When I visited Philly in August, I learned about the work of Jane Irish at Locks Gallery. I immediately fell in love with her work--her subject matter, exaggerated color, and alla prima brush strokes--all of it resonated with me. Then, I was eating lunch later and saw a PAFA brochure with her work on the cover. I read that she was offering a continuing education course in November and I knew I had to sign up.
I arrived in Philly on Friday evening, after a one hour delay in Boston. We flew through some heavy turbulence and I was surprised we hadn't been delayed longer. When we touched down, I immediately look a Lyft to Blick to pick up a few last-minute supplies before the store closed. I brought most of my supplies with me, but didn't buy oil paint because I didn't think I would be able to bring it on my carry on. I bought a small palette of oil paint and a small jar of mineral spirits at Blick and then headed to meet my friend (and host for the weekend), Laura, at her apartment. View the full list of suggested course materials here.
I got to Laura's apartment, dropped off my things, and then we went to get dinner. Laura took me to La Calaca Feliz. We ordered an plate of the cauliflower tacos and a side of guacamole. The tacos were so delicious that we decided to order a second plate of them! I know Laura from the Boston Critique Group and Gallery263, so it was great to have dinner and catch up with her.
On Saturday, I woke up early. PAFA is about a half-hour walk from where I was staying. I packed up my supplies and walked to the studio, stopping at Whole Foods on the way to buy an acai smoothie bowl from their smoothie bar. It was a beautiful magenta color and tasted delicious--the perfect breakfast for a day of painting.
On the first day of the workshop, we met in PAFA's newer building. There were twelve people in the workshop, and we all went around and introduced ourselves. Then Jane introduced herself and showed us images of her work and travels, including her experience working with vets in New Jersey and traveling abroad to paint in Vietnam, Europe and New Orleans.
Then Jane passed out the syllabus, describing the course as a "process-oriented course dedicated to a sense of touch in painting." After the introductions, we started painting. The room was set up with various reference images taped around the room, a still life of fabric and ceramic objects and a "kinetic" still-life of scarfs and ribbon with a fan in the middle that blew them around.
Each of us set up in front of one of the images or still-lives and began painting. The focus as we painted was on the touch of our mark. After 30 minutes of painting, we switched to a new station.
When I started painting, I decided to work on smaller canvases to "warm up" and because I knew I had to roll all of my paintings up at the end of the workshop in order to bring them back with me. The first paintings I made were with oil paint on canvas pad.
Jane brought a roll of Tyvec with her for us to try painting on. Before class, she primed it with 2-3 layers of Golden gesso. I loved workin on the smooth surface.
I alternated between working on bigger and working smaller. I made several smaller studies that were immediate reactions to things I was looking at, like the stripped sweater and nail polish of one of my classmates.
Jane also set up a tub where we could experiment with dripping, spraying and layering shellac ink.
In the evening, I joined my friend Laura at Tyler for a studio visit. It was great to see how her work has evolved over the past few years and to talk about life, art, and other things for a few hours.
On the second day of the workshop, we met in PAFA's cast hall, in one of the rooms of the older part of the school. It was like stepping back in time. There were several rooms of cast figures to draw from.
We began by painting two models, posed in front of a cast of Laocoon and His Sons. After an hour and a half of painting (with breaks for the models), the models got up and began to dance slowly around the room of sculptures. It was an challenge to paint them while they moved!
In the afternoon we worked in the larger cast hall. Jane did a demonstration of how she typically starts a painting and then we had a few hours to paint the space.
The workshop ended at 5pm, and I booked it to the Institute of Contemporary Art at Pennsylvania University to see Ree Morton's show.
In the evening, I had a chance to visit my friends Allison and Matthew to celebrate Allison's birthday.
On Monday, I slept in a bit and then went to visit Eastern State Penitentiary. It was amazing to walk though the old building and learn about the history of the prison and it's impacts on our current prison system. I was surprised to learn that the prison had a series of artworks installed in some of the cells.
Before I left Philly, I had lunch at one of my favorite Philly restaurants, Mama’s Vegetarian, with my friend Tyler.
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2020 Member's Prize Show
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February 11-April 30, 2020
124 Mt. Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA
Friday, February 13, 6-8pm
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