Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Well, now that I've got your attention, let me explain.

Last month another interesting art opportunity was posted on Facebook: "Drawing and Painting Architecture" with Nick Raynolds, of New York's Janus Collaborative School of Art (via through Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia).

The workshop description was "to explore drawing and painting at the intersection of the natural and man-made worlds. Part landscape, part still-life, part architectural rendering..."

An interesting subject and a fascinating location: the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia! Peeling paint and rust, what's not to love?

So I checked out Airbnb for a reasonable reservation. (They match travelers with private apartment or room rentals.) The first option was some guy's apartment ...over a bar. Gotta say, I'm not that fearless. Then a studio space in a townhouse became available, just 2 blocks from the workshop. And the hosts are three sisters. Booked.

However, at the last minute ALL the other workshop attendees had, well, bailed out! Rather than cancel I was offered one-on-one instruction for 3 days (instead of 5). In the end the workshop was cancelled completely (don't ask). So there would be no instruction. The idea of painting in public by myself was underwhelming. Did I mention that this prison has tourists?

But take a look at the images and you'll see why I wanted to go, even alone. 

Long abandoned hallways with stark rays of light from occasional skylights... peeling paint and rust everywhere!

These walls are a far cry from my comfort zone: still life with strong stationary light sources. But I decided to pretend I could so it. Sort of like whistling in the dark... in prison. That probably happens a lot.

At first it was hard to get settled and narrow down a subject, but so far, I've got two paintings that have potential. I've also taken lots of photos and will finish these paintings in the studio.

Meanwhile, there so many great works of art in this city! I plan to revisit Eakins, Peto, Hartnett and other favorites at the Fine Art Museum. Will also go to the Barnes Foundation on this trip - it's been "on my list" for so long. Plus Nick (the would-be instructor) is giving a lecture on representational art at Fleisher. His training is from Water Street Atelier and other classical studios and his work is gorgeous. I'm sure it will be interesting to meet him, finally.

This trip to Philadelphia may not be the exact adventure I was expecting, but it's been artistic and creative. And it reinforces my (apparent) theme for this year: take a chance! As they also say in Monopoly: "Go to Jail, do not pass Go..."!
In fact, never pass go. Risks

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back to school!

I've always loved "back-to-school" time. Always (not just when my kids were going). Call me crazy, but I find the ritual of preparation exciting.

Not so coincidentally the background for this September still life is an unfolded paper bag - like we used to cover textbooks "back in the day." The final painting may not include paper bag creases, but it's making me smile as I prepare for the painting.

And I'm happy to say I'm "back to school" too. Back to art studies with my studio buddies and our painting-master-guru, Todd Casey. Here's a look at the classical preparation and process we're learning.

This set-up took forever. I tweaked the book placement many times, tried many different  objects before settling on the horn rims and the magnifying glass.

The drawing: well, suffice it to say that perspective and fore-shortening are challenging and after a day of drawing... I re-drew most of it! 

Transferring the drawing to canvas is done by painting on the back and using a red pen to trace over so you can see that no lines are missed. Just like graphite transfer paper, but with paint.

And then it's time to paint... in miniature! A small poster study gets the basic information in place. This step helps to see how the colors and shapes relate. It's 4x6" and took about 4 hours. So now I have a sweet little study of the painting-to-be!

"Creative Study" 8x10" ©2012 Dorothy Lorenze

The final painting is not done yet, well, it's not even begun. So here's another small painting with that back-to-school feel.
"Learn something!!!" That was my Dad's command as we left for school each day. Sure, we rolled our eyes, but I guess it stayed with me.

Live and learn? or is it: learn and live? Either way: "back to school!" I'm all for it.

Thanks for joining my artistic journey.