Friday, April 29, 2011

Torso in Shadow and Light

The last few days I've been working on a new piece.  I realize I haven't posted much of my work on this blog lately - I've been as busy as ever painting, but they've been commissions, and it's not my place to post them publicly the way I can with other work.  But now today I have a new piece which I think is finished!

"Torso in Shadow and Light" is from a series of photos I took of a professional model I've been working with lately.  She's creating a graphic novel and needed pictures of her body for it, and I love photographing her so it's worked out well for both of us. 

On this particular day, the spring sun was streaming into my studio through my southern windows.  The architect designed the studio so the sun could come in through the windows until the equinox, thus giving me some solar gain during the cold months and protecting me from too much heat in the summer.  There was a rectangle of sun striking the floor, spreading out about 3 feet.  My model moved into it, and things got electric.  I glanced at one of the photos I took and realized we'd struck gold!  The sun traced some of the subtle curves on her body and delineated others strongly where sun and shadow met. 

I took about 20 pictures in this set up, but this is the only one I've had a chance to paint yet.  It was a difficult painting to create because her torso is so smooth and flat, and the modulations so subtle.  It's also quite abstract, so I had to keep her anatomy in mind as I worked to make sure I was describing the form correctly. 

I'm going to leave it on the easel for a few days to see if it's actually finished, but it's feeling good for now!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Is she real or synthetic?

I was just looking on Amazon for the book by Arianna Huffington about Picasso and his many women (her quote was at the bottom of my blog yesterday) and saw this ad:

I assumed it was for a Barbie Doll.  When I looked more closely, I saw it might possibly be a real woman.  Sort of.  I can't quite tell.  She looks plastic or porcelain, but she has bubbles coming out of her mouth and her hair is swirling sort of realistically.  Her gaze is a mix between real and synthetic.

Is this what we're coming to?  A society where we can't tell real people from fake ones?

Chris and I were talking the other day about fantasy machines which we'll be able to enter one day, get squished and transformed into the "perfect" shape, then come out the other side a carbon copy of everyone else, except our height.  Perfect for the rest of our lives.  Except that, oh yeah, "perfect" would change each season, so you'd have to go back in every few months to get the updated look.  How else would the company make its money?  The more I see, the more cynical I get, and the clearer I am about the importance of the work I'm doing.

I watched a documentary last night called Bigger, Stronger, Faster.  It was about men who have chosen to take steroids to get a physical advantage in their competitive sports.  The director seems to be honestly trying to answer for himself whether using them is moral or immoral, healthy or deadly, acceptable or unacceptable.  It gives good insight into what men are beginning to experience in terms of expectations of six-pack abs and pumped muscles.  It seems similar to what women have been going through for years.  I hope it doesn't take hold for men.  These societal expectations are simply not helpful for anyone except for the companies who sell the products.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Picasso the misogynist

This may not get me many fans, but I'm going to tell you how I really feel about Picasso.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts here in Richmond currently (through May 22) has the only East Coast showing of an exhibit of Picasso's work from the Musee de Picasso in Paris which is being renovated right now. There are approximately 175 works by this man most people call the world's most important artist.  Don't get me wrong - it is an impressive show.  It is beautifully displayed.  The museum has done a fantastic job with the works, and Richmond is very fortunate to have them here.

That said, the exhibit has re-affirmed for me that I do not like Picasso's work.

When I was 21 and living in Freiburg, Germany, I learned there was an exhibit of his paintings of women in Basel, Switzerland, so I took the train an hour or so to go see it.  It felt like the opportunity of a life time, and I didn't want to miss it.  I wasn't an artist at the time, but, still, it called to me strongly.  When I got to the museum, I got out my journal, as was my wont, and began to look at the paintings.  I liked to write about art as I was looking at it so I could build up my opinions about it or sketch something I saw which I particularly liked.  After I'd looked at about 20 pictures, I noticed I was feeling pissed off.  It had occurred to me that Picasso hated women.  I didn't have any biographical data to back up that hunch, but it felt clear as day to me.  Occasionally he painted women realistically, but generally he fragmented them.  I didn't have a problem with cubism, per se, rather, it was the consistency with which he did it to women as well as the expressions he would put on their faces.

