Why I draw and paint the human figure
When I walked into the studio for my first figure drawing class it was with some apprehension. I knew that drawing from a live model is considered difficult. Well, I wanted to improve, didn’t I?
I had recently begun taking as many classes and workshops as I could and so I had been happy to find that it was like coming home after a great absence and meeting long lost friends.
I was also a bit concerned that I would feel embarrassed in the presence of the nude model. What if I blushed? What if I revealed my lack of sophistication? I knew I was the product of a conservative upbringing and a society with distorted ideas concerning nudity. I was concerned my drawing skills wouldn’t be up to the task.
] After a brief demonstration we began with short gesture drawings. Immediately I was completely engrossed in what I was doing.
Two hours flew by. I continued studying and began attending open studios where I still continue striving to improve.
Why does this still hold a fascination for me?
I had spent 25 years in the fitness industry. I was an athlete for much of my adult life. I had studied anatomy and physiology and what I learned about the human body filled me with wonder. We truly are an amazing creation.
I have always been fascinated with the kinetic energy of the body. Our bodies are never meant to be completely still, even at rest.
I wanted to capture this aliveness somehow. It may be why I still love the raw energy of quick poses. Even during longer poses there is never complete stillness. There is a stress and tension that shows in the face and body of the model. How could it be otherwise when my subject is a living, breathing human?
I have learned that the human form truly is beautiful. This goes beyond mere cliché.
I logically knew that the airbrushed images held up as an ideal in our society are false, but unfortunately it is the rare person – myself included – who is comfortable in his or her own skin. It is sad that we often see ourselves as not enough when we are so much.
I have learned this beauty is present in the curve of the neck, the gesture of hand, the tilt of the shoulders, in countless other ways. All I have to do is really look and hopefully see. It has absolutely nothing to do with any false idea of perfection.
There is so much conveyed not only by the face but the frame. I see pride, power and strength, grace and elegance, gentleness. There is also sadness, weakness and human frailty.
If I am fortunate, sometimes something of the individual and our shared humanity finds its way into my work.
The psalmist expresses far better than I the most profound reason I am fascinated by the human form;
Psalm 139:14: “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well.”
A rapt audience of about 35 interested artists gathered in the Main Street Artists Studio one recent evening to learn about many of the Caran D’Ache art materials. The presentation was given by the company’s national rep, Stefan Lohrer. He was very interesting, informative and entertaining.
Stefan explained that the company was founded in 1915 in Geneva, Switzerland, where the headquarters and manufacturing facilities remain to this day. Intriguingly, the name Caran D’ache, which was adopted in 1924, traces its origin to the Russian word for pencil – karandash.
Stefan talked about the manufacturing processes, quality control and technical considerations. Then he walked us through an array of products, including Luminance top-of-the-line colored pencils, Pablo colored pencils, Museum Aquarelle high-end water-soluble colored pencils, Supracolor Soft Aquarelle water-soluble colored pencils, traditional graphite drawing pencils and water-soluble graphite pencils, pastel pencils and pastel cubes, Neopastel oil pastel sticks and Neocolor II water-soluble crayons. He also introduced us to the Caran D’Ache Full Blender, a colorless pencil designed to blend, dry mix and intensify the colors of colored pencils.
Stefan gave numerous examples for using the products, including some novel ideas. He certainly sparked the imaginations of the artists.
At one point Stefan held up a tiny item, an aquarelle travel brush with its own water tank. It filled easily with water and Stefan cleaned it just as easily. It’s a perfect mate with Caran D’Ache water soluble pencils. The brushes come in a package of three different tips: large, medium and fine. I was ready to buy them immediately so I could follow Stefan’s suggestion and travel very lightly for outdoor drawing and painting.
The audience was very intrigued by the Neocolor ll watersoluble crayons. The luminous colors have an ultra-high concentration of pigment. They can be used for many purposes, including a simple drawing and mono-print process to create self portraits. You can “color” your image directly on a mirror, then press a damp piece of watercolor paper on the mirror, using a roller to transfer the image to the paper. If you hear enthusiastic laughter coming from the MSA studios this fall you will know we are introducing visitors to this process. We’re experimenting and we’ll let you know when we’re ready to go public.
Everyone who attended the presentation received a goody bag with a generous selection of samples. But if you’d like to check out these fine products, Rochester Art Supply Inc., which sponsored Stefan’s visit, carries a comprehensive collection of the Caran D’ache brand at the venerable store at 150 W. Main St.
~ Sue Hegan Henry
2018 has been a busy year, so far, for me.
I started out January with a marketing workshop through my friend Susan Carmen Duffy at Create Art 4 Good. I set goals and went on my merry way. I started painting and attending workshops.
Then came June and Susan sent me a reminder of my goals in anticipation of our upcoming Marketing Mondaymeeting. I have been attending these meetings regularly in an effort to better promote my art. I was pleasantly surprised that I had accomplished 2½ of my 5 goals. The last two involve doing something I should have done last year. I have a tendency to just paint and ignore the business part of my art. This has caused me to have a surplus of product and no online presence for sales.
