Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Memory Lane (Part 3) More College

Doesn't every art student draw their shoe?
The shoe drawings were done in my freshman year at Minneapolis College of Art & Design. I know that because by the time I transferred to Philadelphia College of Art in 1985, I was so over the moccasins. Before I left Minneapolis, I bought a pair of black leather ankle boots which I wore until they fell apart. They were completely impractical as they had no traction whatsoever, and they absorbed water like a sponge. But they were in fashion and by god, I was going to be in fashion when I started my new life in Philadelphia as a new and much more hip person. Heh.

Anyway, the following work was done during my first few years in Philadelphia. I have a vague memory of the instructors who gave me the projects and in most cases that helps me place the year. Approximately. It has been about 25 years after all and now I see that while I often wrote the month and day on my work, I left out the year. Back then I guess I thought it would always be 1985.

These were done at Penn's Landing one spring day in 1985:
I was nearing the end of my obsession with Doc Martin's inks but I totally enjoyed doing these. I remember feeling for years that I should do more, although I never did. Looking back I also think these were the most colorful things I had done and they almost foreshadow how I handle color now. Of course at the time, I was just squinting to see shapes and then throwing down some fairly random color down on wet paper.

The assignment here was a street scene:It was a rather involved project, we had to have references, including photos, sketches and written notes. Preliminary drawings of a variety of compositions then a monochromatic sketch done in the planned medium. And then finally we could move on to the final painting. I had a great street scene all planned out that mostly focused on some mannequins with the reflections of the street in the window in front. I went through the whole process, the references, the sketches, everything, and got about halfway through the final piece when I decided that I completely hated what I was doing. I was painting very precisely and realistically and even though it was pretty good (sorry, I thought I had that unfinished piece, but I couldn't find it) I just couldn't keep doing it. So the weekend before the final project was due, I put together some new references, sat down and whipped this painting out in acrylic. The teacher loved it and even though I enjoyed doing it, over the next few years I kept started pieces by working tightly then bailing on them after I lost interest in working like that (examples of that are in this post). I can't believe how long it took me to begin a painting by working loosely, I sure hung on to how my head wanted to paint, rather than what my heart wanted.

And of course a copy of a Rembrandt self-portrait:
I enjoyed doing this and it was a good introduction to working with an underpainting and glazes. I gained a new appreciation for work I had previously thought of as somewhat stuffy and obviously, Rembrandt has nothing to worry about as far as I go.

The following work is from a series of still lifes:
We were required to work in different mediums but from the same objects. I think I did many more in this series but I guess these were the only ones I thought were worth saving. I recall one of the crits where I put up this particular piece:and the instructor never talked about it. Someone mentioned that she missed one but she didn't hear that comment and I was too embarrassed to say anything. To this day I wish I knew what she might have said about it-she did really good crits, very constructive and honest without being insulting. Maybe I should email her and send her the jpeg. Heh.

Here are a few figure drawings done with ink:
I know I did about a million more, but I haven't found them. Probably just as well, surely they are not as good as I think they were.

A small drawing in graphite:

I have no memory whatsoever of this painting:but my name is on it and so I guess I did it. I think I like it. It looks like an illustration assignment and I recall that by my junior year or so I was working on putting design elements together with more organic subjects so I suspect this was done around then. Also, there is space on the right which is probably intended for some sort of copy, which was always a part of any illustration assignment.

Next time I will put up my senior thesis paintings. It's pretty cool to see how they relate to my current work. Thank goodness something I did back then does, I was starting to get worried that what I do now came from out of the blue.


Shanster said...

Very cool post - I'm looking forward to the senior thesis!

Janelle Goodwin said...

Your Doc Martin ink paintings are reminiscent of the landscape paintings you do now. It's interesting to see how your style has evolved over time. Thanks so much for sharing - it's fun seeing the personal side of you!

Deborah said...

I'm really enjoying your early work Tracy, as well as your commentary. You're inspiring me to look back for some insights, too.

Melody said...

I've really been enjoying your walk down memory lane. Great early work too and oh god, I had a pair of those moccasins sometime time in the distant past.

Tracy said...

Thanks Shanster, I think I'll put those up next week.

Janelle, oddly, even though they are a different medium, I think they are visually closest to what I am doing now too. I think it's the use of color.

Thanks Deborah. It's been great to go through this all again. I hadn't looked at any of this old work since way before I started painting again. So making these connections has been really interesting and surprising too.

Thanks Melody and sorry about the moccasins. It's funny, I think my mine were kind of a yellowish beige color but somehow having pink ones seems really familiar. I can't imagine that I would have had pink moccasins, but then I can't imagine I even had moccasins in the first place:)

Patrice said...

It's been fun to see your early work and how you regard it. Often folks are surprised when they revisit years-old work to find out how good it is - or in some cases how awkward!

Classics; all.

Charlotte said...

Love seeing this stuff! You're making me want to drag my college portfolios out from under my bed!

Both Sides of Ben Marlan said...

wow, i love those colorful landscapes and especially the figure drawings. do you do those anymore?

Tracy said...

Patrice, thanks, and I am definitely on the awkward side of all this. Still can't believe I thought all this stuff was so good all these years. Power of the mind!

Charlotte, Do it and show us!

Thanks Ben, I have kept up with figure drawing off and on over the years. Last year at the residency in Vermont, I did quite a bit, but in my real life it's tough. Not too many models around here willing to pose undraped. And I sure haven't drawn the figure in ink, probably since I did those in college.

Mary said...

What a great your head wanted to paint instead of your heart. I wasted a lot of years painting according to my head and only in recent years (trying) to give that up for the messages from my heart.