In the intervening years, I have read more about Picasso, and none of it has helped me revise my opinion more positively.  I have learned that he was almost never without a woman and, though he aged, the ages of the women didn't increase.  He had two wives, four children by three women, and several of his women died by their own hand.  In almost every case, he left the woman he was with for another woman.  The guy was a jerk.

What I've noticed is that the first paintings he would do of his woman would be realistic and relatively beautiful, then, the longer he was with them, the more fragmented the pieces would become. (The pictures on this page are all of the same woman, Dora Maar and are in chronological order.)   One speaker I listened to said that he didn't care what he painted - subject matter was irrelevant - he would just use it as an opportunity for him to get out his feelings.  I understand that well, but it seems to me like he was incredibly insensitive and boorish towards these women in the ways he painted them.

When I saw this current exhibit, I noticed that it is difficult to get a sense of the women's personalities from the paintings.  They have vacant stares (if they aren't horrifyingly grotesque).  Yet when I look at the men he painted, I have a sense of who they might have been.  I can make up a story about their personalities.  It is usually positive. 

I don't like feeling this way about Picasso because I want to admire him and think he's fantastic, but I just don't.  Looking at his art still leaves me feeling like I've watched films of women being abused and disrespected and disregarded - very skillfully.

(Below is a link to a very interesting website which outlines the many relationships Picasso had and which children he had with whom.  It'll give you more information about what a cad he was.)

And here's an article about the then-17-year-old young woman he had a 2 year affair with after Francoise had the sense to dump him.  Yikes!

And a review of a book by Arianne Huffington about Picasso and his loves.  I'm definitely not the first person to see him as a misogynist!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Writing Retreat

Last week I spent the entire week in a cabin in the woods writing.  An organization I belong to owns some property on about 50 acres with a beautiful lodge on it which is available for groups or individuals to rent.  Realizing I needed to make some progress on my book, I decided to rent it for a week so I could isolate myself from day to day worries (and the internet) and WRITE!

I arrived Saturday morning and spent the first five hours on a Silent Retreat with another woman.  We spent our time journaling or walking through the woods or simply in meditation.  It was a lovely time to set my intentions for the week and to get into the spirit of contemplation.

After she left I brought my things into the Lodge and set up a work space and a sleeping/yoga space.  After that, I started to organize my files but soon realized I was thoroughly exhausted.  I decided to take a nap so went in an lay down on my rather pitiful bed made of two skinny, thin camp mattresses.  They sufficed.  I fell asleep within minutes and didn't wake up until thirteen hours later when the sun was just beginning to intimate its arrival into the thick woods.

I got up and did a long luxurious session of yoga as the sun began to show through the trees.  The Lodge has windows all around so it was almost like being outdoors doing the yoga, but without the bugs, thankfully!

After breakfast, I was ready to work, and it was only 7:30.  Unsure of how to approach this gargantuan project, I decided to pile the pictures of my paintings of my models randomly then chose one and write about it until I made it through the entire pile.  I set my timer for 10 minutes and wrote about one model, then another 10 minutes, and another until I had written as much as I could about that model.  Most of my models have already written about themselves or their experience modeling for me, so I quickly found there wasn't all that much I could/wanted to add to that.  Instead, I found that they provoked other stories in me.  I was surprised to find that most of the time I ended up writing about my own journey.  I wrote about giving birth, being pregnant, nursing, exercising, learning to be an artist - whatever came up.  I decided not to try to control the muse, but, rather, to see where she would take me.

The week ended up becoming a very personal journey thanks to the willingness of my models to share their own stories with me and others.  I realized that this book will be like that - images and stories of women courageous enough to honor us all with bits and pieces of their lives so that we can perhaps gain insights into our own lives and, through that, grow closer to our own authentic selves.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring and Summer Class Schedule

Today I spent some time putting together my class schedule for the rest of the Spring and the Summer.  I'll be teaching art classes for beginners and intermediates and offering a class by a wonderful teacher, Thomas Bosket, for advanced students.  In addition, I have two classes coming up which are about body image - Body Shop and Naked Self Portraiture.  The details are below.  Both are very gentle classes which give participants to look at their feelings about their bodies using different modalities in a safe, supportive environment.

