Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Shannon (and Gage Nostalgia)


3/16/24 Shannon, 20-min. pose (all sketches, except as noted below, made with Derwent Inktense Blocks and Prismacolor pencil in Strathmore toned mixed media sketchbook)

20-minute pose (ArtGraf water-soluble graphite in 
Canson XL 98 lb. mixed media sketchbook)

Since Gage Academy reopened for studio life drawing after the pandemic pause, the school has been using a regular and predictable format for each Saturday’s session. The first Saturday of the month is a lightning-fast session with poses ranging from 30 seconds to no more than five minutes each. The second Saturday is the standard short-pose format I was familiar with pre-pandemic: A variety of lengths ranging from three minutes to 20. Last Saturday’s session was all 20-minute poses, which is about as long as I ever need to work on a single sketch. Longer than that and I start to overwork the piece until it loses its freshness. Either that, or I get restless.

The 20-minute poses gave me plenty of time to observe the form through shading and light. In fact, I started to notice that while the artificial lamp over the model (coming from the left) cast a very warm light, the natural light from the windows on Shannon’s right was cooler. Whenever I observe something subtle like that, I like to reward myself by putting it into the sketch. It may not be important to show the two temperatures of white, but it does serve one other purpose: clarifying the potentially confusing two light sources (ideally in studio life-drawing practice, only one light source should be used).

Unfortunately, I had only one neutral white colored pencil for highlights. I tried to tint the white with a little blue from another colored pencil, but it doesn’t show my intention. As soon as I got home, I picked out a cool white Prismacolor for next time. (I used to wonder why Prismacolor – or any large set of colored pencils – includes so many different tints of white and near-white. Well, duh.)

3/16/24 The old Gage Academy building on Capitol Hill

After parking across the street, I took a few minutes to sketch Gage’s building before going in. 
Gage is moving to a brand-new, modern building (owned and supported by Amazon) this summer. Like the faculty, staff and other students, I’m really excited about the move, as the very old building has many issues (including accessibility and terrible plumbing, heating and roof leaks). Despite all of that, I felt a bit nostalgic as I sketched. Except for the pandemic, I’ve been going to that old building regularly for many inspiring classes and life-drawing practice for 10 year now (my very first experience there was Steve Reddy’s “Illustrative Drawing” workshop). I look forward to lots more in the new building.

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