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After a Month Away, Returning to Figure Drawing

It was exhilarating, returning to figure drawing after more than a month.  Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b, has been in Italy and other exotic places fulfilling her professional photography obligations.

I too have been elsewhere, as my last blog post indicated, including two weeks in British Columbia.  So getting out the chalk and paper and easel and coming back to the Studio was like the proverbial oasis in the desert!

I wasn’t too rusty, considering how long it had been, because I had been keeping up with my daily doodling, but more than that, I think what helped me stay in tune was my continuous practice of photography, which is a great tool for maintaining my “eye” and my feeling for composition.

The model this week had amazing turquoise hair,  and it demanded to be noticed.  As it happens, I have a number of sticks of Nupastel of that exact color, which I had bought expecting eventually to use in background imagery with the colors of the Gulf of Mexico here in Northwest Florida where I live.  The Gulf is an impossible blue-green, which looks unbelievable whenever I have used that color in my art, but which is absolutely correct for the color of the model’s hair.

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

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Studio b.’s New Location

Those of you following my work know that I have been attending the weekly figure drawing sessions at Studio b.  On Easter Sunday, 2012, the owner, Colleen Duffley, has just posted the design for the new venue, which will be constructed out of re-purposed shipping containers, true to the b’s intent, to be creative with immediately available resources.  It will be located in Watersound, Florida, which is on Scenic Highway 30A, approximately 2½ miles west of the previous location.  The temporary location, where we are having the figure drawing sessions, is in Watersound North, which is on North Watersound Parkway, 1 block north of US 98.  Below is a sketch of the new venue.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150719620424660&set=a.89768744659.80226.53523929659&type=1&theater

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Time Warp — Where’ve I Been?

What a whirlwind my life has been for the past month or so.  In my “day-job,” I own and manage a service business which supports the local tourist industry.  Here in Northwest Florida, that translates to being incredibly busy for the 5 weeks of high school and college spring breaks, when families vacation here, and then from late May to mid-August, again coinciding with school summer vacations.  Many companies here begin hiring for the season in February, and as everyone gears up for the onslaught of tourists, seasonal high-wage jobs attract employees away from the more moderately paid year-round jobs such as my company offers.  Consequently, even though I guarantee 40 hours a week through-out the whole winter season, I sometimes lose employees to higher-paying jobs in the spring.  So far this year I’ve lost 2, which is 15% of my staff.  Losing even one employee is unsettling, with the rest of the staff making up the difference in the workload while a new employee is being trained.  I’ve been busier than usual with other activities as well.  My efforts at maintaining inner peace by meditation, working out, and a healthy lifestyle, are taxed by stress, and I think my art reflects that.

All that is introduction to my confession that I wasn’t as focused at the most recent session of figure drawing at Studio b. as I would like to have been.  The group of artists was energized, and there was a lot of activity downstairs below our drawing studio, as Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b., coordinated the packing for transport to the new location.  Even with all of that going on, she came upstairs to serve us whatever we wanted to drink.  So the environment was supportive, but nevertheless, I struggled with my drawings.

We ran through the usual warm-up gestures and worked our way up to 20- or 30-minute poses by the end of the 2½ hours.  Following are some of my efforts.

   
 

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

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Studio b. presents Light Impressions in Telluride, Colorado

Studio b. was the primary sponsor at the TEDx simulcast presentation in Telluride, Colorado last week.  I had the pleasure of accompanying owner Colleen Duffley and her assistant Garrett Griffis, for the installation of Light Impressions and for  TEDx-Telluride at the Michael Palm Theater.  In the unscripted interview below, Colleen explains the concept of Studio b. and the motivation and production of the Light Impressions exhibit to videographer Sue Rostvold.

While in Telluride, I visited most of the art galleries.  I particularly enjoyed the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art where I thought the graphite drawings and mixed media drawings by Bernie Fuchs are even more sensitive than his beautiful paintings, and Christian Burchard‘s sliced wood sculptures are so very interesting, and at Lustre Gallery, Steve & Katia Pflipsen’s glass and metal works are amazing.  But I have to say the most inspiring work is at Stronghouse Studios, where I met artist Elaine Fischer (except we talked about her issues as a County Commissioner of  San Miguel County instead of her art).  At Stronghouse I saw some of Judy Haas‘ amazing fractals, which have a faceted filter overlay such that they change to a different image as you pass by them.  And Sasha took me across the street to the Stronghouse Gallery, an eclectic collection of incredibly interesting and remarkably affordable art, fabric arts in particular.  My favorite works overall were at the Ah Haa School for the Arts, a series of paintings by Corinne Scheman depicting various interpretations and representations of Stonehenge.  Her works illustrated an excellent command of color.