All information is next to the class title.  This information is also on my website,  Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the classes.  I'd be delighted to have you join me for any of these pursuits!

Putting Together a Face, One Piece at a Time

In this six week class, the student will learn the basic anatomy of a face and have the opportunity to practice drawing each element of the face in detail in pencil.  The last two weeks will be spent drawing a self portrait using the knowledge gained from the first four weeks.  No previous drawing experience necessary.

Friday mornings
May 6 - June 17 (no class May 27), 10 AM -12:30 PM, $180
held at my studio in Southside Richmond
Contact me to sign up and for more information.

Susan Singer is a full time artist, writer, speaker and teacher who is dedicated to helping people feel compassion towards themselves and their bodies.  Through the processes of drawing, writing and sharing, participants will explore the impact that our body image has on our inner and outer lives.  In this intensive three hour workshop designed for women, participants will gently but honestly uncover how we really feel about the woman beneath our clothes. 

Saturday, May 7, 10 AM - 1 PM
Cost: $40 Members; $50 Non-members of Chrysalis
         * Register by April 22 to receive a $5 early registration discount 
The Chrysalis Gathering Space (3527 Ellwood Ave.)  

Naked Self Portraiture:  Drawing Inward to Draw Outward.
Part exploration of the soul, part exploration of the body, this class will give you time and permission to see yourself as you truly are with loving eyes.  We’ll draw and paint and sculpt with simple materials like Playdoh and finger paint, easy for the inexperienced artist and interesting enough for even the professional artist.  We’ll go inward through Authentic Movement and guided meditation to find the essence of who we are on the inside. Come prepared to disrobe, to explore, to laugh, and to discover richly, deeply your own gorgeous self, inside and out.
(This illustration is not an example of the work we'll be doing in the class.  Our explorations will be much more basic and intended for beginners as well as women with some artistic background.)

Saturday, May 14, 10 - 4 AND
Sunday, May 15, 11-5

Students: $125
At Illumination Dance Studio, Richmond, VA
Contact me to sign up and for more information.

Beginning Pastel Drawing at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond
Are you ready to try a new medium? How about one that is direct, forgiving, simple and luscious? Come learn all about color, composition, value, line, and marks, not to mention pastels and pastel papers! This class is ideal for beginners to art, as well as experienced artists wanting to learn a new material.  It is taught with an analytical approach which will allow even the utter newbie to create better art than he ever thought possible!  Materials will be provided for the first night of class and a list will be given out then for the other class meetings.

Tuesday night
June 7 – July 26, 6:30 – 9:00 PM, 8 weeks, $190
Contact the Visual Arts Center to sign up

Intermediate Pastel Drawing at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond
If you've already begun exploring the fabulous, rich, exciting medium of soft pastels, this class is perfect for you! Take time to indulge yourself each week in an exploration of yourself as an artist under the supportive and encouraging tutelage of the instructor. Bring your own project and draw to your heart's content! 

Thursday night
Session I - June 9 - July 14, 6:30 - 9:00, 6 weeks, $155
Session II - July 28 - August 25, 6:00 - 9:00, 5 weeks, $155
Contact the Visual Arts Center to sign up.

Honing Your Vision with instructor Thomas Bosket
If you are at the intermediate skill level or beyond, this could be a fabulous class for you!  In this six day class, Thomas Bosket, visiting professor from Parsons School of Design in NYC, will lead us on a journey together through some tough stuff and some very stunning parts of what it means to be human - a journey that exposes our deepest longings and desires - one that will be tough at times and thrilling at others.  We will be taken out of our brains into our bodies.  We will be exposed to raw energies and experiences that may be uncomfortable but definitively alive. 

In his almost twenty years of teaching art, Thomas has developed many exercises to help students break through their self-imposed limits on their artistic abilities. This class is for students who want to explore the interior aspects of creating art, those which transcend the skill-based aspects.

