"A Beautiful Woman in a Beautiful Room."
I discovered this work on paper recently. I was so excited when I found it. It just spoke to me, jumping out from the paper, yet it is such a quiet and serene scene. I had forgotten that I had created this painting, until I found it--and suddenly, I was transported back to the exact place and time when it was created. This was created during the Drawing Marathon class that I took during my senior year at RISD. What an amazing place and time that was in my life! Drawing Marathon takes place over the six week Wintersession that breaks up the fall and spring semesters; the first two weeks are 9 am to 9 pm straight, complete drawing, all day, with one hour for lunch at noon (and most of us stayed in the studio to draw even during this lunch break.) It was taught by a wonderful artist and professor named Gwen, whom I looked up to very much, as she is an accomplished still-life painter who still had time to teach us crazy RISD students with all her might, as well as be an avid runner and a mom. I learned so much during Drawing Marathon and am so grateful for the opportunity to have done it.
This painting was of Cynthia, one of the figure models at RISD. Cynthia was beautiful and very sweet. Gwen (we called our professors by their first names) had set up still lifes in each of the three sprawling rooms that the Drawing Marathon class inhabited, complete with draping and gauzy fabrics intersected with knick-knacks, plants, vases, oddities, tapestries, and rugs. Cynthia was sitting in the one in the middle room. I had set up camp for the duration of the Wintersession in the first room, where another model, Rice, usually was, as I loved to have conversations with him and also, this room had a stellar view of College Hill and awesome morning light. Wintersession was during the months of January and February, one of my favorite times for growth, as I feel the cold air and early darkness makes for great hunkering-down and get-your-shit-done vibes.
Cynthia and I had a bond that stretched back from a couple years prior, when she was the figure model for one of my sophomore figure painting classes. We formed a friendship of sorts, and I would see her at Whole Foods and we would walk together and shop before heading back to class sometimes. I enjoyed painting her whenever I could.
On this day that I drew this piece, Cynthia had stayed in her spot to read during lunch, and I asked her if she minded if I came into the other room to paint her and the space. She of course said, "Sure!" I painted this work as well as another one during lunch. She and I shared some food - some strange Swedish soda that was pear-flavored and a toasted pita bread with cheese. We talked about life. She had a twinkling laugh that sounded like a spoon lilting upon the edge of a fine porcelain tea cup.