I did no sketching myself, last week, instead using my camera to try to capture some of the winter wonderland of Telluride.  Here are a few examples.

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Figure Drawing with Music in my Head

Available now in my store, click the painting to add to your collection!

The room was quiet as we drew at Studio b. this week.  The model was extraordinary, performing poses during our one-minute and three-minute warm-up period that would have taxed an accomplished yogi.  We warmed up with gesture drawings for about half an hour, before drawing a few 10 and 20 minute poses, and then finally a 45 minute pose.  I’ve been enjoying a combination of white nupastel with black graphite for a while now, but in my final drawing I opted for a blue pencil with the white nupastel, at left.  The form was very simple from my vantage point, for the most part being only a silhouette with very little modeling.  Her shoulder blade was prominent, and there was a highlight on the muscle edging her spine, so I put a little more emphasis on her hair and the fabric she was lying on, to provide textural contrast.

The night before, I had listened to Amber Rubarth performing there at Studio b., in the courtyard below our figure drawing room.  Her music was still playing in my head as I drew.  I videotaped a few of her songs, but I don’t yet know how to upload them from my whiz-bang new iPhone, so here’s a link to a previous performance by Amber:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Mn9VtIFM0g.

I made a mistake on the drawing pictured at right, something I know I should never do.  I had torn a corner of the page off, to give to another artist who wanted to order the kind of paper I was using.  Then I kept that paper, to draw on.  I’d been carrying it around for several weeks, and last night I decided to draw on it, without trimming off the torn corner.  I used the rest of the borders as my boundaries, treating the torn corner as if it wasn’t torn.  Now that the drawing is completed, I see that I would have to mat out or trim off that torn corner, and with it, lose other essential parts of the drawing.  Since there is excess paper on another side, I think a good framer might be able to patch it, but the patch would show, upon close inspection.  So I have priced it as a sketch, even though the drawing turned out exactly as I wanted it.  Lesson learned, hopefully — If a corner is missing, always trim the paper to square up that corner before using it.

If you are interested in having any of my drawings or sketches, contact me on the contact form through this website.

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My Livelihood Gets in the Way of My Art

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

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Figure Drawing the Night Before Thanksgiving

The model couldn’t make it to Studio b. for our figure drawing session this week, so the owner of the Studio, Colleen Duffley, graciously offered us her time, posing clothed for us.  When the artist knows the model, it seems important to try to be accurate in the drawing, for the sake of not offending the model by one’s poor craftsmanship.  I tried to put that additional pressure out of my head as I drew.

Clothed models are much easier to draw than nudes.  Clothing is very forgiving — I can fudge one way or another with a line or a shadow on clothing without it feeling awkward.  Nevertheless, I still wanted more time, even on the 20 and 30-minute poses.  Between the wire-mesh of the model’s chair, and the leather and denim of her clothing, and her extraordinarily beautiful, curly hair, it was frustrating to be faced with such rich textures that I could only hint at because of the duration of the poses.

Below are two warm-up drawings, 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

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Showcasing Figure Drawings by Steve Wagner

Drawn by Steve Wagner
Drawn by Steve Wagner
Drawn by Steve Wagner
Drawn by Steve Wagner
Drawn by Steve Wagner
Steve Wagner is a fellow figure drawing artist at the regular weekly figure drawing sessions at Studio b. We had an assignment this week.  The owner, Colleen Duffley, said that a woman had come in to view the “Figure It Out” show of figurative works, and then said she would be interested in a series of poses, all reclining, using a male model.  The preferred style was gestural.  Steve and I were the only artists attending this week, so we accepted the challenge.
We warmed up with the usual 1-minute and 5-minutes poses before moving on to some 20- and 30-minute poses.  The model had an easy night.
Steve’s drawings are in the column at left, with two gestures on top, followed by 3 longer poses.
Steve presents his figure drawings as final products, but he also uses his figures as preparatory work for paintings.  Some of his framed works can be seen in the South gallery at Studio b.  He also shows at World Six Gallery.
Below are a the drawings I did, from the same last three poses.  The first pose is cropped.  Click here for the full pose.
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The Scoop on Studio b.

