Jeremy Lipking is arguably the foremost talented and sought after artists today. Winner of this years ARC Salon and the Prix de West, to say the least, Jeremy's work is flawless and pushing the bar ever higher with each brush stroke. I obviously am a fan. Just how big a fan I did not realize until I was lucky enough to land a spot in one of his monthly, One Day workshops at his beautiful Agoura Hills, CA studio in July.
If you've followed me on facebook or read the previous blog, you have heard the tale of how I almost first met Jeremy in June at the Prix de West show at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. An unsuspecting Michelle Dunaway, a ground breaking artist in her own right, graciously offered to introduce me to him when I blushed and gushed over his work. I actually had to pass on the offer, because I was so excitable from accidentally running into Michelle herself, that I knew I would pass out or something dreadful if I met him in person right then and there. But low and behold I was to actually learn from him, and I was thrilled!
By the time I made it to Agoura Hills I was 16 days into a three week long road trip with my family. As a way to keep my skills up I decided to plein air paint whenever I could. Looking back I regret this decision. I am no plein air painter, but that is another story. Needless to say I was glad to warm up by painting my niece the day before Lipking's workshop, in the comfort of my uncle's beautiful Huntington Beach home. She was quite a fidgeter, so I let her off the hook after 2.5 hours and finished this piece by iPhone photo. I was mentally channeling Lipking the whole time, aiming for softer value transitions and cooler skin tones.
The model was a few minutes late and I happily volunteered to pose if she didn't show! Oh how disapointed I was when she did. I was almost off the hook. I could have posed and listened in instead of having to paint. Jeremy did not disappoint. His studio is a den of inspiration an I learned a ton just in the first few minutes when he posed the model. I had actually been told by an artist through another artist that he was a self involved teacher who painted on his own work throughout the workshop instead of walking around and helping the students. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Jeremy's demo was beautifully done, but what's more, he broke down his process in the simplest and most wonderful terms in an attentive and conversational manner. He spent the afternoon visiting each artist for what seemed like an hour each. I both ached and dreaded for him to come look at my work.
I felt great when he said I was off to a good start. I was following his demonstrated method, mixing the paint thin and using lead white through out and saving the titanium for the lightest lights only. I loved the Michael Harding Brilliant Pink and Green and used them to bend the values to the right shade. I felt like I understood his approach, but I got into my own head. I forgot my music and never got relaxed and my ego won out on so many levels. I tried for an overly ambitious composition. By the time he made it around to me again I had wiped my canvas clean. Later, an artist behind me said, "I don't know why you wiped it off, it was good!" It wasn't. The drawing was terribly off.
Yes, that's right folks, I was so wrapped up in worrying about making sure Lipking knew I could paint too, that I couldn't sit with what I had created. I couldn't allow myself to be the student and be vulnerable. I wiped away any opportunity for real feed back and critique, in my belief, the single most valuable tool to move your work forward.
Lipking was great about it, though I feel as though he was just as disappointed as I was that he didn't get the chance to really help me move forward. It's not like I'm out in California every month. This was a once, maybe twice in a lifetime opportunity, a somewhat missed opportunity, but a lesson, none the less.
So, note to self and to students of mine who have been gearing up for the upcoming Romel de la Torre workshops September 5-9th here at Atelier Underground, do yourselves a favor. Take a deep breath and be okay and even proud of where you are in your search for artistic mastery. How far you have gotten is valid and worthy.