Posts Tagged “art workshop”

Every workshop has its own character and personality, which is part of the joy and inspiration for me. One of the things I stress in my workshops is drawing without noodling; a prior workshop dubbed this “no scritchy-scritchy”, and the most recent workshop (June 2008, a few days ago) said “no stinkin’ dinkin’”.

In that somewhat tongue-in-cheek vein, let me offer a no-noodling example that comes from another species: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He7Ge7Sogrk&feature=related. It’s an elephant, actually doing figurative work. I’ve seen some of the abstracts that elephants have produced – this is the first time I’ve seen one produce something representational.

Leaving aside the staggering philosophical implications – which are many, profound, and worthy of deep discussion elsewhere – I want everyone to note that this boy works in a careful, deliberate manner. No noodlin’. No kiddin’. Check it out.

P.S. For a very few highlights from the June 2008 workshop, visit my Workshops web page. The handful of photos shown there represents approximately 0.001% of the 2000+ photos I shot.

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wolf.jpgEvery year my students inspire me, both directly and indirectly, to keep doing these workshops. So herewith:

WINTER 2009: Thursday, Feb 5 – Sunday Feb 8

SUMMER 2009: Thursday, June 25 – Sunday, June 28

Workshop fee is $1500; a nonrefundable $300 deposit is needed to hold your slot. You can call Triple D (406 . 755 . 9653) to use your credit card for deposit, or send a check to them or to me. As always, returning students receive a 10% discount.

As usual, we will start at the crack of dawn on the first day, Thursday, and continue to 2:30 – 3:00 PM on Sunday. Triple D will offer an extra day of photography, for a very reasonable fee, on the Monday following each workshop for those who want to shoot animals that weren’t part of the workhop. (Summer 2008 workshop folks: you’ll also have this option). We may also have the option of doing a horse shoot on one of the workshop days, depending on student interest.

You can see details on my website – what’s shown for 2008 will be substantially the same in 2009. A very few highlights of my winter 08 workshop are shown on my Workshops webpage just to make you salivate. Folks are already signing up for 2009, and my summer 08 workshop was full months in advance . . . so if you’re thinking about it, please let me know!

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drawings.jpgAt my workshops (most recently my winter one, Feb 14 – 17), one of the exercises to which I subject my participants (along with various other forms of torture) is drawing from life. This is guaranteed to be mostly frustrating, since the animals are anything but cooperative models and haven’t the first idea about holding a pose; however, if anything at all gets onto the paper, the exercise can also be very rewarding. This page from my sketchbook came from the afternoon we spent in front of the nursery room for a young cougar – who spent the entire time rolling, leaping, and wrestling with her tug toy – and a large crate containing a small raccoon, who spent the entire time trying every clasp, wire, and other apparatus on the crate.

So why do this? why draw from life, when we’ve already taken hundreds of photographs of similar animals earlier in the day?

My workshops focus on drawing … which really means they focus on seeing. One of the things we discuss is the distortion that various camera lenses introduce; knowing an animal’s anatomy means we can compensate. We also talk about the characteristics of a species – the roundness of a wild cat’s head, the sinuous spine of a cougar, the triangle made by the mask and nose of a fox, how a snow leopard’s tail is as big around as a python. All of this understanding – all of this SEEING – informs an artist and frees her to focus on her own vision, while still ‘getting it right’ – capturing the key elements of cougarness or raccoonness.

And I have found that every artist who paints animals does so because he or she loves animals – loves their beauty, their behavior, their complete otherness. Even though the life drawing is very hard, I never have to persuade my group to spend an hour in silent, loving observation of the animal.

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