Anna Karin (see previous post The Art of Anna Karin) has been trying to get me to go to her drawing group for sometime now. It’s a group of very serious artists who come together every Saturday to draw from a model. I hadn’t done life drawing for almost forty years so I kept finding excuses not to go. The truth was, I felt intimidated. And I was afraid I would no longer be able to draw like that.
But, this week, Alberto Castagna, the man who has been hosting this group in his home studio for ten to fifteen years now, agreed to let me come up to do a post about the group. So, Anna and I headed up there on Saturday.
And, in spite of the many ways Anna had described this gathering to me before, nothing prepared me for the experience. We parked above the Castagna’s driveway and walked in. Never having been to Llano San Juan before, I was unprepared for its beauty. Their home is situated in a very isolated area—more so even than my house. They bought the land in the early 70s and built the place themselves, in the old ways, taught to them by the elders who still lived in the surrounding communities at that time.
They cut and dragged their own vigas down from the woods, peeling them by hand. They milled whatever lumber they used and made every, single adobe brick themselves. They lived there in those first years without electricity or running water—with a baby and diapers to stay on top of. And I tell you, standing in their warm kitchen, watching Alberto’s wife, Karen, make cookies, listening to her stories of those days, I FELT the heart and soul that has gone into building this life they have carved out for themselves.
Then there was the drawing group itself. I was surrounded by artists who were there for no other reason than to advance their skill—to practice their craft. Alberto’s studio was filled with a sense of comraderie and passion; not a lick of competition. People welcomed me. And I began to draw.
The first pose was rather rough for me, but it was flowing more easily by the second. I quit thinking about myself with limiting notions of whether or not I would be good enough. I got lost in the shape and line of the human form. It was like riding a bicycle. After forty years, I still remembered how to draw from life. And I had an absolute blast. It reminded me of why life drawing was my favorite class in college.
We drew all day. And then we sat down to a potluck supper, everyone energized from a full day of practicing our art. This is not the end for me. It’s just the beginning. No matter how busy I believe I am, I will be taking Saturdays off to join these wonderful people, each working to advance their art.
Love to you all,