Way Back Machine

September 16, 2011 § 13 Comments

I’m  ALWAYS tempted to get rid of everything I’m not using RIGHT NOW, but I’m sure glad I can control that sometimes.  While moving my studio I ran across these little pieces of personal history.

We’ll begin at the beginning.  I’m pretty sure I drew this before I started school…?  It’s me and my dad feeding the sheep.

I don’t remember going to this circus.  I do remember Mrs. Jones and her wonderful handwriting – See the “Very Good”?  She was really a dream of a teacher.  I loved her.

I thought Jr. High would stop being embarrassing to me by age 35.  Nope.   This is from 8th grade, I think.  I don’t remember the teacher’s name, but I do remember thinking her glamorous – she had bleached blond hair with a hair style after all.  This project was a scratch board.  I think we used crayons to cover the paper, then painted it with india ink, let it dry and doodled away…

I’d forgotten about “ROY”  – it was the name on a bowling shirt my hoodlum friend Annemarie had?  It seemed so cool at the time to me.  Annemarie – what was the story there?

Fast forward to high school.  I don’t know where my school stuff went – much went to friends and family – thank goodness!  (I painted huge paintings during those years.  What a hassle to keep around!)  Anyway, I went over to take Life Drawing classes in the evenings at the local college (now SOU).  This shows the influence of both the teachers I studied with – Bob Alston always wanted us to sit down and look waaaaay up at the model who would be on a really tall pedestal.  Later I saw his paintings at an art show and they were all of sky scrapers seen from the street.  The other teacher was Jim Muhs who had a zen approach – he wanted us to be convinced our brush and ink were actually on the flesh of the model and would travel over and around it.  His paintings were large and distorted but interesting.

After high school I went to Pacific Northwest College of Art for two years, until I dropped out to have my dear little daughter.   I have many fond and embarrassing memories of college.  The embarrassing ones I blame on the fact that I was gearing up for a nervous breakdown.  Anyway – I imagine I’ll regret all this spillage – but the recent studio move and a friend’s addiction problem is causing me to drop normal barriers today.  Here are some Life Drawings – this one is of Ed C H King – another student at PNCA.  He, our friend Jacq and I modeled for each other to make up for some classes we missed.  Look up their art on the links I posted – they are fantastic.

Here are some quick sketches where the model came wearing some striped long underwear and Tom Fawkes, our teacher, asked her to keep them on so we could draw them.  I borrowed this exercise when teaching kids at the Ashland Academy of Art.

This whole post kind of started – in a round about fashion this morning when I saw that I had written “Notan” on a file folder on the kitchen counter.  I’m pretty sure that was something Steve LaRose told me to look up because something I’d done at Life Drawing recently reminded him of  or something ?  –  (why is my memory so bad?)  Anyway – I looked up Notan and then went to go organize the stacks of old art work I had to deal with when I ran across this – an exercise from like Design 101 or something – I guess this was a Notan exercise.  I think the teacher was Christy Wycoff.

So PNCA was big on printmaking – and during my last semester in school I made this wild thing – I was feeling exactly like this at that time.

And finally here is a self portrait I did at home – but during the time I was in college at PNCA,  I think it was right before I spun out of control.  It would be many, many years before I seriously took up painting again.  (Well, many years for someone who is 20.  Really I guess it was only 5 or 6.) I look like a boy in this piece – and that’s not the first or last time that my self portraits look masculine. weird.

Fast forward – This painting was something I made looking back at the time I’m referring to.  It’s supposed to be serious and sarcastic – painful and angry and funny.  It’s how it feels to know people are “worried” about you and how it feels to be grieving, how it felt to me to have embarrassing things get public.  Believe it or not, Judy Garland was an inspiration for this piece as well.  I painted this in like 2008 or something, not long after finishing four years in the Gulag.

