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  • Writer's pictureLucy

Falling In Love

Recently I attended the IAPS 14th annual pastel convention and saw pastel artists working in every style of art from abstract to photorealism. It made me ponder why I do what I do--classical realism.

The short answer is love.

A charcoal cast study titled "Leslie the Lion" made by me at while at the Masters' Atelier in Port Townsend, WA.

BTW: Classical Realism is characterized by love for the visible world and the great traditions of Western art. It exhibits a preference for order, beauty, harmony and completeness and its primary subject matter comes from the representation of nature based on the artist's observation. Artists draw and paint from the direct observation of nature, and eschew the use of photography or other mechanical aids. They seek to create paintings that are personal, expressive, beautiful, and skillful. Their subject matter includes all of the traditional categories within Western Art: figurative, landscape, portraiture, indoor and outdoor genre and still life paintings.

Before I studied with Nancy Lucas Williams at the Masters' Atelier of Drawing and Painting in Port Townsend, WA, my art was graphical, 2 dimensional, flat, and without subtlety or nuance despite having studied art while getting my BA in Fine Arts from Colorado State University

While at CSU I never had a class that taught drawing fundamentals. Instead I was exposed to all sorts of mediums from screen printing to oil painting to handmade graphics (this was before computers) to charcoal and graphite to ink and simply encouraged to be expressive and fast. Only spend about 1-3 hours on each piece. There was no information on color theory, no understanding of how to create delicate roundness in a form, no tools to help me create on paper what my eyes were seeing, no information on constructing a compelling composition.

The results were less than interesting (below).

Two works made by me while studying art at Colorado State University in the 1980s.

I had some natural talent and a willingness to experiment which helped me get through those classes but I never thought I was particularly good at making art. So I didn't. I switched majors from art to political science (whiplash anyone?) and let my creative energies show up in spreadsheets and other random places.

Nancy Lucas Williams and me in Port Townsend, WA.

Then I met Nancy (above) and was willing to study in her Atelier. In fact, the atelier system emerged in the 17th century from the old apprenticeship workshops of the Renaissance and was brought to this country by the Boston School painters who trained in the great ateliers of 19th century Paris.

​​Five months of study with Nancy led to me creating "Grace" (below) and I was shocked, SHOCKED, to discover I was capable of making fine art.

A charcoal cast study titled "Grace" made by me while at the Masters' Atelier in Port Townsend, WA.

I fell in love. With myself and with this type of art.

I now know how to understand what my eyes are seeing and have tools to connect my eyes to my hands while bypassing my brain which tends to be very busy taking short cuts. For example my brain often says, "It's a tree, you know what a tree looks like, just draw something sort-of like a tree." But now I have the tools to say "that is a unique tree--draw its specific shape, value, and color."

Charcoal landscape value sketch by me while at the Masters' Atelier in Port Townsend, WA.

Now I can't get enough.

That's why I continue to use what Nancy taught me and stay away from using photographs. The human eye is far superior and can see more detail, value range, and color than a camera. And anyway, where is the fun in copying a photograph?? 😊

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