[Borsheim Arts Studio]

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Borsheim Art Newsletter:

by Kelly Borsheim copyright 8 Maggio 2008

  1. Rituals and Learning : Florence, Italy
  2. Events - Mostra and Teaching
  3. Technology Tantrums
  4. Recent Blog Topics
  5. Bob Brooking - turned 89 on April 19; died April 27
  6. Subscription Info.

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[artist draws portrait]

Artist Kelly Borsheim
drawing portrait of Inga
using charcoal

Dear Art Lover,
I am so happy that I only have influenza! Hey, it is better than having pneumonia. I have been incredibly out of it for at least three weeks now and am constantly reminded of one of the more popular phrases used in Italy: piano, piano (slow, slow).

Sometimes I find my life in bella Italia overwhelming. Compared to spending most of my time in Texas alone and carving stone or sculpting in the woods, the city life here in Florence, Italy, has a much faster pulse. New skills, new rhythms in a new (old) country, new language, lots of art and new friends keep me on my toes and pumped. My 20-year-old artist friend Inga told me a couple of weeks ago that it felt surreal to her that she and I were sitting in her stone kitchen sewing by hand together. I guess she was right.

That day had been cold and rainy. I had spent part of the morning in the markets buying fresh foods for my friend Lisa who had fallen and injured a knee days before. I brought over a few groceries and made us lunch before taking a nap to the sound of water pouring down around us. After making my way back home, Inga called, inviting me over for stew and "Bring your needle." She had torn a skirt while riding her bike, while I was losing buttons on my coat - AGAIN.

[artist draws portrait] So, what has this to do with art? Well, I suppose I must admit that one cannot live off of art alone. OR maybe that art is relationships. Or art can happen on a continuous basis only if one refreshes the well (intellect) once in a while. My rituals here in Italy are different from those in Texas, but they calm me just the same.

I like what I am learning about my art and my voice here. My skills are improving and my awareness of shapes, design, and the mathematics in art is sharpening. Some days feel like "information overload" though and I sometimes wish that I were not so sensitive.

Most of my current projects in drawing are with charcoal. This particular old-masters method of design and "turning of the form" is a slow process. I wish that I were more productive, but I am loving the process.

For those who follow along on my blog, you will have seen the development of my drawing of an Italian model named Valentina. This is a classical pose of the backside of a standing female nude, only I have been trying to use this exercise to learn even more. I have never felt strong in narrative art and I hope you will enjoy sharing my journey.

I will continue later on in this newsletter with progress images and a discussion of where I am going with her . . . keep reading, if you like.

Events - Mostra and Teaching

I have had two artworks selected for an exhibition ("mostra" in Italian) here in Florence, Italy, later this month. One of them has yet to be completed, so I am very flattered that he was asked to be included. So, if you find yourself in Tuscany on 22 May, please come to the reception. The exhibit lasts only three days - the brevity of most art exhibits in this Renaissance City often surprises me. For details, please visit my site: http://borsheimarts.com/exhibits.htm

Teaching --

I will be returning to Texas some time in July and plan to do some art teaching. The locations and class subjects have yet to be determined, but if you are interested in something specific and/or new, please send me an e-mail. Past classes have included: Sculptural Anatomy, Figure Sculpture, Sculpting Hands and Feet, Stone Carving, and Web Site Creation for Artists.

Technology Tantrums

I must admit the error of my ways. My Web hosting company changed servers - and setups - back in February. It was not until about a week ago that I realized that I should have done more than skim their notices to me. This server upgrade included a new way of working. And so, I missed a programming change for my contact page. Anyone who sent me a communication via the form on my site thinks that I received the message, but it went off into la-la land. I only recently discovered that the form was not working and fixed the problem.

This is my fault, but it would have been helpful if the technicians had prefaced their rather accurate, but dry technical notice with a layman's terms note: Hey, your e-mail service will be discontinued and your Web site forms will no longer work, unless you . . . But, maybe I ask for too much.

RECENT BLOG TOPICS: http://artbyborsheim.blogspot.com

My thanks and gratitude for those who read my blog and even post comments on it. I have enjoyed sharing parts of my life in Florence, Italy, with you, as well as many of my images. Thank you for your support. Recent blog topics include:

Restoration of Donatello's David Italy at the Bargello Museum in Florence, Italy

What to Do in A Half Day in Florence, Italy

Original Oil Painting Mario The Naked Gondolier

Painting: Jess by Candlelight

Cantante, Couch Surfing, and La Dolci Vita: Meeting Miriam Lťah

Easter in Florence, Italy: Il Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart)

A Visit to the Medici Chapel (Cappelle Medicee), Florence Italy

Or subscribe: http://artbyborsheim.blogspot.com

The Narrative in Art Design

[figure drawing]
And, so, here I show you the beginning of my journey with my charcoal drawing of Valentina. First, I started by choosing the design of the gesture of the standing figure before me. I work small and am not so much concerned with proportion as I am with movement.

