Wednesday 7 July 2021

Anonymous Archive part 1 of 2

 A few weeks ago I was the recipient of a hit and run dump: the doorbell rang and no one was there but a large, filthy cardboard folder full of really old pieces of artwork had been left at the door. About a third of it was mine, and I knew an estranged sibling was doing a deep clean of their attic.

So, from the "anonymous archive" this is a very early - from grade 11 in high school, 1977 - oil pastel. I actually remember doing it; I was working from a rectangular landscape picture and decided to draw it in a circle, making everything curvy.

I think I must have liked using oil pastels (now I prefer materials more extreme - either chalk pastels or oilsticks - which are on opposite sides of the spectrum). I think this oil pastel still life is from grade 12, late 1977 or early 1978.

When I was in grade 12 I received a scholarship to the Art Gallery of Ontario's Gallery School, which meant I had unlimited access to the gallery, and art classes on Saturday mornings. I was totally thrilled with the arrangement. The artist/teachers divided the classes into rotating groups to do life drawing, plaster mould-making (around clay sculpture) and printmaking. The printmaking module consisted of an introduction to lithography using paper plates rather than stone. I don't know what inspired this preparation sketch, perhaps my ideal landscape?

I was really surprised to see this print again, I had completely forgotten about it - I remembered learning about the principles of lithography and I remembered using a paper plate rather than stone, but I did not remember the image at all. Printmaking was my last module at the Gallery School, so it would have been created during the spring of 1978.

I started art school in September 1978 at Central Technical School's 3-Year Special Adult Art Programme, which was a free post-secondary art programme run out of a high school (though in a separate art building) by the Toronto Board of Education. The programme had a long history as it was founded to train returning veterans of WW1 into commercial art. The programme had a very good reputation for training would-be artists in both commercial and fine art as well as craft, with extensive facilities for sculpture, illustration, ceramics, photography, printmaking, life drawing, etc. In my first year I loved having both life drawing and life painting classes (3 hours each weekly). I still remember this model, Fred, was always very stately when clothed, and totally professional when not. This drawing and watercolour would have been done in early 1978 as we didn't actually "paint" in life painting during the first part of the school year.

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