Tag Archives: art

Figure Painting 11-02-17

I think I’m finally getting the hang of figure painting. I am by no means an expert, but for the first time, this week, I was pleased with every sing pose I painted from 1 minutes to 20 minutes.

I started figures in January at The Art Students League. My teacher, Naomi Campbell, was hosting a watercolor workshop on models in surreal environments. I had never painted figures before, but I was curious. It was odd. It was exhausting. And I was hooked. Every Monday since I’ve taken the Q to Manhattan to learn and paint with Naomi. I take two back to back sessions of this class so I am painting from 4:50-6:50pm and 7-10:15pm. Each session moves does a series of 1 min, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min, and 20 min poses. Even with model breaks, five hours of painting is exhausting. Not every class goes as smoothly as this week did. Naomi is a kind teacher, but I wouldn’t call her gentle and my face frequently leaks with frustration.

I’ve learned many things in this class – proportions, body over clothing, lighting, brush positioning – but the thing I struggle with the most is the desire to make my sketches pretty.  It’s common, but painting prettily gets in the way of painting things accurately.

Longer poses are excellent for practicing accuracy. If your model isn’t going to move for 20 minutes you have time to think and argue with yourself about where to place your brush. Less so when you only have 60 seconds to get paint on your brush, your brush on the page and somehow end up with an understandable figure on your page. 60 seconds to paint an entire person. No pressure. And after 60 seconds your model moves and you start all over again.

With practice comes progress and in the last few weeks I’ve managed to finally fit all the pieces together for the 1 minute poses. The second set of sketches are much smoother, but when I look at all of the sketches I can clearly see the model and how she was holding her body. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t, that’s fine, I can. It helps of course, that I was there. Whatever, I am pleased. Pleased and motivated to continue painting and learning. There has been much research done about the various art schools in the city and I am planning. But mostly painting.

Most of my sketches from class are below. I can’t find the notebook with the second session 1 min sketches which is SUUUUUUUPER annoying. I’ll keep digging.

In Limbo

Will and I are home. Sort of.

We’re in Kansas City until Monday, then Chicago for New Year’s, and we finally move back into our permanent residence in New York City on January 5th, 2015. Even though we’re not quite done yet, it feels like I’ve been able to release half a breath I didn’t realize I was holding so tightly. Of course with Christmas Day festivities I felt out of breath all over again. I loved every minute of it. This holiday season is going to be and already has been a blast.

Though being back has been wonderful and we were ready for our adventures to be put to rest, I found myself dragging my feet about leaving. No doubt that some of it was due to the actual packing process. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to find that I procrastinated as much as humanly possible and was still in fact, putting things into suitcase when the packers came to deal with everything that we weren’t taking with us on the road. It took the company only four hours to pack up everything we had brought with us and accumulated over the year. I was grateful that it was someone else packing our stuff instead of me, but having eleven people in my apartment, touching my things, when I didn’t speak enough of their language to communicate was a deeply uncomfortable situation. Living in a country where I wasn’t able to talk and be understood was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Our apartment had become my safe zone. I didn’t have to pidgin my way through conversation or emphatically gesture to be understood there. Even though it was my last day there, having that taken away, and in fact, having that be part of how we left was difficult. But, it had to be done. After they finished putting our things in boxes we went to our last dinner at my favorite yakiniku place (well, the only place I knew of…) a short train ride away. We made one last S’MORE in our awkwardly empty kitchen, shut off the breakers, and then I was in a car to a bus to a plane to Kansas City. Kansai, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Kansas City. Seventeen thousand, eight hundred and eighty-seven miles down, one thousand four hundred and forty-six miles to go.

I’m finding myself relaxed in a way that I had forgotten that I could be. My trips home to see friends and family were always refreshing but they were always also exhausting. While shy about meeting new people, I find myself sliding into depression without a certain amount of socialization that couldn’t be had in Japan. Most people combat this by hanging out with friends, usually so do I, but last year hanging out had a slightly longer commute. With a bit of jet lag. And the gas prices were just a little steeper. Now that I’m back, I’ve already started planning dinner parties and outings with friends and it’s fun in ways that it never was before. I’ve always loved getting friends together but never been crazy about the logistics. Now the logistics feel like a piece of cake.

The downside to being ‘almost’ back is dealing with the fallout from the false feeling of home. I’m staying with my best friend so it’s just enough home for me to relax, but just enough off for me to feel like I have to re-find my place in life. I don’t, or maybe I do, but I’m not actually home yet so I don’t know.

My life in New York City will be more than a little different this time around. I’m moving back with the knowledge that we’ll be there for the foreseeable future. I’m going back to school and I’ll have time to pick up hobbies and meet more friends. It’s easy to meet new friends while seeing the world, but it’s not so easy to maintain that friendship by actually hang out with them when your life is going 100mph. For the first time since college, I’ll be living somewhere without knowing when I’ll be leaving. We have an 18 month lease, but unless we find our neighborhood unbearable, we’ll probably extend it. New York is going to be home for a good long while.

I can’t wait to be home.

Running Out Of Time

There are a lot of things that I should probably be writing about right now. Explaining what’s been happening in my life for the last month, thanking every person on the planet for making that happen, telling you our plans for the next few months, but I can’t. I’ll work on getting to that later.

Right now the urge to create something is bursting out of my fingers, and I am so incredibly frustrated because the only thing I can do about that right now is write about it. I’m at work, and while work at an agency is great because there is a lot of flexibility, I’m still at work.

I want to draw, I want to sew, paint, sing, anything, and I can’t. I don’t have the time. When I get home from work, I have things to do. Some cleaning, cooking (which I know can be art, but it isn’t mine), dealing with the cat and then dear sweet lord, I’m exhausted. Cats, man. 

But on top of this frustration, comes new perspective. How many kids get home from school and grumble (or at least think to themselves) “My parents just don’t get it, I’m an artist. I need to create. They just don’t understand.” And they do. Maybe they don’t talk about it, but they do understand. But they also understand the bills and the billing system at work and the need to put food on the table.

And that ladies and gentlemen is why I support the arts just as much as I do the military (not that I have much choice on the latter.) Because yeah, everybody needs to put in their fair share, but who says that creating art isn’t just as valid as crunching tax numbers or going to war? You save someone from bullets? They save someone from feeling nothing. You keep me from fucking up my taxes and they keep you from wandering through life without seeing and understanding beauty.

Right now, I’m going to turn around and finish the deck that’s due Monday. But after work? I’m heading to the craft store.