Sunday - Saturday, June 19 - 25, 2011           Sunday, June 19, from 2-6 with dinner afterwards
           Monday - Friday, June 20 - 24, from 10-4 daily
           Saturday, June 25, from 10-2
Where:  Crossroads Art Center at Staples Mill and Broad, Richmond, VA
Cost:  $600 for all instruction and dinner on the 19th
How to sign up:  send me an email at, then send me a $300 deposit to reserve your place.  The remainder will be due by June 1.

Basic Drawing Skills

Have you always wanted to learn to draw but never thought you could?  Are you one of those people who says, "I can't even draw a straight line?"  In this class you won't need to, and you will learn to draw beautifully!  You will learn the basic tools of drawing as well as how to see in a way which is fundamental to learning to depict the world accurately.

Come find out just how terrific an artist you can become!  Beginners eagerly welcomed!  More advanced artists welcomed as well!

Friday mornings
July 8 - August 12, 10 AM - 12:30 PM, $180
held at my studio in Southside Richmond
Contact me to sign up and for more information.

Doodling Defined: Zentangles

All Levels

We all do it – whenever the meeting gets boring, or the teacher drones on too long, we take out our pens and start doodling.  This fun class will formalize your doodling just enough to make you want to do it all the time – not just when you’re on interminable hold with the telephone company.  You’ll learn new patterns and ways to put them together, and maybe you’ll even invent some to share with the class. This is a fun and interactive class for all ages. Class is appropriate for ages 10 and up. Children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

On session only
Sunday, August 7, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, $55
Contact the Visual Arts Center to register

anytime mutually agreed upon
If you prefer working one-on-one, Susan offers outstanding instruction in many media including pastels, drawing, oil painting and watercolor as well as art appreciation.  Email her to set up an appointment today!
at her home studio in Richmond, near Stony Point

Testimonials from Susan Singer's students:Susan's a great teacher, very encouraging, knowledgeable, organized and can tailor a student's needs to his/her progress

Susan presented very concrete, well-planned lessons which included thorough explanations and examples of materials (papers, types of pastels), techniques and approaches to the medium.  She was encouraging and positive in her instruction, always able to find good qualities in each person's work.

This was by far the most comprehensive coverage of pastel painting I've ever had.  I don't see how the class could have been better!

I feel like I'm improving not only my skills, but also my ability to see what I need to do to improve my painting.  It really helps for Susan to point out what is "off" or what needs to be approached next.

Susan's critiques (each class) helped us to progress more rapidly.  She is very encouraging, yet challenging.  I also learned a lot about color theory and application, which have made me much better able to work in pastels.

Hope to see you soon!


The studio!
Monday  Tuesday  Wednesday  Thursday  Friday  Saturday  Sunday 
May   6
Putting Together a Face

Body Shop
 9  10 11  12  13  Putting Together a Face
Naked Self Portraiture
Naked Self Portraiture
16  17  18  19  20  Putting Together a Face
21  22 
23  24  25  26  27  28  29 
30  31  June Putting Together a Face

Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9

Intermediate Pastels
Session I
6:30 - 9
10 Putting Together a Face
11 12
13 14 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
15 16 Intermediate Pastels
6:30 - 9
17 Putting Together a Face
18 19
Honing Your Vision with Thomas Bosket
2-6, dinner
Honing Your Vision
Honing Your Vision

Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
Honing Your Vision
Honing Your Vision

Intermediate Pastels
6:30 - 9
Honing Your Vision
Honing Your Vision
27 28 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
29 30 Intermediate Pastels
6:30 - 9
 July 1 2 3
4  5 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
6 7 Intermediate Pastels
6:30 - 9
Basic Drawing
9 10
11 12 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
13 14 Intermediate Pastels
6:30 - 9
15 Basic Drawing
16 17
 18 19 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
20 21 22 Basic Drawing
23 24
25 26 Beginning Pastels
6:30 - 9
27 28  
Intermediate Pastels
Session II
6 - 9
29 Basic Drawing
30 31
August 1 2 3 4 Intermediate Pastels
6 - 9
5 Basic Drawing
6 7
 8 9 10 11
Intermediate Pastels
Basic Drawing 10-12:30
13 14
15 16 17 18
Intermediate Pastels
6 - 9
19 20 21
22 23 24 25
Intermediate Pastels
6 - 9
26 27 28
29 30 31 September 1 2 3 4

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Accepting what is: Lelya Nisaa's birthing and nursing story

Many of my models write something for me after modeling for me.  This woman, Leyla Nisaa, wrote so beautifully about her experience with her son that I wanted to share it.  The picture which accompanies it shows her holding a necklace which her women friends made for her at her Blessing Way before her son's birth.  Each woman brought a bead to add to the necklace so that Leyla could feel the presence of each of them as she was giving birth.


