19, July 2016 § Leave a comment
Jane Morris Pack
Learning to draw the human figure is a challenge and demands a clear understanding of how to capture form. It is also a difficult task to do in two weeks but the eight students attending the Intensive Summer Workshop did an amazing job of pulling it all together in a short time. We worked from the model for two hours every morning and then after lunch the projects included working in clay and drawing the bones and muscles. Learning to draw the basic geometric forms was given particular attention as they are the building blocks for all form. We investigated perspective, built a clay head, foot, hand, nose and mouth. The students traced their own proportions life size on paper and then added the skeleton and muscles to those drawings. On the final day, as a creative exercise, we hung paper cutouts onto a line and played lights over their forms to suggest movement.
Since drawing is such an intense activity we needed a few distractions to smooth the steep learning curve. One night was spent watching the stars appear from a vantage point high on the mountain after sunset, on another we had a wine tasting of six prominent Greek varietals, and lastly a full day was enjoyed on a wonderful boat trip around the neighbouring island of Antiparos. Thank you to all of my wonderful and enthusiastic students from whom I learn so much.
30, June 2016 § 1 Comment
The Aegean Center summer workshop, Oil Painting Innovations, concluded this last Saturday with a successful exhibition at the Center. The five painters showed four paintings each, sharing the space with the watercolour and the photography students from the other workshops. The walls were crowded with excellent work all of which showed a high level of skill and aesthetic involvement.The painting class followed several historical methods chosen for their instructive value; Venetian heightening with white on a dark ground from the 15th century, Flemish floral painting from the 17th century and Impressionist still life from the 19th century. These methods were explained and then explored in order for the students to maximize their understanding of the principals of structured oil paintings. A fourth exercise, which dealt with the painting of an all white still life, was chosen to challenge color mixing choices and the necessary lowering of tone which oil paint dictates.
The process of hand refined linseed oil which we began using a year ago at the Center was demonstrated and became our medium. It’s unique properties allow us to forgo solvents. The oil is stronger and shinier than the store bought tube oils. The handling is fluid, each touch is recorded. It creates a tough film, maintains textural elements of brushwork and keeps its color integrity when painting wet into wet. We were in the studios every day for six hours six days a week. The new oil paint made it possible for us to continue working without the need for long drying times and so the layers went on quickly. Working on four canvases with different criteria kept us energized. Thank you to my students for their enthusiasm and their dedication.
1, July 2014 § Leave a comment
by Jane Morris Pack
The 2014 figure drawing intensive is underway at the Aegean Center. After five days we are at the same point which we normally reach after the fourth or fifth week in a regular session. The students know most of the names of the bones, we have built a clay hand and foot, clay head and features, and a paper construction of the rib cage and pelvis. Our model comes in the mornings and we work on anatomy and drawing solutions in the afternoons.
We concentrate furiously but the atmosphere is joyful. Unfortunately the weather has been very hot here so we have the fans going continuously. We have a boat trip coming up if the winds stay down and a few more chances to eat together. As the students are all at a high level I feel sure we will get through an entire semesters worth of work in our 12 day seminar.
24, July 2013 § Leave a comment
Today is the final day of the two week Figure Drawing Intensive at the Aegean Center. We are tired but exhilarated and all the participants have seen great improvement in their abilities to draw the figure. I see startling jumps in the comprehension of form and anatomy, exactness of position and character of the pose. In the last few days the ability to concentrate and focus has increased and a one hour drawing flies by without awareness of the time passing. We have worked in ink, finger paint, conte, charcoal and pencil. Yesterday we drew portraits. Now time is needed to allow the information to sink in and enter the subconscious.
It was a joyful experience to teach this group. Each student brought their unique skills and perspective and we all helped each other to achieve our best. Thank you to Eleni, Elena, Ellie, Maia, Cassie, Penny, Isabel, Anglelika, and Avril for your contributions.
19, July 2013 § 3 Comments
Nine students are attending the Figure Drawing Intensive now underway at the Aegean Center. Each morning we draw from the live model for two hours and every afternoon the class reconvenes to study some particular aspect of the figure, whether it be the form of the skull or the concept of negative space. We have worked in clay and cut figures from paper, learned names and parts of the skeleton, drawn cylinders and spheres. The ability to draw a geometrical form in any direction, from any angle, is a critical but often overlooked aspect to beginning figure drawing.
