Snow! In Chicago, anyway. But – let me start at the beginning.
I was thrilled to learn in December 2012 that I received a grant I had applied for from the Illinois Arts Council. The grant is an Individual Artist Development grant, and I chose the type that focused on professional development. In my application, I proposed to take a three-day workshop taught by Clayton Beck at Palette and Chisel in Chicago.
So, I enrolled in the workshop. I looked forward to the workshop. I also sort of dreaded the workshop…figure painting?! I haven’t done anything like that in close to 15 years. But, I was excited nonetheless. It would be like a mini-vacation (though filled with hard work).
As time went on, and Chicago’s snow-less record gained more and more days, I began to worry. I started crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and anything else I could think of for luck – I was SURE that there would be a huge blizzard the very weekend of my much-anticipated workshop and that I would miss out.
Well, as it happens, there was no blizzard. We did get a dusting to 1 inch of snow, depending on location. No big deal here in Chicago. But, for some inexplicable reason (or – because they didn’t plow or salt I-57) it took me 3 hours to get from Joliet to Chicago. How kind of my husband to drive me on his way to work! I was good company. The lady in the workshop who drove in from Indianapolis only took 20 minutes longer to get there! Crazy.
But, it was that kind of day. Kind of kooky, but in a good way. I totally forgot to brush my teeth – how mortifying! – and there was no gum or mints or anything hiding out anywhere in my bag, or my husband’s work bag, or my husband’s car. We stopped to use the bathroom at a McDonalds near 43rd off the Dan Ryan (it was a REALLY long commute!) and they don’t have anything minty there. So, for the first half of the workshop, I didn’t really talk to anyone. Lots of “mmmmm” and “mmmmhmmmm” and head nodding from me. I figured I would get something at lunch break somewhere.
So in I stroll to Corner Bakery for lunch and – hopefully – mints. Or something! I order a sandwich and ask the girl, “Do you sell mints here? You know like those little boxes?” She says, “No, sorry,” and continues ringing my order. Then, she says, “Do you want a piece of gum?” For REAL?! YES! Thank you so much. She says she just has to run downstairs. This woman MADE my day. What a kind thing to do!
For the rest of lunch, I people-watched out the window and worried about whether or not I would be able to paint a figure, or paint well, or enjoy the workshop. The morning had been all demo and I was semi-dreading actually painting. I headed back, got set up, and got started…and it was a quick beginning – and then I sat for quite a while and thought and looked and mused ….which isn’t a bad thing and Clayton actually encourages a lot of brush-less thinking…but it felt odd for me.
In the end, I was really happy with not only how my figure study ended up, but also with what I was able to achieve in the process – in the looking, seeing, translating – the study of values, edges, color temperature. My drawing was a little off but not wonky or scary. She looks like a person, just not exactly as she looked.
Posts of day 2 and day 3 coming up soon!