|Amanda, 24x18", charcoal on newsprint; recent 2-hour sketch from life|
At the moment I am enjoying a mentorship with Lea Colie Wight. Lea is a talented artist and teaches at Studio Incamminati. I set out with lots of goals for this partnership, but the unexpected lessons are what I appreciate most.
One example...thanks to Lea, I see that my recent drawings and paintings are suffering because I'm working too much from photos. Without realizing it, I developed a photo dependency since leaving art school. Don't get me wrong, photography has value. But I'm too dependent on it for reference, and it leads to images that look like paintings of photos. Not good.
Lea is showing me how to work from life to create larger studio pieces. Photos are so convenient...that is their tyranny. But if you commit to working primarily from life, there are plenty of techniques you can adopt to make it possible.
And I like the results. The always-present time constraint when working from life in any genre, creates a sense of urgency that keeps the results fresh and exciting and intuitive. Hard to achieve when working from a photo. And, with few exceptions, photos are a poor substitute for the real thing. There is just not enough high quality information captured in a photo.
So I have taken a pledge to control my photo habit. I will still use them, but in a more limited and deliberate way.
But where to find live subjects? If you are a figurative artist like me, there are probably plenty of people around you willing to pose for a small fee or for the sketch you produce of them. You don't need a pro. I will be hiring my daughter, Amanda, to work with me for the next year or so. You've met her before in this blog, here and here. She holds a pose better than some pros I know. Nude poses are out, of course...but I'm okay with that.