My Last Hurrah

My Last Hurrah

As a former gallery sitter, I wanted to be part of SPACE's installation/project/undefinable art experience before leaving Portland. Collaborator Kelly Rioux thought that a costumed figure would go over, and we're all set for tomorrow.

The Ties that Bike

Lately I've been working with a lovely artist and UNH Art Department veteran Lou Kohl Morgan, to prepare for her show at the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit. I met her through a drawing group, so an opportunity to see finished work was too good to miss. I headed down to the home of the Ogunquit Art Association last weekend. One quick side note: Ogunquit in the summer is beautiful, if crowded. The Ogunquit Museum of American Art is just around the corner from the Barn, and boasts great shows and a solid collection, especially if you're looking for Maine artists. If you can get through the main drag without hitting pedestrians (or if you're okay with hitting pedestrians) the drive is absolutely beautiful.

Dream Image by Lou Kohl Morgan. Pastel on Paper.

Morgan's show is mostly figurative; a charming set of calm and illusory pastels loosely grounded by a couple oil seascapes. She included a few drawings and I ended up seeing more of myself on the walls than expected. She shares the gallery space with Dustan Knight, who's oddly opaque watercolors occupy a similar realm between reality and the ephemeral. Gessoing landscapes onto wood panels, Knight develops compelling depth while maintaining the paint's atmospheric quality

On the other side of the building the gallery displays works from the Ogunquit Art Association. Apparently most of the artists I work for are members, for I saw a host of familiar names and a few more pieces of me. An artist I've worked with for years, Charles Cramer, showed a few of his delicate yet assertive drawings, but I had to check twice before being sure that a few bold illustrative prints were his. Once again I was amazed by the versatility of an artist I thought I knew.

The prints in question are a series of people and bikes, showing only wheels, handlebars, legs and arms. Simple forms meet bold outlines, and the content is a suiting tribute to the commonplace. Select details hint at an artist in a constant state of close observation, finding these charming moments in routine. My personal favorite showed a bike wheel and a woman's legs, skirt knotted between the knees. There is something superfluous yet sensible about the small print, echoed in the practicality of altering such an impractical garment choice.

Today, when I tied my floor-length dress up to my knees, I mused on the ways artists I work with influence my daily life. I've stopped letting my bike commutes stop me from wearing skirts, and think of that print every time I hop on. Trying to emulate a specific artist is nothing new, but usually reserved for the model stand. I haven't thought much about how I internalize contemporary figure work. This skirt is an example bordering on trivial, but I'm sure I could find other manifestations of my own relationship to figure work, perhaps with more significance. If the reciprocity in the artist/model relationship isn't entirely limited to the session, I'm curious what the limits are.

Photography and Such

Recently I've begun writing posts for the blog over at PhoPa Gallery, a photography and print gallery near the brewery end of town (that's not the only reason I go there...). After writing about their historic processes show, I've been thinking about photography as a fine art form. I've also been working for Joshua Langstaff's atelier classes for well over a year now, enjoying a lot of insight into classic painting strategies. The commitment to quality of medium and technical skill inherent in the atelier program has taught me about technical aspects of painting I've had little exposure to. Langstaff's classical style in the midst of other painting techniques. Left to Right: Janet LeDoux, Joshua Langstaff, Steve Lee. Please excuse the wet paint glare.

Through finely honed powers of eavesdropping I hear about different ways to thin paint, the origins of different pigments and canvasses. Langstaff has an incredible wealth of knowledge on the subject, and is more than willing to answer questions. He's very dedicated to going about painting in the "proper" way to get the highest level of purity out of the pigments, prepare them for varnishing and make sure they last. It's incredibly scientific; Langstaff's dedication to natural materials showcases the versatility of our planet's resources and the ingenuity of those who developed the technique.

As I wrote on their blog, PhoPa's Salt, Silver and Sun serves a similar purpose on the photography front. I knew the pioneers of photography had developed many different ways to capture an image on light-sensitive material, but the only photographic process I understood in depth was the classic silver gelatin. Researching other, older, forms of photography made me think more about parallels and tensions between contemporary fine art photographers and the resurgence of classical realism purported by the atelier program, quickly increasing in prominence and popularity.

Just look at those olives!! Willem Claesz Heda, Still Life with Glasses and Tobacco, 1633. Image courtesy Peabody Essex Museum.

