Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Wednesday in the life

of a Level Two student.
by Wendy Wagner.

Today is our class with instructor Dan Thompson, assisted by Teaching Fellow Alisyn Blake. I don't think I can accurately describe the experience in a short blog post, but I will try. This class combines Levels Two and Three. For Level Two, this week represents our first attempt at painting the figure in natural light. It is helpful working alongside Level Three students, as they are a good source of information.
Here is a play-by-play of my day:

9:15 am:  Compositional lecture, given by Dan, based on the writings of noted artist/authors Henry R. Poore and Cyril Pearce. Class starts 15 minutes later because Dan drives down from NY, however he extends our day by the same amount of time.

10:30 am:
  We start a new three-week painting using compositional ideas discussed in lecture.

Noon: Lunch starts. Or in my case, I make a latte run to the cafe across the street. I need the extra energy for the rest of the day.

12:15 pm:  " Lunchtime lecture". Approximately once a month, the school will sponsor lectures at lunch. We bring our brown bags into Studio A for various presentations. Today, our lecture is with Dan, based on the torso. I can't even begin to abbreviate all of the information given, but will say he referenced Dr. Acland, Richer, Peck, Vanderpoel, Bammes, Grant's atlas, as well as digital anatomy alongside old master drawings. The depth of his knowledge astounds us all.

1:15 pm:  Back to class. Using a palette knife, we start the first pass of color notes. Level Two starts to sweat as we realize how truly complex it is to paint in natural light. With the passage of time, the colors change but we work through it, scanning eyes around the setup, making color notes.

It is important to not stare into a color for too long, as this will cause you to see too many colors. You want to get a quick impression and make the color note.
The colors reflecting on the models skin are so beautiful, and after working under warm lights our whole year, our tendency is to make the notes warmer than in nature. However in this light, on a rainy day, the light is cool.  With this awareness, we continue.

Dan and Alisyn work their way around the room, nudging us along.

4:15 pm:  Class ends. It's a good sign when time flies by quickly. This whole lesson consists of three weeks of painting the model with one background, and three weeks of the same pose with a different background. The exercise is about how the complexion of skin color changes as the light and environment change. Because the class is large, we have two models on two different stands, so we switch backgrounds.

We will have this class again next year and go over the same concepts but honestly, I could take it every year and still not soak it all in.  Here are both model stands, pictured side by side (sans models, of course).