Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Year Sculpture Class (Good ol Boys)

House is clean

Been here a month now. Got a temperpedic bed and loving it. 2x as expensive as in the states but I spend too much time on my feet and too little time horizontal for it to be anything but good sleep. We live across the street from school in a very spacious apartment. I have a large room as do Kaspar and Iliya and we also have a small eat in kitchen and a very large living room, which we use to entertain a little but mostly to work in. I draw and work on compositions (little mackets) Iliya and Kaspar paint and draw. It’s nice to work with others. We help each other a lot: giving ideas, reminding each other to get away from the work so as not to miss the obvious. I hope to finally begin to learn to model form with better hatch work and a better understanding of how light plays on the form. It’s very delicate work to find the hundreds of variations of tone within the light and then the multitude of shadows mixing with reflected light. The trick is in part to keep the darks and the lights separate. We all have a tendency to forget that the reflected light, say under the jaw on the neck, is in fact darker than the darkest part of the forehead. Anyway, my class consists of 14 guys and 1 girl. The girl is from Siberia and very sweet but quite insane. She recently shaved her head and looks a lot like a very skinny Sinead O’Connor. She has very bony features, which makes everyone want to draw her because the anatomy is so well defined on her. She also carries a gardner snake around and kisses it often. She works late into he evening with me in the studio and likes to listen to Radiohead. She asks me to translate but I often don’t understand the lyrics myself. She is helpful, keeping me informed of changes in our schedule and I like her ambition. She works hard and has tried to double all of our assignments. She burns out though and stays up all night only to miss a lot of class because she is so tired.

There is Andrey who is very kind and patient and knows English well enough. He is very centered and has learned sculpture from his parents. He’s not bad but not as good as he thinks. Our sculpture teacher is wonderful and comes consistently 3 times a week and stays for 2 hours helping each student. He has specific comments and I understand on average half of what he says – I miss a lot of specifics and sometimes loose the train but he speaks with his hands and face and brings an electricity to the room. He’s in his fifties with young bright eyes. I think he enjoys teaching. He is unusually open and supportive being sure to tell us what’s effective about our work before telling us what needs improvement often with a comforting hand on the student’s shoulder.

Our drawing teacher is very famous but hasn’t arrived at school because his mother is very sick. Instead we have a teacher who I sat in with last year so he knows me. He’s in his tale 30s or early 40s and very serious. He also gives good specific advice and is patient, drawing when I don’t understand what he’s trying to explain.

The other students are horrendous draftsmen. It’s strange. they are generally lakadaizical about their work. The whole department is this way- I don’t understand. They are always late to class and often hung over. There are a handful who are serious and I spend more time with them. There is one particularly irksome character form a small country village. He has dark hair a large square jaw and a physique born of physical labor. He also has a chip on his shoulder and is probably an alcoholic. He comes in hung over often in the morning and drunk in the evening. I ignore him and work with my headphones but have had to shout at him once when he was making fun of the Chinese student very loudly during class instead of working. They are all in their early 20’s except one guy who is 30 and who I can count on to keep everyone in line – Arkadi. He has a large brow hanging over small dark eyes and an unkempt scraggly beard. He is generally filthy but a good worker and very helpful I’m glad he’s in the class.

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