Friday, April 24, 2015

New York Report

I spent all of March, 2015, in New York city, where I immersed myself in studies, including figure drawing, figure painting, and still life painting. I also made several visits to  the Prints and Drawings library of the Metropolitan Museum. Here is just one of the many great drawings I got to see with nothing between me and it but a few centimeters of air. It's by Tiepolo, 18th c.

The librarians are wonderful, and you can request to view any of the thousands of original works they have in safekeeping. I learned so much by getting up close to Rembrandt etchings and drawings, works by Rubens, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Durer, Van Gogh, and Picasso, among others. I will incorporate my memories of those etchings and drawings in my own work from here on.

The weather was really cold! And I got the flu in my first week, with the result that I did not bring anything I started to completion. Perhaps that was as well, since the point of such a trip is to form new skills, not to make masterpieces. My main concentration was on rendering the figure.

If I had the time and energy the image above would have become a painting. However, the opportunity to work with this wonderful model over a few days was a privilege in itself. 
I got going with color on my next effort, below. With the encouragement of my teacher Daniel Thompson, who is known for his daring use of color, I let loose a bit. Sometimes less caution can be helpful, at least in terms of color decisions.  

My approach to color in figure painting moved forward with this piece, I want to do more experimenting.

I worked on the piece below in a class taught by another terrific instructor, Michael Grimaldi. Taking his classes has inspired me to make a serious study of anatomy. To that end, I spent a week last August at the Stanford University dissection lab, in a class taught by Michael Grimaldi and Daniel Thompson. It made a great difference in my perception of the human form, and I want to go back for more.

This drawing looks dark because I toned the paper with charcoal before I began the work. This was never going to be a work of art: it is  an investigation of the figure, its construction, movement, and relation to light. I would have loved to keep working on it for several more days, but I had to fly home. You can see that I was struggling to find the right forms for that left arm! It comes down to more study, more observation. Beside the figure is a drawing of the skeletal substructure to the pose, and another of the lights and darks on the model and in the background, with a dark-to-light scale drawn along the left border.

The models at the Art Students League are extraordinary. This young woman held this pose for 15 hours a week for 4 weeks! ( I'm sad that I only got to draw her for about one week.)

More about my studies in NYC in my next post.

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