Gold Rush dancing and great news

Dancing
Dancing

Saturday night the fiddler had a gig in Columbia State Historic Park playing tunes for the annual Lamplight Tours. Docents dressed like they stepped out of 1849 give tours of Columbia, and players perform skits so that you can see what it might have been like when the West was still wild. Afterwards in Angelo’s Hall there was dancing, cake, and merriment. And beautiful costumes.

Waiting to Dance
Waiting to be asked

I am always amazed at the time and effort the docents take in creating their costumes. Corsets and collars, tucks and pleats, hand-crocheted lace and yards of trim: All the details are researched and historically accurate, I’m told. Right down to what’s under the crinolines. The ladies looked like flowers spinning on the dance floor.

I always covet these dresses. Someday, when I learn to sew…

Of course I had to sketch the dance (when I wasn’t playing tunes).

couple dancing
The Sailor’s Dance

I was off my game, though, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. The previous day I’d had a procedure that would have been unimaginable during the Gold Rush. Thankfully the doctor gave me a two-year pass until the next time I need the test. I’m certified cancer-free! Yippeee! No wasting sickness for me. If I’d had a long dress, I’d have been spinning with the other girls.

But the drugs block the signal between my brain and hand. I could remember tunes, but my fingers wouldn’t play them. While drawing, I fumbled and erased a lot. But it was still fun to  capture an older entertainment with an even older technology.

Dance Teacher
Dance teacher

Really, more people should get out and dance. It’s a lot of fun.

 

 

The short long pose


I dropped in on Linda Corbett’s life drawing class last week. I was at the Pacific Art League for a portrait class, but it had been canceled and Linda said, “You’re welcome to stay for my class. We have a ballerina for the model tonight.” And on cue, a beautiful young woman strolled in, a tutu under one arm.

Good teacher. She knows what kind of lure will catch a student.

The drawing I’ve posted above is a “long” pose—two 20-minute sets and two 15s. That’s not much time for me; I’m used to much longer poses at the Atelier. I have clocked in 20 to 30 hours on one pose. I haven’t drawn from short poses much in the last couple years.

It meant I had to manage my time more rigidly so that I could bring the entire drawing up to some small amount of finish by the end of the evening. I allowed myself only the first 20 minutes for the block in, 10 minutes into the second pose to check measurements and make any adjustments, then the remaining time to build up the form with pastel color.

That was an exciting exercise. At the time it felt like drawing like the wind. But now I can see all the flaws in execution. It felt good to draw that way, but I traded emotion for precision.

On the other hand, this sketch above was done in about 2 minutes as the model was tying on her toe shoes. Although the proportions are off, the sketch still has an energy and integrity lacking in the twenty minute sketch. Weird how that works. Sometimes a really fast sketch will capture the model better than a longer pose.

I decided to attend the rest of the class—4 classes in all—and concentrate on pastel portraits. I’m interested to see what happens when I only have one 20-minute pose to catch a likeness.