Saturday, March 14, 2009

Zen and the art of painting

One of the things I like most about studying with Tony Ryder is his emphasis on painting each stroke with intention and full focus. In our poster studies, we were encouraged to ask ourselves what is the value, hue and intensity for each brush stroke. Each stroke makes it's own statement. This carefulness is carried over into all of our assignments.

Each day begins with getting our palette ready. We check to see if we need to add any paint and if not to use our palette knife to make sure the paint is smooth and usable. Palettes are stored in the freezer overnight and this helps save our paint keeping most colors ready to go the next day. These simple procedures have a meditative quality. As we check our paints our energy transitions to painting.

Once the pose begins with the model a quiet settles over the room. For the next twenty minutes all attention is on the  model with an unhurried sense of capturing the pose. If someone comes in late his/her rush and organizing of materials is definitely an intrusion and slowly all fourteen of us are learning to make sure we are on time and to become considerate of the others. No music plays and if one wants music they listen with earphones.

When Tony demonstrates he talks about focus and intent and demonstrates how a single line or stroke changes the painting.

I am loving this carefulness. Maybe some will say it lacks spontaneity. That is not a problem for me, at least right now. I am learning the appropriate fundamental's of this approach, and seeing progress in this first month as I learn to train my eye and see the shapes and light patterns. There is a peacefulness as I work and Tony has talked about our ability to create best when our minds are open to look clearly and calmly at each shape and interpret it.

While I have done figure drawing before I have never done a portrait so this is a wonderful challenge for me. The picture at the top is a work-in-progress. We began by first doing a poster study focusing only on color, then a charcoal drawing on canvas followed by an ink-in. An ink-in means using an earth tone color with plenty of solvent so that it dries quickly. Then we did a wash of the portrait again using the oil with lots of solvent so that it acts much like watercolor. (That's the stage of the portrait at the top of the page.) This coming week we will start the final painting and have two weeks to complete it.

Check out this link to a blog on Tony's current classes

No comments: