Endurance and punctuality are words you hear and associate with sporting events or maybe the military. Right? But when you think “artist” or “art school” do you think of the words endurance or punctuality? Probably not and that’s OK.
Before I wax on about the virtues of endurance, I need to come clean on punctuality. I grew up in a household rife with ‘punctuality issues.’ What do I mean? Here’s an example which I hope makes you laugh. Picture a couple (my parents). Picture a couple that gets along pretty well (my parents). Picture a couple that gets along pretty well and has 6 kids (my parents). Picture a couple that gets along pretty well, has 6 kids and is punctual (NOT my parents).
So – I have had to do some major onset adult training in the virtues of punctuality and shazam there are a million reasons to be early if not on time. But that’s another post. But, in art school, not being punctual can impact classmates, painting time, learning time and more. And, so there is a culture of punctuality in this place that is almost military school like. And, you know, that’s kind of good thing when you come to a place for a specific period of time to learn and then leave.
Not to say that there are times when any of us might run a bit late – hey – we all have life issues happening in the midst of this demanding school. But seeing the beauty in punctuality does help lift the focus away from the frenzy and into the goal of acquiring technically realistic painting skills.
Endurance is defined as “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” We can look at endurance from the painter’s point of view and from the model’s point of view. As I head to the 1/2 way mark of my 4th year at this amazing art school I can share several reasons why I think of the word endurance. When I started this program in September 2014, I had 18 classmates. This year? I have 6 classmates.
I spent the majority of the first two years working on quick gestures and drawings. This meant I was getting immediate feedback from teachers about work, good or bad. This year? I just spent 2 days a week for the past 5 weeks working on the same painting. That’s 60 hours on a single painting, people! Isn’t that crazy? And, I know that some people chose not to return for this year because there was little interest in pursuing a painting for that amount of time.
But I can tell you that there are so many things I have started to see in this long, enduring process that I never would have otherwise started to see. Like what? In this particular painting, I learned to seek out and think about how the light is cascading on the model. I started to think about how to paint that impact of light.
I also started to think about how the planes of the human figure capture that light and what paint values best represent the major planes. Then I learned how to build up the paint in the lighter values, much in the way a sculptor adds clay to a statue. Ultimately, I needed to build up the paint on the planes to show light and form.
A Model’s Point of View
While I and my classmates are working away on this painting week in and week out, there is a living, breathing human being posing for us. Brad (an artist and musician in his own right) stood on the model stand for 20 minutes and then had 7 minute breaks. He did this for 6 hours per day for 2 days a week for four weeks. This may seem like a cushy job but I can assure it’s not. By the end of this multi-week pose, Brad was pretty darned worn out. But, he showed up without fail to help us in this quest to endure and to paint the human figure.
So, here again I ask you to reconsider the adjectives you use when you think of artists or painters. Last post, I asked you to consider the word “commitment.” This time? Endurance and punctuality are words paving the way for painters and artists here and in schools and studios everywhere.
What helps you endure and be punctual in your craft? Tips and your point of view are welcome here!