I have not painted one bit this week. I had two full days of painting on my schedule. Saturday I had gallery-sitting duty at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery in Manchester, and I usually produce at least two paintings during an all-day stint like that. Sunday was to be plein air painting on the coast of Maine. But Thursday morning one of my eyes decided this would be a good time to act up. Itching, swelling, streaming with tears–I assumed the cause was the pollen in the air, especially when air conditioning seemed to provide some relief. At first. This morning, I was desperate enough to seek medical attention, and my doctor said the cause was neither my allergies nor an infection but my immune system reacting to the normal bacteria that inhabit my eye. I am now on steroids. That sounds so au courant. I’m peeking at the computer screen through one bleary eye.
Anyway, instead of painting Saturday and Sunday, I busied myself Saturday doing figure exercises and Sunday visiting the Currier Museum for the last day of the Jon Brooks exhibit. The weather was not so great anyway for painting outside on Sunday. The Currier has a couple of paintings by Martin Johnson Heade, the artist whose storm we copied last week. Also on display are examples of Cropsey, Bierstadt, Cole and Church, all prominent landscape painters of the 19th century, being featured on a PBS series called “Landscapes in Time”. That was my landscape “fix” for the week.
An artist’s blog without pictures is like a burger without the meat. A photo of the offending eye would be too horrific and hardly artistic. So this morning I snapped some photos of the figure drawing exercises that I produced during the workshop last Tuesday morning (eye still healthy then) and the ones extracted from my Saturday at the Gallery (with only one good eye).
At Workshop, from live model, 2 of the better ones.
What Peter is teaching is a kind of a universality. He starts us out with bean-shaped torsos and pelvises and we must observe how they connect as the body twists and turns. The process for me has become a kind of fumbling around, looking for universal truths, almost a formula for depicting movement. The fundamental idea is this: If the artist can acquire a broad knowledge base of anatomy and figure dynamics, and then apply that knowledge automatically, he/she has more time/room to figure out and portray the idiosyncracies of a particular human.
So in copying the figures from the anatomy book (Bridgman), I would apply the bean shapes first, and build from there.
As I worked through the examples, I think I started to feel the energy of the poses.
Speaking of the Gallery–I had NO visitors all day, from 10 until 4. It was raining all day, so nobody was gardening or boating or washing the car. Nope, everyone was inside watching TV or something when they could have been out and about enjoying some great artwork and supporting their local artists who only want a little bit of encouragement to keep on painting. Or sculpting. I’m really sad that the Gallery does not get more support from the community, and worried that its days are numbered. Without the traffic, artists won’t care to exhibit there, and without the artists to exhibit there, the Gallery will have to close.
So wherever you live, get out and visit your local galleries. “Starving” artists everywhere are starving for attention.