I am now in my fourth week of classes at the Marchutz School of Art. It is a relatively small building up on the side of the road that leads into the countryside. It’s surrounded by trees and the only sign of civilization in view of the studio is the passing cars speeding by.
During the first two weeks, we drew from a model. I remember one of the common pieces of advice being: “You’re not drawing the model. You’re creating a world and she just happens to be in it.” Drawing or painting classes are 3 hours a day, 4 days a week. It wasn’t a painful exercise for anyone as far as I know. One just slips into a consciousness somewhere in between being awake and asleep, and the time flies by. Our teachers refer to Marchutz as the “school of vision”, reminding us that above all, our job is to look, and draw only what we see (something I’ve heard hundreds of times at this point in my life).
The third week saw the beginning of painting. The first day consisted of learning how to set up easels and then drawing paintings done by famous painters. I chose a painting by Alfred Sisley. The rest of the week was spent painting copies of that painting.
Now it is the fourth week, and we have begun going into the countryside and painting the landscape! The mornings here have just started to get a little chilly, but by the time we get out to the location, the sun is in the middle of the sky and I wish I’d been wearing shorts.
Now I know you’re all thinking; this can’t be true, it sounds like a utopia. Well sadly ladies and gentlemen, there is a downside. There is a massive amount of mosquitos at the school and in the countryside, and no one escapes a session of making artwork unscathed.
As for Fridays, we have what’s called our seminar. This is spent doing quick 5 minute copies of “masterworks”, which could be anything from cave paintings to Rembrandt. Then we spend about an hour and a half discussing something related to art, such as the meaning of “character” or the extent to which color is arbitrary. Then finally we look closely at drawings and discuss in depth what is happening in them.
This 4 hour class is accompanied by coffee and tea breaks.