The artist & the model
For the past few years I attended a live painting session every other week or so in Los Angeles, where I joined groups of fellow artists to work with live models and share modelling costs.
Having attended a private arts academy that centered its disciplines on anatomical study and working live, this was an easy environment to join. I was eager to find a correlation between the meditation rigor I had previously begun and how it might begin to appear in my work.
All sessions were limited in time, with about two and a half hours to capture a ‘long pose’ in one sitting — that is, a la prima.
Working in oil paint on panels, I began with small, 5×7 inch studies, which were I thought sometimes a little stiff and found myself soon working larger on 8×10’s once I was up to speed, until I reached a certain point where I was able to capture the pose in paint and complete a sitting. These can be found in my 2016 work.
Not satisfied that I was unable to paint the delicate detail I began seeing, I moved to a larger format, which can be seen in these 2017 works. From this, I concluded that the influence of daily meditation and the discipline of observing and painting from life are impossible to separate, both being very much the same.
Nor was I satisfied with working in group settings, restricted to painting poses and lighting by others.
The images from 2017 more fully capture the sensitive nature of the models. I think perhaps too, my observation abilities and concentration have grown over this period, which enabled me to not only see more but work fast enough to capture the models’ position and lighting changes that occur as sittings progressed.
Working directly from life has created in me an increased awareness of its transient nature and I find this fluid awareness becomes more expansive as I paint and meditate.
To be clear — I find the very presence of awareness can be an obstruction to truly seeing things as they are, and it seems only when awareness itself disappears, the appearance of only model and canvas remain.
Reaching this point, the canvas and model seem to dictate what action is required next — whether it’s mixing that new point of light now appearing on the model, or finding more color compatible hues for shadow patterns, ground, etc.
It is in this complete absence of awareness that I find my greatest measure of success, unhindered by thought while absorbed in the action of what is.
I’ve used a screen capture here from the movie The Artist and the Model as an example (and for those who have seen the movie, a reminder) to hopefully depict the level of intimacy that exists while working. I heartily thank the producers.
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