Thursday, February 01, 2007

Remembering Rita

The week I spent in Rita Natarova's workshop at the Gage Academy was exhausting, amazing and expanding. Rita turns out to be a natural teacher besides being a gifted painter. She's funny and charming and sweet and oh-my-God, young. Her approach to painting to to look at the shapes and the colors, the values and paint what you see. There are no noses to be painted in Rita's workshops! A dark splotch here, mid-value skin tone there, the fleck of highlight right there. And if you do as she says, voila! A nose! It was amazing to watch her demonstrations and to see her process in action. She uses a mirror to look from the model to the painting to catch errors. Rita uses a plumb line to make sure of her angles. She uses her fingers way too much for someone who is using lead paint, but she uses her fingers to great advantage. The entire week was a profound experience for me. The most wonderful thing was that I can see where she helped me see things more clearly, to really see skin tones and to notice details I'd never noticed before. I can't honestly say that my painting improved much but my eye did and what goes on in my head when I'm painting has expanded so much. I expect that the more I try to "see" as Rita encouraged all her students to "see", the more improvement in my painting I'll see!

Besides the simple fact that taking a workshop like that is exhausting we had the added drama of snow in Seattle! I couldn't get the Miata out of the garage the last three days and I spent one night in Anna's guest house because of the snow. Connie had to ferry me back and forth to Capital Hill the rest of the time expect for the very last night when Susan P came to fetch me home. Susan and I celebrated my surviving the class by having a couple of martinis with dinner at Claire's! Me, drinking martinis. Truly a rare event!

Susan P and I had a very quick but very fun mini vacation to Vancouver, BC. We went to have dinner at Tojo's Restaurant. Susan and I attended a demonstration that Tojo did at Whistler during Cornucopia 2004, I think it was. He prepared sable fish with wood mushrooms steamed in pine and that dish as haunted me ever since. It was, and still is, the best fish I have ever had. Susan and I kept saying that someday we were going to go up to Vancouver just to have dinner at Tojo's. Well, we finally did! And it was worth the drive. We splurged and had the omakase dinner. "Omakase" means something like "I'm in your hands." We sat at the sushi bar and Tojo fed us. For well over an hour. A tidbit of this. A smattering of sashimi here, some seared sea scollops there...and smoked sable fish with wood mushrooms! It was as wonderful and aromatic as I remembered. We also sampled some delicious shochu, barley shochul, not the kind made with sweet potato which is not my favorite. I hadn't had shochu since I was in Shigaraki when it was the drink of choice of we Oogoya Studio potters! It was yummy but made me miss Bayard, Roger, Phoebe, Maria, Karen and especially Katie something awful. All in all, the dinner was not as expensive as we'd been warned it might be (average is $150 Canadian per person, before drinks) but it was still pricey. And worth every penny. Tojo's new restaurant is beautiful and comfortable, big enough but not too big and not too loud, either. I can't recommend Tojo's enough. If you have a chance to eat there, don't hesitate! Put yourself in Tojo's hands. You won't be disappointed.

Nonie and I did a one day quick trip to Port Townsend. She may have placed some of her shell canvasses in the Port Townsend art walk! That would be fantastic and quite a coup for her. I sure hope it works out. We actually went over for the Wynwood Studio gemstone sale. I got a beautiful string of aquamarine beads. I took two of the beads and had earrings made but the rest I have reserved for the ojime and bead necklace I hope to have Kathy Parker at Wynwood make for me. I had hoped to talk to Kathy about commissioning her to do the necklace when we were there, but she'd had a family medical emergency and wasn't at work that day. Guess it'll have to wait until ArtFest week. I'll email ahead and try and set up an appointment with Kathy on the Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning before ArtFest starts.

Speaking of ArtFest, I think I have amassed all the tools I need for my various classes, except for some acrylic paint. That I'll pick up at Joann's the next time I'm there as I have finally decided on my colorway. All the rest, including quite a few odd ones I ordered directly from Opie and Linda O'Brien, have been purchased and bagged, ready to be loaded for ArtFest. Less than two months now, not that I'm counting the days!

I'm going to see Jen and Annie the middle of the month. I'm making a trip much like last year when I spent a long weekend with Jen and then flew down to Annie, Chris and Alex. I can't wait. I will get to have dinner with Sean while I'm in San Francisco. I haven't seen him for so long. It'll be wonderful to catch up. I miss him. And George will be in town, too, so I think Jen and I will be dining with George at some point. Or watching a bicycle race. Or something. I'm looking forward to seeing George, too. I haven't seen him since Alex's birthday weekend.

The January board meeting for the EAF was last night. We have slammed into high gear. Only five months to go! Ye Gods...where does the time go?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

rita is an amazing painter. i graduated from her class in maryland in 2002. she is young but she is clearly one of the best in my opinion. thanks for sharing!

jose mertz