I went to Paris for the first two weeks of May this year and my trip was entirely focused on studying art. I went to the Louvre six times – not nearly enough. I also visited the Orsay, Musee Bourdelle, Montmartre, saw Velasquez show at the Grand Palais, popped into the Musee Carnavalet and I know I missed a PILE of other great stuff.
I documented my trip in paintings and drawings. Most of these drawings were made in the Louvre – where I actually was moved to tears a few times; putting this album together brings back a bit of the emotional experience.
I received a grant last year to help with my figurative anatomy studies. It was a real boost, both in morale and in the opportunity to study something awesome. I took a 3 month online intensive artistic anatomy course, I spent three weeks at the Stanford morgue studying bodies with Dan Thompson, Michael Grimaldi and the BACAA crew. I then returned home and began a series of four figure paintings that I am finally showing publicly today!
These figures are all posed in Anatomical Position, which is one of the first things we learn in a medical anatomy class. All the body’s movements are categorized based on this position. By making these paintings I was able to consciously translate my new technical, theoretical knowledge to the living, breathing, reality of the person. People are more than textbooks, more than flesh and blood, of course. Similar, but totally different. And this is what we love about life. Everything in the universe has a unifying baseline, but with wonderful, endless variety.
To create these paintings I hired models who came to stand in my studio about 10 times a piece. I had each person stand in the same place and painted them roughly in the same scale. It was a delight to spend so much time with each model, studying and getting to know them. In fact – three of the models are in the same family. Posterior Male is married to Anterior Female and Posterior Female is sister to Anterior Female.
Back to School with Kinesiology at Ashland Institute of Massage!
My ongoing obsession with knowing specifically the origin, insertion, action and shape of muscles has led me to take a rather in-depth kinesiology class. Over 100 class hours, plus out of class study time will keep me busy til April. And, of course I’m translating a lot of this stuff from massage application to artist application. I feel so fantastic when I’m in a class I love.
My favorite working method is having the model come to your studio many days in a row (nine sessions, unless I lost count) – instead of the way I used to work, which was have the model come once a week for a number of weeks. When you have the model in the room everyday, you don’t forget which pigments you were using, where things were set up and what your goals are.
The workshop I just attended was amazing – we drew a model every morning and in the afternoons we studied cadavers at Standford Medical School. What an experience. These photos are from the first day – you can see me in the pink sweater with the face mask – looking frightened. First day was freaky, mostly because of the formaldehyde smell. The next day was interesting and then each subsequent day was more and more and more interesting and I’m so glad to have had the experience. Getting a sense of the physical nature of the insertions, origins, actions, structure, function of the muscles was so valuable, although really just an intro, I have much to memorize to thoroughly benefit. I’d like to go back again – hopefully this summer.
FYI – Michael Grimaldi, instructor, pointed out on the first day that these bodies were given by their former inhabitants very consciously – these aren’t coerced or unclaimed bodies or anything. Dan pointed out that studying them really shows you how that what makes us human is the animating force, and it’s true; it was surprisingly undisturbing – I kept finding myself saying, “it’s so beautiful”.
My drawings from the workshop aren’t much to write home about, so I’ll just show the cell phone photos. The real value was in the new understanding, the curiosity sparked, the ideas I plan to pursue.
My latest piece for Smithfields. My working title is Water. Titles -eh. They’re hard. They either very robotic for me, or very silly and embarrassing. I am not a writer.
I was playing with echoes in this piece – the male figure and the crab both have bent knees, orange color. The woman has a mermaid tattoo (hard to make out), the baby and the fish have their mouths open. The baby and the fish recently came out of the water.