My son is teaching me to love my body.  Before having my son, I’d look in the mirror, and all I’d see are my imperfections, my sagging breasts, fat rolls, cellulite, blemishes, gray hair, wrinkles, and stretch marks. I have been on every single diet there is: the grapefruit diet, Weight Watchers, Adkins, low fat, low cal, Slim Fast, the list goes on and on. I’d loose weight, go off the diet, and then all the weight would come back plus some. I never saw me when I looked in the mirror. I saw everything I didn’t like about me.

The planets were aligned, and all was right in the Universe the night I conceived my son. It was a lovely hot, sultry July evening. There was something in the air that night. 40 weeks and 4 days later I would meet the love of my life.

My pregnancy was rather uneventful. I had some pubic symphysis dysfunction issues (pelvic separation) at 17 weeks that made it very painful to walk. I measured big my entire pregnancy. My son’s father is over six and a half feet tall, so it didn’t surprise me that my son was measuring large. I started having signs of early labor on my due date, Monday April 11. I lost my plug that night and had amazing rocking contractions for the next 3 nights. They’d always stop as the sun would come up. It was so frustrating. At my doctor’s appointment on Thursday April 15 (Tax Day!), I had protein in my urine, and my blood pressure was sky high. I was told they were going to induce me that day, so to go home, and grab my things, eat some lunch and come back. I ended up going in to labor on my own almost as soon as we got to the hospital. I was natural, active labor for 17 hrs. I had progressed quickly to a 6, then went down to a 4, and my cervix was swelling. At 8am the next morning,  I opted for an epidural and pitocin as a last ditch attempt to avoid a C-section.  8 hours later, I was still at a 4. I was wheeled into surgery at 5, my son was born at 5:13pm on April 16, 2010. It was love at first sight. He weighted 9lbs, 10.5 oz, and was 20 inches long. He was the largest baby born that day.

 I had such a hard time processing everything. I thought I had done everything right. I had attended all my natural child birth classes, I had eaten right, I had a wonderful doula, and I had mentally prepared myself for a natural, medication free, intervention free birth.  To add insult to injury, my son never latched. I have inverted nipples which complicated things. I also didn’t have any milk for 5 days after he was born. It was another week after that until I finally was able to make enough milk for him. If I had more time at home, I probably would have worked harder at getting him to latch. I had to go back to work when he was 8 weeks old. I was so tired, and I was getting a bad case of postpartum depression. I felt so inadequate. Not only was I not able to birth my baby the way I wanted to, I couldn’t have the nursing relationship I so desperately wanted. It took months to finally feel ready to deal with everything that happened during my labor and his birth. I later found out that I have a low pelvic arch. With the way my pelvis is shaped, I wouldn’t have been able to get my baby out.

 Even though he wouldn’t latch, I was bound and determined to give him my milk. I pumped every time he fed. Pretty soon I had a nice supply of extra milk in my freezer. Then one day I opened my freezer, and was attacked by bags and bags of extra milk. I found a mama who was pregnant with her third baby, and needed milk. She had a congenital breast defect and was unable to produce enough milk on her own. I gladly gave her my extra milk.

In the early days, the only thing that seemed to comfort my son was skin to skin contact. I spent many days with a naked baby lying on my naked chest. I rarely wore a shirt when I was home. I was either pumping, or had a naked baby laying on me.  As he got older, he’d protest and throw a fit when his father or I would try to dress him. We soon realized, like most babies, he’d rather be naked. I was happy to oblige him. He’s spent more time wearing just a diaper, than in clothes. One day I was looking at him and I realized the same things that I fell in love with on him, his fat rolls, the dimples on his bum, fat, chunky thighs, were the same thing I despised in myself. It was a wake up call.

