Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Personal Story - A Wannabe Artist

My First Portrait
From the time I was very young I was told I was artistic. I was the "artist" of our family. I was also told I could not make a living (financially support myself) being an artist. Yes, I took art classes in high school and an occasional jewelry making or ceramics course during summer vacations. When I begged my parents to send me to Interlochen Arts Camp, I was told it wasn't possible. Art School (university level) after high school was definitely not practical. [Check out this drawing to the right. It's dated 1970 on the back, which suggests I was 12 when it was drawn. I'm guessing it's probably from a couple of years after that when I took a drawing class in high school.]

I'm the person you always call when you need to make a choice of color chips for house painting. Need to pair an outfit together for a special occasion? I'm your girl. I've always had 'good taste' and 'good style.' In the 1980's, I took a few classes at UCLA, in their Interior Design Program. (Yes, I considered this career first, before I left my then financial position at MGM/UA to launch my fair trade jewelry business, Dunitz & Company.) Other than that, I've never had any formal art education.

Isis and Nancy
Recently, I was desperate for a vacation. I hadn't been able to recruit a travel companion. I wracked my brain for ideas of things I might enjoy. I often wish I would discipline myself to draw and/or write poetry. So began my mission...to find a class focused on either, located in an interesting destination and offered at a time I could travel. And after much searching, I discovered Maestro Isis Rodriguez. Isis was offering a 5 day intensive drawing class in San Miguel de Allende with a focus on Day of the Dead. Perfect! Air ticket bought. AirBnB booked. Class paid for. I was on my way to experiencing my first real art instruction.

For me the experience was extraordinary. For five days, all I did was draw. I was so completely focused on my artwork, my mind never wandered. I didn't think (much) about my dogs. I didn't worry about Dunitz & Company. I didn't dwell on the daily news reports from CNN or MSNBC. Now, that IS vacation! 

Model, Ysenia
Right off the bat, we (depending on the day, there were 2-4 of us under the watchful eye of Isis) were presented with Ysenia, a beautiful indigenous model. She was decked out in traditional clothing and a family heirloom headdress. We were told that 'the man of the house' would typically wear it for a special festival. And on this occasion, Ysenia wore it for us.

Considering, I've never had any significant art training, I will let my drawings from my 5 day course speak for themselves. I feel quite blessed to have had Isis lead me and teach me.

Ysenia. Start to Finish. I am amazed how many hours I spent on this one drawing. And it is the first portrait drawing I've ever made from a live model.

Continuing on the Day of the Dead theme, we applied makeup to ourselves and... created self portraits. This is my first self-portrait of all time. Of all my projects, this was/is my favorite. Would you know this was me, if I hadn't told so?

Isis had us create a still-life with appropriate Day of the Dead artifacts. I confess, this was my least favorite drawing from my week's class. And my least favorite exercise. With Isis's direction, I did however, learn a lot about shadows.

Another first. Drawing hands! (That's Ysenia in the photo to the right. She's the one who showed us how to apply Day of the Dead makeup.)

And my first 'nude' drawing, ever. I know it isn't perfect. But seriously, I'm really proud of my accomplishment.

Day of the Dead Artwork
I'm always writing about my business. For this blog post, I decided to reveal a little bit about me. You probably didn't know my little girl dreams were to be a professional artist (or a pediatrician.) I do borrow from my artistic abilities day to day with my fair trade jewelry business. But seriously, it isn't the same as drawing or painting.

Are you dreaming of taking a drawing or painting class in a fabulous destination? San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful place to spend some time.  And I can highly recommend Isis Rodriguez. She's a super talented and accomplished artist (just check out her website) who generously shares tips and training so her students can create their best work ever. In another lifetime, I would have had her help me prepare a portfolio for an art school application! -ND