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Ringing Out 2011, Figure Drawing

Click on image for a larger view and description.

We worked hard at Studio b. last night at the weekly figure drawing session.  I had very mixed emotions, knowing that I have made a decision to start painting in the coming year, and the likelihood that it will be landscapes rather than figures.  As much as I love figure drawing, it is not the favorite subject for people to purchase and hang in their homes, and I would like to have more of my work hanging in people’s homes.  In the early ’80’s, when I was the featured watercolor artist at Susan Foster’s gallery in Grayton Beach, I sold most of the paintings that I produced.  Since returning to my art a couple years ago, I have focused on figure drawing.  I intend to continue doing figure drawing once in a while, because I so appreciate the human figure as an art form, and because the discipline is so demanding.

But it is a lot like my physical fitness.  I have been going to spin classes for a year and a half, and my aerobic capacity may be the best it has ever been in my life.  But today I went to a different work-out, a core-fitness work-out, and I could barely do half of what everyone else was doing, and what I could manage was not in very good form!  So it will be with my painting, I know.   I will need to re-learn the properties of various pigments and how they mix, as well as brush technique, and then re-developing my color sense.

I will continue to post stories and samples of my work on this website.  I have decided not to have a bona fide web-store in the interest of saving money.   Instead, I have started putting prices in the descriptions of my later drawings that I have posted on this website, at least on the ones that were drawn on archival paper.  Recent sketches and gestures that were drawn on less durable paper can be photographed and produced as a giclee print, if anyone is interested in them.  My webmaster is going to change the comment form under each gallery image to a contact form so that people can contact me directly off the image page.  I will still have comment forms on the blog posts — that is where most of the comments have originated anyway.

Last night at our drawing session, David Orme-Johnson continued experimenting with watercolor, Steve Wagner played with both charcoal and graphite, and I warmed up with Nupastel and then did my final drawings in my usual white Nupastel and graphite.  Our warm-up period was spent on 2-minute and 5-minute gestures, and some of those are posted below.  The final drawings were 30-minute poses, shown at the top of this post.  Our model was beautifully tattooed, but I didn’t get far enough along on my last drawing to carry out my intention to draw her tattoos.  Maybe next time!

Click on any image for a larger view and description.

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

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Don’t Worry, Just Draw!

Sometimes the artists will talk during the breaks between the longer poses at the figure drawing sessions at Studio b.  This week we touched on the purpose of our lives, parallel universes, and the annihilation of the solar system that is going to happen in a zillion years.  I have to confess, I have never lain awake at night over any those issues.  It’s challenge enough just being myself in my small world!

My life is pretty basic.  My “day-job” can be all-consuming.  Many of my activities are trade-offs, where I have to give up one thing so I can do another.  But having made those trade-offs, I am so much healthier than I was 3 years ago when I first started working out, and I draw better than 2 years ago when I started coming to the figure drawing sessions at the b., and I have more friends since spending more time paddling the local waters over the last 2 years, and somehow I have managed to find a little time to practice meditation and yoga.  All told, that probably consumes 20 hours a week.  If the economy changes, and my work gets busy again, I’m going to have to make some choices, because that 20 hours is time I used to spend working.  But for now, things are good, and the solar system is not worrying me.  Global warming, yes, acidification of the oceans, yes, but the solar system , no.

I don’t worry about anything very much.  Once in a while, not having a lot of money will make me itch, but not too often, because the experiences I have make me wealthy beyond any amount of money.  The trick is merely to be present, to be looking at what is, and allowing myself to be amazed.  And that brings me back to figure drawing, to my state of mind when I am most successful at capturing the essence of a particular pose.

Both of the poses I show above, were about 30-minutes long.  I roughly and lightly sketched the gesture with white Nupastel, and then refined the shapes and the lighting with both nupastel and graphite.

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

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Interruptions and Trade-Offs

I’m spread thin right now.  I often have to give up one thing in order to do another.  I wish I could work up the nerve to become a full-time artist.  When I start to paint, it will be another step in that direction.  Whether it takes me another 10 years, or if it happens tomorrow, something is going to have to give, because I am enjoying my art more and more every week.   Last Saturday I took videos at a stand-up paddleboard race but I discovered that my videos took forever to upload to YouTube.  I ended up doing projects around the house between video uploads, and I never got my blog written about last week’s drawing efforts!  So here we are, a week later, video-rich, blog-poor.

I won’t be drawing this week because I want to spend time with a friend who is visiting.

Below are my drawings from last week.  Underneath is a photograph of a blue heron that I took yesterday.  I had just finished a site inspection to make a service proposal for my business, and I was driving through the community when I saw a great blue heron, posing by a pond.  The overcast sky, frigid temperatures, and gray tones all combined to make the slightly nervous bird very picturesque.  Nature photography sometimes is just the good luck of happening upon it!

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

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Surrounded by Painters at Figure Drawing

On this night at Studio b. at the regular weekly figure drawing session, I was the only artist who exclusively draws the figure.  David Orme-Johnson brought his watercolor paints, and Nancy Nichols Williams brought her acrylics.  Steve Wagner also is an accomplished figure painter, although on this night he worked with charcoal and white on brown paper.  As expected of all students majoring in art in any university, I took my share of figure painting classes, but when it comes to the figure, I like making dry marks on paper.

I warmed up with some small sketches using water soluble graphite pencil on watercolor paper, which I added a wash to later when I got home.

I enjoyed the longer poses.  I feel that I am coming closer to my intended effect as I continue to use graphite and white nupastel.  It is always a challenge to draw the female model we had tonight, who is in constant training for triathlons and is now training for an Ironman next year.  Her musculature is supremely developed, but I find myself minimizing her definition, probably because it becomes very detailed and I always feel like I am rushed and must simplify.

The first pose I have posted above was supposed to be for 10 minutes, but we asked the model to hold it a little longer, so it grew to 15.  The pose below was for 45 minutes, with a break after the first half hour.  That longer pose allowed me to spend a little more time on the face.

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