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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Friendly Toast

Champagne, strawberries and the laughter of three friends all sharing in one passion - The perfect way to spend a summers day!

Last Wednesday I invited my dear friends Joan Sandford-Cook and Diane Mainzer to toast my studio. The weather took a break from it's dreary rainfalls and the sun shone a huge smile onto the Fens long enough for us to work in the garden for a while.

I promised myself that when my new studio was complete I would concentrate on working from life more, until now all of my portrait work has been created from reference photographs and I am desperate, yes desperate to study the figure more from life. I feel I am ready for this step in my journey...the fear factor has gone now, no longer afraid of failing I wish to explore and learn without the safety of my grids and reference photos.

After school, I attended college for a year on a display design course and part of my course involved six sessions, each of two hours, studying a life model. I found it both difficult and inspiring, I guess because of the emotion involved, something easily missed in a static image and also the complexity of the subject appealed to me, I have always thrived on a challenge but when it came to art, I haven't always allowed my wings to open fully incase the results were not perfect or pleasing to others. I can now see that I placed these restrictions with art because it meant so much to me, a private solitude, I couldn't stand the thought it may be ridiculed or belittled by some intruder. My art was my place, a place to be alone, to be who I wanted to be, to escape. Sadly these restrictions made it a difficult place for even I to visit until recently.

Knowing of my frustration in trying to find a model, Diane suggested we sketch one another while Joan finished a canvas piece she had brought along. Immediately I saw that this was no easy task, each of us moving our features constantly to study the other made placing them on the paper all the more difficult.

It was halfway through that I realised the real beauty of this exercise, Diane, concentrating hard on my features was, as a result, totally unaware of what her own were doing, barriers down, I was able to see more of her. Her character shone through , her habitual twitches set free and her inner warmth radiated. There was no pose, no fake smile for a probing camera...Just Diane!

Through conversation and laughter we sketched. At first, I thought I had her features completely wrong but I trusted my eyes rather than my brain and drew what I saw, I was among friends, artist friends...I could relax, there were no expectations here. Gradually as my sketch built I realised that often what we perceive is not what is and my trust had been placed correctly.

It was about an hour later when we decided to stop for lunch. Diane commented that my study was the best portrait she had ever had seen of her...Bless her! I was pleased with it myself because I felt I had captured the essence of Diane, how I saw her; free spirited, kind, considerate, humorous, alive and beautiful!

The wind had gained power so we ate lunch in the house and then took our bubbly and strawberries out to the studio to toast it.

I feel I learned so much from the day, it only fuelled my need for a life model so I have been working on that since and now have someone very interested in sitting for me on a regular basis. I am so excited, I can't wait to start!

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. - Anais Nin

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