Below are the two paintings that I worked on for the last 2 weeks of class at Studio Escalier. I needed a little distance before I posted them. As I was working I became so frustrated and even sad. I felt that I had wasted my time, hadn’t learned anything, the painting was terrible. I had a day where I simply stopped painted and curled up into a ball in the studio.
Looking at the unfinished images below I am now very happy with my progress. I have learned a great deal in a VERY short period of time and feel accomplished. There is much work to do as I continue to develop my abilities, but I can certainly see that it is worth the effort.
I began painting this summer with zero experience in blending colors or how to use the paints properly. In addition to playing catch up with these skills, I was learning an extraordinary way to look at and appreciate light and the body. I think a little time to marinate these things together will be good. In October I will begin a portrait and still life class with Watts Atelier. The adventure continues!
We were so lucky this week – a 5 day drawing pose! I think they get longer from here on out. There are so many little improvements. These lead to such a deeper level of critique.
In the painting realm we shifted to a new technique. This is far easier for me to approach and I’m feeling much better about my work. It isn’t really all that great yet, but I’m seeing a brighter horizon. Homework was to paint an egg, as you can see below. I’m still too self conscious to post pictures of my in class paintings. Maybe next week.
At the end of next week I will be halfway through the course!
This week I participated in a game of Ultimate Frisbee. I have never gotten so much exercise in such a short period of time. I sprinted over 5 miles and I am hooked. I’ve already started looking at San Diego pickup games. I’m getting ready to head out for another round in an hour!
Last night was potluck night in our student housing. It was absolutely beautiful. Everything you could want for a potluck in the French countryside. Cool air, beautiful food, great wine and lovely people.
I’m missing my kitties, Daniel and not much else. I’ve built up to 25 minute runs every other day and 53 pushups. I’m starting to daydream about my life at home and how I can maintain this environment. I’m not sure it’s possible.
Life in Argenton Chateau is very peaceful. I have been running regularly and taking very long walks with my roommate. (She has been the perfect match and I am so grateful.) This week I earned myself a wine and cheese dinner.
The wine aisle in the grocery store in incredible. There are at least 4 Grand Cru St. Emillion wines and they are all under 20 euro. I’ll be slowly working my way through the regions. Last week I focused on the Rhone Valley. Maybe I’ll mix it up with some Sancerre. The tiny little regions represented are so cool to see – Clairette de Die, Minervois, St. Joseph – in spades!
The drawings are coming along. I am really in awe at my own progress (I don’t think that’s vanity – just genuine delight!). I have gotten to the point where all drawings created previously (we will refer to this time period as Pre-SE) are mortifyingly off. I will accept them for what they are…stepping stones.
Here we have a series of 2.5 hour drawings from this past week. The model is so elegant, poised, statuesque and strong. I can’t imagine drawing anyone else again. These are still technical drawings, in stages of development. In the coming weeks they will continue to grow in complexity. Click on the image to see a larger version. I know the colors are terrible. I don’t really care enough to fix that. And there are plenty of messy things happening in the below artwork. I’m sharing my progress, not my perfection.
On Wednesday we began painting. Now in this realm I am COMPLETELY inexperienced. I paint, have always painted, but it has been many years since I’ve used oils, never this high of quality (or variety of color) and I have never given a hoot about representational colors. I think that I will make progress quickly but woa.
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.