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January 27, 2017

New York City Ballet Working Rehearsals

Last week my husband and I went to the NYCB working rehearsals 3 days in a row.  These are offered as part of becoming a FRIEND of the ballet company and they are amazing!  On Wednesday we listened to Andrew Litton conduct all of the music for 3 upcoming ballets.  On Thursday and Friday we watched two 2-hour working rehearsal sessions of ballets being performed this week.  I try to do a sketch each time I'm there, but the lights are usually too dim.

This is a sketch of an assistant conductor following along in the score (left) with just a glimpse of Andrew Litton conducting.  The full orchestra was in the pit, but I could see the very top of the harp. 

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The Prodigal Son Ballet - several dancers were in costume, on the stage, before the lights went down.

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A full dress rehearsal with orchestra of "Scenes de Ballet" - a wonderful ballet danced completely by students from the School of American Ballet.  The sets were gorgeous and the students amazing.  The choreography depicts a Russian ballet studio, with a very long barre diagonally in the middle of the stage.  Dancers are in pairs, with one on the left of the barre, and then another dancer on the right side pretending to be the mirror image of her.  The precision was extraordinary.  The auditorium was completely black when the curtain went up, so I memorized one dance position, and then sketched the dancers at home, reversing one to get the mirror image.  It was really hard.

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January 17, 2017

Picabia and Calder and Faces

I saw two art exhibits that inspired me to draw more faces.  There is a huge retrospective exhibit on Francis Picabia at the Museum of Modern Art:  Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction.  I learned that he was from a very wealthy family and rarely stayed with one specific type of art - making it more difficult to be well known in the art world. 

This is a wall photo of Francis Picabia at the entrance to the exhibit, playfully sitting on a child's toy. 

Link to Museum Website:  https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1670?locale=en  

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I was immediately attracted to the set of paintings that he called "Transparencies."  He appropriated existing art for the layers in these large paintings - incorporating images from mythology, religion, and even other artists.  It is hard to imagine how he created the layers in oil paint.  In Salome, the painting below, it is speculated that there is the body of a contemporary nude dancer, a Boticelli head, John the Baptist's head on a platter, and figures, columns, and ceramics from the Greeks.

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I walked through the Gallery of "Transparencies" and sketched various faces, and then added the black head from one of the paintings that I think was part of his "Monster" series.

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Several days later, we joined friends at the Whitney Museum.  This is the best photo I was able to take of the architecture of the new building.  It was a cold, windy day, so I'm surprised to see any people out on the balconies.

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The main exhibit was "Portraits" from their collection. 

http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/HumanInterest 

I loved it because there was a very loose definition of portraits - and many were collections of symbols or favorite things of the artist. 

As soon as I saw the Calder wire head of Varese, I knew that I had to draw it from the front and side. 

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January 12, 2017

My Figure Drawing Artist Book

I love having a January special project for the cold days spent indoors.  Last year I didn't do anything with my figure drawings, as I had hoped, so that became my 2017 January project.  I had a $4.00 used accordion book with black paper which was perfect for my idea - with a full spread of 80 inches.  Each "page" of the accordion was 8" high by 10" wide.  I selected drawings that I did between July 2012 and October 2016, resized them, printed them out, and then carefully cut them out.  They were collaged to the book using a UHU glue stick.

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The Cover:  This was a large drawing that I did during a figure drawing class at FIT - my first semester there in the Senior Learner program.  I still need to add a title.

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Here are the 8 pages - scanned and uploaded.  I'm thrilled to have completed this project and have so many memories of the figure drawing sessions.  All of the clothed models, except two, were drawn during the last 3 years at the Adult Art Program at Battery Park City. And those two models were sketched at the National Art Club and MoMA. The nude models were sketched at the Society of Illustrators, Drawing New York Meet Up, or FIT.  All of the poses were 5, 10, or 20 minute poses.

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January 10, 2017

National Gallery of Art and a Cow

We returned our grand daughter Annabelle to Washington DC on January 2nd and while we were there we made a visit to the National Gallery specifically to see the newly renovated East Building.  When we walked through the underground connector from the West Building and went up the stairs, nothing looked different.  But they added 12,250 square Feet of new gallery space within the existing footprint, including two "soaring tower galleries" and a rooftop space.  An employee also told me that elevators were installed to move up and down in the corner spaces by the towers.  There appears to be a much bigger collection of Modern Art and I loved the collection.  

There was an Alexander Calder exhibit at the top of Tower 2, and I drew my favorite wire cow!  Someday I'll sketch his Josephine Baker Wire Sculpture when there is more time. 

CalderCow

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As I went through the galleries I took photos of art that I know Pat and Benedicte, my artist friends, would love and I'm posting them here so they can see them before we meet again for Master Drawing Week.

Another Max Beckmann Triptyck:  The Argonauts  1949-50.  This one wasn't in the recent Beckmann exhibit at the Met in NYC. 

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Jean Dubuffet:  Building Facades 1946  This is very similar to the painting the 3 of us LOVE at the Met.  

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Another Dubuffet - crazy with color!  La Ronde Des Images  1977 

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A William Kentridge Accordion Book:  Portage 2000  Torn Black Paper on Encyclopedia Pages

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Pat and Benedicte - hope you enjoyed the small virtual exhibit of some of our favorite artists!  Hurry home from France Benedicte.  We need to go on our annual Master Drawing Pilgrimage here at the end of January. 

January 6, 2017

Deliberate Practice: Drawing Hands

Deliberate Practice:  I know that I need to practice drawing hands, and over the last several years I've drawn many hands from photos, even from an American Sign Language website.  When drawing models, few of the poses are long enough to spend much time drawing hands, but occasionally I can now do it!

"To learn any new skill or gain expertise you need to practice, practice, practice. There isn’t much debate about that.

But here’s what you might not know: scientific research shows that the quality of your practice is just as important as the quantity.

And, more interestingly, these scientists also believe that expert-level performance is primarily the result of expert-level practice NOT due to innate talent.

This concept is known as deliberate practice, and it’s incredibly powerful."  This is the introduction to a good article describing deliberate practice.  http://expertenough.com/1423/deliberate-practice

These hands were drawn with a Caran d'Ache mahogany watercolor colored pencil, using the New York Times Style magazine advertisements for inspiration.  I recently started selecting photos with two hands, instead of one. 

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