This blog is totally unrelated to my woodworking so maybe somewhat difficult to write. You’re probably aware that Diane and I are spending 6 months in Scottsdale as our 20th. anniversary trip/celebration. The goal and purpose is to really immerse ourselves in the vibrant art scene found here. The Scottsdale Artists School is one of the finest in the country and features workshops taught by well known artists from virtually everywhere. Diane has enrolled in many workshops over the years and always came home inspired with a new perspective of her own art journey. My goal during this time is to concentrate on carving and gilding frames — that has been written about in previous blogs. So, to get to the point; Diane suggested that I apply to become a model at the school so I interviewed and was placed on the roster. Here I am, on my first “modeling gig”
I was put on the schedule to pose for Michael Siegel’s workshop. If you click on the link to see his website you’ll agree with Diane that this was a good fit for me. His style is impressionist and based on that of the old Dutch Masters. Let’s see, I’m Dutch but no master but do have the type of face he’s done in other work. I was scheduled for two days; 8:30 – 4:00 with an hour for lunch plus breaks, roughly 5 minutes every 20 minutes or so.
The first day, Michael spent the morning demonstrating to the class by doing the portrait shown here. Now, three hours isn’t a lot of time for this work. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by the process of doing “stuff”. Doesn’t matter if it’s making an oatmeal cookie or putting together a giant skyscraper — the planning and process of doing things is exciting! It also doesn’t matter that I’m not likely to accomplish them, just knowing how is what I like. As he worked on the painting he was explaining the why’s and wherefore’s of the process. Some of it he related to sculpting so I took away some information for wood carving. Other things were those that Diane has shared with me when we talk about our own studio work at the end of the day. Just cool stuff!
After lunch the first day, the students in the class drew numbers to see which easel position they would have. I taped my foot location to help me return to the same position after each break, found an object across the room to focus on and prepared for sitting still — not as easy as you might imagine! Having done this before for groups in Las Vegas I knew what to expect but a 6 hour posing day was a bit more challenging than the 2 hour ones there. You just don’t move or scratch an itch instead plan stuff in your head, sing songs (silently), and enjoy the process. And enjoy it I did! Michael was constantly answering questions from the students and doing impromptu demonstrations on their canvases. I suppose you really had to be there to get a full appreciation of it.
In any case, this 5 day workshop was geared towards painters of all levels. If you’ve never observed an artist as they create their work it’s not an easy, slap the paint on the canvas process. Every stroke of the brush has a purpose, they need to capture the light and shadow plus every nuance between. Michael was telling me that some academic schools will have the same model sit for 50-60 hours so that the artist can really capture all there is — whew! Here is a slide show of the work they completed. Many of them took photographs of me and will no doubt spend time in their home studios if they intend to finish this work. Great experience and I’m looking forward to more of them. Just a note, Michael would do those impromptu demonstrations on the students canvas — those aren’t aliens coming out of my chest! Every artist had a different view of me as you can tell. These paintings are not intended to be portraits per se but rather a study of what the artists wanted to express based on what they saw in front of them. Much preferable to a photo realistic painting in my estimation.