Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Report from New York, Art Students League Part 1

I spent the month of October in New York, attending classes at the Art Students League. I was following in the footsteps of my grandfather, Jack Lambert. He attended the Art Students League approximately 100 year ago, then went on to be a well known political cartoonist, as well as a portraitist and sculptor. I had fun picturing him working alongside me in the same studios!

My instructors, Michael Grimaldi for figure drawing, Dan Thompson for figure drawing and painting, and Bill Behnken for printmaking, were all outstanding. I also admire and appreciate the models who pose for ASL classes. They maintain the same position during every class period for up to 4 weeks. Their talent and professionalism are key to the student experience.

Our instructors emphasized the importance of understanding, at great depth, the energy and structure of a living body. In the drawing below, if you look very closely, you will see that I made lines going through the figure, noting the angle of hips, ribcage, head, and feet in relation to the entire figure. (The lines are easier to see if you click on the image to enlarge.) I also found anatomical landmarks, such as the top of the pelvis, and the connection point of the thigh and hip bones. Learning to get these angles and structures right saves a lot of trouble later on! This was a 20 minute pose.

Later in the month we worked with much shorter poses, and I found that practice had brought me some progress. Below is a page from my last week at ASL, four 5-minute poses (the arrows indicate light direction.)

I got to work on the same kind of "starting moves" in Dan Thompson's painting class. In the oil sketches below, I tried to capture the model's gesture and energy, while also noting the physical structures most key to the pose.

On this next one you can see Dan Thompson's visual notes on the right side, helping me to see how to keep the whole figure as open as possible as I worked.

This is not glamorous stuff, but it is very important to the skill and craft of being a painter. If anyone reading this went to an art school where these things were not taught, I know you are jealous reading this! Next post, a little more color, I promise.

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