Nude models posed in pretzel contortions, challenging 16 of us each morning. Arms flailed, charcoal in hand, scratching 5, 10 and 20 minute poses onto large pieces of paper. February, 2014, I drove from Santa Rosa to Carpenteria, just past Santa Barbara, to attend Abstract
Figures and Collage, a 3 day Robert Burridge art workshop. It took 2 days of driving and an overnight in Paso Robles to get there.
The first two mornings, figure drawing warmed us up for painting in the afternoons. A zoftig young woman stood or sat on a draped chair, inventing positions I had never seen, much less drawn. The hardest were limbs tightly wound, arms or hands clasped, or heads bent at strange angles. And only 5 minutes to capture the correct curve of the hip or butt, the breast or arm. Five minutes or twenty, I am not sure my drawing was that much better.
Each morning and after lunch Bob would wax eloquent about his talent, his shows and awards, painting tips and tricks as well as suggestions for materials at the best prices. We his audience, known as Bobettes, (he even gave us a button to wear), hung on his every word, taking notes on our sketch pads.
We met at the Carpinteria Woman’s Club, a former church. It had one large room with a stage, two bathrooms, and a foyer. Eight foot tables were lined up, four to a side, and each of use was assigned one half table. I had two bins and a pot full of materials, a paint box and brushes, plastic for the table, and a garbage bag to cover my chair. My table mate was left handed, I right handed. I felt cramped, confused and bit out of sorts at first. After standing over the table to draw and paint all day, I was exhausted by 4 pm when we broke up. I walked back to my hotel, barely staying a straight line.
The next morning I arrived refreshed, and charcoal figure drawings commenced again in the morning. Afternoons, the model continued posing as we painted instead of drawing. Some of my paintings looked very Picassoesque, unintended unfortunately. The third day was collage and painting, anything we wanted. Above are some paintings I made there, and the week after I returned, when I painted with a fury, a whole new door of color and form open to my psyche.