My Livelihood Gets in the Way of My Art

January 26, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

The activities of my life are an extension of who I am right now, and so the amount of time I have available to devote to my art is limited.  Knowing that I have made that choice does not stop me from sometimes resenting it.  I have a full-time job, owning and managing a small service business, and I have a second job, consulting for my retail store, and I have a third occasional job, teaching in the same industry as the other two jobs, all of these providing the necessary income to pay the bills so that I can enjoy the lifestyle I want, and also indulge my artistic efforts.  One day I will be brave enough to throw caution aside, quit my jobs, and become a full-time artist. Until then, I must resign myself to devoting limited energy to my art.

The preceding was a long introduction to explain that I was dog-tired last night at figure drawing at Studio b.  I drew slowly, getting lost in details, and losing track of the time.  I completed a couple of warm-up pieces to my satisfaction, at right, and another at left, but none of the extended poses reached any level of completion.  Nevertheless, I am posting them all on this blog entry, just to show what came out of my efforts.  After all, no effort is a waste of time.   Even when I am not satisfied with my results, I know that I have gained experience.  In retrospect, last night would have been a perfect time to experiment with different media, because then I would have had lower expectations.

Our model provided interesting poses.  In one pose, she was on her back, hugging her knees tightly to her chest.  I was at her head, so her pose was nearly symmetrical from my vantage point.  But at left is an image of the extent that I had completed by the time the 20-minute timer went off.  I hadn’t even gotten half-way into the drawing, getting lost in my own “zone” as I explored the shadows and shapes.

All evening we were tantalized by the heavenly smells of a wonderful dinner for a private party downstairs in the main gallery.  Cheese diva Paula Lambert was preparing all manner of delectables, and Studio b. owner Colleen Duffley kept bringing samples to us artists upstairs.  I can’t imagine a better place to practice figure drawing!

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

Figure Drawing: The Power of the Group, Chakra Work, Music and Communication

January 19, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

Last week I didn’t draw, except for my practice at home.  Instead I watched and listened to a lot of live music at the 30A Songwriters Festival, which I blogged about in my last post.  And last Friday I attended a yoga presentation on the Root Chakra, the first in a 7-week series, a subject which is all new to me.  Then on Tuesday a friend and I got together and brought each other up to date, all good.  And Wednesday, a whole bunch of artists I hadn’t seen for a while were at figure drawing, at the regular weekly session at Studio b., which was exhilarating.

So whether a positive result of my fledgling efforts to allow more energy to flow through the Root Chakra, or good old-fashioned open communication with a dear friend, or listening to so much good music, I felt very confident in my artistic expression this week.  I found myself very quickly lost in the process of executing each pose.  When I lose myself is when I enjoy it the most and feel the most successful at capturing what to me is the basic emotive and visual essence of the pose, whether I am focused on the light, or mass, or shapes, texture, or line.

Our model struggled with the standing pose at top left.  Supporting herself on one leg with a locked knee, she wasn’t able to hold it for as long as she had intended.  Nevertheless, even with the pose a little shorter than expected, I felt completely comfortable with the end result, leaving portions of the drawing a little sketchy.  In fact I think I am enjoying that more and more, developing only the more important area of each pose, although I need to be careful not to always leave the feet undeveloped, because that might be suspected laziness.  Feet are difficult to draw.

The drawing at upper right is the only drawing I was unsure about, when I was finished, because her right elbow creates a triangular shape above the woman’s throat.  Effective composition  requires the artist to be judicious, to leave out visual description which merely confuses.  So I worked on this drawing when I got home, removing the elbow shape entirely, and then drawing it back in.  Sometimes it is that little quirk of confusion that requires the viewer to puzzle for a moment, and engage a bit more, holding his attention for a bit longer.  And in this day and age of instant communication, holding someone’s attention is like gold to an artist.

Speaking of attention, to those of you who wade through my blogs each week, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!  You don’t even have to say anything, though I love it if you do — I feed off your collective support.  May we all give support to each other for our efforts at creative expression, whatever the avenue!

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot

Refilling the Well – 30A Songwriters Festival

January 15, 2012 in General, Other Art by joanvienot

As an artist, I think I produce better work when I round out my life by attending art events, where I can appreciate the work of other artists.  Such is this week, the week of the annual 30A Songwriters Festival.  More than 120 singer/songwriters are performing at 40 venues up and down Scenic Highway 30A, which is the road following the coast of the county where I live.  The event is produced by the local arts association, the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (Florida).  This year marks the third annual production, which takes place on MLK weekend every year.

When I was a about 8 years old, my Mom made me take piano lessons for 3 years.  I hated them, but my sister was taking lessons.  I tried to do everything she did, baton twirling, gymnastics, swimming, you name it, even though she was always better than me.  I was a good sport at most things, but it was hard to find joy in practicing the piano.  I think the only thing I disliked more was doing the dishes for our family of 6.  I can’t sing either — you can ask anybody and they will confirm that as fact.  I never learned any instrument, and in fact I can barely play the radio.

But I am absolutely transported when I watch a live musical performance, especially when the artist emotes.  So I take in all that I can stay awake for, at the 30A Songwriters Festival.  Some of the people are big names, others are known only in the industry, and yet others are new, budding artists, some known only locally:  Shawn Mullins, Joan Osborne, Sam Bush, Tommy Tolton, Amy Ray, Kelsey Anna, Dannica Lowery, Larkin Poe, Jeep Rosenberg, Suzi Ragsdale, Jim Lauderdale and many many others.

I posted a video of Nikolas Metaxas‘s vocal talent on YouTube for your awe and amazement.  Below are some of the artists who performed at Hibiscus the first night of the festival.

Adron Dannica Lowery Lara Herscovitch
Alicia McGovern Suzi Ragsdale Ben Friedman

 

Overlap Between Media – Drawing and Painting

January 5, 2012 in Figure Drawing by joanvienot

This week I started setting up my studio for painting.   It’s been a long time since I did any significant painting, especially in oils, which is what I intend to use, for the most part.  I have some ancient paints, which I think will be adequate while I re-acquaint myself with color mixing.

I well-remember the elements and principles of composition.  After all, I taught art in a high school for 3 years.  The introductory course focussed on the elements and principles of design:  line, shape, size, position, color, texture, and density, and harmony, balance, and rhythm.  But color can be immensely complex.  Within that single element are hues, values, intensities, shades, tints, compliments, keys, analagous, primary, secondary, warm, cool, transparent, opaque, permanent, tertiary, and my goodness, stop, I’m already intimidated!

I had done most of the corrections of my drawings in the main part of my house, and my studio was just recently renovated, so it was not set up at all.  I carried the studio furniture into the new space — easels, taborets, drafting tables, and desks.  It feels very strange in there with nothing on the walls yet, and the tables and easels are empty.

My only injury was a bad whack on the top of my head when the post of my big easel smacked into a dropped ceiling and stopped me in my tracks.  (Note to self.)

I still attended the weekly figure drawing session at Studio b.   Our model this week had been in Europe this past fall.  She told me she had shown my website posts all over Europe, which pleased me hugely.  I have no idea how many people actually read my posts, or how long they spend looking at my drawings.  My webmaster is counting it all, but I haven’t asked him what the numbers are.  At this point, I am just happy to share the process.  Below are two warm-up drawings with multiple poses, and two longer poses.

 Click on any image for a larger view.

 

Most of my images are available for purchase.  Contact me if you are interested. — Joan Vienot