Sunday, May 23, 2010

Shifting Paradigms

I did not post last week as the school work was still in progress. It also had been one of the hardest weeks I have had in school. The thing I know for sure about weeks when you feel like you are going backwards is that they usually indicate a large leap in learning. Honestly, it was the only thing that comforted me a bit. The offending study is this one:
This is a drawing of a cast of Moses and he is quite large. We used a full sheet of paper instead of our previous half sheets. That uses quite a bit of charcoal. I am still using my homemade charcoal here and, if the weather will cooperate, I hope to perfect it as it isn't quite up to the standard I was used to in drawing charcoal. I went absolutely backward one day and my drawing got quite out of control. A few sweaty hours later I had managed to gain the upper hand, barely. It was a huge learning experience and one that makes me grateful I have a skilled teacher to give me a boost.
We are still spending afternoons with figure drawing. This last session was 6 sessions or 18 hours. We were drawing my favorite female model and it was a pleasure but still challenging. Here she is:
Considering this is my first year in school, I am quite please with how close the likeness was. You will have to take my word for it as I will not be taking pictures of the live models to post. I really like figure drawing even more than I though I would. There is just something about working with a live person that adds an extra element to the creation. It also adds difficulty as the model moves, a lot. I am learning to deal with that too.
The paradigm shift? That was the words the master teacher used when telling me how my work was coming along. I have definitely noticed a difference in my work and how much I understand. I am not sure that I have had a paradigm shift as it seems like quite a strong statement. I do know my level of understanding has increased. Perhaps it is one of those things that a teacher can see better than the student. In any case, I am grateful for the learning and also humbled by just how much there is yet to learn. I certainly won't be able to learn everything in a year or two.
That leads me to my future. We have a place to rent in Manzanita and are very excited about it. We will be moving our belongings up north starting in July. It will be nice to escape the heat once a month and spend a long weekend at the cooler coast. Of course, the heat hasn't made it here yet but I know it will come. I will be posting pictures of our new town now and again. I also have been making plans to continue my studies. That will be a topic for another post in the near future.
We will be starting a new drawing, or maybe even painting (I hope) next week and have already started a new figure drawing. Less than a month to go until our two week break!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pain Can Be a Good Teacher....Uh Huh!

We have had a couple of busy weeks lately so I missed posting last weekend. We took an unexpected trip up north to Manzanita, OR. Manzanita is a lovely little town on the north coast of Oregon and is soon to be our future home town.
It really is a good thing I like to juggle as it seems I have been doing a lot of juggling of tasks lately. In addition to daily life and working hard at school, I am reaching out a bit into the future to find a place to rent in the fall. Usually that is not such a problem but Manzanita is a tiny town of less than 800 souls and with a large number of short term vacation rentals but not many long term ones.
I have been occasionally checking Craigslist even though we are still a few months out and, much to my amazement, I found the perfect house. It has everything I clearly stated, out-loud and in writing, that I wanted. To make a long story short, we took a spur-of-the-moment trip up north and took a look. We submitted our application this week and are waiting to hear back from the landlady, who amazingly enough, lives here in Ashland! So, at the moment, we are keeping our fingers crossed.
In the meantime, there has been a lot of growth in the learning department for me at school. Alas,  I wish I could take a picture and point out all the areas of growth. I also wish I could tell you that it was a lovely joyful journey but we all know that just isn't the way it works!
One of my fellow art students is a gentleman in his 70's (I think) who told me that all his friends tell him how lucky he is since he just gets to relax, lounge around, and learn art. He laughs and says, "if they only knew how painful it is!" Painful indeed. Relaxing? More like blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes lots of tears)! Lest I get carried away and unintentionally scare someone away from putting in the time to learn art, the rewards for your toils are beyond imagining!
Yesterday I started out to work on my charcoal drawing and, after three hours of painful confusion, I made it worse! My drawing seized control from my tenuous grasp and merrily ran all over me. Yes, it really is possible! It sort of felt like opening an old fashioned wind-up watch case only to have all the springs sproing out all over the room. Finally, at the end of those three sweaty hours, I managed to coral it back in place where hopefully it will be docilely waiting for me on Tuesday.
The rewards for all that pain? My knowledge and skill took a giant leap forward! No worries though, I know very well that I will be taking a few steps back too. I managed to pull myself together during lunch (and after a phone call to my husband to lament, OK, whinge, a bit) so that I was able to take a few baby steps forward during our long-pose figure drawing session.
So, what do I have to show you this week? Well, the drawings from last week that I didn't get a chance to post. Here they are, the first is a photo of the actual cast, the second the final drawing, after 12 hours. It was a shorter session so the drawing is not as finished as the longer ones.

This guy is a true block head. We are currently working on another cast, the one that beat me up yesterday, and the long pose figure drawing. I will take a few pictures in progress but not the whole progression for next week. In the meantime, the weather is really trying hard to warm up and be, well, spring. I am aslo enjoying my walks to school through the lovely town of Ashland. Hope to have good news to report on the house statues next week. Until then, -Renee
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