Friday, April 8, 2016

Show me how things are similar first

One of the things I try to do in classes, workshops, and private lessons, is to send out an email that sort of encapsulates the mood or feeling of what we experienced in our time together - a recap between seeing each other. Here is an excerpt from an email I sent to someone I have recently begun working with.  In this, I was trying to point to the fact that my art lessons aren't just about learning technique.  I have learned over the years that I am stressing more the importance of opening the mind to the experience of creating. What is it that makes you want to pick up a brush, a pencil, a pastel? We already possess this language in ourselves and it is beyond words for me to see someone tap into it and watch it unfold. 

So here is the excerpt and perhaps in a day or two I'll find an image to go along with this post, but maybe not. The teacher I am referring to in this message is Steven Sheehan. I had him for several classes at Lyme Academy and I count my lucky stars for that. 

"Every time I have learned something that has enhanced my ability to get closer to the work I want to be doing in my art, it has been through experiencing a shift in perspective. It is as if I am seeing things the same way, but with an extra dimension, if that make sense. A lot of times it has more to do with a philosophy or a slight shift in my mental focus on what it is that is attracting me to a certain setting. 

For instance, when I say things like “show how things are similar first before you show how they are unique”, that is something I learned from a lecture I heard about how Corot painted. One of my teachers took that approach in his own work and really instilled it in me. There was something about that expression has resonated so clearly with me. 

On a philosophical level, I think the saying speaks volumes.  How I interpreted it on a tangible level was to link all that I could together initially in my value drawing of a setting. This would not only give me a map, something to build on, but it would also show me at the very core the basic compositional element of what is to become a painting. With masking in of large shapes and linking all similar values, I can easily see if there is the kind of balance I am looking for, if the energy of the composition feels right, and above all, it helps me to ease into the experience of painting without getting overloaded with stimulus. Ultimately, all the detail and nuances will present themselves, but they will have a bedrock on which to dance."

Thank you Steven Sheehan,  Kathryn