Painting is a universally accepted fine art form, from Estes' photorealism to the orderly color arrangement of Mondrian. The rise of atelier-level realism brings awareness to what, for a long time, was a primary goal of painting; that is, depicting reality in visually accurate fashion. The Dutch especially are known for rendering texture in ways I find breathtakingly beautiful (where I get my love of still life). Many artists' talents for naturalism were put into portraiture, documenting clothing, decor, and faces of the age. The demand for accurate representation continued to increase. The camera obscura allowed an artist to project real-world images onto walls to be traced and painted, and scientists and artists began attempts to capture the image itself.

Cyanotype images with tri-color gum bichromate layers that create a color image by Charles Yesenczki. Produced in one of Brenton Hamilton's classes at Maine Media Works, exemplifying the ways in which atelier realism and contemporary use of traditional photographic processes diverge.

They managed to capture it, on silver and tin, paper and glass. I would never claim photography completely freed painting from a commitment to realism, but the medium could claim relative ease and lesser expense compared to traditional portrait painting. Photography quickly became the most popular choice for capturing likenesses and moments. Painting moved to fiction and fable, developing to abstraction and avant-garde in the 20th century. Painted portraits were generally reserved for those who could afford them, and the two media seemed to diverge, one relegated to the bourgeoisie, the other granting a new accessibility to a rising proletariat.

Of course, technology has changed significantly since the birth of photography. Silver gelatin printing is now considered somewhat antiquated, and smartphones allow us to take and share photos within seconds of seeing something remotely interesting (or not). Digital technology lowers the stakes in photography, to where we can focus on simply communicating information or experiences through images. Apps such as Instagram, Tumblr and other image share platforms give "laypeople" the power to further explore the expressive side of imagery. The show at PhoPa suggests that this digital revolution has opened the world of the physical photograph to develop primarily as an art form, as painting once did. Freed from an obligation to documenting reality, photographers delve into the chemistry of photography for new takes on visual communication. The look of fine art photography and classical realism may diverge, yet both disciplines involve a tireless dedication to the intricacies of their chosen craft.

Spatial Reasonings

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Working from my apartment was an interesting investigation of how different spaces affect the art made in them. I’ve noticed this for a while, especially after spending time with Sarah’s work. She does a lot of exploration into the nature of a space and its meaning to the individual. My own relation to spaces is usually filtered through the experience of modeling in them. I work in many different places, and each of them has different strengths and weaknesses. MECA, for example, has little to offer to models in terms of comfort and props, but the rooms are very spacious. This lends itself to a really exciting variety of artistic endeavors. I’ve sat for a portrait for seven hours, using my computer case for comfort, but I’ve also done continuous movement poses surrounded by students drawing on newsprint laid out on the floor.

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I recently modeled at a gallery in Kennebunkport, a small space with a rope and a few artworks hanging from the ceiling. It was exciting to work around the objects in the room and to use the rope to shift my weight for various poses. Spaces definitely lend themselves to completely different exercises and poses. Short poses can be more creative in unconventional spaces, yet Joshua’s academic style works best where there’s room for lines of easels, and highly controlled lighting. I found my apartment wasn’t ideal for academic figure drawing; a perfectly rendered figure before a stark white background would be extremely difficult, and arguably a waste of the space on hand. Fringed lamps, a salmon tinted chaise and potted plants fill the room, clamoring to be drawn. Sarah collects all sorts of trinkets (mostly elephants), and I’ve started accumulating objects as well. A little cramped for large figure groups, our apartment’s capacity for still life and scenery is unparalleled.

With not much to do while modeling but ponder, I have a fascinating time seeing how spaces influence the type and style of art being made there. Beyond the logistics of what can be accomplished in a space, they lend their a distinct energy to the work being produced. I know the way a space feels affects the poses I take, but I think it influences the palettes and the materials artists choose to apply. Bars are scribbled pen drawings in a notebook. Our apartment is intimate inkings of elephant sculptures, flowered wallpaper and bright paint collage, with the occasional nude melting into the background.

