Monday, November 17, 2008

More Gazing

This is becoming frightfully repetitive, those models who pierce the classroom space with their bored eyes.

I am not complaining. Not really. Not sure what I'd do if I had to sit in the same pose for 3 hours, but for us class takers it kills inspiration, again and again.

Or does it?

Last week, at figure class, it was portrait time again. This time we had Paul, a guy with quite an ordinary face and a beret-like hat. Nothing exciting.

And yes, he just sat there. Gazing, as you'd expect.

We had 3 hours, and I was bored out of my mind to begin with, so I started off with just rendering his features, slouching in my chair and waiting for the time to pass. I just did them nonchalantly, holding my eyes wide open with my fingers in a desperate attempt to not fall asleep. What I felt towards this model was also reflected in the colors I chose. Did I mention sheer lack of excitement?

Another look at the clock - but I could swear someone has used Superglue on its hands. Time froze, the earth thawed, glaciers melted, penguins gently simmered in the hot-tub-like water - and Paul sat there, gazing.

To add to it all, he looked so much like someone I really, Really, REALLY loathe. I mentioned it to MembieM and CrystieG and they nodded in pity.

After I'd done 4 portraits of this guy, and as always happens when you paint the same subject several times and get to a point when you just wonder why - - - madness took place.
I got angry. I got tired of this fancy faced model who sat there basking in the light of the lamp, looking so, so... beige.

My patience came to an end. I pulled out a set of vibrant watercolor brush pens that are probably non-archival and unprofessional - but I couldn't care less at that stage.

I lost all control, and started to have fun for the first time in that session.

Those who sat next to me got all excited at the fun colors (yeah, by now you may have guessed that everyone was reaching for the browns, not just me).

The teacher was doing his walks amongst us, complimenting everybody and raving about their work in extreme superlatives. When he saw mine - he came to a screeching halt, and then proceeded to the others. He was horrified, to say the least, which amused me a lot.

And then, after that got out of my system, I could move on to a more peaceful piece. After all, it wasn't the model's fault that he resembles someone I dislike, right?

This last one was sheer joy. Using one of those fun multicolored pencils, I let it do its own thing, used line to define shapes and kept restating rather than fixing or erasing, which added a sense of energy. The teacher? Ah, he was almost in tears... finally I came up with something that he absolutely loved. He couldn't take his eyes (and hands) off the drawing, and declared "This is your best drawing in this class".

I am not sure I agree with him, but I do like it.


singleforareason said...

I love hearing this story of barking boredom and teacher's rolling eyes to a sketch that even I can tell is very, very good! The watercolor pencils seem to add a vibrance the model lacked.

RHCarpenter said...

Nava, when you let your true emotions take over, you create something wonderful, full of life and energy - unlike the model. I once had a model walk into the room who looked so much like my ex-husband that it was hard to paint him, much less spend time looking at him. I wonder that the teacher doesn't know how bored you are getting with these non-poses and gazing heads?

Anonymous said...

You cheer me.... when I see you break out and sizzle on the paper it makes me realize there's another way. Your last man was the liveliest thing in the room!


Holly Van Hart said...

Nava, I really like that last sketch too. It's so expressive! Holly

Nava said...

Pat, always fun to read about someone else's misery... ;-)

Rhonda, that's the idea of doing more than one version - once you are done trying to reproduce what you see, you can then really create. As for the teacher - I also wonder.

Valerie, yeah, the atmosphere was quite dead that day.

Holly, I am still amazed I managed to get something expressive out of such a model.

Rhonda said...

I'm amazed at how his expression becomes your expression. Simply amazing Nava!

Nava said...

Rhonda, you mean, his expression changes from bored to angry to peaceful? Hmm - interesting; haven't thought about that! Thank you!!

Blueberry said...

I really think that just one "bored gaze" portrait looks uninteresting, but when you assemble them into a series, then you've got something going! Especially when you add the one with the bright colors.

It's hard to say how much weight the opinion of the art teacher should have (in life, beyond grades and such). If it was someone i respected and admired, I'd take every word to heart - then there were others... and of course, none of them have the right answer since there is none.

Nava said...

Blueberry, that's always the power of a series: it puts things in context. As for the opinions of teachers and instructors, unless they are purely design/composition/color related, they are subjective and reflect the person's taste and style rather than constructive input.

In such cases, I don't let them affect me too much, as I do want to keep my own voice, regardless of their own likings. Took me a loooong time (and many ruined paintings) to learn this lesson.

bonnieluria said...

Nava- what really brings these to life is your progressive and very funny narrative of your own emotions in that three hour class.
Something got shook loose when you took out the colored pens and to my eyes, caught the essence of the models' expression.
And maybe some of your own exasperation.

A great post.

Nava said...

Bonnie, taking out those colored pens was my declaration of independence from the follow-the-rules-and-render-boredom-in-beige. said...

I like it too.

I think you should head out into the streets/malls, etc. with your drawing pad. You won't be whining about anyone holding the same boring pose.

Call me, we can go together, and I can teach you some real whining.

Nava said...

Bill, been there, done that - yes, no endless poses there... when's your whining workshop begins? said...

I'm in San Jose now but leave this afternoon. The next time I come north I will let you know. We can get together to drink, paint and whine. I have reached the rank of MW (master whiner) simply by listening to Lisa.

Nava said...

Bill, San Jose? The WM himself?? Ah well, I'll continue to learn by reading.

Daniel Bruckner said...

WOw, I have been transported into a whole new Nava world!!! You are much more popular here, by the way. Which makes me wonder how many other rogue blogs you must be running!

Nava said...

Daniel, yeah, artists seem to appreciate the art-related posts more. As for other blogs, if and how many, that's for me to know and for you to find out ;-)