Monday, August 13, 2012

A Whole New Approach; A Fish Out of Water


A couple of ice packs, a couple of glasses of wine and I'll be fine.

Day one of the Gesture Portraiture Workshop was a humbling experience. Of the five portraits we did, I brought home only the charcoal--and they're in the car in my case and I'm not bringing that in. I don't care to look at them. I should have dumped those in the trash along with the oils too. They all sucked.

 VALUES was the key lesson. Values and shapes are the only things to look at when painting portraits. Squinting is highly recommended. Values are something I need to work on with oils. I have no problem with them with acrylics. Oils smear. I made a mess, learned how not to and got insight on how to set up the oil palette; the palette knife and a wipe or five are key. You can't have too many wipes.

 I had a lot of trouble painting a little head in three, and then five, different values with smeary oils on 9 x 12 canvas, standing at an easel. I kept holding the brush like it was a pencil. I wasn't alone TG. The woman next to me was having the same difficulty. Both of us were used to larger formats. The best I saw was a woman who had a larger size canvas pad. Her heads were life sized; they were excellent. I should have followed suit.  The hours flew by though. I enjoyed myself, as frustrating as my five failures were. I enjoyed learning a new way to see.

 What I didn't enjoy was dragging and lifting my carry-on case of supplies first, up five stairs; then, down five stairs, then up five stairs. I'm going to have to ferret out a different path and eliminate some of those stairs tomorrow. I hear they have an elevator. Where? I haven't a clue.  But icing and a couple of glasses of wine set my world right. I am so thrilled I made four dinners ahead.

Vyanna Szabo is an excellent teacher. It wasn't her first day.

33 comments:

  1. Your iced knees and wine sound pretty relaxing Linda :-) "learning new ways to see" -- what a great experience!

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    1. One thing that wasn't on the list was a flask. Okay, so I had it. I got it. Now I just have to figure out how to put it in play. Here I go again...

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  2. I understand that many folks don't paint well at workshops. It makes sense - you are trying something wholly new. It's in the months after that you assimilate the material and begin to understand. That's what I hear, anyway.

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    1. Well it's the truth Dan. It is a lot like taking tennis lessons. Some pro shows you how to serve the ball and all of a sudden you can't get it over the net. I wish it was a month later. Ellis is already telling me forget about the cost, forget about doing everything they say, come home when you've had enough. He did not offer to get me a baggage handler and Chauffeur--or a moving company:)

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    2. Good for Ellis - like the cut of his jib!

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  3. hey, i agree w/agnes. iced knees and wine! you are too hard on yourself- then again you are a perfectionist.. nothing wrong w/that, u just need to pat yourself on your back more!.

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    1. The pat on my back comes today when I return to the scene of my pain. I'm a brave coookie.

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  4. Well, first off, you have cute feet. I can't share my feet with the blogosphere... yeah, I won't be sharing my feet! Here's what I bet...you are probably the most raw talent there and you are working in a medium that you aren't all that used to. Don't worry...no one expects workshop work to wind up in a frame. If you want to work bigger...can you? Is this a 5 day or a 3 day workshop? Sorry about having to lug everything up those stairs. Glad you are taking the workshop....I know you'll like it "in retrospect"!! <----two exclamation marks.

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    1. Didn't you notice I need a pedicure? Badly. That's next week. Four days and done. It's the six hours of standing that's killing me. Today. I will figure out how to lower that easel so I can sit, which is also strange to me, but will save my legs. I don't feel like the least talented there. I didn't see any work worth bragging about. I saw a lot of people who also couldn't keep their colors clean on the palette or on the painting. I was okay--even the gal who was using acrylics made a mess or five. The lesson was to not draw and not think form (Cezanne) as I was taught and have practiced all these years. Flat shapes in three values made from black (which I never use, it's so dead) and white and strokes with full brush loads makes for a mess. I was taught thin to thick. Also working out of a suitcase in a limited spot is constraining. Lots to get used to. A three hour class for ten weeks might have been better, instead of all this intensity. And you can't leave your stuff and there's no drying racks. No wet paintings are coming home with me. I'll photograph the monstrosities hence forth.

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  5. I hope you find that elevator. Several days of that dragging will get old.

    Hard as it is, try not to throw out everything you do. If you keep some, you can see your progress from the workshop and that will be thrilling. Don't worry, you don' t have to publish it.

    All the best.

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    1. It got old doing it just once.

      I threw it out not only because it sucked, but I really didn't want to put wet paintings back in my satchel. If they are still in the trash today, I'll fish them out. --If what I'm learning is sinking in, it will do it in the privacy of my own studio when posing sessions aren't ten minutes and the medium isn't fairly new to me. I would take a 3 hour class with this woman. She's impressive--and screwed up her own demo, which made me feel not so badly. I had a good time at lunch:)

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  6. It sound like you had a rough first day, learned a lot and realized that should have gone with a bigger size canvas. That is not a waste of time. I suggest you follow your instincts. I have started to paint small, or as someone said medium (8" x 8"), but I will compositions that suit my style and the fact that I don't like to paint small.

    Have a great 2nd day, and I hope your knees feels better.

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    1. Fortified with a Celebrex and pain killer. I could use a baggage handler to handle the stairs.Standing on the cement all those hours wasn't good for me when I modeled; and it sure isn't doing me any good now.

      I don't like small either, but I don't need any heavier weight in that satchel. I'm going to fill the canvas with that head.