PODCAST on 30A RADIO: http://www.30aradioshows.org/coastal-art-scene/colleen-duffley-our-coastal-art-scene-with-claire-bannerman/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+30aRadio+(30A+Radio+Podcast)

Above is a podcast of 30A Radio’s “Colleen Duffley – Our Coastal Art Scene with Claire Bannerman”, spotlighting Studio b, where I practice figure drawing every Wednesday.  30A is the coastal highway along eastern Walton County in the panhandle of Florida.  30A Radio is a low-power FM community radio station, a broadcast service of Seaside Neighborhood School in Seaside, Florida.

Claire’s interview of Colleen Duffley focuses on the next event, which will be the Court Yard Hounds, who are coming to Studio b. this-coming Thursday, 10/27/11.  Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.studiobthebeach.com/products-page/event-tickets/court-yard-hounds-are-back/

Below is a photograph of some of the musical instrumentals and equipment that have arrived ahead of the Court Yard Hounds in preparation for their show on Thursday.  In the background is the Light Impressions iPhoneography exhibit on 40 iPads, and on the wall behind are some of the 150+ figure drawings posted for the Figure It Out show presently exhibiting.

Photo used with permission, from Studio b's facebook page

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Figure Drawing on the Run

What have I been doing for a month?  Well…. first there was a Saturday figure drawing workshop by Heather Clements at Studio b., followed by the regular Wednesday night figure drawing session, a trip to Chattanooga with two friends to do a 6-mile stand-up paddle race, and then the opening of Studio b.’s “Figure It Out” figurative art show, and this week, helping receive the art for the upcoming figurative show presented by the A+Art Committee of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County at the South Walton campus of Northwest Florida State College, then another regular Wednesday night figure drawing session, and today, the orientation meeting for my upcoming service on the CAA board, meanwhile trying to maintain my life routines and keep up with my “day job” (my businesses)…  it’s been a little hectic lately.  I’ve tried not to sacrifice anything, until this week when I absolutely had to give up my morning workouts to gain another couple of hours every day.  I managed to get in a little creekside hike with a couple of friends last Saturday, a yoga session at Balance Health Studio and a glass of juice at Raw and Juicy with another friend on Sunday.  I missed my Monday night meditation group meeting because I’m sitting the gallery at Studio b. every evening this week.  So, you see, it’s been crazy-busy lately.  I don’t like to be this busy.  Even during quiet moments at the gallery, I’m catching up on some business work, except tonight when I’m evaluating my life while I blog about it.  But I guess you can tell, figure drawing would be the last thing I would give up.  I think that’s how it is for figurative artists.  As I look at all the drawings and paintings here at Studio b. for this show, I am realizing that all of the artists represented are compelled to draw.  We draw for the sheer pleasure of it.  We pay a small fee to be here, and we pay the model with tips, and we collect our own art — mine is stacked high on a shelf in my house, with only a few pieces framed and hanging.  It actually was a pleasant surprise to me when pieces started selling out of the show.  Below are the drawings that sold on opening night.

18 x 24 14 x 24 14 x 20 18 x 24

Here are a couple of photos from opening night.  The atmosphere was casual and friendly.  In one gallery Colleen Duffley, owner of Studio b., had hired a model and set up easels and supplies for the guests to try their hand at figure drawing, and several did try!

You might notice that I draw in many different styles.  Supposedly an accomplished artist becomes recognizable by their style.  If that is the case, my work might never be recognizably mine, because I like to approach the figure differently almost every time I draw.  Of  course, the usual challenges remain, due to the time constraints of any given pose, so there may be proportional problems, like the drawing at left that I made a couple of weeks ago, where I think I made the head a good bit larger than it really was, in proportion to the rest of the figure.  This week I focused on what may become my style, because I like the quality of the expression — it feels comfortable, it feels like “me”.  The drawings below are from last night’s session, and my favorite is the last drawing.  Click on any of the drawings for a larger view.

“Sitting with One Foot Tucked” is available for purchase! Click the painting for more info.

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