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Student Perspective – Marathon: Paula Wachsstock, Virtual Certificate Student

Taking a marathon with Clintel Steed is what I would liken to taking a ride into a world of energized passion and discovery.

Recently I completed Hudson River In-Person Painting Marathon with Clintel Steed and I feel as though I had a break through in who I am as a painter, and how I want to move forward in discovering the world around me as an observer in time. I had taken a marathon from him previously “in establishing the horizon” which was instrumental in initiating my drawings on the Hudson River. We spent four days drawing on site and six days painting from the drawings at the New York Studio School. Clintel introduced the class to some amazing Hudson River Artists. Their vision and use of light and depth in their paintings encouraged me to see the expanse of the river and how it translates to the possibilities in my own work. Thomas Eakins’ and his progressive academic principles were introduced to us. I escaped the language that was known to me, and entered something that was uncharted and new.

Each morning Clintel shared new and exciting books with examples of landscapes painted years ago by these Hudson River Artists. Showing us paintings with examples about perspective by artists that brought their engaging and emotional interpretation of beautiful landscapes to the forefront. One of my favorite being Frederick Church. I had seen one of his works in person here in my home town of Richmond, VA at the VMFA. I did not know that he was one of the HRA. The piece was called the Natural Bridge. One of the books that Clintel presented, Picasso-Landscapes 1890-1912, totally took me by surprise. What a gorgeous collection of early works by Picasso. I was very inspired by its contents.

My view on the Hudson, was much different from those of the original Hudson River Artist. Unlike those of centuries ago, what surrounded me were signs of everyday human activities. People busy walking their dogs, jogging, pushing their baby carriages, talking on their iPhones and the ever present skyscrapers. But there was the same vastness of the river stretching onward, and the endless sky with its ever changing clouds. With pencil in hand I was free to work with these life forces. There were struggles to over come, inner and outer obstacles beyond my control. But it only made for better results. And when I finally took the drawings into the studio to develop my paintings, they had become my friends and began to speak volumes. The atmosphere in the the classroom felt just as invigorating to me as did drawing on location at the river. My fellow classmates were just as invested as I was, and we were definitely on a mission to make the most of finding our emotional interpretation of the Hudson River scene.

The energy at the New York Studio School is compulsive. I wish that I could attend every Marathon that is offered in-person. It is a phenomenal place to be, physically standing where others have stood, learning with others who have the same curiosity and dedication as your own. Two weeks went by way too fast and I found myself wanting more. I returned home to my studio with knowledge gained, renewed and ramped up with an increased energy to create and paint. What I stashed in my pockets during those two weeks will always be with me as I continue on this ART journey of mine. I have had only the most positive of experiences during the Marathons, and as a full time student.  I am about to enter my second of the three-year Virtual Certificate Program at the NYSS. It was a great first year. I hope to be a “life” time student, with many more Marathons in my future. I want to thank Clintel, his assistant Alison, our Dean Graham Nickson and the entire staff at the NYSS that facilitates the opportunity for the Marathons to take place.

They are intense, but man are they a life changing experience.

Snapshots From NYSS

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