Thursday, February 24, 2011

copying the masters

my teacher had told us he wouldn't be in class today, but that he wanted us to come in anyway and do sketches of figures, to warm up for our next painting which will be of two nudes.

so i brought in some art books, and just painted a drawing by egon schiele. and i'm so glad i did. if i had ever thought about copying art already done by the masters, i probably thought it would've been a waste of time. but ever since my teacher talked about "borrowing" or "stealing" things that the greats use, or even just flat out copying their stuff, i got more intrigued and decided to give it a go.

this painting is based on a drawing by egon schiele, who i LOVE. what i loved about this process was taking what i love about his style, but making it my own. for instance, i love his disproportionate perspective and strong use of lines. his version had nearly no color, so that's where i came in.

it just makes it really comforting to know (instead of daunting) that there's really nothing original in the world, and that EVERYONE borrows things from people they find inspiring. i guess that's how things become our own; because we make it our version by putting a piece of ourselves into them.

i'm all about "borrowing" now. i'm no longer afraid.

Friday, February 11, 2011

signing artwork

in class yesterday, i was pretty much done with my piece and spent the majority of the time drawing, while the teacher went around and talked individually with every student about their painting. the critique was supposed to be yesterday, but by the time we only had a half hour left of class, he called everyone over to the table and told us that we were all just having too much fun painting our pieces to have the critique that day. so on tuesday, we're having a big breakfast, along with the critique. it sounds pretty lovely.

anyway, at some point during the class, he came over to me and started talking to me about signing your piece.  he took my sketchbook and demonstrated how picasso sometimes signed his name boldly, as if it was an important element of the work. he showed me what his own signature looks like, after telling me that he only recently began signing his work. i told him that i never really signed my work before, but only recently became curious about it.  i've always been hesitant about it, because signing your work is sort of a mark of pride, and i haven't reached the point of such confidence in my pieces. but after my teacher gave me a little lesson on it, i was ready to try.

since he had told me there was so much space in my painting, and that it was sort of a bold piece, he said a bold, big signature would really work. so i practiced some signatures in my sketchbook, before deciding on just my initials (MEC), underlined, with the year under that. when he came back to check it out, he laughed delightedly.

i didn't take a picture of it yet, but i did start another small sketch of the same jar of flowers:

next week, we will start a painting of figures!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

first finished in-class painting

yesterday i pretty much finished my first painting for this class. we're having a critique during the second half of the class tomorrow, and i think during the first half i'll do a couple touch ups, but i don't want to fuss with it too much.

i struggled with this a lot while i painted it. i think it's because i'm intimidated by how GOOD my classmates are.  i'm pretty good with not comparing myself to others, and i realize that we all have our own style. and it doesn't matter to me much anyway, because i paint for the enjoyment of it, not to be the best at it.  but looking around at all my classmates' paintings, i felt small and like i had a lot of catching up to do. as much as i love to paint, i feel like i still basically know nothing about it.

that's why it was amazing when my teacher, rick, came over and pointed out all the things he liked about it. he said it was "really nice" and that i handled the colors beautifully. then when i was about to do something impulsive to it, he stopped me and pointed out why it would detract from how good it already is. then he brought me to his office and we looked at different artists on the internet (i WISH i had written their names down) and talked about their techniques and things of theirs i could take with me.

i'm excited and nervous for my first critique tomorrow!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

the lesson continues

my attempts at loosening up continue. tonight i painted a tomato. it took maybe 45 minutes, and it was surprisingly more difficult to do than my self-portrait.  i kind of predicted that though; tomatoes are just round orbs of red with green leaves, but there are so many other colors involved in them too: yellows, blues and purples. the tough part is to incorporate those colors in a smooth, round form, and still be loose about it. well, i tried. time to move forward and try to get better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

what sean said in 1970

In 1970, Ralph Arlyck shot this kid Sean, who was only 4 & 1/2 years old at the time and lived with his parents in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco.

this short film is fascinating. it's an interview of a four-year-old who lives in the haight-ashbury district of SF during the 60s. it was so captivating that i researched it further and found that the guy who made it, ralph arlyck, created another film 26 years later called "following sean," in which we get to see how sean turned out as an adult. "following sean" is streaming on netflix, and i just finished watching it.

you can watch "sean," the 16-minute short film of him as a 4-year-old, here:

i really recommend it. obviously.

PS: adrienne, when james gets to be 4 and a 1/2, can i do something like this??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

loosening up

today was the first class in which i actually painted. the teacher is really awesome. i've always known i have issues with loosening up. he came over and demonstrated on my painting how to loosen up. it was like something clicked, although i hesitate to say it yet because i've had such issues in the past. but after he gave this demonstration, i sort of had this conversation with him where i told him that was a main issue for me. he told me about ways he loosens up when he feels like he's getting tighter, and ways people he knows loosen up. somebody he knows went into the woods, got a branch with no leaves on it, brought it into her studio and just painted with that. using a crappy brush helps too. even though you might be afraid of ruining something you're working on, you just have to be brave and almost do something rash to it in order to break free.

so tonight, i got out my acrylics and charcoal, set up the light and the mirror, put on "purple rain" and loosened up. i painted this in less than half an hour.