Week 4

Four weeks down, which mean were almost a third of the way through the first semester. This week was looking to be pretty light in terms of homework, as we had some larger projects due this past week. However, that all changed yesterday.

I know that I’ve mentioned before that Structural Drawing is the key course to this curriculum. This week in class, Frank Porcu had us truncating (very important to understand this concept) a solid block of plasteline to create a model skull. He had assumed that we had some experience with plasteline in our Figure Structure class. Unfortunately, this was not the case; we will be working quite a bit with plasteline, but not until the last half of the semester. Coincidently, I learned from one of the second year students that Frank taught Figure Structure last year and his section was infamously known as the “plasteline boot-camp.”

At any rate, it took us significantly longer to accomplish that task than he had anticipated, so we were given the homework assignment of following the six steps of truncations to finish the plasteline skull AND we were to make six 18 x 24 drawings in perspective of the six steps including a exploded view of the pieces that were being truncated AND we are to gesso the finished skull along with the perfectly truncated pieces so that they could all be put back together, sort of like a three-dimensional puzzle.

With any other teacher, this probably would have felt like an excessive assignment. However, Frank is a dyed-in-the-wool teacher. I understand that he teaches at five different schools in the area during the week including the Art Students League. He really loves it and it shows. He has so much information to give us… we just need to find a way to meet him halfway. Bain and I fully expect he will become the next Robert Beverly Hale.

Other tidbits of note: This week I was elected as one of the two student representatives for the first-year students. Quite an honor and a privilege. I am very much looking forward to acting as a liason between the students and the administration as it will afford me a greater opportunity to know both groups.

Martha gave a demonstration of the wipe-out method of painting. It really is about as technical as it sounds. Essentially, you just put a somewhat even (though streaks in the underlayers are congenial and asthetic and therefore should not be lost) layer of a transparent color over the fixed drawing and then use a soft cotton rag (well washed t-shirt material works exceptionally well) to wipe out the light areas. Really you should mix two complimentary colors to get somthing of a brown. She suggested Sap-Green with a tiny bit of Alizarine Crimson. This may not sound all that impressive, but it immediately creates a atmosphere to the work and has the effect of unifying the shadows in the work. If you ever look at a painting and you notice that all of the shadows are the same color, it is probably because the artist used the wipe-out method. It works almost too well.

We had two lectures this past week. The first was by John Bowman, who we came to learn was one of the first teachers at NYAA and had been teching here as recently as five years ago. His lecture really made me feel fortunate to be a burgeoning artist now and not twenty or thirty years ago. When he was going through the system, the idea of painting or drawing a representational image was considered passe. He and a small number of other artists met in secret to share the knowledge they had to self-learn about creating masterly works of art. as there was nowhere this skill was being taught. There really were too few artists working in those days who continued along the path laid out 500 years ago in Western art. It is sad that we are having to relearn much of that tradition, as the line was broken in the middle part of the last century.

The second lecture was by the director of the Uffizi. If you don’t know what the Uffizi is, it is one of the oldest (as in over 400 years old) museums, and, next to the Louvre, perhaps the most celebrated art museum in the world. It had all of the hallmarks of a fascinating talk; however, this was not entirely the case. I guess in retrospect it should have been obvious. Honestly, what is a director of a museum going to talk about? That’s right, she talked at length about the history of the museum structure itself and how it tied into the city of Florence. Interesting, no doubt, but still I felt like we didn’t need to have the director of the Uffizi fly across the pond to give us a history-of-the-museum lecture. Everyone in the room—including the director, I suspect—cared far more for what was inside the walls of the museum than for the walls themselves.

Speaking of museums, I’m planing on heading over to the Met today. I really need to take a day to relax and recuperate. And wandering around the Met for the day sounds like fun. I’ll try to get some pictures as well. I am planning on working tomorrow, so I’ll try to get some pictures of the work that I’ve been doing this past week then. Cheers to everyone.

– Jeremy

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