Our group is varied in age from 17 to 60 and although we are all women we represent five different countries. As a teacher my hope is that at the end of two weeks the students will be able to draw the human form from memory in varied stances. Drawing from the model then, with the level and degree of accuracy we hope to achieve, will enable the student to proceed on their own and improve with practice.
3, July 2012 § 1 Comment
The summer digital workshop was a transformative experience for the six of us who attended. We all learned to see in new ways, to understand the technology of printing with the amazing inkjet process and to comprehend subtleties we didn’t know existed.
We worked for six hours a day, six days a week in the beautiful lab at the center. Although we all felt overwhelmed by the information in the first days we soon sorted through it and began to feel more comfortable moving through the work spaces of Camera Raw and Photoshop. The basics of computer handling aside, the programs we worked with were fairly intuitive and quickly gleaned by playing with the tools. The hardest part was learning to see the color shifts, knowing when the image was too cyan or too magenta for instance. We learned acronyms and abbreviations of all kinds from WYSIWYG and SLR to ICC profiles and HSL. We began to speak the secret language of the digital world.
An exhibit of our work was held the last Friday and we were pleased to hear the compliments and realize we had come so far. It would be easy to forget the sequences and specifics of each printer and process but with time and practice I think we all feel ready to try on our own.
11, August 2011 § 7 Comments
As Paros is an island, you’ve got to take a boat. I didn’t immediately realize the significance of this until I was on board the ferry and motoring away from the hazy landmass of Athens. Out in the middle of the Aegean– long, long before the sea appeared to me as brushstroke washes of ultramarine blue and viridian green– I felt as though I was not only traveling but emigrating.
Surely I knew what I had signed up for: I wasn’t leaving an impoverished, famine stricken land carrying all my portable property for a chance at a better life on Paros. I was vacationing from New York City to learn how to paint. Yet, there was a palpably different feeling to this trip.
Our incredible professor (and my friend of some years from Minnesota), Jun-Pierre Shiozawa, collected us individually from the ferry port as we arrived. We were taken to our quarters, a small set of apartments only 200 paces from the sea. I was shown the cafe in town were we would receive our free student meals. I was shown where to shop for our own groceries. I was shown where to walk to reach the classroom. I was even taught the particularities of the Greek toilet. These basic instructions heightened my sense of emigration. I wouldn’t only be taught how to paint, I would be shown how to live.
During our first classroom session we had received an outline detailing our expected arrival time for each day, the topic to be covered during the day’s class, and the start time and subject of the evening lecture. Still, many details were omitted– would we paint indoors or on excursion? If we are going out, where are we going? What will we be painting? Can we choose what to paint? The intentional vagary bothered some of our fellow students. Answers to these questions were occasionally demanded. I was exhilarated.
Each day unfolded magnificently. Early in the morning we had time to do as we pleased. I would wake early to take a dip in the sea, sketch or paint, and take a walk to town for a fresh baked spanikopita or Greek yogurt with honey. Classroom time was dynamic. Jun-Pierre would instruct on a topic of focus and provide a variety of hands-on exercises. For example, on the class period focusing on color Jun had us create a variety of color wheels using a particular color family and using a variety of wet and dry brush techniques. After creating these wheels he had us wash over them with various colors to understand their effects. We would break from one in the afternoon until four-thirty. We could do whatever we wanted during the break. Many of us chose to eat lunch at our designated cafe, Cafe Distrato. Some of us would then swim, shop, or nap. Often for the resumption of class we would take an excursion to someplace on the island such as a superlatively beautiful hillside, monastery, or windmill overlooking sea and rock where we would practice applying the day’s classroom instruction. In the evening there was often an optional lecture offered by a professor at the Aegean Center. Night would mean dinner on our own, perhaps a final night swim under moonlight and then sleep. Sleep! The kind of sleep that comes quickly to those who are satisfied, exhausted, and content to be lulled by soft breezes and the sound of the sea.
After our second week of studying, exploring, and tasting something wonderful happened. We were more relaxed, our personalities had settled in to one another. I gathered the distinct sense that it became less about what we expected from the class and more about being able to absorb everything we were being offered. Our work reflected this. Our conversations and deportment reflected this. We had a rhythm and a little livelihood on Paros, no matter how transitory. Rather sadly, following our student show it was time to leave.
