The Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument hold a monthly event called a Hike and Learn, where the invite someone to enhance participants’ experience of the monument with their expertise. They have invited me to lead a Hike and Learn on the subject of Landscape Sketching! The monument is pretty neat because it has some of the greatest bio-diversity in a concentrated area in the United States. I’m a big fan of using my art as a tool for documentation, so I’m looking forward to documenting this significant location this week and weekend.
The Hike and Learn is open to all, and is free to attend. On Friday evening I will give a slide talk that goes over the basics of sketching the landscape. Then Saturday morning, we will all meet up and head to Hobart Bluff to hike a little and sketch out in the wild. We’ll meet back around lunch time and share our successes and struggles.
And the local paper – Ashland Daily Tidings has done an article on the event — check it out here.
Hike and Learn — FREE Limited space, please sign up as space is limited by sending email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Email title: Hike & Learn SKETCH Email body: Your name, email, address, phone
Friday, August 21, 6:00-7:00 pm
Slide Talk at the Ashland Public Library
Saturday, August 22
Hike – Meet at the Shop-N-Kart Ashland Parking Lot at 9:00 am to caravan up to Hobart Bluff
Hike and Sketch from 9:30 – Noon
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.
I’ve written about Rogue Valley Rosesbefore – and I’m still such a big fan. Mrs. Janet Inada graciously hosted myself and two other artists for an afternoon of painting on her A M A Z I N G rose farm in late May of this year. She grows and sells roses on their own root stock – heirloom and new varieties, and trust me, growing these roses is addictive. I have 5 and am planning for at least 5 more. Any patch of sun in my yard gets a rose!
Pretty much anyone from Medford knows – and loves – this place. It’s been closed for years, and I hear it’s been purchased by some big outfit and will likely be torn down soon. ALL RUMORS, of course. I don’t really know anything, except that it’s a great place to paint, although the black top gets pretty hot, even this early in the warm season. It’s funny, I listen to audio books when I paint, and often I’ll look at a painting and flash back to segments of a book. Carl Hiaasen for this one – not very deep, I’m afraid, but if he wrote stories in Southern Oregon, maybe this place would be in one.
This pear packing plant by First, Colver and C street is a great painting location. Just a few blocks from my house, I run past it several times a week and keep seeing more good vantage points to paint from. This is a warm up, I’m getting my feet wet for the outdoor painting season.
If you were to walk into the painting 50 or so feet then you would come to this point.
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.
I read an interesting article about discovering the current stereotype of a city by typing “why is ————- so” and letting Google’s auto complete fill in the common searches. That led me to wonder what the stereotype for artists is these days. So I keyed “why are artists” and then “why are artists so” and guess what — people think artists are weird, poor, liberal, sensitive, emotional, depressed, moody, messy and important. Crazy also came into play. (At least some people think we’re important – but they didn’t know why, because they wanted Google to tell them. )
This experiment came on the heels of a day out painting plein air in downtown Medford. I thought I’d found a quiet street but there were lots of people who came by and if they said anything they mostly said something like, “Looks like you’re having fun!” Fun. Okay. It’s kind of true, but it’s pretty revealing about what people generally think artists are doing. Art is fun when things are going well. When you’re in a groove, when you’re so engrossed that you don’t need to eat, won’t answer the phone etc, BUT people don’t get that if we’re supposed to be anything but Sunday painters having a nice hobby in retirement that it takes consistent, persistent WORK. And struggle. In the moments when the best work is created there is a zone that is awesome, but to get into the zone you have had experiences that are to the right or left of the zone, where you over correct and have some painful crashes. For me, to achieve the work I want to create, I’ve had to study and keep at it, and even now I have goals I want to achieve that I have to study and work at a whole lot more. Not only that, the very best artists make art every day, which I almost do, but not quite. The fact is, I couldn’t make anything that anyone would care to see without having put in in tons of time and thought and preparation over many years. Fun, on the other hand, is a nice dinner with friends and family. Fun is playing at the beach. Fun is relaxation. Painting is sublime, but it’s work. It’s exhilarating and heart breaking. It’s more fun than fun and it’s not fun at all.
Being misunderstood may just be why we’re so crazy, depressed, weird and moody all the time. 😉
Fixed was the theme and show title, a conceptual show thought up by – suprise, suprise – a college student member. When I thought of an idea that worked with what I like to do, I got less sarcastic about it and made four paintings from the exact same location, just looking different directions.
The show was pretty awesome, lots of interesting work, and so the idea turned out to be a good one. I actually have lots of ideas similar to this concept for landscape painting that for the most part I’m too lazy to do. So Anyway. Thanks Q.