Processing Creatively

I will soon move to Portland, Maine (the original) with my friend Sarah Kane. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design; her work mostly consists of collage paintings of interiors (I'm sure I'll talk more about them later). As part of my move further north I will be working with Joshua Langstaff, a notably traditional painter working out Portland. I will be modeling for his class at Sanctuary Arts (I'll have more to say on that subject, too) in Elliot, ME. Due to logistical arrangements that aren't important I will be able to occasionally sit in on his still life class. This shows the beginning stages of a soon-to-be pastel drawing, done over 3 days.  Drawing by Charles Cramer

This brings me to the most exciting part of modeling for classes: learning. I've mentioned before that I listen to what artists say while they teach, from Kate Savage's relentless enthusiasm to Pamela Dulong's straightforward advice. Regrettably I don't get to immediately apply these lessons, but even so I've noticed my drawing skill deteriorating at a much slower rate than I'd expect. The tips and techniques I hear in classes have surely permeated some part of my consciousness.

With this as a base I am able to look at work produced in drawing classes as a representation of the variety of views on creating art. I love the different strategies people use to make drawing and paintings, especially the preliminary stages. I remember a drawing class, years ago, when we were told to draw outlines of the different planes of our faces to start a drawing. I can't express how miserably I failed, completely unable to understand what my professor was talking about. Just a few weeks ago, I saw a preliminary drawing of myself that clearly outlined the different planes of the figure. The exercise from my drawing class immediately came back to me. I still don't understand how to see that in a figure, but it was affirming to see that it works for some people.

This is just the tip of the drawing strategy iceberg. There are artists painstakingly

A very different approach to the figure - I personally love the red, white and blue. Sketch by Brad Maushart

measuring, dabbing bits of paint in deliberate motions or hastily blocking out color shapes in the background before getting into the figure. In Pamela Dulong's class she will have the students try multiple ways of starting a drawing or painting to see what works best for them. It emphasizes the ways the mind sees the figure, decides to put that to paper or canvas, and the incredible diversity that exists in the art world. It's easy to see how this culture produced artists from Monet to Mondrian.

As anyone familiar with artistic interpretation knows, examining how artists choose to present their view of the world around can be done from multiple perspectives. Looking at the artwork produced is one endlessly fascinating level, delving into the process behind it is another. Each can tell us about the individual artist's vision, the way their mind worked, and the culture in which they created. Being able to observe the beginning stages of artwork is an invaluable experience that will continue to inform my views on art.