid other projects) and today finally scanned the image for vectorization.

I’m very happy with the result and can’t wait to really dive in with the proper tools. Pens, rulers, a clean table to work on. I’m thinking a new book is in order..I’m eyeballing “Creative Lettering and Beyond”.

Lately I am dreaming of a day when I can stay locked in a studio for 17 hours obsessing over creative things.

Anyway, here is this week’s project…”Live Through Love”. Soon to be printed and sold on t-shirts.