OK!  Enough about me!  Share a memory or two in the comments.   Was adolescence embarrassing for you too?  And if you were there for some of the events above – please chime in.   oxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

PS – And the Gulag thing is a joke – and not as mean-spirited as it probably seems.  I learned a lot at that institution and I respect the instructor and classmates.  There was some unnecessary art-police brutality though.  That’s all.

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§ 13 Responses to Way Back Machine

  • Honey says:

    What a fabulous post! I really enjoyed looking at your young art.

  • Nancy McPherson says:

    Do you remember the block print of dandelions you did at PNCA? Even “Early Sarah” featured touches of that kind of thing: snails, sprouts, etc. Wish I had been around for ” the circus” , glad I’m around for current events.

  • David Dorsey says:

    Any post that begins with a term from Rocky and Bullwinkle is a good post. Interesting work. The abstracts look almost like graffiti. I don’t remember embarrassing moments in adolescence, though mine was probably full of them, but that’s when I started painting, creating large oils of my favorite guitarists to hang on my walls. Eventually, I got more interested in painting than in playing guitar. Funny about the teacher who always wanted to be looking up, but I have to admit–in reference to the other teacher of yours–when I paint the image of a jelly bean, I do feel as if my brush is moving over the surface of a huge lump of candy. Sad, possibly, but true. Not as much fun as having it move over certain other surfaces, no doubt, but it is what it is.

  • sarahfburns says:

    Love the thought of paintings of guitarists – sounds very young! And the be-convinced-you’re-moving-your-pen-across-the-model advice was pretty helpful, It got me looking at the model in front of me, instead of my paper. I’m so glad to have had that experience as a young person.

  • ANNAMARIA says:

    The post is great Sarah, I love reading more about your background.I love the early life drawings as well. They are so beautifully fluid…
    The childhood drawings are sweet and happy! I will share my story about my grade one artwork. (my parents thought kindergarden pointless, and sent me straight to school at the age of five. But my mother didn’t approve of my pictures,(we had to draw a picture a day), so she would errase them and do draw her own just to show me the right way… I remember how I thought her pictures were boring(they were always the same), and how I found this whole thing totally perplexing…Oh well!…I guess I had to become an artist after that…xx

  • Mariah says:

    It love these. The ones from when you were small and the later ones–some of which are new to me. I still have a few you might want to have. I think you must have been born to be an artist; it was in you from the earliest attempts with pencil and crayon.

    • sarahfburns says:

      Thanks Mom, and I’d love to see the old drawings you still have sometime, and eventually I’d like to have them, but I can wait. : ) I’ll have to start sending you stuff I don’t want to store if I get too much more to deal with! Don’t burden me until we’re finished remodeling! (I say in fond jest – but really – augh!)xo

  • Hi Sarah, I don’t remember now how I happened to “stumble” upon your blog this morning, but I have been enchanted by you and this blog for a full hour now. I am very impressed by your work…and your candor. I am having similar feelings about painting in vineyards (in your earlier post). Also, I am interested how you switched from blogger to wordpress (a weird pragmatic thing to ponder in the midst of it all, but I confess, I want to ask you why you made that decision).
    I am captivated by all your work…the figures, the landscapes, the flowers. What a talent you are.

    • sarahfburns says:

      Celeste,
      Thank you so much for your comment! and for spending time on my blog! As for as switching from Blogspot to WordPress goes, I like WordPress’ interface better, I find them more user-friendly and there seem to be more options with WordPress. My immediate motivation was to make my blog my website and include gallery tabs and I didn’t think that could be done with Blogspot (I found out later that it actually could be done, so I’m not sure how valuable the switch really was.) I visited your blog too, by the way, your paintings are lovely and I admire you for working from life, it’s always fun to connect with like – minded artists! Hopefully our paths will cross in person someday, as I see you are an Oregonian too.
      : ) Sarah

  • Hi Again Sarah..thanks for the reply. I am thinking of going to wordpress…so I appreciate your feedback. I do love how your blog looks (and of course, it doesn’t hurt that your work is so good!) I hope we run into one another one day! 🙂

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