Drawing from Life

My stepfather's name is Doug Tweddale and he is recently retired. I only open with that fact because of how excited he was to do it. For months we watched as the countdown app on his phone ticked away at the seconds remaining between him and the freedom to pursue his passion: Plein Air Painting.(http://www.dougtweddale.com) Yes, my stepfather is so passionate about painting that his countdown to freedom from one career was inspired by counting toward the next one. On May 1st, 2015, that timer went off in celebration of the start of his transition into being an artist full-time. At what seemed like that exact moment he [along with my mother and their little dog, coco] set off on a 4 month adventure across the US in their brand new RV: ready to see and paint the world.

My mother kept everyone up-to-date on Dougs painting progress, managing his blog (http://dougtweddaleart.blogspot.com) while he painted in some of our National Parks. They made their way through Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, among other places and finally ended in Niagara Falls. I made the drive up from Philadelphia to meet them, catch up with my mother after 4 months on the road (though we may have talked more on the phone in those 4 months than we have in my whole life!) and paint with Doug. The first day out we stood at the edge of the observation deck over Niagara - fighting for elbow room with other tourists and onlookers -- and I was hooked.

Though I do have a formal art background, my style has migrated toward being down right cartoony since college. I love the cartoons and still feel most at home when I am using them to express a thought, but I had forgotten the joy that comes from drawing from real life. Life drawing challenges you to capture things intangible; the energy of a gesture frozen in time or the warmth of a candle long burn out. It forces you to observe the world around you from perspectives you may take for granted in the goings on of every day life. I had the additional benefit of being in the presence of a master where Plein Air Art and Pastels are concerned: Doug! Not only was I able to benefit from the study of my surroundings, but from his teachings. Since then I have attended a few of his workshops, and we have gone out to paint together. I'm really excited to see how studying with him will influence my work over time. Plus, it's nice to have another artist in the family to go stand somewhere cold and uncomfortable for a few hours in the name of painting -- even if he insists on wearing that cowboy hat while we do. ;-)

The night after the trip, after spending a few days painting in Niagara, I sat down with my sketchbook to doodle . I noticed something odd --my doodles had improved! The whole sketching process was faster and more fluid than usual, as though something was revived in my work from the exercise. Since the trip, I have incorporated the practice of drawing from life into my weekly routine and am very pleased with the results.

This album is a collection of works from life studies and my trip to Niagara - to showcase a side of my art practice that I rarely exhibit, but greatly informs my work.

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