Thursday, July 29, 2010

More from Thomas Bosket's workshop

Whenever I work with Thomas, I do brand new things which challenge and exite me.  I go to lands hitherto unknown to me.  I learn things I didn't know existed. 

There's the saying, "Reach for the stars and you may just reach the moon" - or something like that - the idea being that going way far out and reaching high at least gets you further than you'd be if you hadn't left your comfortable easy seat. 

It's like that for me with Thomas.  I am reaching for the stars.  Ultimately I end up at the moon after a long while of integrating what he's taught.

Here are the images I've been working on this week.  They're not nicely cropped because my canvas is too close to the wall to be able to get back far enough to take a good image, but it'll certainly give you an idea of what I'm working on.  They're quite different than my usual work!

This first picture will give you an indication of where the pieces all started.  They were in this shape at the beginning of the week, though the others had some indications of value on them as well (darker paint where the shadows are).

The second picture has two different images.  The one on the far left is the first one I did.  Thomas was showing me how some of the Masters painted.  They would put down a carefully gradiated layer of grey values and from there they would work darker with transparent paints and lighter with opaque ones.  Obviously I haven't gotten to the second stage of that one yet.

This is Thomas's first layer of a painting by Rembrandt to show me how to do the layers juicier and looser.  I used that technique - believe it or not - in the second one before putting on all the crazy layers.

The second picture in this image is what I spent most of yesterday on.  Thomas gave a demo on mark making in the morning then I decided to try to incorporate all those types of marks - and more - into my painting.  I went into the basement and found a bunch of crazy tools to use - bad house paintbrushes, twine, scrapers, plastic pieces, etc., -  then looked outside for more - leaves, sticks, twigs.  I think I used them all.  It was very freeing to try to think of ways to use each one.  It gave the picture a lot of diversity of marks and many interesting passges throughout.

Chris looked at it in the evening and wanted to know how people feel looking at it who already like my work the way it is.  I told him that isn't the point.  I have to keep developing as an artist - it's the only way to be an artist - to keep exploring and learning new things.  I doubt my work will continue to look like this, but for right now, it does - and it might.  And if that's the case, then people will either like it, or they won't, but I'm not creating for other people - I'm creating because I have to.  I think artists die inside if they get trapped into making art that always looks the same.  It's a horrible fate, and I refuse to consign myself to it.  Period.

So the second image has lots of explorations in it.  Lots of different types of marks.  Lots of intense color.  Chris commented that it has lots of emotion in it - I can certainly see how it gives that impression - but I wasn't angry or anything like that.  Instead I was curious.  I was playing.  I was intensely interested in what I was doing.  I listened to music for part of it, but that was actually too much - it got in the way of the rest of my mind. 

This last image was a real gift from Thomas.  He came out to the studio with me after the other students had leaft, after dinner.  We looked at a book of Jenny Saville's images.  She's amazing the way she paints.  The image here is the one we were looking at when we did the above image.  It hasn't gotten to the finished stage Jenny Saville's piece is at yet, but we're heading there.  Saville puts all those colors underneath - those gashes of paint, the drips and runs and stains and deep darks and shocking lights.  Then turns out with something so exquisite and real looking, it makes me want to weep with recognition of the pure humanity of it.  Her work is also 10' tall or bigger usually.  I wish I had such a large canvas prepared so I could practice on it, but this smaller one will have to do for now.

Thomas sat behind me and told me the strokes to put on and how.  It's so completely foreign to me to figure out how to do those strokes - I mean, compare that image to the first, grey, subtle one!  This later one is NOT my normal predilection!  But I'm loving learning how to do it.  I am looking forward to figuring out the next layer today.  I feel trepidation about being able to figure it out myself, but that's the task I'm setting for myself.

So now the canvas looks crazy with the three different styles of pictures on it, but I'm seeing it as an incredible opportunity to learn so much in one week.  Amazing!

Off to the races!  Who knows what'll be up here tomorrow????!!


  1. "Chris commented that it has lots of emotion in it - I can certainly see how it gives that impression - but I wasn't angry or anything like that. "

    I am loving what is going on in the studio Susan. I did find your reaction to this comment from Chris curious...of course I don't have the whole context. Yet, I wonder, why can't it be emotional? There are so many emotions one can express and I don't see that image as angry, yet I had the same! such an emotional piece. Perhaps emotive is more accurate? Such energy; I can almost picture you charging the canvas totally immersed in the possibility of the next stroke or addition of color. To me, that is bliss. Painting in the moment.

  2. Adele, good question, "Why can't it be emotional?" I'm curious about that question myself and am doing a lot of thinking about it too. More to come in the next day or two when I have a chance to write another blog entry.

    It was bliss making that painting. Being lost in the moment, not in my head, just in my hand and heart and soul. can't wait to get out there again!