Saturday, October 30, 2010

Art So Far

Alex's painting course is going well. He took a couple of lessons over summer, when he went to Oregon. And now he is enrolled in his first painting class. I wish we had known better where to place him, because I think he would have held his own in an AP class. And his teacher must agree, because he hung Alex's paintings in the Advancement Placement Art Gallery at school. (w00ts! says a beaming Mommy!) I only just learned about this, and so yesterday I popped over to school to have a look at Alex's work.

His first painting, on the left, he had completed in in time for Portfolio Day, when he went to meet with art schools and colleges for evaluations. That was an interesting day. So glad we went, because it gave him a nice initial experience with thinking about the future, his options, and getting critical points of view about his work.

His second painting he finished this week. It's still drying. It was his first time working in oil paint. So different from acrylic, he learned. While he was painting it, I would hear an evolving perspective about the nature of oil paints, the challenges, the bonuses, the smell.

What strikes me about both paintings is that I immediately recognized qualities in the faces that are familiar. Influenced by art he has seen, by people he has met, he has actually captured enough of their look, that I can appreciate some of what he was thinking. Yet, I know that they cannot be deliberate copies, or studied portraits, because they were brief encounters, and there are no images to copy from. Anyway, it gives them an added interest for me to recognize those faces.

I still get excited by the fact that he does more than imagine a SteamPunk automaton. He designs and engineers the robot. He is as interested and mindful in the working of the gears, as the shading of the shoulders, the color of the lamp.

His assignment is to create a series of paintings, to practice telling a story within each painting, and in multiple pieces.

This is the first work of his that I have seen done, without having seen at least some of the rough drafts, sketches, or process. It feels the least familiar to me. I am getting used to it, and again feeling amazed by the familiarity of her face. I was seeing the Art Gallery during Alex's lunch break. We took our time, saw other works too, but I haven't had a chance to talk to him about this painting, to ask him to tell me the story.

As we were leaving the Gallery, he asked if I wanted to see the next painting. Oh yes! It's a strange and unfamiliar experience not seeing his work in progress, so I was thrilled to have this opportunity.

We crossed campus, over to the art studio. What an awesome place that is! Now more familiar with oil paints and what they do, how they work, Alex is excited about this third painting. He says he likes it better. I imagine it is easier to enjoy the art, when the medium is less mysterious and frustrating.

This elaborate automaton is under construction, the tinkerer is inserting her eye. The gears and pistons are exposed. I like the robot's slight leaning in, the anticipation in the parted lips and jaw line... she is looking forward to having her eye. I wonder if she can see already. I am so glad I got to see this painting at this stage. The details are beautiful.

The studio is like a massive work of art. This older campus holds a lot of local history, and in this room, I felt like every art student left behind a layer of color, a piece of their story. I would love to be in there when everyone is working, to join them. It makes me happy that they have such an inspiring place.

"Art So Far
Yet So Near"
~The Art Gallery theme.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! What art schools did he check out?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Hey Holly!
The room was packed with dozens of schools and hundreds of students. I know for certain Alex met with "Art Center College of Design, Pasadena," and "Minneapolis College of Art and Design." There were more, but I was busy holding his place in line when he met with the other schools. He was warned that the criticism can be brutal, so we were leery. But it was a good experience, and he got great feedback... all positive, so *yay!*

Miriam said...

What a talented young man! The paintings are very interesting. It must be a wonderful experience for you as his mom to see Alex come into his own. Very cool!

You can call me Betty, or Bethany, or Beth ...Just don't call me late for dinner. said...

Such an exciting struggle to get these artistic teens pointed toward their goals without letting them fall into critical teen-ish pitfalls in the middle...
Paint On Alex!

Tiglizzyclone said...

It would be interesting to be young again and to be starting out in college anew! I wish Alex well. I hope he gets in a good art school!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Miriam... there are several artists in this house, and I have always enjoyed what they do. Seeing other people recognize their abilities is a sweet pleasure. Thank you.
Bethany... paint on, indeed!
Tiglizzyclone... thank you for these good wishes. Seeing these students starting out, facing the future and opportunity... it makes me want to go back too. We could, couldn't we?