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Acceptance into A+Art 2014 Top of the Class Juried Show

Oil painting of Tucker Bayou in warm tones, stylized from photo app,

I am pleased to report that both of the paintings I entered in the A+Art  2014 Top of the Class Juried Show were accepted.  It is a beautiful show of only 37 works, juried from 85 entries.  The juror and judge was Brian Jekel, an instructor at Pensacola Christian College.  It is an honor to be showing alongside the works of Susan Lucas, Charlotte Arnold, Melody Bogle, Heather Clements, Donnelle Clark, Lynn Wilson, Ann Welch, and Theresia McInnis, the award winners and honorable mentions, and beside the many other talented artists whose work was accepted, all members of the Local Arts Agency, Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.  McInnis won Best in Show with ‘Bromeliads Gone Wild’, winning the $500 Trustmark Bank Award and a solo show of her own in 2015.  Lucas won the Livingston Financial Planning $250 Award of Merit, Clements won the Watercolor UPS Store $250 Award of Merit, and Arnold won the Hidden Lantern Bookstore $250 Award of Merit.  The show will be exhibited at the South Walton Center of Northwest Florida State College in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, until May 30, 2014.  Hours are M-F, 9:00 to 4:00.

Oil painting of Tucker Bayou in warm tones, stylized from photo app,
“Tucker Bayou”, 30 x 40 x 2, oil painting on gallery-wrapped stretched canvas
Oil painting of the dune forest and the rose-tinted grasses bordering Western Lake in Grayton Beach State Park, Florida
Grayton Beach Rosy Grasses, 12 x 36 x 3/4 framed oil painting on stretched canvas.

Click the painting for purchase information.

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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

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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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Professional Models in Figure Drawing

Modeling for figure drawing is a hard job.  Try sitting still in a posed body position for only 5 minutes, and then try it for 25 minutes, and you will see what I mean.  Even seemingly-relaxed poses, even reclining poses, can become torturous.  Our model at Studio b. this week is a an experienced professional.  His poses are rock solid, with no sinking, from beginning to end, from head to foot.  Fresh out of a boot for a repaired Achilles tendon, our model first performed 5 1-minute poses and then we graduated to longer poses and the final drawing was about 45 minutes.

The model challenged us later in the session, by posing with a picture frame as a prop.  Props hugely increase the challenge of figure drawing.  I drew the figure first, and then placed the picture frame.  Ideally, I would have drawn both at the same time, as a whole unit, because there were interesting negative shapes created by the frame.  But I was being cautious, having drawn this same model with this same frame but in a different pose, sometime last year, and having had trouble with the proportions at that time.  My drawing with the frame is more correct this time.

Our instructor, Heather Clements, has often suggested to me that I vary the direction of my pencil strokes to help convey the rounded form of the figure.  I rarely remember to use that technique.  I usually just draw the value patterns of light and shadow to express form, rather than changing  the direction of my pencil strokes.  But on the final drawing of the night, the model stood with one knee advancing towards me.  I varied the direction of my pencil strokes to show the rounded form of that thigh and knee, and I think it was successful.  As a result,the sense of mass in his left thigh is much stronger than for example, his upper right arm, which I drew as one mass, with pencil strokes all going the same direction.

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

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The Joy of Drawing

When I am figure drawing, I am an artist without a message.  I’m not trying to tell you anything.  I just draw because I enjoy drawing.  Well, maybe it’s a compulsion, because sometimes I have to admit, it’s a little uncomfortable, frustrating, and at times perhaps even painful.  But for the most part, the challenge of figure drawing is in the mastery, being able to portray what I see, or what I think I see.  By practicing every week, I am becoming more confident.

The drawing I am posting here was difficult because the facial features look very different when a figure is reclining than they do when the figure is upright.  I think that the portrait class I finished taking last week helped me a lot.  I will need to continue to practice heads and faces in different positions and attitudes.  I still feel hesitant with faces, and I still spend a lot of time guessing, but my guesses seem more accurate now.

This drawing was made with a graphite pencil on Stonehenge paper.  I drew it at the regular Wednesday night session of Figure Drawing at Studio b., in Alys Beach, FLHeather Clements is the instructor.

