Hello hello :) Hope everyone’s had a great week! For your weekend read, we share with you the last of our summer stories by Ellen, our resident hippie and giver of good vibes and best hugs, followed by me, resident blogger and scavenger of stories big, small and strange.


ELLEN MARIE

Chapter 1 : The Studio

For half of the summer I was just at my home in Belgium where I turned part of the house into my studio. Painting outside of school was very different in the sense that I was suddenly free to experiment with all these new skills, but with my own rules and at my own rhythm. I thought it would take me some time to loosen up from the academic way of painting, but I found this not to bother me at all. The Expressive Drawing class has kept my crazy side alive and kicking. In fact, the more I painted, the more inspired I got. I started finding inspiration in the tiniest things. I went for regular walks in the forest and went on small trips with my brother and with friends in the van. This really sparked my imagination.
In the studio I finished a painting of my dad that I started one year ago. I did a commission for a friend of mine (drawing of his daughter).
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Chapter 2 : Landscape painting
 
 I went landscape painting every now and then and did loads of other small sketches and things which are not all worth a mention. But ideas were almost overflowing, and I now know more or less which direction I want to move in.
And although I really enjoyed making ‘my own’ work again (after 1.5 years of exclusively doing academic work), it also made me see how much about painting I have yet to learn. I have only really painted with oils for 6 months, and one cannot expect to be an expert in such a short time. I found myself still struggling with the medium heavily (I also made some really ugly paintings and some left unfinished that I will come back to during Christmas break). So that’s why this year at the academy is going to be vital for me. This is going to be my last year as a student, so I’m gonna take as much from it as I possibly can.
Furthermore I saw how possible it would be for me to do this every day of life, so I better start making a living out of it!
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Chapter 3 : The Monastery
 
Anyhow, then from mid-August to mid-September, I went to a Buddhist Monastery in northern Thailand to meditate and clean up my Mind. The North of Thailand is pretty much all rainforest. Absolutely stunning nature! Nestled somewhere in between the mountains lies this tranquil place. In the monastery we would meditate about 5-6 hours a day, everyone dressed in white (apart from the monks in orange), sleeping in ‘kuti’s’ (little pole huts), only having 2 vegetarian meals a day and doing some community work, practicing mindfulness all day every day. There was not so much free time, so any drawing or painting I wanted to do had to happen in between activities, which was usually not more than an hour. Nonetheless, the slower pace and simplicity of life really recharged my batteries, and I think this is well reflected in the drawings I did there.
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Towards the end of my stay in Thailand I spent a couple of days in a nearby village called Pai, which is where the last photo is from. There I stayed with a friend who I met in the Monastery and had a house there. The first thing I did upon leaving the monastery was buying a canvas and basic painting materials. Not having held a paint brush for so long, the creative beast in me was about to go absolutely nuts.
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Being back in Barcelona, it is hard to maintain the meditation practice every day, but I’m finding ways of applying what I’ve learned there into my daily life.
One thing I know for sure after this summer is that I need to settle down, find a place where I can have all my materials and work work work. If I want to do this painting thing for real, I’m willing to sacrifice the hippie nomad dreams… Or at least put them on hold. For now. Phew, I never thought I would actually be saying this.
If you’d like to stay updated with my work, here’s a link to my website : www.ellenmarie.eu
 


MANASI PARIKH

After the roller coaster ride that my first year of school had taken me for, I needed time to breathe to myself, spend some time to allow all that had transpired in the past nine months to sink in, make sense of all the new experiences I had had. So I chose to spend my summer in Barcelona over going back home to India. It was so nice exploring the city at leisure, strolling around without having any place to be. I spent my time at the beach, the park, around my favourite nooks of the city, thinking, writing and drawing lots.

Chapter 1 : Gesture studies 

I just couldn’t get enough of the Expressive and Dynamic drawing class that happened in school every Friday. I’d look forward to those three hours all week, so when I learnt of a place I could go and sketch live models during summer, I had to sign up. I really enjoy quick sketches because of how impulsive and raw they need to be.  They carry a lot of honesty within them, for there is little time for thought or manipulation, and I absolutely love that!

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 Chapter 2 : Danza Libre

A chance meeting with a toy maker in the streets of Gracia wound up with an invitation to draw at a free dance session he organised with his brother. Having never done this outside the comfort of a classroom before, I was rather nervous. But the dim lights and warm vibes there put me at instant ease, and sketching in the midst of so many people and powerful music was an experience in itself. The music added it’s own element to how I drew, often surprising me. My lines took on character that went with the beat of the music, they raced across the paper sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes in long and flow-y strokes and sometimes in jagged breaks. I had so much fun experiencing this, and I’m only more convinced of my love for drawing movement. I left this experience with a little more courage to draw in public and excitement to sketch more at live performances.

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Chapter 3 : Sketchbook

This summer was also about trying out new materials,  I had lots of fun experimenting with all kinds of finds from local art stores around the city. It had been a long time since I did this, and it was rather therapeutic mashing up different kinds of paper and paint and colour pencils and of course lots of ideas and see what came out of it all.

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My love for narrative and art that spins stories goes back a long way. When I write, I tend to think more in images than in words, and my sketchbooks are always filled with ideas for little comics, which mostly never see the light of day. So I decided to fair one of these ideas for a change, Swallow me Whole, a silent comic which resonates a lot with my life at the moment. The images below are experiments in panelling, story pacing and visual treatment. The last image is close to what the final story will look like, and I’m hoping to complete it before life leaps to it’s next adventure!

 

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I’m back in school now, happy to get back to a routine after all the free falling that summer allowed me. The work I did through the holidays really helped me figure where I lack and what I need to learn. At school, I’m more focussed now about what I want to absorb as opposed to last year where I couldn’t help but feel a little lost in the intense academic environment. This is my last term here before I make my way back to India, where I’m really looking forward to putting all of this together and seeing where it takes me.

If you’d like to stay updated,  you can follow me on Tumblr : www.fidgetyfeets.tumblr.com and Instagram : @crayon_cruncher


I hope you enjoyed the journey with us through this series :) With the special week just one week away, we’re just about done with the first half of the fall term. We’ll be sharing what we’ve been up to soon, and also updates from the special week. Stay tuned!

-Manasi Parikh / Intensive Sculpture Program / Trimester 4