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A brief MEMORY from my month of Studying Portrait Painting and Figure Drawing with the Egeli’s. It was a cold January in 2002.

Old year out, new year in. And so it goes, past and future: each minute precious! Burrowing back under the covers on a cold winter morning is always a temptation, but you’ve got to emerge from your cozy nest ‘neath the covers sometime. To help me embrace the day in equal bliss, a copious amount of caffeine was top on my agenda. So off we headed to “that coffee house”, the one that shall remain nameless for reasons I can’t divulge. Best intentions aside, the first order of business of each of my days was pleasure, a 20oz mocha generous enough to warm both hands and the NY Times crossword puzzle. Of course, we had to buy two copies of the Times, one for Camille, and one for me, for the crossword had become an activity in which to indulge in immature competitiveness. And Cynthia was content with reading the morning sports section while occasionally blurting out tennis stats across the table. Like a barely heard Latin tempo–I could barely hear the Latin tempo but pulsing with energy, we prepared ourselves for the day ahead. (By the way, I’m in awe of people who can talk out loud in a public space and not care that nobody is listening–the reason I could barely hear the Latin tempo.) We collected ourselves to face the bitter cold. I only say that because we’re from California, "the land of endless sunshine." On schedule, we jumped into our truck, that truck that Cynthia aptly named our “estrogen chassis” It was a huge king cab Ford truck that made everything around it look fascinatingly tiny. The sprinkles fell as scheduled. It only takes one little leap of imagination to see these brilliant shiny drops of water as tiny celebrations, for the jewel-bright droplets seemed to sprinkle effervescence on the day. And like clockwork, the three of us pulled our “estrogen chassis” into that always so tight little corner in front of Cedric and Joanette’s studio. We noisily bounded into the studio with our gear as if we were greeting a long lost lover.   Deep in the snowy woods of Edgewater, all laid chilled and hushed, a dreamland bower blanketed in serenity. But at the break of dawn, powdery morning mists danced in the shafts of light that filtered through the firs, giving the moment a pristine, ethereal look. Everything was lusciously hued as a mocha laced with whipped cream. A winter scape's quiet serenity in its hushed hues of ivory snow, sky blue, tree bark grey and chimney smoke charcoal tempted me to stay outdoors and play. But I knew that the instruction I was to receive was going to be like no other. If you’ve ever contemplated taking a month off to study with Cedric and Joanette Egeli, do what it takes to get yourself there, for as spectacular the setting of the space, the workshop is SO much more!

Notes to Myself on Beginning a Painting, By Richard Diebenkorn

1. Attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued except as a stimulus for further moves. 

3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Don't discover a subject of any kind.

6. Somehow, don't be bored but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can't be erased, but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Pollyanna.

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

Richard Diebenkorn


Art said...

Richard reminds me of you, Carole. You both work furiously.

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

George Bernard Shaw


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© 2020 CAROLE GRAY-WEIHMAN   |   PAL | atelier: 250 Water Street, Petaluma, CA 94952