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Alumni Studio Visit: Adrianne Lobel

New York Studio School: Describe a typical day in studio.

Adrianne Lobel: My year is split in two. From November to May, I work in my studio in Hoboken, NJ – a big wonderful industrial space that I found right after graduating from the New York Studio School in 2015.  Then from May to November, I am upstate at my country place in Rhinebeck, NY where I paint through the spring, summer, and fall seasons en plein air. I think of myself like a farmer – I have to make hay while the sun shines – or rather I have to paint pictures while the weather is good so that I have something to work from in my studio in the winter. 

So, a typical day when I am upstate: I load up my green 4×4 gator (a tractor-like vehicle that holds all my painting supplies) with new canvases. I make sure I have everything that I need; linseed oil, turpenoid, paper towels, plastic bags to throw away paper towels, paint, water, hat, palette, palette knife, and bug spray – if anything is forgotten all is lost!  And of course, my double wide Julien easel. Then I drive into the field next to my house and try to find something that grabs me to paint. 

I usually paint two to three canvases starting with the smallest one (12 x 12″) and working up to a 30×30.”

NYSS: Take us through your process. What are some of the parameters or problems you set up for yourself within your work?

AL: I look at the landscape. There is a lot of green! I try to simplify the forms that I see into geometric shapes and the light into a different range of greens and yellows. The darkest shadows sometimes go black. I start by mixing a lot of different greens, then I draw the shapes that I see and then I fill in the color. The simpler the composition the better, I find. 

I generally work for about 2.5 – 3 hours- very intensely – without stopping save for a sip of water now and again. Sometimes it is hot and buggy. Sometimes it is windy – it is always an adventure but when it is going well, it can be thrilling.  Every year, the work changes. It seems to have a will of its own. 

NYSS: How has your practice changed during this time of social distance? Have you had to adapt to a new way of working?

AL:  I had been doing portraits of models in my studio in Hoboken but, when the pandemic hit, that had to stop. I came upstate at the end of March 2020 when things started to close down in the city and it was becoming scary to be around so many people. It was still too cold to paint outside so I did some writing. And I started to do needlepoints of my paintings. They are very successful, I think. I plan to show them with the paintings at my next exhibition. 

NYSS: What do you keep in the studio for inspiration? Reference material, books about particular artists, music, certain objects …

AL: I have a big art book collection but I don’t keep much in my studio. I like to look at Morandi, Mondrian, Diebenkorn, Avery among many others.

NYSS: Do you listen to anything while you work?

AL: When I am painting in my studio I listen to NPR – mostly the Brain Lehrer show for news of the day. When I am outside en plein air, I sometimes have music going through my head – but mostly I am just concentrating on translating nature into something graphic and composed. 

NYSS: How did studying at the New York Studio School influence your work? Do you have a favorite memory?

AL: Before the Studio School, I worked mostly from observation. The school taught me to take the paintings I did in the summer and make something new of them in the studio. For 35 years I worked as a stage designer but I was tired of it, burnt out, you could say, and I was longing to be a full-time painter. The Studio School helped me to put a wedge between my old self and my new one – I transformed into what I have always wanted to be – a painter! Now my career is over and there is no looking back. Of course, I hope to get more attention for my painting – which is hard to get – but in the meantime I am happy doing it. 

I think my happiest time at the school was eating my liverwurst sandwich during the Tuesday lunch lecture with David Cohen and Thursday with Bruce Gagnier. They were both so brilliant and inspiring. I also loved Ron Milewicz’s drawing class. We have since become friends and see each other upstate. And of course, the critiques with Graham Nickson. 

NYSS: Are there any upcoming shows or projects on the horizon you would like to share?! And where can people see your work digitally?

AL: I am a member of The Bowery Gallery where I have had three shows over the years – the next one is scheduled for April of 2022. I also show at The Carter Burden Gallery and a show of my work and my father’s work is being planned for the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, NY for the Fall of 2023. Both my set design and my painting work can be seen on my website at www.adriannelobel.com.

Snapshots From NYSS

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