Sunday, February 09, 2014

Catching Up

The weekend after my last post (about the radio interview with Marilyn Ball), I took an online workshop from the painter Steve Huston.  I'm struggling with finding an appropriate style of painting for my new "Survivor" series and Steve's work appeared to offer some ideas.  The workshop was hosted by the New Masters Academy (NMA) in Newport Beach, California.  This was their first foray into streaming a live workshop.  The workshop was scheduled for 8 hours a day for 3 days.  I wasn't sure about how useful the workshop would be, especially since I'd be at home on my computer instead of slinging paint in the studio, but decided to give it a go anyway.

As it turns out, the workshop was very valuable.  Steve talked a lot about drawing, building the figure, composition, painting techniques, and much much more.  He did demos from a live model, and the NMA staff posted photos of her so those of us online could draw as well.  She was a lovely young lady whose poses, unfortunately, were the most boring and uninspired that I've seen in a long time.  Maybe I'm just spoiled by the outstanding group of models here in Asheville.  But Steve's thoughtful discussions and demonstrations were invaluable.

As this was the first time the NMA had done such an event, I expected to see some glitches, and there were.  But they fixed them quickly, and by midway through the first day, everything went extremely well.

The NMA is continuing to develop more online workshops, and they already have a lot of recorded courses online, by Steve and others.  I was impressed with the group.  Take a look - you might be, too.

During the next week, I went back through my notes (22 pages of them) and sorted them into something that would be easier to use and follow.  And I spent a good bit of time in the studio to try out some of the ideas.  Lots of other stuff was happening around the house, so I didn't have time to update this blog.  But I have a lot of things to share from that workshop.  I'll do that in my next blog post.

Then last weekend, my uncle passed away.  He was 87.  He went into the hospital for some relatively routine heart surgery (as if any heart surgery is "routine"), but then had cascading complications that couldn't be stopped.  On Monday, I drove down to Corinth, Mississippi, to attend the funeral.  Despite the circumstances, it was great to see my cousins again.  We haven't all been together in one place in over 35 years.  Like many families these days, we're widely scattered: Colorado, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and New Mexico (where my sister, who wasn't able to attend, lives).  There were spouses and children that I'd never met.  We spent long hours together, talking and catching up, telling stories on each other, getting to know those we just met, and sharing the grief of losing my uncle.

My uncle, by the way, was an amazing man.  He was a scout for Patton's army in World War II.  Subsequently, he earned a bachelor's degree from Ole Miss, a law degree from Tulane, and was a Rhodes Scholar in Cambridge, England.  He could've written his own ticket at any big-league law firm anywhere in the world, but he returned home to the small city of Corinth to practice there.  He was a leader in the First Baptist Church, a lifelong board member of the YMCA, coached YMCA baseball for over 20 years, served as the attorney for a variety of local government organizations, served as Director of the Chamber of Commerce, taught Sunday school, and was President of the school board.  At the same time, he and my aunt raised four wonderful kids.  I remember him as a very gentle man with an easy laugh and all the time in the world for us kids.  Uncle Jimmy will be missed.

After the funeral, I went to Memphis to visit my parents' graves.  I also visited with Persi Johnson, my first art teacher.  Persi is pushing 90, but her mind is as sharp as ever, and she has lost none of her feistiness and wit.  Visiting with Persi was a treat.

It's kinda sad, isn't it, that sometimes it takes a death to make us realize that we really and truly need to take the time to be with our close friends and relatives more often.  I had been meaning to get to Corinth and Memphis for years to visit with Uncle Jimmy, Persi, and my cousins, but never got around to it.  Now it's too late to talk with Uncle Jimmy again.  But I can still talk with my cousins.  And I will.

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