A Recap of “My Atelier Year” so far

My single best work was near the very beginning of class in September. I did some interesting experiments in the weeks that followed, but my garage art studio soon became a difficult place to work, and I particularly struggled with backing up interesting ideas with solid realist painting techniques. After the death of my father in November, I took a few weeks off, with only a few attempts at creating art.

With the new year came a new place to live. December was dedicated to the home search, January to the garage clean-out and move, and February to settling in. During that time, I worked at home, mostly in charcoal, which was the easiest to handle in the limited space I had available.

The studio space at Gage was open, but until I had my vaccine shots, I wasn’t really comfortable going there. And by the time I did get my shots, it was already late spring, and I had gotten into the habit of painting with acrylics at home, which was more appealing than the deserted Gage studio.

Anyway, here are some of the few drawings I did over the winter.


I chose Klee for a value study because of the Klee color squares displayed at my parents’ home in New Jersey.

Klee at my parents’ home

GF on Klee: “He’s too unknowable, intellectual. I don’t get Klee. I find him a mysterious, puzzling artist. He’s a hyper-intellectual driven by theory and philosophy. I saw a Klee show in Vienna, I went out of that show so confused.

“People love pieces like this. It has a sex appeal. It’s fun to look at.”

Still Life with Plums

Over the Winter holidays, the atelier students each did a master-copy, limited palette exercise of a Chardin, one of Gary’s favorite still-life artists. I did mine in charcoal instead of oil, and this was my first large-scale charcoal.

Galgo Corredor

Upon returning to class after the Winter break, I had somehow forgotten how to draw. Everything was out of proportion, out of scale, out of order. Three times, I tried drawing the same setup and my hand just came up with the same drawing.

Most students come to the atelier knowing how to draw. But Gary was patient with me, and he went back to basics during my critique.

Left: Setup
Right: Charcoal drawing, take 2, January 2021.
Bottom: In-class drawing by Gary Faigin

I don’t know how or why I forgot how to draw. And I wasn’t sure how to regain the skill that had suddenly left me, or how long that would take. But I did know that for the remainder of the atelier, I needed to get around the problem. What I needed was a gimmick.

(To be continued.)