Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fall Semester 08-Done

Yesterday morning was my final class for the fall 2008 semester at PAFA-which they are now re-branding as the Academy. The morning session with Al Gury was the final for the year and went out of a very soft note. We had our last session with the model and then a brief crit by Al. The crit was very light, an general overview of our work, we had to bring in the three painting we had worked on over the semester including the last one we were all trying to finish--which I really didn't. This class was my most frustrating class as I was not able to take the uninstructed portion of the class, this meant I had half the time to work on any painting and I know that contributed to my feeling of frustration with my work this semester painting wise. In each painting I was happy with spots, or parts, but I never feel any of them really totally jelled or that I got that satisfying feeling one gets when something goes right. Al is a very good teacher and such a nurturing type, he kept me from ruining things in a few spots.
In Still Life Class I think I made the most progress in seeking to bring to my work a lot more atmosphere. I was very influenced by a few artists this semester and used them as guide posts for the direction. The first is Thomas Anschutz, a former teacher at the school and one of Thomas Eakins students. Last year when Patrick Connors took our cast drawing class down to the bowels of the old school to see the drawing in the schools collection from past teachers and students I was floored by the amazing atmospheric drawing of casts by Anschutz and Daniel Garber. So Garber is the second by guide this semester, the last being Surat. All three men we excellent draughtsmen, but their best work went beyond a mere replication of what they saw, or academy studies. Their work took on a real poetic-magical quality. In fact Anschutz's drawing have this quality in spades over any of his paintings, when I saw them for the first time I didn't even think they were done by the same artist.

So with those artists in mind as ideals, guides I think I made more progress in drawing and Mike Gallagher was a really big help as well. I think also because I have done so much drawing over the decades now, it's my biggest strength, and painting is rather new, so I have much more to learn as a painter--and that path can be very frustrating and I am also very unforgiving a brutal on myself, which I feel one must be to progress. having had a second class with my original guru Scott Noel was great, I think I was able to build a lot on what I got from Scott last semester and while I can't rock the pastels a great as he can, I do feel I really gained some ground on handling them even more and turned out a few good drawings. I also was excited and happy to really get into sculpting this semester and John horn is just a fantastic teacher. I really learned a lot, and I can't wait to really explore sculpture more. I have a lot of ideas I want to explore along this avenue. But perhaps one of the best things this semester was making a bunch of great new friends at school, fellow travelers up Art Mountain. I can't say how great this is and how important it is also to have the camaraderie and support of your fellow students, and I say this as a student and as a teacher. You can learn a lot from each other in ways that sometimes are not always surface apparent. This made the year quite enjoyable when at times my year was not great at all personal wise. But that's improving too,and one sees the light eventually and you let the past things go off, slip away where they need to go.
So the bag was mixed this semester, but still good, I was frustrated at times and that's part of it as well. You have to accept the fact at times that it's a real fight and struggle as an artist, some days it seems the muse shows up early and brings fresh coffee and cookies and some days the muse is a real asshole, a tease, a charlatan!

I look forward to the next semester, this one was tough also because I had to maintain a pretty heavy workload of teaching at DCAD and Uarts plus my freelance--without which I wouldn't be able to afford school. There were days where I wasn't as sharp because I was juggling so much, and I will take one less day of classes next semester because I need to do more work as I have a new comic series I will be drawing in 2008, more on that soon.

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