We came by boat and we left by boat. New York and the old life were calling. It was time to strip myself of my Greek sandals and my responsibly cultivated tan to once again return to pushing my plow through fields of ones and zeros. And after so much! I had eaten incredible locally grown food. I had mastered zigzagging from shadow to shadow in order to avoid the summer sun. I had learned how to draw, to paint, to see. Now, it was time to return. I may not always have fresh urchin roe, but I’m forever changed. I know because I did not merely visit, I had emigrated– even if it was only temporary.
The ferry approaches on the horizon. Hot people queue haphazardly in bunches, luggage awkwardly in tow. Up until the last moments there are kind words, embraces, and well wishing. It is unlike air travel: the airline security acting as a hermetic seal between your destination and airport-land and all airport-lands connected by flying tubes of recycled air. With air travel you enter on one side of the tube and come out uncomfortably on the other. This produces an illusion that destinations belong to differing neighborhoods within a grand scale world-metropolis. Objects seem closer than they appear. Traveling by boat is different. Up on the deck of the boat you can see the land and your loved ones standing there, all getting smaller and receding slowly into the distance. They recede just as slowly as the thought, wouldn’t it be great if I could stay forever?
15, July 2010 § 4 Comments
I attended the The Craft of Fine Digital Photography, a two week seminar in June led by John Pack, the digital photography professor and director of the Aegean Center. As I have only studied darkroom photography in the past (under Elizabeth Carson, the Aegean Center darkroom photography professor) I was very excited and curious to learn about the methodology and approach to making a digital print. John stated that his course was a poetry class — we were to discover how to become eloquent in the language of digital photography. Personally, I was just hopeful to string together a coherent sentence.
The workshop encompassed all attributes of the digital photo workflow. With the creation of an image every various aspect of its development was considered. From taking a photograph and setting up the proper work conditions in the digital lab, to working on the image in Camera RAW and Photoshop in order to make adjustments to the image. Then there are the test strips, followed by the test prints of the image. Finally, after much contemplation and consultation with John and the fellow workshop members, we get a result: the final print. The students were left with an understanding of how to deal with taking an image from the camera, to the computer screen and to the final print while maintaining the most control over the different conditions. Every day we worked in the digital lab, and in the evenings we took photographs and visited areas around the Paros.
When you’re working hard, enjoying what you’re doing in the company of good people in a beautiful place like Paros, time flies by at warp speed. Yet though it felt so quick, the amount of information, experience and growth which occurred in those two weeks was worthy of months of learning, perhaps more. We had plenty to show from the space of time: great memories, new friendships, fresh ideas and most importantly, finished works. Our prints showed that in two weeks time we were able to be articulate and express ourselves in the new and vibrant language of fine digital photography.
2, August 2009 § Leave a comment
Intensive Digital Studies / The Art of the Digital Print
July is usually a quiet month at the Center. This year was an exception. John Pack lead a two week intensive course in The Art of the Digital Photograph.
Many photographers share the idea that the print is the final rendering of the artist’s intent, and this demands an extensive and deep working knowledge of the tools and process of the medium. Using digital tools to produce that important manifestation of the idea in a print has become too dependent on the tricks of the equipment rather than the skill and judgment of the photographer. In two weeks of exciting and intensive learning John guided a small group – eight participants – through the intricacies of the entire digital workflow with specific attention to Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS4 as photographic tools to an understanding of how to bring the image to the concluding expressive print that emerges from the printer.
John’s extensive knowledge gave us a broad understanding of the possibilities, which he then attempted to scale down to workable tools we could master in the time given. Time was a major factor. We worked 6, 8 and even 12 hours a day for 13 days. Yes, we did take one Sunday holiday.
After the first few days of deluge, the group rose to the challenge of learning myriad details while constantly reassessing its understanding of what the results would be. A list of the Photoshop and Printer techniques we studied would include extensive colour management, monitor calibration, tools, layers, masks, ICC colour profiling (building our own profiles), and much more; this would be only an outline of the wide scope of knowledge we acquired on how to see and feel the images as they progressed.
John’s enthusiasm for the digital medium, coupled with his deep respect for every detail, carried us through to a collection of photographic prints which were a great satisfaction to each of us. We all shared knowledge and ideas. The group, working together, became an important part of our learning, as John had intended. We concluded with a very stimulating sense of new knowledge and the ability to carry this forward to create the quality of photograph that was our goal.