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Figure Drawing on Colored Paper

This week we again had a new model for figure drawing at Studio b. The young woman had a number of interesting tattoos, but tattoos are one of those things that you see right at the beginning, and then while you are drawing, you forget about them, and then maybe you will see them again at the end.   I’ve had this happen with with whole body parts before.  All of a sudden I realize there’s another leg  — how many legs does this model have?  So I missed drawing most of her interesting tattoos.

A few months ago I bought an assortment of colored Canson Mi-Teintes papers, and I had not used the brighter colors, so I brought them to figure drawing to try out this week.

I had fun even though the bright colors were a bit outside of my comfort zone.  I particularly enjoyed working on the red paper.  I used Nupastel, letting the red show through for some of the middle values.  I opted not to do anything with the background, leaving the figure floating, unanchored.

At left is one of my warm-up gestures.  Our instructor, Heather Clements, gave a very good demonstration about gesture drawing, and setting up the figure on the paper.  This example is nothing like what she taught us, but I just thought it was interesting.

The studio was a-buzz with creativity, with all the drawing upstairs while Colleen Duffley worked downstairs, uploading the New Years camera-phone competition.  Earlier this week Studio b. hosted a presentation by one of the Escape to Create artists, Judith Levy.

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Figure Drawing: Arms and Legs

Our instructor, Heather Clements, suggested that we focus on arms and legs at our regular figure drawing session at Studio b. this week.  No matter what she gives us as a focus, I feel my overall awareness increasing.

I’ve been blogging about the process of drawing and the making of my art for close to a year now.  Warren Tape, my webmaster, is making some improvements in the design of my website, and in reviewing the changes so far, I went back and looked at some of my postings throughout the year.

I was a little surprised at the volume of work.  And I was pleased with the progression.  I had made a commitment to myself to go to figure drawing every Wednesday, and I’m glad I did.  I can’t say that figure drawing is ever easy — in fact it pretty much is always a challenge, and that’s what keeps it fresh and exciting to me.

Following are a few of the warm-up drawings from this week, and then a couple of drawings done later in the evening.  The drawing at the top of this post was also done later in the evening.  The sketches showing only the model’s head or arm are from the actual focus period in the middle of the session.

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Seeing in Black and White

This week in Figure Drawing at Studio b., Heather Clements instructed us to focus on light patterns and shadow patterns.  We worked with strong lighting, toning only the darks, all the same value, and leaving the paper untoned to show the lighted areas.  This high contrast lighting is very powerful, with much of the drawing reading as a silhouette.  Heather directed us to add intermediate values in our later drawings.  She kept a strong light on the model throughout the session.

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Practicing with Horizontal Contours to Show Bulk

This week the instructor of Studio b.‘s figure drawing session, Heather Clements, drew horizontal contours around the model’s arms, legs, and waist, to help us see the the bulk of those parts of the figure.  We had some fun making drawings a la Sergio Poddighe, with portions of the figure sliced out and missing.  Then we did some longer poses, and I very much enjoyed drawing contours of the figure without a lot of shading, letting my lines express the volumes instead of light and shadow.  The practice with contours earlier in the session helped me to see the shapes better.

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The Silhouette of the Figure, The External Contour

For several weeks at Studio b.‘s figure drawing sessions, we have been focusing on negative space.  This week our focus was the silhouette of the figure, essentially the contour line which separates negative space from positive space.   Our instructor Heather Clements says that when the contour is interesting, that’s half the battle.  Learning to accurately draw the contour comes first, and after that the artist decides what elements to exaggerate to make the contour more expressive.  Heather directed us to fill in the positive shape so that it reads as a single shape.  I had a lot of fun with this exercise, since I was thinking I would not be turning out anything worth keeping, which freed me to use some colors and textures I might not ordinarily use.  The night passed quickly.  In this post I have decided to also include all of my warm-up drawings, to show the differences in approach to each pose, and to give an idea of what is actually happening in  a 2½ hour figure drawing session at Studio b.  The final drawing is shown first, followed by the initial 30-second and one-minute gestures, progressing up to 4-minute gestures, all of which I usually end up throwing away,  and then the 15-minute silhouette drawings.