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  7. Dear Linda,thanks for writing at the end of a hectic day!Facing the new is always a commitment
    but here is the sense of the thing.
    Compare, you actually do, and make other decisions ... or confirmed on its own mind.
    The tonal structure, on which I am always in trouble, I think the key to the success of the whole work of art, in any medium.
    The teacher has a good start!
    As Jean says...do not throw anything, Linda, so you will understand better the way done!

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  8. I guess it's hard to appreciate what you are learning when you are so dissatisfied with the results....... I had a similar experience on my workshop with Jean Haines but once I reached home and sort of debriefed the session.....I realised that I had learned so much and so much to use for the future.... sounds like there is a lot of stuff here to use for all types of work not just oils!!

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    1. No, I was very satisfied with the lesson Judy(is that all right?). I was in pain from the luggage drag over hill and stairs and standing on cement all day with a bum knee. Then to work small ( fairly strange to me), to work with black and white (I have never painted people or anything with black and white) with a fairly strange medium made me think I started my workshop experience with the wrong one. I was struggling with the paint and the size and the entirely new approach to painting with no drawing whatsoever. The gal next to me had acrylics, but she wasn't doing very well either--no one was. I guess that's the way of it?

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  9. Linda!
    I think the photo you painted would make a great painting,
    Take care.
    Michael

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    1. A cartoon for Pamo's contest. I'll title it If This Doesn't Kill Me, which I think I title tonight's post. So a sneak preview of things to come-- down the hill, five stairs up, five stairs down, five stairs up and over. Repeat. It's a Celebrex week.

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  10. Oh Linda, I hope your next day goes better. Sounds like you were a little frustrated by the work you did, but then isn't that what it is all about...no, not frustration, but Learning. Sometimes getting things completely wrong focuses us on where we should be going. On the other hand I am sure your work was wonderful, your paintings are of a Professional standard in my opinion. Happy Painting to you.

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    1. I wasn't the only one TG. Everyone with the exception of the gal who blew up the size canvas and the size of the head were painting Creatures from The Black Lagoon or the Walking Dead.
      No doubt I am learning, but I won't see the results in that studio; I will in mine. There I'm content just to be a sponge.

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  11. I understand the 'legs' - only too well. If one hasn't got arthritic knees then one can never understand the pain from stairs and standing.

    Tell them to carry your bags and give you a seat ...or else!

    I'm going to worry about you now!

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    1. Not to worry. I found the right place to park and the right entrance--all on the same level, no hills. I took my drugstore knee support today and I found a stool high enough to use. Also took a Celebrex before leaving the house even though I have been trying to cut back on that drug. I think these fours days are Celebrex days.

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  12. Sorry you're hurting, Linda! Finding the elevator would be #1 ...I like workshops but I always feel a bit pressured when I'm there...I have learned to see values before painting...but I like painting from photos more. Right now, keep the ice on the legs AND in the glass! feel better!!.

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    1. Thanks Hilda. There is a pressure. It's the short time given for each pose. Ten minutes, Twenty minutes and so far the longest has been an hour. Then there's lunch and taking care of your personal needs and working in strange surroundings that throw you off your feed. I was out of water. Disconnected. Not at home. I'll live.

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  13. Love your photo of the icing knees, and I do hope they are feeling better for Round 2 today. I tend to put too little emphasis on values, too - get swept up in the moment with color. Take care of those knees!

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    1. Values and the shapes of them is how this portrait painter says portraits should be done.She uses Rembrandt, a guy named Yan, and Sargent to back her up. She definitely has a point. I've never spent much time looking at portraits in the museum; I now think I should. Knee recovered.

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  14. Oh dear... I firstly saw the picture and got so worry for you. Hope you're feeling better by now! Do find that elevator. I have a bad knee(from dance theatre-I thought I was a pro or something, I should have known better) and some days it drives me crazy out of pain that expand to the whole leg. Plus with all the humidity in Liverpool it very often gives me sleepless nights. So, do take care of yourself.

    The workshop seems to be working, since it makes you see things differently. I always thought, when I'll eventually take art lessons, laying aside the way I'm use to draw by now, would be the price I have to pay for the new things I'll learn. Then again I haven't had any kind of workshop, so probably I'm talking nonsense here.

    I wish you have fun today and not been needing ice packs. Hugs

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    1. This is my first. The last time I took art classes I was in my late twenties and wanted to get out of the house away from my three toddlers. This is serious. It's intense. Today we did four portraits; yesterday (the day of this post), we did five: three charcoals, two oils. None were keepable.

      I iced. I drank wine. I lived. Today I wore my brace and sat. Much better.I also found where to park and eliminate all those stairs.

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  15. A look at that shot upside down is very telling. Cheer up.

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    1. Wine is good.It cures knees. It lifts spirits. I survived--humbled, but willing to carry on.

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  16. Oh, Linda. Find the elevator and remember that each day begins anew. You will get better and better at handling the oils as you progress through the classes. I have taken a few life painting workshops at the Scottsdale Artist School and the first day is always the hardest! Hang in there - after all is said and done, you will realize the value obtained.

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    1. I found better an entrance right on our studio level. Did much better today. Whatever was taught yesterday sunk in overnight. I am satisfied with my decision to take this workshop and will probably take another from this gal. She's great.

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  17. Ouch. Hope you are feeling better now.

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