Working from Home

If the men whose white t-shirts and long ponytails wrested with the autumn breeze glanced over from their perch overlooking the city, they got an eyeful. We hadn't noticed when we started, but the construction that spent months plaguing one busy street had now snuck around the corner, nestled behind the large victorian's newly erected wraparound porch. The neck of a cherry picker craned over the roof of the mansion, providing a spectacular view into the windows of a humble teal apartment house next door. She ended up throwing this away - it's entirely about the process

I noticed this when I turned for the next pose so the girls could draw my back and saw detailed faces of the two construction workers I'd walked by daily for the past few months. At the moment they focused intently on the roofing of the repurposed mansion, but I had no idea when they were going to turn, nor if the roof of my dormers afforded me any privacy. I counted calmly to sixty and back down again, then sank onto the coffee table I'd been standing on with my hands over my face, explaining what I could see through my middle and index fingers. The three ladies that had arrived with various baked goods and coffee to draw peeked out the window and the room filled with laughter as I defiantly settled into another two minute pose.

I'd been offering up my living room as a potential drawing space for a while now, but this was the first time it came to fruition. Three of my coworkers from Muse were aching to draw, so we got together before a session. I had expected to feel extremely comfortable, it being my own home, but even before we realized I was giving a show to the hard laborers of the City of Portland I felt a little strange. I was slightly unsure in poses, and tentative in navigating how much I should be chatting while posing.

I realized in evaluating the placement of coffee table and chairs beforehand how much thought goes into a space that lends itself to figure drawing. The strongest light source in my living room, determining my position directly in front of the window, was the sun pouring in. Within twenty minutes of me settling into a longer pose the dramatic raking glow across my arms had moved, leaving my form in shadow. The shaded lamps in the room lacked the strength for interesting lighting.

Stress sketches from the day my father broke his hip.

However, the session turned out to be a success anyway. One colleague summed it up with: "I needed to get that out." It's easy to forget, when modeling all the time, what it's like to have sixty seconds to capture the any of the many complexities of a human figure. Reminded of me how I loved life drawing when I was first learning to draw, I began to consider how much I benefit from every time I sit down to draw. I often pull out a sketchbook when I'm stressed or upset, ready to disappear into rushed sketches of fellow beer/coffee drinkers. The results, often decidedly mediocre, aren't overly important. There's a zen to the effort of taking down that much information in a limited period of time related to meditation. Amanda's comment reminded me how important drawing is to me, not as a means to any end besides some amount of inner calm.

Activities for Sitting Still

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As I meet people in Portland, and now have the steady work and confidence to identify myself as an art model, I'm engaging in many more conversations about the work. Beyond the quintessential "Are you naked?," the artistic community here lends itself to some more meaningful conversations about what it's like to model for artists. One of the most common questions is: What do you do?

Just thinking about investing my millions...
Just thinking about investing my millions...

This doesn't sound profound, and it really isn't, but I find it interesting to talk about all the same. In short poses I often plan my next move or even count the time instead of using a timer. In longer poses I need other ways to occupy my brain. I think about what to write on here, whatever problems I'm facing in life, all sorts of things. Most often I keep myself occupied daydreaming. One night I managed to plan out my entire course of action if I were to win the lottery (first move: freedom from Sallie Mae). I've had entire imagined conversations with all sorts of people while trying to ignore my foot falling asleep.

This brings me to the idea of meditation, which is starting to factor more highly in my list of modeling activities. I got a piece of advice once, from a man who said he'd heard that the best way to deal with an itch was to meditate on it. It will either get better, he said, stay the same, or get worse. Strangely enough I tried it, and it's an interesting experience to see how meditation can affect the body. When I meditate on an itch I've found it usually does go away; most reasonable annoyances I can deal with without having to move a muscle. By reasonable annoyances I don't mean anything that could actually cause bodily harm - meditating on the space heater's proximity to my leg never stopped it from turning red, but the random itch on the tip of my nose is now no problem at all.

Contemplating the meaning of life while the wire on this electric blanket burns my back...
Contemplating the meaning of life while the wire on this electric blanket burns my back...

Discussing how I occupy my mind during my sessions of stillness is a great way to see where people are coming from. Some jump right to the conclusion of meditation, others seem amazed that I am not just bored out of my skull, and most don't believe I could spend that much time daydreaming (I can). It's also a fascinating exercise for me to review what I actually do while I'm in a pose for an extended amount of time. Actively thinking about occupying myself prompts me to put the time to more productive use (if I feel like it).

My point: I will be working a 9-4 portrait class next week. As much as I discuss what I do while modeling, I've never had to face the idea of a full workweek of the same pose. I'm using this blog, this post, to try and find ideas of some way to use that time productively. Stay tuned for a series of disjointed thoughts, strange stories, or whatever else I can come up with. Feel free to leave ideas for me in the comments!

