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Student artists connect with campus through still portraits

Gloria Abbate closely studies the features and form of the model, Kijeong Jeon during the open studio portrait drawing session on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

I had the eyes of the entire class on me. No small movements could be made during the 15-minute time period. As I sat emotionless, the only sound was the diligent scratching of over a dozen pencils. Every feature on my face was judged. This is the experience one goes through as a model for a live portrait drawing.

J. Pouwels offers advice for students from the back of the studio while the students in his basic figure drawing class all work on creating portraits of a model on Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Students in the basic figure drawing class have been using the studio space in Ayres Hall to create portraits of Chico State faculty and students this week. All students are welcome to model for the class and can even keep one of the portraits for free after the exhibition concludes on Friday.

“This is a good way to interact with the campus,” said J. Pouwels, who guides the students in creating the art.

This is the second semester the basic figure drawing class has used the studio space and invited students to be involved in the process. The entire class draws the same individual with lead or charcoal media and has only 15 minutes to create the artwork.

“The students are nervous about drawing in public,” Pouwels said. “And 15-minute drawing is rather aggressive.”

Elizabeth Lo, a freshman majoring in art studio, works on her portrait of Kijeong Jeon. She hopes to become an art professor herself. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

“This is the first time I’ve had to draw in public,” Elizabeth Lo, a freshman art studio major said.

Lo described the difficulty of getting the whole piece done in time while also accurately representing the model.

“I think that I’m not getting enough onto the paper, but in the end, it comes out as a complete piece,” Lo said.

Students in J. Pouwels' basic figure drawing class work on drawing two student models. Only 15 minutes are given to the students to create the artwork in the Ayers art studio on Feb. 26, 2019. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

With each model, the students change areas in the studio to get different perspectives. Some sit in the front of the room looking up at the model, others stand up in the back and work on an easel and some sit on a bench in the middle of the room.

“We’re working on not drawing an egg shape with eyes,” Pouwels said. “We want to focus on modeling the form.”

By shifting areas in the room, students get different angles, lighting and perspectives of the figure to focus on. Students apply what they have learned in the past five weeks of class and as they work to create a portrait in a short amount of time.

Joel Solis, a freshman majoring in art studio, works on his art piece. “With the live model, it’s all about your mindset,” Solis said. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

“You have to put your mindset into the art study mode instead of artwork mode,” Joel Solis, a freshman in the class said. “You want to show the public all the stuff you can do when in reality you’re actually trying to study at the same time.”

“In the last fifteen seconds, big things can happen,” Pouwels said. “Even with adding just one line or erasing one area.”

Students from both sections of the basic figure drawing classes have been creating portraits of students since Monday. The portraits will be on display in the art studio at Ayers until Friday, March 1, 2019. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Students who are interested in having their portrait drawn can go to the studio space in Ayres Hall Thursday between 2:30 to 4:45 p.m. No modeling experience is required, though be prepared to sit still in silence with your thoughts for the 15-minute experience.

Olyvia Simpson can be reached at [email protected] or @OSimpson15 on Twitter.

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