The Last Trimester at the FAA and Upcoming Projects

With another academic year about to begin, and our major summer trips behind us, I’m thinking more and more about the new projects that I’m about to tackle at the FAA. This next and final year will be dominated by painting still lifes, portraits and the figure. In other words, it will be filled with very fun and very challenging work.

The preceding years of training at the Academy are essentially designed for preparing the students for the third year, during which they tackle projects that are usually more close to their hearts and artistic outlooks. This not only because students get to choose their own still life and portrait projects, but also because projects taken up in their final year often direct their future artistic choices.

Before I immerse myself in all the exciting work in my final year, I want to share with you how I’ve been preparing for it during my last trimester at the Academy.

The big change in the last trimester is that I almost entirely switched from drawing to painting – first in grisaille (ivory black, led white and raw umber) and subsequently in limited palette (all of the mentioned above, plus English red and Roman ochre).

In other ways, the type of work I did in my last trimester did not dramatically change – I continued to work with casts in the studio and nude models in the model room. The only new type of project I had as a part of the curriculum was my first portrait drawing in charcoal.

As far as the lessons learned in the last trimester, the emphasis was put by the teachers on the accurate description of the flow of light, the turning of form, variety of edges and plane changes, as well as the correct paint application. While the first four fall in the range of lessons previously taught, lessons in paint application were new and inevitably tied to the change of medium I was going through.

I was taught that, ideally, one should start by applying paint thinly at the beginning stages while working out the drawing, and moving towards thicker paint application as the project progresses. One should also try to apply the brush strokes so as to convey the changing rhythms and planes on the subject. At the Academy, students are required to premix their paints before the start of each session, in generous amounts. This was definitely a novelty for me, as I am used to mixing paint as I go, sometimes not only on the palette, but also the canvas itself.

Another big difference from the way I usually work was the fact that blending and smoothening paint, scraping off, glazing and scumbling are discouraged at the FAA. Instead, a student is supposed to always premix (on the palette, not the canvas) the right value and color, so it meets the one next to it. In doing so, one should keep building one layer on top of the other until a successful result is reached. This is, we are taught to avoid shortcuts and learn how to accurately respond to changes of planes and the underlying structure on the subject.

Makes sense, but ‘old’ habits die hard 🙂 And while there are admittedly different schools of though on this, my biggest struggle in the past trimester was trying to get rid of my pervious habits tied to paint application. As you can see below, my paintings still very much show signs of blending paint, scraping off, glazing and scumbling.

So, while it remains to be seen how successfully I will tackle the new challenges ahead of me, here is the work produced in the previous term, in chronological order. I hope you enjoy it! 😉

 

Second Cast Painting (Grisaille). Oil on Canvas, 50 x 70 cm.

 

First Figure Painting (Grisaille). Oil on Canvas, 50 x 100 cm.

 

Second Figure Painting (Grisaille). Oil on Canvas, 50 x 80 cm.

 

First Portrait Drawing. Charcoal on Toned Roma Paper, 48 x 66 cm.

 

Final Cast Painting (Limited Palette). Oil on Canvas, 65 x 105 cm.

 

Third Figure Painting (Limited Palette). Oil on Canvas, 50 x 75 cm.


Recent Curricular Work

With another busy trimester behind me, the time has come for an update on my recent academic efforts. The first big novelty is that I started to work in new media: white chalk, alongside charcoal on toned paper, as well as oil paint on canvas. Another new thing I experienced as a part of the second year program at the FAA is an increased focus on rendering light and the way it hits the planes of the drawn object. In that sense, aside from the sight-size method, the teachers at the Intermediate level are putting more and more emphasis on construction and the way the object interacts with the context and atmosphere around it.

While still applying the same method as before, students are asked to push their abilities further in order to capture not only what they see, but also the impression they get of their subject matter. In that sense, the importance is increasingly put on approaching the subject matter as a whole, rather than piecemeal. Having said that, I should clarify that this does not mean being able to somehow do less rigorous and precise work. On the contrary, the accuracy of the drawing now has to be boosted even more, by not only copying what we see, but also by paying even closer attention to how what we see relates to the whole in terms of hue, chroma, value, etc.

For me the biggest paradigm shift in that regard is the focus on light and the rendering thereof. My natural tendency is to pay closer attention to the shapes of dark than light while searching for an accurate description of my subject matter. Ideally, however, one should focus just as much on the light, seen so to say as a negative space around the darks, and render it properly. This is one of the challenges I hope to tackle in the next term. It will be fun to see how it goes, considering that most of the upcoming projects will be done in oil paint, with large brushes, starting with grisaille and later moving on to the limited palette.

I will keep you up to date how things go. For now though, I leave you will my large projects from the last trimester. I hope you enjoy!

 

First cast drawing in white chalk and charcoal on toned paper.

 

Second cast drawing in white chalk and charcoal on toned paper.

 

First cast oil painting.

 

Long pose drawing in charcoal.

 

Long pose drawing in charcoal and white chalk on toned paper.