Learning to see without the mind’s interference
Appeal Staff Writer
Surrounded by glaring eyes, Ron Arthaud sat in the center of the room, his body contorted, leaving his socked foot dangling three inches from his nose.
That’s how Arthaud spent his Wednesday morning, switching from pose to pose, seeking to provide the seated artists with new angles to draw. It was a warm-up for the two-day drawing marathon taking place at St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City.
St. Mary’s is a nonprofit organization that allows artists to attend classes and retreats at the center, which was a hospital in the late 1800s.
The center is hosting three workshops in five days, which began Wednesday, including a two-day drawing workshop, a three-day oil painting workshop and five-day printmaking seminar.
“We expect the students to completely immerse themselves in the art. They live here and spend the time working and creating,” said Linda Nazemian, executive director of the center.
“We try to schedule double classes when we can. It was so successful the last time with did it, with the laughter and the sharing between the classes,” Nazemian said. “The workshops start feeding off each other creatively. It becomes a creative incubator.”
Back in the drawing workshop, Arthaud has switched poses again to allow the students to continue their work.
“Changing allows them the opportunity to learn to draw fast and get a lot of experience with a model,” Arthaud said. “The artists can warm up and get loose. If you are stiff, then your paintings will be stiff.”
Arthaud was filling in until model Jasmine McIntosh arrived later in the day.
For participant Sally Schuster, of Carson City, the workshop means two days of drawing with a model, something she doesn’t often get to do.
“It’s two days of nothing but drawing. I told myself when I started that I would keep drawing as long as I liked what I was doing,” Schuster said.
Participant Leigh Ann Boy, also of Carson City, said people often overlook the difficulties of drawing the human form.
“It’s the hardest thing to draw. I’ve been doing this a long time, and if you can draw a figure you can probably draw anything,” Boy said. “The first time I tried to draw a person lying down with the whole perspective I couldn’t tell if the body was on the same plane as the floor.”
Arthaud said drawing is about looking at the world in a different way.
“Most art is about trying to get people to see and not let your mind get in the way. For example, when doing a portrait, people have preconceived notions about what a nose looks like and they start to make comparisons,” Arthaud said.
While the drawing class continued its accelerated pace, downstairs the printmaking students were preparing copper plates for etching. The class is focusing on nontoxic Intaglio printmaking.
The Intaglio technique involves covering a copper plate with a thin layer of a sealant which is then scratched off in certain parts before the plate it dipped into a corrosive material, creating the etching.
“Printmaking is mechanical and less like the free-hand arts. You can’t just pull out a canvas and start painting,” said participant Lani Collins of Reno. “It’s always a surprise what comes out on the paper.”
The workshop is being taught by Nolan Preece, who learned the skill under renowned printmaker Misch Kohn.
“What we have condensed into this week is essentially a semester’s worth of work,” Preece said.
Nazemian said, “This supposed to be intensive. We want people to leave here better than when they came in.”
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217.