(Hillsboro, OR USA)
Figure Model Hiding Her Tattoo, Oil on wood panel, 14"x11"
Having drawn and painted from live models across more than three decades, I can say with great confidence that there has always been something unique and distinctive (if not downright ironic) in each figure studio session I have attended. It could be a prevailing mood or attitude projected by the model or the attendees, an idiosyncracy of illumination or props, perhaps even a fortuitous event (or unnerving accident) which usurps what was intended to be a rigorously controlled and staged tableau offered for the edification of both accomplished and aspiring figure artists. The clinical atmosphere is nearly always subverted in myriad subtle and not-so-subtle ways; I suspect it has always been thus, and that many well-known painters and sculptors of history found themselves inadvertently rendering their figures in "lights-out" conditions, or chasing playful dogs and mischievous children out of their studios, or pleading with everyone in attendance to sober up and get down to work.
I am no longer at pains to avoid the inevitable incongruities which emerge in the liferoom scenario. The best laid plans and the most assiduous directorial arrangements will not prevent real life from going on and on, and further intruding upon our "space," no matter how much we would have preferred to freeze it into the single, pretty picture which we'd intended and had gathered all the gear and enthusiasm to create. In my figure studio efforts these days, I embrace the unexpected, the inauspicious, the silly and the abject as well; I have learned that, by indirection, the otherwise unwelcome and undesirable can reinject veritable life into a situation-- and therefore into its depiction-- where it was most certainly slipping away.