A Naked Fly on the Daybed

A few days ago I lay half-clothed on a couch, listening raptly to half-believable stories told by a man who used to rent out a Portugese castle he owned. While these were easily the most compelling stories I've heard while modeling, this situation wasn't altogether out of the ordinary. One of the things I love most about modeling is the ability to indulge in constant observation of human idiosyncrasies. The warm tones on the torso come from the spot light, and the cool on the arm is the natural winter light!

I hear about the politics of different art associations, updates on exhibitions in and around southern Maine, squirrel extermination anecdotes and information on the new Blondie album. I get a spectacular variety of opinions about music, art and a healthy dose of liberal politics. I had the chance to hear one woman describe her experience giving a Ted Talk on raising a transgender child (I can't find the video online, but when I do I will link it, because I heard it was amazing).  I've learned to value the artistic community of the area not just for what they produce but for the time and effort they invest in the things that are important to them, from shows to gun protests.

I also highly value my exposure to lessons about the artistic process. Artists talk about what mediums fit them best, and I've seen artists who struggle with watercolor fill a brush with acrylic and instantly create something spectacular. I've learned everything I know about color during painting classes, and am constantly reminded of drawing best practices. Pamela DuLong Williams constantly reminds her students to "draw every day," describing her time sketching on napkins at McDonalds as a young mother, and I've begun to choose seats in coffee shops based on the view.

This is when my friend and I were drawing in the bar!

With Sarah's stubborn encouragement I've begun to actually practice the knowledge I'm gaining. I've found myself in a process of artistic development, but my access point the art world is very different from many. I find it suits my needs; I love my position as a dispassionate observer. I'm rarely expected to give my opinions, occasionally encouraged not to repeat what I've heard, in the off chance someone remembers that I can hear it. My relegation to a strictly observational role allows me to process and form developed opinions on what I hear. Depending on their appropriateness I can then provide a thought-out assessment of my perspective in this form (provided I have time to post, which has been a challenge lately). I get to pick and choose what advice to take without any pressure, because the advice was never given to me. It makes for a slow and self-driven formation of artistic tendencies. Since I'm in no hurry the experimentation I'm doing with different styles and mediums is more of an end than a means, and I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey.

Side note: This is the reason I've been bad at posting lately, if you're coming up to Portland check it for fun things to do!

The Classics

One of the best things about modeling is the variety of artistic endeavors I get to witness. MECA and USM give me exposure to wackier ways of drawing, and I recently worked a lot with a classical Atelier trained artist, Joshua Langstaff. I posed for a class he taught at an art school called Sanctuary Arts in Elliot, Maine. It was called "The Classical Figure," and involved one pose for the entirety of the ten-week session. The length of this pose was completely different from anything I'd done before and led me to ponder different artistic approaches. Joshua is a pretty dedicated Atelier purist, a product of the current resurgence of realism. He was trained, and hopes to train others, in the same fashion as classic academy artists throughout the centuries. As someone who attaches a good amount of importance to tradition, I have a lot of affection for this kind of artistic training. It is a way for an artist to truly connect to the art of the past, and I'm impressed by the dedication of an artist who wants to start with the same level of technical skill (or at least training) as great artists who came before. They spend years drawing before being allowed to move onto paint, spending more than ten hours on drawings that will later be covered in painstaking layers of oils. A "short pose" to Joshua was three hours long.

Picasso was classically trained in Madrid. Study, 1896.

However, I find there to be a lot disdain for more abstract artwork and artists in realist circles. I sense an undercurrent of judgement for any artist that would make art without first learning to perfectly render the human form. On the other hand, I know many looser artists look down on classical painting, writing it off as unimaginative and soulless. I see where each of these criticisms originates, yet they support narrow perspectives I have no interest in perpetuating.

Sarah provided me with one way of explaining how people could land so one-sided on the issue of classical vs. avant-garde. As someone who does not identify as an artist I can't entirely understand the usefulness of art that influences the way someone decides to paint. I'm trained to reocognize similarities, but when I look at a painting in a gallery I get to look at it without needing anything from it.

Someone explain Alex Katz to me? Ada Seated, 1963

Sarah explained that she looks at art two different ways: for pleasure, or for what it does for her artistically. As someone who looks at the evolution of the artistic process I have the luxury of using all art to developing a perspective on the discipline in general. An artist once asked me if I liked Impressionist art. I was blown away anyone had the notion I might not like art that completely changed the course of artistic theory. I can't relate at all to the frustration of an artist looking at art that means nothing to their development.

