Before moving to Colorado, my husband and I lived in northeast Los Angeles between Glendale and Pasadena. On Tuesday nights, I went to draw at the studio of Sam Clayberger, a wonderful artist and teacher.
More than twenty artists attended his drawing sessions. Sam hired a model and each of us staked out a drawing table. For a long time, I drew each pose on a separate sheet of toned Canson Mi Tientes in pastel.
Then, on a trip to the Norton Simon Museum (in Pasadena), I saw a marvelous Picasso charcoal drawing on canvas. Ah hah! I thought. The next time I went to the studio I took an enormous stretched and gessoed canvas. I made it my task to draw all of the poses from the session (2 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute, and 20 minute–several each) on the canvas in charcoal.
The gessoed canvas made the evolving work possible, since the charcoal just sat on top. I could erase out overlaps cleanly and modify the composition with ease. When I got home, I fixed the work. After a month, I had several of these. (My husband called them my "Orgy Series")
When I took them to my dealer, Orlando Gallery, he said they needed something more to hang together and suggested glazes of color. Inspired, I rushed to the Art Store and stocked up on Golden transparent medium and some transparent colors. The glazes were fantastic!
The next time I went to the studio, the artist sitting next to me suggested something brilliant. I don't know whether he was kidding or not, but he asked why I always used canvas. He wondered why I did not draw on some other kind of cloth.
Well, my daughter was designing costumes for a high school production of Othello, and we were spending our weekends in the garment district in downtown Los Angeles. Several shops carried left-over polyester lining fabric. It had a nice texture, it was strong, it was archival enough to last through a nuclear war, and it was very cheap. I bought all I could carry home on the bus, and I was off!
I stretched the fabric on bars and gessoed it. The gesso soaked all the way through, so I learned to put down extra newspapers, but when it dried, I had a terrific surface.
This time, I decided to create further variation. I added filmy clothes and wings to each sktech, making the nudes into angels.
Now, I must admit, I had seen this sort of thing before. When I had a workspace fellowship at the Woodstock School of Art in 1993, I shared the models I hired with other artists, and one of them turned her nudes into angels.
Actually, that is the real point, I think. Angels are everywhere. They are the people we meet every day who share the things we need to hear. Most of the time, we do not recognize them, but they are always there.
If you are reading this, you are one of them…