MK24 - 9th & 10th class

Artists have been copying each other for ages. To learn from each other, to draw inspiration, to adapt a work to their own hand. The teacher shows us various examples of such plagiarism. She has made black and white copies of various artworks. I choose Madame Ines Montoissier by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1856). I love the reflection in the mirror, the hand on her face and most of all her look.
Like we do in every class, we start with some charcoal sketches. Different angles, different cut outs. It helps to determine what it is exactly that fascinates and that needs to be recreated.

This will be the sketch I will try to paint. I have taken the liberty to forget about reality and place the woman and her reflection together without the explanation of the mirror. They might be the same woman, they might not. This will just be a study of different angles of a face.

When I am browsing art books at home I find a portrait of a woman who has been painted in the same way: a portrait of the mother of the artist H. Rigaud (I forgot the write down the year).

In one evening I manage to create a basic painting. Many details need to be filled in, but I am happy with this first draft. And can't wait to get back to it.

One week later, we finish the painting. I am very happy with how the faces turn out, but not so happy with the background and the dresses. I guess I would have needed another evening to go over it.

A big revelation to me tonight is that due to a lack of time, I quickly brush some paint on the canvas to suggest a light blue head scarf. To my surprise this turns out to be the best part of the painting! It feels spontaneous and it looks textured. I have to remember that.


GRA - 3rd class sculpture

To make a monument, for someone or something.

What is a monument?
From Wikipedia: A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of past events. Functional structures made notable by their age, size or historic significance can also be regarded as monuments. Monuments are also often designed to convey historical or political information. Monuments have been created for thousands of years, and they are often the most durable and famous symbols of ancient civilizations.

What is a monument to me?
Old buildings, but mostly I think of a memorial, like the ones you find in France to remember the dead from World War I.
But what also comes to mind, is the Love Temple Marie Antoinette had built as an ode to love.

I would like to combine these two images in order to create a monument for what is important to me:
sense of community

I would like to make an ode to the woman that I am today, to the woman of today, to all the women that have crossed my path. I would like to capture the versatility and power of women in one image.

What will my woman look like? Like Barbie...Or more like Venus of Willendorf?
The woman of today is nor Barbie, nor Venus of Willendorf. She strives to look like Barbie, but her features resemble Venus's. Both are icons however.

To execute my ideas, I borrow one of my daughter's Barbie dolls, give her a hair cut, and cover her whole body with paper mache, adding more realistic layers to chest, tummy, thighs and bum. I want her to balance work and motherhood in her hands, but I cannot not find a way to do that properly so I just let her stand on one leg with her arms open wide.
The idea is to hammer one foot to a pedestal but I can't find the right material so I use clay to hold her foot. However the clay does not support her whole body, so out of necessity I pack half of her leg in clay in order to keep her standing.
I cover her body with names of women I have met during my entire life. It is almost a meditative exercise as I jump from memory to almost forgotten memory.

The teacher is enthusiast about the documentation of my work. However, overall the monument doesn't seem to work for her. The only thing she finds interesting is the way the statue is caught in the clay. It's a revelation for me when she says that, because it happened by coincidence. I wasn't thinking, and I wasn't even trying very hard either. I can totally see and feel why that's the only part of the monument that 'works.' The big question remains though: can I reproduce this 'happy accident' when I want it to?


GRA - 2nd class sculpture

Assignment: Keep your own garbage for 5 days. Then, make a sculpture that gives expression to your selection of garbage. Let the sculpture be about you.

I already knew what I wanted to make, so from my enormous pile of plastic and paper, I only need a piece of carton and some wire. I am not thinking about my garbage, no philosophical thoughts at all. I am just going to make a corset out of waste material. Just for fun!

I explain to the teacher that this is an object and a shape that have fascinated me for ever. She suggests that to show this fascination, I should make more versions of the same. Which I do in a heart beat. Doesn't my coffee cup look like a corset too?


MK24 - 7th & 8th class

Self portrait in paint this time. So much fun!


GRA - 1st class sculpture

Same group, new teacher. So nervous again. What a roller coaster this journey is!
After the introduction, we divide up in groups of 4 and look for a room or space in the Academy. The assignment is to change the function of this space.
Our group chooses the hall on the second floor. There are some elements there that inspire us immediately. A long table, a sign with white letters and a little shelf to leave food and drinks before entering the computer room. They inspire us to make a church, a holy place, a place of silence. What a contrast with a hall that everybody uses to walk through! We turn the table in an altar, the shelf will be the place at the entrance where the holy water sits, and the sign is to indicate the opening times of the Academy Church.
I love the dynamic in our group. We all pull out things from random places to help create this image. We spend a lot of time on the Christ figure behind the altar. We use our bodies, a banana (!) and finally find a mirror, that reflects the light of the fluorescent lamps on the ceiling. When you approach the altar the reflection of the light shifts to the reflection of you. What a beautiful metaphor for finding light (and God) in one self!
The teacher walks in from time to time and gives us things to think about. Like:
  • think about every element in your space. Is it random? Or did you put it there consciously? Everything must have a reason. As creator of your space, you have power over this space. Sculpture is all about power.
  • The creator of the sculpture makes the rules. How does the viewer see and experience the sculpture?
We experience that last point when we show our work to the other students. The effect of the atmosphere we so carefully tried to communicate is gone when the space is full. So we direct every one out and only make the space accessible for three people at a time. The space then forces people to be quiet and the strange sound from the airconditioning of the building highlights this effect.

Reflection: I notice I am referring constantly to universal images (from the Western civilization) and that I feel a need to re-create this images. There is no need for me to change them, just to undress them and feel what is left.

More thoughts:
  • What is, but that I choose not to see, will still be visible to the other.
  • What is not, is not visible the either of us. Or is it?
  • Does that what is, has to be visible, in order to be noticed?
  • My experience of space is dependent on the presence of people and objects in that space.
  • The atmosphere in a space changes when I put a lock on the door, move or remove the window, add noise, apply an aroma and add objects.
  • As a creator I can influence the experience of the other.


MK24 - 6th class

Finally, we are going to do portraits. We start with charcoals of each other. We get 5 minutes per portrait and we're encouraged to use different techniques each time. Like drawing with your left hand, using the flat side of the charcoal and not lifting the charcoal from the paper, but leaving it in contact with the paper all the time while you sketch.
Here are my best ones:

And last but not least we draw ourselves in front of a mirror. It's quite a challenge. Especially when you are drawing yourself, you want the image to be just alike.I took the sketches home that night, and not having been able to fixate the charcoal I used a blank paper to protect the painting. And then I had 'a happy accident.'