My exposure to the vitriol on either side of the classical/avant-garde debate leads to my own attempt remove overzealous criticism from my own perspective. I want to take full advantage of being on the philosophical rather than the practical side of the artistic process. I've been trying to change my reaction to art that doesn't speak to me; to find out what language it's using rather than just walking away. I've started spending more time on works I don't like at first, trying to figure out what I don't like, then exploring why I dislike it. I have access to these diverse and outspoken perspectives, and I'm going to milk them for all it's worth.

 

 

Experimenting

One of the best parts about the class that introduced me to working with another model is that it is an experimental drawing class. I appreciate that both the students and myself are made to work beyond our comfort zone, creating a group of people in the throes of new experience. This class fostered my my initiation into awkward situations of nakedness and continues to throw firsts in my direction. One day the professor had me do twenty minutes of "continual movement" poses, which made me feel utterly ridiculous, and made the students feel utterly stressed. However, there was real beauty in the resulting page of confused movement lines on the students' pages. This drawing was made over the gestures of my continuous movement poses; they're often encouraged to draw over other drawings.

My recent influx of modeling for classes and my experience living with a formally trained artist has increased the level to which I think about what skills are important to a blossoming artist. I'm beginning to recognize differences between the more well-known art schools: the businesslike SCAD, the intense theoretical contemplation of RISD, and the laissez-faire experimentation of MECA that seems to characterize a trend in many art programs. Having recently cut requirements for classical training, MECA looks to be following a trend of valuing creativity, imagination and specialization over well-rounded technical skill. As a graduate of a Liberal Arts school, I'm sure my immediate bias is obvious, but I encourage no one to take my comments as value judgements until I have time to work out the opinions still pupating in my brain cocoon. Of course these are all vague stereotypical impressions of each of these schools, but I find it interesting to compare them.

They also often draw on colored paper. I love the irreverence inherent in all of their exercises.

The Experimental Drawing class at USM is a great example of this sort of education. Most of the students in the class are seniors, with a base of artistic knowledge that they work from in the out-of-the-box exercises their professor gives them. They work a lot with complementary colors, and I hear discussions of "warms" and "cools," just as in the more formal classes I've modeled for. One exercise had them doing contours in one color, then negative space drawings on top of those in its compliment. The class seems organized to help the students play around with the theoretical concepts they've learned, seeing how they could use them in their own stylistic development.

Modeling for these classes is very fun. I feel like less of a person in those situations, as most of the students aren't trying to accurately capture my form. They are more interested in the combination of shapes and lines making up my body; they frequently use color, but it's rarely true to nature. As someone who takes modeling more seriously than a lot of art models (usually I feel like a huge nerd), I love being challenged in these ways. Since so much of modeling is staring at one spot for hours, it's exciting to be able to do quick poses, and the exercises the students work on give me a lot of food for thought while I am sitting for a long pose. However, more classical education styles aren't nearly devoid of inspiration. The atelier class I worked for recently gave me a great point of comparison that I'll expand on in my next post.

I can't write about USM without mentioning the current budget situation, which is on everyone's minds.

This article explains the situation, and the students' Facebook page gives more information on what's being done to get transparency and possibly re-think the changes being made.

 

Sharing the Stand

A few weeks ago I had an interesting modeling first. I've been doing a good amount of work for the University of Southern Maine lately, and after one gig the professor took me aside to tell me next time I would be modeling with another person. I caught the bus to campus a week later determined to be professional and enthusiastic, reminding myself that any situation is only as awkward as you make it. Assuming all the other models at USM were middle aged ladies, as I'd heard they were at Wooster and Bowdoin, I pictured myself lying around with some friendly aging hippie for a few hours. I reached the drawing building early and was settling down on one of the benches to wait when a young man carrying a guitar walked into the room and introduced himself as the model. It dawned on me discomfort was going to be unavoidable. It soon became clear he had no idea there was going to be another model in the first place, and we were both adrift in the same weird boat. 2014-03-11 15.08.56

I've modeled with other people before, but always clothed and with people I knew very well. Having a complete stranger on the modeling stand with me was disconcerting, however dedicated I was to the pretense of a completely normal situation. I found myself repeating poses, a little too scatterbrained to let anything come naturally. The professor was so intent on not pushing us outside our comfort zone that she let us take the lead on most of the poses, resulting in a series of drawings of two people looking away from each other.