 I started to question the way I saw myself, and how I thought. It was the first time I was ever comfortable being naked for an extended amount of time. I felt that I was embarking on journey of self discovery, and at the end I somehow knew I was going to be a different person. I changed the way I dressed.  I felt my body deserved not to be seen as a sexual object, but as an amazing being that did an amazing thing. I needed to honor and respect my body for what it allowed me to do.  Being naked was no longer sexual. It was simply a way to provide comfort and food for my son. It didn’t matter what my naked body looked like, all that mattered was my skin gave comfort to my son. I saw my breasts as a source of food for my son, not as sexual objects.  For the first time in literally YEARS, I was truly comfortable with who I was, and what I looked like; I was comfortable in my own skin.

I strongly believe everything happens for a reason. I know now, that had I not been built the way I am, strong broad shoulders, and wide hips, I wouldn’t be able to wear my son in a sling . At ten months, he’s 25 lbs, and 29 and a half inches long. Did I mention, I’m only 5ft 3? He’s almost half my height yet I wear him every where we go, either on my hip, or on my back. Several people comment to me on what a “good” baby he is. Most of us are “good” when we’re happy. My son is happy, as long as he’s cuddled up next to Mama.

My body did an amazing thing. I wasn’t able to birth my son naturally, but I grew a big, beautiful, healthy, and strong boy. My son doesn’t latch, but I’m still able to feed him, and give him the best thing for him, my milk. At ten months, he still gets the majority of his calories from my milk.  I was able to help another mama make sure her son would only get breast milk.

When I look in the mirror now, I don’t see all the imperfections I saw before. I see soft flesh that provides comfort and food; I see amazing skin that stretched to fit my growing baby; I see strength where before I only saw weakness; I see wisdom, ready to be passed down to my son.

My son taught me to love, honor, and respect my body, for all the amazing things its allowed me to do.  

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hugo Schwyzer and a lovely blog post

A friend just sent me a terrific link to an article about the pressure young women are under these days to be perfect and how, because they aren't able to be perfect, they will settle on being with boys who don't treat them well or they'll agree to just give blow jobs and not expect a full relationship.  It's time for everyone to understand just how precious and wonderful they are and to start acting accordingly!  How did we get here and how can we get beyond it to a world where people love themselves enough to demand respect?!

By the way, the man who wrote the article is named Hugo Schwyzer. I took the time to read several of his other articles.  They're excellent.  They seem to be a call to men to take the time to access their kind, sensitive, authentic selves and to act from that place.  I look forward to reading more of his posts.  What a gift they are!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thomas Bosket's art class "Honing Your Vision"

Dear Friends,
What a treat!  It's that time of year again!  Thomas Bosket is coming to Richmond to provide us with another opportunity to hone our artistic skills and to hone our vision of ourselves as artists.

If you are at the intermediate skill level or beyond, this could be a fabulous class for you!  In this six day class, Thomas will lead us on a journey together through some tough stuff and some very stunning parts of what it means to be human - a journey that exposes our deepest longings and desires - one that will be tough at times and thrilling at others.  We will be taken out of our brains into our bodies.  We will be exposed to raw energies and experiences that may be uncomfortable but definitively alive.

In his almost twenty years of teaching art, Thomas has developed many exercises to help students break through their self-imposed limits on their artistic abilities.  The most memorable one I ever experienced with him was the following:

The first time I worked with Thomas was at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN.  I was a fairly inexperienced artist at the time, having only been drawing for about 18 months.  One of the main issues I was struggling with was feeling like there were two parts of myself artistically - the one who wanted my work to look perfect, photo-realistic, controlled, and the other who had lots of pent up emotion and just wants to express herself - wildly!  I couldn't begin to figure out how to blend the two on one sheet of paper.

