I never thought I could enjoy spending hours and hours sketching or painting a cast. Being an aries, accepting slow progress has not really been my forte. However, since becoming a student at the Academy of Realist Art in Victoria, founder and teacher Noah Layne has taught me an important lesson: slow progress is still progress.
“Cast drawing is a wonderful way to work on one’s ability to see and record shapes and sharpen one’s eye”, says Noah. He rightly insists that if you manage to sketch or paint one square cm or inch perfectly, you will be able to do the same on a canvas the size of a skyscraper – it’s just a matter of focus, perseverance and time.
My third semester at the Academy was amazing, using both comparative measurement and sight-size techniques, then starting to capture a cast of my choice in oil paint.
I never thought I would say this, but I loved it. Every second, every square inch!
More information: Noah Layne Academy of Realist Art
The following quote by famous American artist and great teacher Robert Henri came to my mind when I was hiking up Mt. Doug at 6 am the other day. It was indeed a start into a day beyond the usual…
“There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual. Such are moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. If one could but recall his vision by some sort of sign. It was in this hope that the arts were invented. Sign-posts on the way to what may be. Sign-posts toward greater knowledge.”
Robert Henri (1865 – 1929)
Henri’s book ‘The Art Spirit’ embodies the entire system of his teaching, presenting his essential beliefs and theories. The American painter George Wesley Bellows called it ‘one of the finest voices which express the philosophy of modern men in painting’. For me, it has been a constant source of inspiration.
Robert Henri was considered one of America’s greatest art teachers, painters, head of The Eight and the style of painting, which was referred to as the Ashcan style of art. The Eight was a loose association of artists who protested the restrictive exhibition practices of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design. Through the years Henri studied at several institutions and become a renowned artist, art teacher and author (The Art Spirit). Many of his paintings have been acquired by private collectors and museums, amongst them the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art.
– Homer, William Innes. Robert Henri and His Circle. Ithaca, 1969.
– Kwiat, Joseph J. “Robert Henri’s Good Theory and Earnest Practice: The Humanistic Values of an American Painter.” Prospects 4 (1979), 389 – 401.
– Perlman, Bennard B. Robert Henri: His Life and Art. New York, 1991.
Photo credit: ‘Fog at Mt Doug’ by D. Herold / copyright 2013