Crash - oil on canvas 24x20
Morning Has Broken - oil on canvas 48x60
Two Lemons in North Light - oil on canvas 10x10
White Still Life Transitions - oil on canvas 18x14
Chrysanthemum - oil on canvas 14x18
My Days in the Atelier
by Norma Torti
Imagine yourself in front of an uninviting door to an old mill building and then riding on a freight elevator to the sixth floor. Who would think that the next doorway would open to a beautiful 6,000 square foot artist’s atelier, a place in which I studied painting for the last three years?
An atelier is a small group of artists who work with a master artist who has lineage back to an historical way of painting--in this case to the Boston School Impressionists. Why did I, after years of working on my own, choose to embrace the atelier model of learning and working?
After leaving the corporate world eight years ago and engaging in painting full time, I had a strong desire to join an atelier. After careful research, I chose the (Paul) Ingbretson School of Drawing and Painting in Lawrence, MA for its reputation, proximity, and the perfect fit with my work. When I visited, I was immediately struck by the atmospheric effect of the students’ work. It felt like I was entering the studio of the Boston School artists in 1890! For three years I have rented a space there from September through June where I have worked 30 hours a week and absorbed weekly critiques by Paul Ingbretson.
The school’s curriculum started with cast drawing, e.g., creating meticulous charcoal drawings of busts and statues. Students learned the process of composing a still life with attention to color distribution before completing charcoal studies as preparatory work for an oil painting. Next, we created small color studies followed by painting the larger work.
What was different from what I already knew and had experienced? Ingbretson’s approach to a blank canvas is unique. He begins a canvas without drawing an outline; rather, he paints color spots on the canvas, placing smudges of color where they are to be. He is looking for color relationships and then begins to add “light effects.” Rather than painting objects, Ingbretson encourages his students to “paint as if the painting is coming out of a fog.” Though I found it a challenge to learn and execute this unique method, I am now teaching it in the classes that I offer.
My atelier experience has greatly influenced my work. My palette is simple, and I begin my work with high intensity colors. The Visual Order approach to painting has resulted in my work becoming more atmospheric and natural. Though I have books of ideas ready to be developed into paintings, I also enjoy bringing art to others such those in assisted living, hospice care and senior centers as well as speaking about art, as I will do at the Rye Art Study meeting on September 17th. After all, as the atelier proves, making art is a joy worth sharing.
Norma Torti, a New Hampshire Seacoast artist specializing in representational oil paintings, grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts, which has influenced her choice of subjects and her dedication to community. Her work is exhibited in private collections throughout the U.S. With over forty years of painting and drawing experience, Norma is currently enrolled in the Boston School Atelier with master artist Paul Ingbretson. She exhibits her work at the Galley Hatch, Hampton and Art 3 Gallery, Manchester, NH.
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