Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Impressions

Fully in the swing of things, I am taking a minute from reading to write an update. I think it is worth mentioning that, for the most part, I am omitting names; however, I will name drop on a few. How about Will Cotton? Saw him at an opening. The paintings of Alyssa Monks, Vincent Desiderio, and Aaron Johnson--saw them. And tomorrow I will venture uptown to see Jenny Saville's new show! So excited, I CAN'T BREATHe.

The Desiderio show was enlightening. Familiar with his work, I had imagined his surfaces to have more paint, but the surface is very economical frequently leaving a thin layer or underpainting showing in several areas. Several pieces appeared to be pulled off a stretcher and framed under glass with two linen strips present on each side. I did not see this adding to the piece at all and it seemed rather distracting to several of the compositions. I also noticed the frequent movement of his compositions, several canvases were restretched to accomodate a corner or edge that just needed a little more room. You can see images online at the Malborough Gallery in Chelsea.

The Aaron Johnson show featured grotesque portraits and complex compositions of monstrous figures interacting in an orgy of pop culture. What I found most engaging was the plastic mesh upon which he painted. He collaged several areas in what appeared to be paper cutouts. The paintings were highly decorative and rewarded you for getting close up. Check out the STUX website.

So far, school is okay. I haven't been "wow"ed yet, like I imagined I would be by now. I am taking the more open form painting instructors as well as the more laid back drawing professors, so homework has been steady but manageable. For painting, I am to complete twelve still lives using grisailles, dead palette, limited palette, and finally a full palette. It is highly encouraged that I experiment with mixing mediums to suit my needs, which has been very helpful. The professor is candid about his painting experiences and has extensive knowledge of historical palettes and applications, though he prefers each painter to find his or her own uses for such knowledge, if any. He frequently refers to Robert Henri's, The Art Spirit, and is very thrifty in his own painting practice--which is helping me out a lot. Winton is apparently not the devil of paints! He also prefers using Rembrandt white as it is easier to keep clean when mixing due to the amount of oil. Forty percent of your painting uses white!

For a structural anatomy course, I have to construct two ecorches--challenging given the fact my last successful venture into 3D dates back to pre-school (but it was an *amazing* bunny)--one in a full frontal pose and the other in contrapposto.

For figure drawing intensive, there are six hours a week of drawing from the model. I have to complete master copies: I chose to do a Pontormo first and now the whole class has to copy a Prudhon drawing--I'm choosing a more loosely constructed example.

And for a design and composition class I have to take one of the paintings from the Desiderio or the Johnson show and create my own painting, any size/subject, based on the compositional elements of the chosen piece. This has potential!

The school is full of friendly and engaging individuals who are nerdy about painting--the sweet, sweet joy of painting--and have met an apprentice of Odd Nerdum as well as Yigal Ozeri. Of course I proceeded to debate about the nature of Kitsch and the morality behind Ozeri's use of projecting his image AND then having a bunch of students paint a large portion of his works. Of course.

The potential for enlightening conversation is promising.

Also worth note, the master classes are opening up soon. And although I doubt I will get a place due to sign up regulations (aka 2nd years priority, 15 spots per class), I am excited about the prospects: Alyssa Monks, Laurie Hogin, Arthur Gonzalez, and Julie Heffernan. I'm sure you've heard of a few!

Finally, I thought it important to stress how amazing my undergraduate education was at the Kansas City Art Institute. Being amongst a new and diverse group of students, I have been reaffirmed of the quality of what I learned and practiced at KCAI.

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