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Life Experience

Museum Workshop Exhibit Draws Inspiration From Models


"The Human Form and Beyond, the Workshop Experience," a new exhibit at the Anaheim Museum, is a study of human emotion.

Portraits from 38 local artists stare from the walls of the museum's two galleries. The faces are proud, contemplative, defiant, triumphant, weary, vain or shy.

The styles of the drawings and paintings on display are as varied as the personalities they project. Some of the portraits show colorful, fine detail. Others are broad outlines. Nude or clothed, the figures vary in race and age. By studying the portrait, the viewer can study the person and attempt to penetrate the mood and spirit set to canvas.

The displayed works have arisen from a workshop held at the museum. Developed by museum Director Joyce Franklin more than two years ago, the workshop focuses on drawing and painting live models, who pose for three hours at a time.

No teacher guides the artists. They guide themselves, drawing in a variety of mediums on whatever size canvas they choose. They regularly hold sessions where they critique each other's work.

The artists are professionals or serious amateurs who have come together through word of mouth or from ads. Before they discovered the workshop, many worked from photographs, landscapes or their imagination. But now they work with live models, practicing and creating with like-minded people in a supportive, noncompetitive atmosphere.

"It's priceless," said Steve Marsh.

Marsh, a graphic artist who lives in Anaheim Hills and comes to the workshop every Saturday with his wife, Debra, said the workshop gives him a chance to fulfill his creative desires. By working with models, he can try to capture the feelings of a live person.

Debra Marsh said that before she started attending the workshop, "I was getting reclusive and stuck in my subject matter. . . .I needed feedback."

Steve Marsh hadn't drawn using live models since college. When he first started coming to the workshop more than a year ago, he painted on small canvases. He gradually worked up to the 18-by-36-inch canvas he had in front of him on a recent Saturday. The colorful painting with broad strokes showed the upper half of a nude woman. She projected confidence, her mouth slightly upturned, as if smiling to herself.

"My paintings reflect the humanness I see in people," Kathleen Sabine wrote on a placard next to her paintings in the museum. In one, an older white woman in a white hat stares at the viewer, eyes large and knowing. In another, an African American man gazes into the distance, weary and resigned. In yet another, a 30-ish woman looks strong, stubborn and proud.

Sabine has painted the three in a similar style and against the same green backdrop. But the individuality of the subjects is apparent.

Sketches on display by Aime Desponds are broad outlines of figures. The lines are simple and uncluttered, yet the sketches, nonetheless, display distinct moods. A woman with voluptuous curves lies on her side. A young man gazes downward. Despite their simplicity, the sketches convey the feeling of having interrupted a private moment.

This is the third annual exhibit for the workshop, and museum Director Franklin expresses satisfaction with how things have evolved.

"It doesn't happen very often, but it's the kind of thing a museum should lend itself to," she said.

"The Human Form and Beyond, the Workshop Experience" will be on display until October. The Anaheim Museum is at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Judy Silber can be reached at (714) 966-5988.

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