So I figure I’d write an update about how things are going. June 29th I graduated from a full-time 3 year program at Georgetown Atelier.
Just in time… as even though I think I have so much more to learn, I was definitely ready to be out of an atelier environment. Perhaps this particular atelier, but nonetheless, it is nice to be on my own.
I have a couple of finished pieces which I will photograph and display soon.
One of the finished pieces is “Glimpse of the desert” – a painting I’ve been working on for a while from a miniature setup I built.
I also gave an interview to the Objective Standard which I will post again separately in a different post with its own title. I was honored to give that interview as well as draw their previous cover; a commissioned portrait of Ayn Rand.
What else is new… I took a sculpting class, which I was dying to do for a long time. I did well, if I am honest, without the intention of being presumptuous. I had this burning sensation in my bones before I took my class that sculpting will allow me to express myself in a way painting and drawing does not. Studying 3 years among many different people one comes to identify one’s own unique way of analyzing things, as well as how others do. For me, I noticed, I enjoy taking time analyzing the form in 3D and in my rendering there is a certain underlying obsession with the way the volumes move in 3D. It is actually, as I realized, an obstacle when I paint.
Why, you might ask? Well, because, suppose you have a muscle wrapping around – you want to move your brush to mimic the direction of the muscle, but in painting, the colors and values change along that path, so it’s actually not beneficiary to move the brush all the way across. The artist must instead construct the different hue and value shapes. It is then possible to subtly sculpt the paint, but not before. I find that somewhat unnatural to do, even though it’s a great way to paint and what I’m trying to do when I’m painting.
Honestly, I found that the application of oil painting has been the most unnatural thing I have been doing so far.
It is definitely a matter of learning how to control the thing – I don’t feel like I have the knowledge to make it behave the way I’d like it to.
I have heard it expressed many times that painting that show the nature of the materials used are a beautiful thing, but for me, I just dislike the appearance of oil. Subconsciously, I find something about it repulsive. I don’t know what it is, perhaps just the association of the heavy and slimy feeling of oil compared to the airy and clean feeling of water (against skin or whatnot). But in painting I don’t like looking at it and thinking “boy, this looks thick with oil”. I like thinking: “Boy, this looks airy and light”.
So I’m trying to use oil paints to make them look more like colored pencils or something like that. It’s even apparent in my use of medium: oil, heavily diluted with mineral spirit. However, this medium proved to have too many problems in combination with a certain surface, so something will need to change.
Anyway here I go on and on about materials. Boring, right? What do you care… you probably don’t even know what mineral spirit is like. Change of topic is due..
So here I am, graduated. Now what? Right now I have a studio space set up at home. I am working modeling for figure drawing classes and sessions. I’ve picked up my beloved anatomy book again (the one by Elliot Goldfinger). and I am studying it bit by bit.
I’m also doing a lot of resting and organizing in these 2 weeks after getting out of the atelier.
While I have a lot of ideas for paintings, I rather hold off starting on them for now. I think for starters, I’ll do something you wouldn’t expect Ifat Glassman to do – I will set up a simple still life setup (or two) and paint those. I feel that above all, I want to get a handle on how I wish to apply paint to a canvas. I also want to go out and start painting things around me – mostly nature. I like the color and light of dense forests and I happen to have one right next to my home.
In addition, I’ll start attending some of the many life drawing sessions in the area, getting experience with 3 or 6 hour sessions, paint matching quickly.
I also want to continue sculpting (pictures of my sculpture coming soon).
Lots of plans. For now, there is a lot of organizing to do as I move all my art equipment and work home from my small cozy studio space at GT Atelier.
I’ve been doing so much thinking in the last few months about art-making – especially the underlying psychology and the state of mind required to do art. I came to the conclusion that one of the truly hardest things an artist needs to accomplish is the ability to be purely selfish in making art. People think being selfish is easy, but, having learned a new and enlightened concept of selfishness from writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, I realize how difficult it is to be selfish in the true meaning of the word.
So what do I mean by it? I do not mean the mundane meaning attached to selfishness that most people use – I do not mean something like: “Hey hon, you wash the dishes today so I can work on my art”. I mean a deeper meaning of being selfish – that the artist is doing the art primarily for one’s self. That one’s motivation is the enjoyment in being immersed in one’s own creation and vision which is coming to life. Not in what will sell, not in one’s reputation as an artist, not in one’s self doubts or, also, feeling of greatness, but to bring one’s self into physical existence and take joy in that.
There is something odd about the motivation of making art – yes, ultimately, it is a way of communication. The artist is communicating something extremely personal to another person – something which, in real life, is buried under layers of proper social behavior, defense mechanisms and other stuff. But through your art – someone can truly see your soul. You achieve instant intimacy with a total stranger. No small talk required. Someone can understand you deeply without a single word exchanged.
However, when you draw (or paint, or whatever), you (ideally) feel united with the piece you are working on. It is not about you – it is about IT.
It doesn’t seem to be a social activity at all. It seems to be something you do for yourself. I do believe, however, that ultimately, my motivation in making art is a combination of wanting to see my vision become real combined with the desire to allow other who would understand it see and understand it.
They don’t need to know me personally, but it will give me pleasure to know that someone, somewhere, whom I don’t know, looked at something I did and thought “wow, this shows me something about life I haven’t really seen before”. (Like a certain state of mind, or type of universe).
And I believe, (if you are an artist working out of inspiration) that you know what I’m talking about.
And if you are not, you might think me silly for placing so much emphasis on the social aspect of art. But really, I believe it is only in this day and age that social behavior has become both altruistically idealized and scorned (to compensate), but never really given its proper, honest and simply praise the way friendship was seen, in say, the Renaissance art (or period).
In any case, this concludes my line of thinking tonight.
I wish you all a nice American independence Day (4th of July).