The following are my 2018 goals:
· Paint more Norris’.
ü As I mentioned above, I have been painting!
· Research places to get my art visible outside of Rochester.
ü I have been looking into shows outside of Rochester and galleries in areas where I like to paint. I’ve entered a couple of competitions and made a painting donation to the Provincetown (MA) Art Association and Museum.
· Get my website running and consistently posting.
ü My website is up and running. I’ve been posting regularly on my Facebook page but I have not been writing my blog on my website. I have not added any of my new paintings to my page galleries since November. This goal has only been half reached.
· Sell online.
· Get my DBA and tax number.
Now I need to accomplish the last two. I can’t sell online without a tax number and I can’t get a DBA without deciding on the name I want to have…forever.
This is why, while, even though I don’t like to think about the business part of being a creative, I continue to take classes, read articles and attend Marketing Monday meetings. These friends are the ones who keep me honest and gently push me in the direction I need to be headed in.
Along that vein, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that:
· My Facebook page is Christine D Norris
· My Instagram page is o2paint
~ Christine Norris
The 17 members of Rochester’s Main Street Artists group will present its biennial exhibit at Patricia O’Keefe Ross Art Gallery in the Joseph S. Skalny Welcome Center, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Ave. Pittsford.
The show runs from June 4 to July 6 with an artists’ reception 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 8. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon Friday. It is free and open to the public.
The showwill include more than 50 paintings in a variety of styles and media. Paricipants are Diane Bellenger, Linda Cala, Kathleen Dewitt-Hess, Margot Fass, Sue Hegan Henry, Kathy Lindsley, Jacqueline Lippa, Gabriele Lodder, Daniel Mack Sr., Cris Metcalf, Eleanor Milborrow, Andrea Nadel, Christine D. Norris, Jane Patrick, Susan Schiffhauer, Lisa Zaccour, and Suzi Zefting-Kuhn.
The Main Street Artists group was founded in January 2010 by Suzi Zefting-Kuhn and now has 17 members who share gallery and work space in the Hungerford Building in downtown Rochester. Studio 458 has become a popular stop during monthly First Friday and Second Saturday events. The St. John Fisher exhibit provides an additional opportunity for people to learn about this dynamic group.
“Our members enjoy sharing our art with each other and the public,” says Zefting-Kuhn. “Visitors often comment on the creative atmosphere we have all worked so hard to create and, to me, that is the best compliment.”
For more information, visit www.mainstreetartistsgallery.com or call 585-233-5645.
Come see what’s up with MSA!
You can visit the studio and members during the First Friday (6-9 p.m. April 6 ) and Second Saturday (10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 14) open studio events. You can also stop in at other times – members are at work almost every day! Call 585-233-5645 to make sure someone is “home.”
Meanwhile, please check out our website (www.mainstreetartistsgallery.com) and be sure to LIKE us on Facebook!
Save the date!
MSA AT SJF
The Main Street Artists will once again present an exhibit at the Patricia O'Keefe Ross Art Gallery in the Joseph S. Skalny Welcome Center at St. John Fisher College. The show is open weekdays June 4-July 6; a reception takes place 6-7:30 p.m. June 8.
We artists are a sensitive bunch. Sensitivity serves us well in creating and expressing our art, but there is a flip side. When we display our art to the public, whether at shows or on social media, we become vulnerable to all types of criticism or worse, ambivalence. It can be difficult to receive negative feedback or silence without feeling slighted. When the source of these comments is close friends, family members, or other artists, we may feel especially hurt and insulted.
So what’s an artist to do? Can we expose our artistic expressions and remain unphased by the negative reaction of others? Though this can be a challenge, I have found a few ways to help keep hurt feelings in check and build self-esteem.
1. Take specific actions to improve your confidence and pride in all you have accomplished. Draw or paint on a frequent basis. Attend classes to improve your skills. We are fortunate that the Rochester art community is a rich resource for art education in all media. Consider submitting your work for exhibition. There is joy in knowing that people are looking at your work, even if no sale takes place. Although your art won’t please everyone, that is OK. The most important person you need to impress is you.
2. Accept that there could be myriad reasons why friends, peers, or family don’t acknowledge your work. Perhaps they are struggling with their own work, or are facing personal health and family challenges. Chances are the reason has nothing to do with you or their perception of your work
3. Join an art group in your community. You will meet fellow artists who appreciate your work and offer constructive criticism. Group artists are very supportive of each other, and often suggest new techniques for improvement and opportunities to exhibit. Significantly, fellow artists know firsthand what it’s like to put their art on display and can help you overcome self-doubt and insecurity
Gaining self-confidence and overcoming insecurity takes time, but it can be achieved. Be patient with yourself and others and generous with the folks who support you and your goals. You will come to recognize and appreciate your unique talents without fear of being judged by others