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Student Perspective – Virtual Marathons: Carolyn Enz Hack

Process, process, process, making art is a continuum rather than a destination. Even artists who work in a single medium and who have recognizable stylistic attributes do not remain static over the long term and never stop reaching for new ways to satisfy a desire to build on previous work. I attend workshops and frequent life drawing sessions locally to gain skills, but while the New York Studio School Marathon had been on my radar for some years, previously I had no realistic chance of spending two weeks in New York City to attend one. The closest that I could get was an untutored drawing intensive that was simply drawing for many hours over a weekend. When I saw that New York Studio School was offering remote learning for this summer’s Marathon series I applied immediately.

While total immersion in New York City would have been optimal, it turned out that there were many benefits to learning remotely such as being able to work in my own studio. That combined with not having to schlep supplies, knowing where everything is, sleeping soundly, and my own kitchen, made for a very comfortable “Marathon” experience. I love New York City and go there frequently, but during this Marathon I found that the lack of extra stimulation allowed me to process what I was learning and helped me to internalize feedback and lessons in my own quiet space. Being at home helped me to focus on moving my work forward.

I attended the Virtual Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson & Guests because I wanted to focus on the foundation of art-making. Drawing is fundamental and gives insight to development of imagery. I believed that this class would simply be about putting charcoal to paper and practicing, but it was so much more than the physical act of drawing. My ability was challenged through both drawing live models and drawing exercises that were based on Old Master works. Critiques by class instructors and Dean Graham Nickson were given, not on “how good is this drawing” but on what were the interesting aspects of a drawing and where development could take place. Instructors also suggested different ways of working to break through habits and stimulate growth. This combination of teaching techniques tailored personal attention for each student made for an incredible experience.

In addition to private critiques, we looked at drawings from the class as a whole with Dean Graham Nickson who offered feedback and art historical examples to further illustrate his remarks. This aspect was extremely insightful, not only for the art historical information, but also because we were being taught to “see” why a work was successful through concrete examples that reinforced the lessons. This was essentially an exercise in seeing, and I came away from the class with a very different perspective than the one I had brought with me.

Working with notes from the class, I continue to incorporate the lessons into my own work. I look at the work of others with more insight and have made a habit of reexamining historical works through a more focused lens of learning as well as appreciation. Overall the Virtual Drawing Marathon with Graham Nickson & Guests was the opportunity that I was looking for in a global professional community. The experience will inspire my art for a long time to come and I look forward to my next engagement with the New York Studio School.

Snapshots From NYSS

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