In these first two images I hope you can get an idea of the basic design elements emerging. I sketch lightly so that I am free to change my mind. Working in pencil, I did a small sketch in the upper right corner and later develop her into a 60-centimeter tall figure. It is in this early stage that the energy is determined for the rest of the image. The model will inevitably settle into a pose that the body can sustain. While this is healthy and natural, I find that the off-balance-ness, if you will, of the new pose gives me a more authentic feel, if I can capture that essence of life early on.

[figure drawing]
[figure drawing]

I prefer to stand when I work. And in my position, I cannot actually see the model's face. However, I chose to have some indication of her visage and thought to draw something in (changing my view to do so) and later cover the face with wisps of the model's lovely wavy hair. In this third image, you can see a detail of my pencil drawing with the dark shapes designed and shaded in.

Although I know things will change as the drawing emerges, once I am fairly happy with my "disegno" I transfer the original drawing onto a good quality paper that accepts the kind of charcoal drawing I am about to do. Not all charcoal papers are adequate for this extensive process. I transfer using good old-fashioned tracing paper and charcoal.

[figure drawing]
[figure drawing]

In this next image of me in the window, I have rubbed charcoal into my background and have begun to set my design in a minimum of tones. The image to your right shows how sloppy I am with this technique. Yes, I have a pattern of distinct tones, but I find that I am always impatient and start to combine the next step with this one. Still, this is the time to look anew at my shapes and also to relate the large bodies of tone to one another, once I get in front of my model again.

[figure drawing]
[figure drawing]

Now, you see that I have worked with the figure quite a bit. I am happy with her progress. But I need to add a movement of tone to my background and so, what you see here is some vine charcoal ground into dust. I let it fall where I desire the darkness and sponge it in, creating a gradation. All of my decisions are based on how I want to make your eye travel throughout my design.

The image to your right is simply proof of a setback that I experienced. While responding to a phone call in the middle of the night, I bumped my table easel and "Valentina" came crashing down upon me. All that was left to say was, "It could have been worse."

[figure drawing]
[figure drawing]

I am thinking that I must be incredibly arrogant or maybe humble to show you this next image. I have scratched in more dark over the figure in shadow, trying to determine just how dark I want to go. I cannot seem to reach the dark I want. The hair is awful, and . . . Also, you can see that I have now changed a generic pole into something with a pattern. I am trying to imply Venice, with its striped boat poles.

What I discovered is that one item does not a story make. There were too many other ideas associated with a striped pole and I was not getting the response from my peers that I was seeking. It was not the pole, per se, it was the solo item that just did not fit outside of a specific context. And so, now, you can see how I took an image of my drawing in progress and began to play with composition in Photoshop.

I think the shoreline is too much and now, I am working with silhouettes of gondolas, and changing the horizon line. I will try a few more compositional ideas on the computer so that I do not overstress the paper with my charcoal sketching. I really like this drawing, but want to use her to learn how to imply a sense of space. This project will take some more time and if you have any suggestions, feel free to send them to me.

[figure drawing]

Bob Brooking

[art bronze dedicated to sculptor]
Bob Brooking (left) shakes hands with Scott Sustek, who created the bronze bust of WWII fighter pilot Bob. Dedication occured August 2006. Photo by Kelly Borsheim.
This newsletter is dedicated to a former World War II fighter pilot, a sculptor, and mostly, a friend who was generous with his time and spirit, Bob Brooking.

I met Bob in 1995 when I was beginning my education in sculpture at the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory in Austin, Texas. He had encouraged me from the very beginning and treated me like a granddaughter and friend.

Almost two years ago, sculptor Scott Sustek created a bronze bust of Bob and the dedication was held at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum in Austin, Texas. It was a touching afternoon for all and I was happy to have photographed the event for Bob and his wife Ann.

Read more about Bob:

Thank you for reading and by all means, forward this newsletter on to anyone you think would enjoy it.

Pace (peace),
Kelly Borsheim
8 May 2008

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