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Re-Shaping My Life: Art, Fitness, and Play

In the late summer of 2008 I started changing my life.

I had been maintaining a fair level of fitness by jogging, but I stopped when the economy picked up in 2001.  For 7 years then, I made hay while the sun was shining.  My business grew by leaps and bounds.  And I gained an average of 7 pounds a year.  I’m sure some of the weight gain was due to the natural slowing of my metabolism as I slid into middle-age, but I expect the rest was due to the stress.  I was keeping very long hours, working fast and furiously.  In 2007, when the bottom fell out of the economy and my business growth ground to a halt, I discovered that my waistline had grown along with my business.  I pondered whether to just buy new clothes, or to try to do something about it, and I decided to get healthier.  It took me another 6 or 8 months to work up the nerve to go to the local health studio in Seagrove Beach.  I first went there to find out whether Boot Camp would be a place where I would get yelled at, and the owner laughed and said No, so I signed up.  It was slow going.  The instructor would tell the class to do 30 repetitions of some torturous activity, and then she would say, And Joan, you do 5!  I focused on the fact that many of the strong and healthy participants were half my age.  A year and a half later, I traded Boot Camp for Spin, and in the fall of 2010 I was fit enough to do a strenuous hike in Peru.

A year after I started improving my physical fitness, in the fall of 2009, I found out about the figure drawing sessions at Studio b. My major areas of study for my degree from the University of Northern Colorado, some 30 years prior, had been health-physical education-recreation, and also fine arts with a life-drawing emphasis.  I was in heaven when I found out about the local figure drawing sessions.

Now, I am making yet another change, for the fitness of my mind and soul.  I have started practicing meditation, and also have been attending yoga.  I intend to continue both practices, while I keep up with my drawing and my cardio work on the spin-bike.  All the signs that I attach significance to tell me I am on the right path, so even though work is busier, I am making a concerted effort to continue my new, healthier habits.

My art also is ready to progress to the next stage.  Step one is to open the store on my website.  My webmaster, Warren, will be setting it up so that anyone wanting to purchasing one of my drawings can know what my price is, and can actually make the purchase over the internet if they wish.  It will be a little bit grueling, I’m sure, to make sure all of my drawings are correctly identified and reasonably priced.  They will be offered without mat or frame, since matting and framing are very personal choices depending on where the art will be displayed.  Following that, I expect I will be getting out some paints and broadening my artistic efforts by participating in outings with the local plein air painters group.

A dear friend told me today that she had learned to love herself again — maybe that’s what I really had lost and am finding again.  My overall fitness and my art are not the end goal — they are the means.  The end goal is a more playful, creative, expressive, and joyful life.

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

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Figure Drawing by the Pool, Another Studio b. Experience

You would think that when you go to the same activity, week in and week out, that it would become predictable, and perhaps even boring.

Not so with figure drawing, especially at Studio b. We had the same exceptional model for the 2nd week, who clearly was invested in our work, being aware of how her poses might come across, and considering the mood they might evoke.  Studio b. owner  Colleen Duffley said the model was even practicing a few poses before we got there, and during breaks, she asked the artists what sort of pose they would like next.  Of course for me, every pose is a challenge, so I am just happy to be there and almost any pose is good!  Generally, if a pose is not well-lit or is uninteresting from one vantage point, there is enough room to move to another location where I can see better or the composition is better.

For our final pose of the evening, the model got into the water of the pool.  Lit by the underwater lights, the portion of her figure beneath the water was a chalky blue-green, and extremely distorted.  The part of the figure above the water was almost a silhouette, it was so dark.  This is the first time I have drawn a figure in water, so I really had to study it.  The water’s distortion greatly shortened and widened the part of the figure closest to the surface of the water from my vantage.  Each artist had a different distortion. What struck me the most were the amazing colors, so although I rarely draw in color, this pose begged for it.

Heather Clements produced an amazing pencil drawing from the 50 minute pose — hopefully she will include it in her blog.  Also it can be seen on Studio b.’s facebook page.

Below are two other poses from this model this week, which I drew with graphite and Nupastel on Stonehenge paper, one paper gray and the other faun.

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

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Wow, The Collective Energy, Figure Drawing at Studio b!

Steve Wagner

The energy was high at Studio b. this Wednesday at the regular weekly figure drawing session.  There were 5 of us, and we again drew in the courtyard by the pool.  The model was new to Studio b., but obviously experienced, holding difficult poses.  I was thrilled to be working beside the other accomplished artists in this setting.  Everyone was on fire!

Inside the Studio, Colleen, Melanie, and Garrett worked on a project.  The whole place was charged.

Carol Joseph (click for larger)

Carol Joseph

I had some fun drawing an unusual pose from a strange angle, to create the drawing at right.  You have to look at it a little longer, to figure out what I was seeing.  The model was leaning her head on one hand with that elbow propped on her knee, and her hair twisted across over to one side.  My view showed the top of her shoulders and a little of her back twisted towards me, even though she was seated.  Below it I have posted Steve Wagner’s drawing, to give you an idea of what it looked like from a different perspective.  From my vantage point, the shapes were so unusual that they became very abstracted to me, and I really had to just draw what I could see, without calling it a shoulder or a back.  It seemed like if I named a shape, I would draw it wrong and have to do it over.

We had several great poses from this model, and I especially appreciated the poses where her head was thrown back, creating amazing shadows in the shapes exposed within her neck.  My final drawing was a portrait.  I have also included Carol Joseph’s drawing of the same pose that I used for the portrait, with apologies that both Steve’s and Carol’s drawings are so dark in my photos — I should have used a flash, but they are sufficient for you to get the idea.  Steve draws on brown paper, but Carol was actually drawing on white paper.


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

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Plein Air Figure Drawing

At our  Figure Drawing session at Studio b., Thursday this week, we drew in the open air, in the courtyard by the pool.  Studio b. is a wonderful venue for events of all sorts, including many a reception for any number of creative pursuits.  The activity often spills over into the courtyard where the pool and the pool fountain form a serene backdrop to whatever is going on.  A board on two ropes hangs as a swing  in front of the pool, a little catawampus, but serviceable.  The model posed near the old washtubs for our warm-up drawing, and then she posed leaning against one of the arbor pillars, and sitting on the swing, and then lying on a bench.  Four artists enjoyed the evening of shared community and artistic passion, while Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b., and her assistant worked in the adjoining room.  I drew the following sketches there this week.

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