Art Journal Every Day: Nathalie's Urban Inspiration
Art Adventures Abroad: East Side Gallery

Three Days at The Art Students League

Between Grand Jury Duty, trips out of town, and deadlines that just kept coming at me, I only managed to make it to the Art Students League for class three days in November.  Sad.  But an indication of how busy I am right now.

We had a model with long curly hair and I'm in a funny position, almost behind her, catching a sort of 1/4 profile.  At first she had her hair piled over her shoulder on one side and it really obscured my view of her face:

Her hair relaxed a bit later to reveal more of her face.

I ran out of charcoal and bought a new-to-me brand.  Hated it!  But because I didn't like the drawing, I started to play with it and imagine a flower crown and a big stained glass window.

I decided to turn that ugly drawing into a painting:

And here is the final painting:

This painting felt very controlled to me, so I wanted to do one that was wildly out of control.

This is where I stopped with the painting.  But after a few days of staring at it at home, I started monkeying around with it.  I'm not sure if that was a good thing or not.  Here's the final result:

Amazing what you can get done in a few hours of concentrated work.  I'm sad that classes are over for now, but I feel like I made some really great discoveries and learned a lot -- mostly about myself!

I learned:

  • I can draw. 
  • I don't like making 100% realistic art.  I constantly find myself wanting to paint with odd colors and harsh lines.  I keep reaching for collage fodder.  Much to my teacher's chagrin I refuse to use the tiny mincing, blending strokes he favors and prefer a strong brush stroke.
  • The eyes have it.  I like a lot of the work I've done over the past three months, but the best pieces are the ones where the model was looking out -- not sideways and not with closed eyes.  They have emotion in a way the other paintings just don't.
  • Models are all around us.  While it's super fantastic to have someone sit in the same position for weeks on end, I have managed to get a lot of sketching of people done in airports, waiting rooms, etc.  I'm a little afraid of getting "caught," but what's the worst that could happen?
  • Keep going, keep going, keep going.  As you can see from the evolution of these paintings and in the two previous posts (here and here), if you don't like something you need to just keep going to fix it.  Keep adding layers and don't be afraid to white out an entire section (like I did with the face in the second painting in today's post) and re-draw it.
  • My own opinion is the one that matters most.  There are several paintings that I liked and then was told to adjust in certain ways and now no longer like.  It's hard to trust your own opinion, but since you're the only one who has to live with the consequences, sometimes you've got to.
  • Sometimes easy is okay.  I shocked myself a few times by coming to a finished piece I liked very much very quickly.  And then I kept thinking, but shouldn't it be harder?  Shouldn't I need to spend a few more hours on this?  Especially because there are people in my class who spend three weeks on one painting!  I tend to finish a painting in a day or two.  Sometimes less.  So I just need to remind myself: quick and easy is okay.
  • Keep doing uncomfortable things.  It's so hard.  It's so very very hard.  It's hard to purposely put yourself in an uncomfortable position and do things that you're not good at.  But it's so good for you.  It's so so good for you.  Everytime I was frustrated I just kept pushing myself, like a runner trying to go another mile, and you know, I felt those artistic endorphins come flooding in when I did it!

All in all there were negatives (hot crowded room, not a lot of instruction, teacher painted on my canvas) but the positives simply crushed any complaints I had.   A wonderful experience and I learned a lot!

Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. The winner of the Leaf Frame in 6x6 and 12x12 is:

LeafframewinnerThe winner of the Flower Frame in 6x6 and 12x12 is:

Congratulations, ladies!  E-mail me your mailing address to claim your prize!

P.P.S. I am finally back from my adventures abroad and will share photos and such over the next few days!  I just have a few hundred e-mails to get to first....