Amazingly the artists didn't seem react to our discomfort at all. I'll be completely frank that I don't think our poses were that interesting, but with two figures to draw in so little time the students were not looking for anything complicated. Beyond this, some students even managed to work in some sort of Kate-ish ambiguous narrative.

Alternatively I was thinking "my neck hurts"

It was fascinating to see how the artists adapted to the energy of the situation. Eileen was able to work with the awkward atmosphere of the pose and turn it into something interesting and edgy. There is a definite narrative to her second drawing, where it looks like both of us were thinking something other than "God, I hope I'm not too close..."

One of the wonderful parts about this new experience was the ability to meet another model. Jon ("naked boy" if you're Sarah) was the first figure model I've ever really talked to, and it was interesting to learn what other of people do this kind of niche job. Jon is a guitar major at USM, modeling as a work-study kind of situation, much like the models were at UNH. He'd never drawn from the figure, so I was able to reassure him ("Oh, you're barely a person to them") and get his perspective on the fun and less fun parts of the job. I spend a lot of time trapped thinking about these things in my head, and it was a relief to talk them out with someone who had the same experiences. Having another robed being walking around during breaks was also comforting. I often feel slightly lonely during drawing groups, not because I'm excluded in any way, but because I am always there for a different reason than everyone else. I find the idea of a modeling "coworker" both ridiculous and wonderful.

 

All drawings lifted from the blog of one of the students.

Confessions of a Wooster grad: everything is still about I.S.

I've talked about the areas in which I model before, cushions, tables, chairs, but usually from a visual, artistic standpoint. One thing that has never ceased to amaze me is the length that artists will go to to organize interesting compositions without sacrificing the comfort of the model. One class is run by an experienced artist who knew just where to put the pillows, where to prop me up so I was basically draped on strategically placed pillows. She was able to set me up in a amazingly dramatic position I could sit for over half an hour. The exciting thing is that the pose is only a small part of what goes into making a composition. Just the beginning of an army of easels at Sanctuary Arts. They're all marked so that the artist has the right placement every week.

I am truly impressed by the lengths artists go to find the perfect angle. Ladders, sitting on the floor, whatever it takes to get the best angle of the hip, to see the twist of the body better. Light stands get in the way, to say nothing of heaters. Even in casual drawing sessions, a lot of time has to be taken to set up the area.

This makes it that much more magical when something totally unexpected happens and changes the composition entirely. The best example of this I have happened within the last 20 minutes a three-hour pose. The drawing group started mid-morning, but by the end the sun had risen far enough to shine through the scarlet stained glass window on the side of the room. It sent a bright beam of warm light across my torso and artists all around started exclaiming, some painting furiously to put the color in at the last minute. I love how this exemplifies what makes art wonderful. The most beautiful pose can be made better by just a shift in natural light, an uncontrollable change in the composition that artists struggle to capture.

He's not even finished, but the sculpture is going to be gone in an hour. Date and name to come!

Some artists instead choose to focus on those experiences as ephemeral. I wrote my Bachelor's thesis (I.S.) on the art of Andy Goldsworthy, among others, who is a great example of embracing the uncertain qualities in art. Indeed, he tends toward artistic endeavors that emphasize the inherent fragility of attempts to order the world. It really appealed to me when writing my thesis, but there is something really exciting about discovering the same in figure work. In the controlled realm of figure drawing unexpected light is often a complication instead of something to be sought. There is an element of exclusivity to those moments; they don't happen often, and if the artists fail to capture the unexpected no one but the artist and model will know (unless the model writes a effusive blog post about it). Instead of an artistic experience the sudden change of light will be a shared experience of wonder at the beauty of sun and glass.

The best part is the two aren't that different.

Excuses

This week's post delayed on account of packing, cleaning and overdue sewing projects. For your enjoyments, here is my newest museum show obsession: http://fashionandfolkart.tumblr.com/exhibition?

And here is a reason to go THERE instead of MoMA (while you still can): (Also, it's free. MOMA is $25)

http://www.archdaily.com/472021/glenn-lowry-on-american-folk-art-museum-the-decision-has-been-made/

"Architecture is entirely linked to functionality."

Here are some pictures to look at while you both ponder that statement and see through my attempt at unbiased reporting.

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I have a more thoughts on this subject than time to express, but I have more of a problem with MoMA's process and attempt at a defense than I do their actions.

But I digress. Time to put things into boxes.

 

 

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.