This weekend I had a great, challenging and tiring time being a student again.
One of my first teachers when I got back into visual art in 2003 was John Leonard. I took a number of painting and figure-based classes (working from a model) with him, ending with his Wednesday Workshop, a by-invitation-only group of experienced and professional artists.
I began as the least experienced member of that high performance group, which was a little stressful, but that served to help me up my game.
This weekend I was back with John Leonard and many of my favourite people (with a few notable exceptions). And I was back to painting from the model… for the first time in at least 5 years!
Since my painting has been focused almost exclusively on non-objective work for a few years, it took a while for me to work my way back to the figure in an easily-discernable way. The photos below are in the proper sequence, showing how abstracted I began and how I did find the figure again.
Drawing was a little easier because of the prep and demo’ing I do for my 'Figurative Art' classes at Neilson Park. Make no mistake though, prep and demos are not the same as mindfully drawing from a figure with no other intent.
I always loved the challenges John threw at us and he didn’t disappoint (it felt like home!). If you click here, you will go to the first drawing of the group I’ve uploaded to Flickr. There I have captioned the photos with a list of approaches required for the exercise, in their proper sequence, for anyone who’s interested. Just click the right arrow on the page to view the next drawing.
I was nervous heading into the workshop after so long away, but after a brief adjustment period, the experience was joyful and the challenge has really refreshed me. Even for someone like me who is always inventing and trying new things, periodic challenges like this are invigorating and good for my creativity.
Here are links to a few of my skilled and talented artist friends who were in the workshop with me:
I love new beginnings. In artworks they begin with an idea (which doesn’t have to be much of an idea, just a starting point) and then, in the case of painting, a base layer.
My starting point this time is a little confection of a painting I call “Buried Treasure”. Because of its expanses of rich white surfaces with hits of smaller brights, I think of it as my Wayne Thiebaud moment. Not that I set out to make something along those lines, or to reference my husband Kal Honey’s work either, by working with a grid, it just happens that those qualities are what bubbled up in my process of making.
So while the original was an experiment on a small canvas, now I am scaling up. My first layer is all about large, impasto surface marks, which I think will require a few days to dry before I can move onto the next step. Check back for updates.
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
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