Something Else I Did Last Summer

easels…Well last spring, really.  For a long while I had been looking for a life painting class to take.  I really enjoy life drawing (although it is somehow really hard to find a class that I can fit in to my life in Peterborough).  There is something very special and magical about human skin and the way light is absorbed and reflected in it.  There is also something very special about finding all of the colours in skin and finding ways to mix them up.  So to my pleasure, I found a Haliburton School of the Arts class which was to be held at Fleming College, not far from my home.  The class, which I can’t find now, was taught by Matthew Mancini.  Here he is.  It was a pretty rad class, although it fell on a bad week (actually a week that got something horrible out of my life, but it was a crap process).  Matthew was an excellent teacher, in a style that I would actually like to devote myself to, if nothing else (money, crippling self-doubt…) were in my way.

The first day was spent on a small painting using only black and white paint.  We were supposed to Alla Prima life paintingblock the basic tones and shapes of the figure.  I hate black paint, the particular black I have makes unappealing blue greys which are thick like toffee and seem to need to be chewed too much to get any kind of gradient.  Needless to say I hate what I ended up with and never want to see it again.

On the second day we did a style called Alla Prima, or what I would have called before that day Painting.  This made me much more comfortable.  He wanted us to really only work on the light portion of the figure and add little or no detail to the dark portion.  Although unfinished (which is pretty generally my painting M.O.) and containing some brushstrokes I regret, I enjoy the result I had for that day.  The model was great and I came up with some good skin tones and some nice suggestion (oooh, the mystery…).  I’m not quite sure what happened with that tiny foot, but I really was (and am) out of practice with the life-drawing and the proportion.

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The rest of the week was spent on one large painting done in the abbreviated style of the old masters.  This involved getting a good drawing (with spirits-diluted mid tone brown), blocking the lights and darks, rounding the light shapes (which was a step that I could not get my brain around…I think that this slowed my progress quite a bit), and finally getting in detail using walnut oil diluted paint (thick over lean).  Because I am generally a slow painter, Matthew suggested choosing an area to work on for the detail work.  I generally like to work from the centre out, so I chose the belly.  …and what a belly it was.  Everyone in the class would take a look at it and say “that’s a belly.”  Oh dear.  Never be a life model for me.  The model was very good and kept her post exactly the same for the three days we worked on it (was it 3?).  I wasn’t intending to make such an unflattering belly, but when I start looking deeply I see all types of translucence and reflection…  Anyway, it is a really odd painting.  I left it in Candace’s old room and whenever she would visit, she would turn it around so she didn’t have to see it.  I wish I could have finished the whole painting.  I think that if it were complete, the belly wouldn’t matter so much.

I completely recommend the class and the teacher.  I forgot that this was actually one of the most stressful and draining weeks of my life.  This may have been part of the reason that I created such an unappealing painting. The belly I also recommend never getting involved in litigation…

Side note:  This should have been my post somewhere in between Candace’s Chutney and Basket posts.  I am painting, you’ll be happy.  I’m working on two right now that I’d hoped would have been done before I needed to post, but neither were.  Hopefully my next post will be on time and a new painting.