Old in Art School

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over is a memoir about a history professor, Dr. Nell Painter, who decides at age 64 to go to art school. She gets a bachelor’s, then a Master’s in art. She’s a professional artist and continues to write, and wrote her memoir in 2018. She spoke at the Northwest African American Museum, and I was happy to go.

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I wish I had gone to art school – in my 20’s.   But it probably works out much better for me to be old in art classes. I’m not scared to experiment and I’m far less concerned about other people’s opinions. And my time is my own, too.

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And since I can’t go anywhere, and I have internet and a laptop, I’m taking art courses: abstract watercolor, abstract oil&wax, intuitive drawing, and courses from MoMA: Contemporary Art, and Sexing the Canvas (gender & art). Whew!

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you are now leaving your comfort zone

How are you doing? I hope you’re well and not too lonely. These are uncertain times, but really, aren’t all times?

Before the virus reached Washington State, I was ready to move back into learning mode and away from production mode. I think there are 18-20 canvasses sitting in the living room (where else) and probably 75 drawings upstairs?

So, I signed up for a mix of online and in-person classes. Then the virus sent us home and my art studio went online! Now art history, contemporary art class joins a drawing class , etc, etc!

The drawing curriculum is from Sue Hettmansperger an artist and professor emeritus, via my art studio (The Miller School of Art). Her own work is beautiful.

The curriculum consists of things like: sit in a darkened room, recording your reactions to noises. Notice that she doesn’t say “draw the sounds” – it’s draw your reactions. And: “Pair intention with a particular mark and its most suitable medium.” It’s an intuitive drawing class. So I’m having to remind myself again and again – I’m not depicting – I’m drawing my responses. Awk-ward!

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21st century Bob Ross: Jose Trujillo!

Looking for a new direction for myself. I spent some fun time this week learning floating ink paper marbling (“suminagashi”):

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Then I looked for “contemporary landscape oil painting” and found the 21st century Bob Ross: Jose Trujillo! This video link is 11:00 minutes of a conversation between Mr. Trujillo and his young son, Monet, WHILE painting a landscape! It’s very sweet and I really liked his loose brushwork and colors!

My first attempt at a Trujillo! (16×24,oil)

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illustration

I’m “drawn” to illustration (sorry-not sorry!). My first exposure to art was picture books and I was born around the time of “the golden age” of children’s book illustration: Robert McCloskey, Ludwig Bemelmans, Ernest Shepherd, Virginia Lee Burton. Wonderful stuff!

And I was brought up with The New Yorker – whose illustrated covers were almost always stories, and very often stories with a wink attached.

So I realized (later) all that came into play when I got the idea for this: a mash-up of a photo of a Swedish girl and her fuzzy dog, and an Edward Hicks ‘Peaceable Kingdom’ poster that has hung in my home for 30+ years.

(not quite done . . .)

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experiment

So, this was the challenge I set up for myself. Start with a warm-up. Warm up is using graphite on 24×36” paper. Warm up is drawing with my whole arms (a graphite stick in each hand) making as many different kinds of marks as I can, but without a plan. Just moving.

Part two: using an eraser only, pull out a self-portrait. No adding any more lines. And do it ten times.

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Part three: after 10 times I allowed myself to add in more lines. Still thinking about it. hmmmmm.

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