Monday, August 11, 2008

Class sketches

I've told you before about my great Tuesday night class
at the Brick Works with the Don Valley Art Club, and
how it keeps me sane when I'm on deadline with a
commission, or up to my eyes in term papers. Before I
broke my ankle, I'd sometimes drop in when I felt
rushed and try to grab a painting in an hour. I can't
really do it -- I'm a very slow painter. Sometimes my
portraits take months to do, but when I'm determined,
and the model has presence, Boom -- it all comes together
pretty quickly for a not bad sketch.

Urban Cowboy Sketch
acrylic and charcoal on canvas
18" x 30"

This is a painting I did in the Tuesday class. The model
was a small man, in cowboy mode, and I loved his look,
and energy.

Our class is actually not a class. Nobody teaches
officially, but some of the best painters in the room
get sidelined and asked a lot of questions about
technique. I guess you'd call it peer teaching.
Most of us come in, say "Hi," set up, paint until
the break, talk to one another over a cup of tea,
then get right back to it until we have to go. Then we thank
the model, say goodbye to our friends who are still
painting, head down the stairs and out to the dark
parking lot carrying at very least something
scratched on paper, and at best work that can be
refined and enhanced to be framed and sold.

I have never produced the latter. For a long time I
thought of class as just like movement classes
for dancers. I'd move my arm, and use paint,
so my arm didn't stiffen, and I'd remember
how. Or I'd return to my project of the moment
after an hour or two in class, with new ideas about
how to light the sitter, or where to put a stripe of colour.

Artists, are always devouring art, looking at each other's
work, in class, online, and in the heavy art books that line
our studios. Class is just another place to train the
eye to see in a new way, to learn how other artists see.
Visualize along with me that when this cast comes off
next Tuesday, I don't need a new one. If so, I may be able to
figure out how to get across the parking lot, up the elevator,
and into class to sit, instead of stand, and join
the group of artists I enjoy so much again.

Have a learning-from-the-best night.


Anonymous said...

Barbara, I loved looking at your painting steps and progressions in those classes. Your work and your approach to colour and grounds really influenced mine.
I'm so glad to hear your cast will be coming off!
You've done soooo well this summer in spite of that broken ankle. I'm proud of you......and...I thoroughly enjoy your blog!

Theresa Rankin said...

Thank you Barbara for your generous comments...This piece has a wonderful spontaneity to it. I hope to find time to paint and write too. LOL!

Barbara Muir said...

Thanks Flora,

I really appreciate your support.
I guess the non-functioning lower
leg has taught me how much I value my life, and especially my friends, like you!


Barbara Muir said...

Thanks Theresa.
We have got to do, what we do best.
LOL to you too!


Portrait Artist

My photo
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!