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Photographer Janelle Lynch’s Summer at NYSS


This summer, more urgent than wander or rest, I immersed myself—a large-format landscape photographer with a 20-year practice—in six weeks of Marathons at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture. I spent two weeks working in each medium.

In the Drawing Marathon, I drew with charcoal from life with Graham Nickson and Fran O’Neill, as I have intermittently since 2015. “What must a drawing do?” asked Nickson, during critique on the first day, and “How would you take a risk?” were among the questions that guided my 14 days standing at the easel.

Then, with the French sculptor, Vincent Barré, a Guest Faculty, I made clay objects inspired by formal motifs in my current photographic work and ancient fibulas that I discovered during our visit to The Met. But there was also the latitude for me to make large-scale cut-outs, and drawings with charcoal and ash of pruned branches from the Mulberry tree in MacDougal Alley behind the Sculpture Studio.

The last two weeks I returned to painting the figure with Elisa Jensen, as I had been doing during the last year. I was determined to further my ability to create an image of matter held by space on a blank canvas using oil paint in all its infinite manifestations of hue, temperature, brilliance, and value. Generously, Elisa also gave me an impromptu introduction to Conté and ink drawings; while Graham and the School’s Program Coordinator, Kaitlin McDonough, introduced me to gouache.

Equally important as the work I was making and the masterworks I was introduced to, including those by Uccello, Lipchitz, and Hartigan, was the six weeks of time for reflection. I considered the nature of seeing in perceptual drawing, painting—and life. I questioned the metaphor of the mark and its personal relevance. I wondered about the similarities of problem-solving on a two-dimensional surface and in a three-dimensional world. I pondered the experience of learning to learn and how my time as a student might impact my own practice as a teacher of photography. I was reminded of the power and potential of discipline and intuition, and the importance of trusting the creative (and learning) processes. And, I celebrated the surprise of friendship.

From June 4thto July 18th, the traveling I did this summer—literal and metaphorical—up and down the stairs through the maze of buildings that make up the historic Studio School, enriched my life and work as a photographer in ways that a trip abroad, like the one I did last year to museums and World Heritage Sites, could not.


Janelle Lynch
July 25, 2018




Snapshots From NYSS

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