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


  1. i love this story, dorothy...and your photographs. an experience to store away until ready to use?

    1. Susan, thanks so much. I'm working on two paintings from that workshop and have so many others in my head. But the real take-away was recognizing how important it is to work on a painting "live on location." I was tempting to start in another location on the second day but am so glad I spent the time getting to know the scene I had chosen to paint. Thanks for commenting.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


I'd love to hear from you!