I have decided as I move forward with this daily posting project I will dedicate Friday to posting old work. Flashback Fridays has a nice alliteration and so many people ask to see previous work... why not...
The above piece is a study I did at the Art Students league of New York. I decided to post it because this is the last day of teacher appreciation week (I know this because I have a kindergartener) so it seems fitting to me to shout out one of my most influential teachers in art (and life).
I met this man over a decade ago at a class I obviously hadn't read the full description for at a place I could never begin to imagine would hold the significance it did and does for me.
The man is Timothy J. Clark, the class was painting the figure in watercolor and the place is the Art Students League of New York.
I have so many huge lessons I have learned from Tim that I had a hard time choosing one today as I introduce him and the influence he has had and does have and undoubtedly will continue to have on my work. It is so hard to decide on a particular lesson that I have just opted to start this post with the first one he ever gave me, and end it with one of my favorites...
I stumbled in to Tim's January weekend workshop in 2003. It was my first time in the Art Students League of New York, my first time painting the figure in watercolor, and the first time I had my paint brushes out since moving to the East coast the June before.
The night before the class as I dug around in boxes looking for my supplies I finally read the course description... "Painting the Figure in Watercolor... Well Shit" I thought to myself. I got to the League and thought it was cold and grey. Tim arrived with food poisoning. The students in class were downright nasty as they jockeyed around for a seat near the model stand. The weekend was not looking promising...
Tim walked in to the studio. Demanded everyone grab their stuff and head out to the hallway. He then called folks in one by one and assigned them seats. He had taken control of this anarchy... "Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all" I remember thinking.
That weekend Tim did a critique of the work after all of the excercises were over and the paintings were finished. We each piled our papers up and passed them forward anonymously and awaited feedback.
Tim flipped through my studies, one after another, not knowing to whom they belonged. After a few minutes he stopped and looked up and said, "I don't know who did these, but whoever did, you are a real artist." He then continued, "I do need to say it is time to loosen up, have some fun, be a bit more expressive..." Finally, "No one is going to die if you mess up a painting."
This was a little over a year after I had lost a friend, my brother, my father, three pregnancies and two dogs (some inventory, huh...). It was a wake up call. I needed to stop taking everything so seriously and return to being me. Tim knew none of this but could read it in my work, so really, he knew all of it. (I have since witnessed this gift time and time again as he looks at students' paintings at the end of weekend workshops or week long retreats. It is magical.)
I am fortunate enough to say that was not the last lesson I received from Tim. I am lucky enough to call Tim and his wife Marriott dear friends of both my family and myself. Together they have introduced us to negronis and the beauty of Maine. They have shown me the streets and alleys of Venice and the best shops to buy paper and pens there. Tim yells at me to stand up straight and really consider what I am doing, saying, presenting as an artist, as a person.
At the end of the day Tim reminds me that mostly I just need to paint. I need to not take myself to seriously. I just need to get the work done. He also wishes I would soften some damn edges...
All of these lessons were pointed directly at me the first weekend I met him. They were reiterated another day, another year, at a different studio in the League. The entire class was poised and sketching, some hurriedly laying on washes before the pose was called others still scribbling marks, the energy was way to heavy, much to serious.
Suddenly Tim hollers out in the voice only Tim can, "Lighten up, make some ugly paintings... Maybe you didn't get the memo, but today... The Louvre's not coming."
I try to remember this every time I am working and will return to it time and time again over the course of this year. I will post a lot of work. Some of the paintings will be gems, other down right dogs. The point is I am being me, I am doing the work, I am having some fun doing and being, painting and expressing.
Because Tim, I got the memo over a decade ago and you may need to remind me on occasion, but I'm doing the work, I'm making some ugly paintings. and guess what, I'm making some awesome ones too so when the Louvre does come... I'll be ready:)
Tim, I appreciate you!