Thomas gave me an exercise to help me out.  He tore off two 6' pieces of 3' wide craft paper and taped them next to each other, giving me a 6'x6' "canvas" to work on.  He put it on the floor.  He then sat me down, put 30 different writing implements in front of me - a Sharpie, pastel, pencil, charcoal, etc., etc., even a stick and several stones.  Then he set the timer for an hour and blindfolded me.  His instructions were to listen inward and to express myself however came to me to do so.  I immediately picked up something - no clue what - and began to make marks on the paper.  They varied at times from frenetic to chaotic to subtle and almost not even there.  I switched implements frequently.  I felt completely absorbed in the process.  My feelings cascaded all over the place.  At one point I heard some of the other students pointing at me and laughing at how I looked.  That took me right back to elementary school and fellow students' judgments.  My face burned with embarrassment.  Then I heard Thomas go over to them and tell them in no uncertain terms that they had no business saying a thing about me, that they were to work on their own work or leave, what I was doing was exceedingly important and they had to leave me alone.  Wow.  That healed some old wounds.  And gave me just what I needed to keep going, a bit freer of self-imposed constraints.

I continued to draw.  I went very interior.  The minutes flew by, dragged by, eluded me, then, suddenly, the timer went off.  I was excited to look at what I had drawn.  I had become quite attached to certain parts I thought would be emotive.  With my eyes open, it was difficult to find those passages.  What I came to realize was that it was about process, not product.  I was so absorbed in the process that I experienced bliss in the moment.  I learned a whole new way of thinking about art through that experience.

That is the type of teacher Thomas is.  In this workshop he will give us exercises which will help us shift our perceptions of ourselves, our worlds, our art in ways we can't begin to imagine.

If you are at a place in your life where this sounds like a good journey, one you want to take, please get in touch with me and let me know.  We can only take 12 students, so please sign up right away to insure your place.  The logistics are below:

When:  June 19 - 25, 2011
           Sunday, June 19, from 2-6 with dinner afterwards
           Monday - Friday, June 20 - 24, from 10-4 daily
           Saturday, June 25, from 10-2
Where:  Crossroads Art Center at Staples Mill and Broad, Richmond, VA
Cost:  $600 for all instruction and dinner on the 19th
How to sign up:  send me an email, then send me a $300 deposit to reserve your place.  The remainder will be due by June 1.

If you're interested in learning what others have to say about Thomas's teaching, you can go to Rate My Professors to see what his students at Parsons School of Design in NYC have to say about him.  It's kind of fun to read their critiques! 

Each time I've worked with Thomas, my artwork has taken a quantum leap forward.  I can't recommend him highly enough.  I hope you'll join us if it feels like the right class for you!

Happy Creating!

P.S.  By the way, if you live outside of Richmond and are interested in taking the class, let me know - we can probably figure something out about a place to stay.  Don't let that little detail stop you!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gauguin painting attacked because of nudity

A friend sent me a link to an article about Gauguin's painting which is on display in Washington, DC.  (along with an entire exhibit of his work.)  Apparently there was a mentally ill woman there  who really disliked nudity in his painting and attacked the picture because of it.  She shouted, "I feel that Gauguin is evil. He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it's very homosexual. I am trying to remove it. I think it should be burned".  

Indeed.  I have to hope she doesn't make it to Richmond to one of my exhibits!  

Here's the link to the full article in case you're interested.

The Gauguin exhibition continues at Washington's National Gallery until 5 June 2011 

And here's information from Heilbrunn's Timeline of Art History about the piece:

Two Tahitian Women, 1899
Paul Gauguin (French, 1848–1903)
Oil on canvas
37 x 28 1/2 in. (94 x 72.4 cm)
Signed and dated (lower left): 99 / PGauguin
Gift of William Church Osborn, 1949 (49.58.1)
Before Gauguin brought his work in Tahiti to a close, he shifted from his symbolist pictorial agenda in order to focus on the beauty and serene virtues of the native women. In this painting, he depended on sculpturally modeled forms, gesture, and facial expression to vivify the sentiments he had used to describe the "Tahitian Eve": "very subtle, very knowing in her naïveté" and at the same time "still capable of walking around naked without shame." These two figures first appear in the artist's monumental friezeFaa Iheihe (Tahitian Pastoral)of 1898 (Tate, London) and again in the even largerRupe, Rupeof 1899 (Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), which he composed for the upcoming Exposition Universelle of 1900.

Source:Paul Gauguin: Two Tahitian Women (49.58.1) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art