Reflections on life and on being an artist

three generations detail

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations” detail, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008

With the transition of 2015 into 2016, I have been reflecting about a lot of things,  especially remembering my father who passed away last February. My dad lived a great life, he was very accomplished professionally and personally, he earned his PHD and became a father before he was 30, he went on to have four kids and a great career and throughout his life he was always generous and very humble. He experienced true love with my mother, I can honestly say, their marriage was truly exemplary. Thinking about his life has led me to reflect on how to live a full life myself. This is why my main goal for 2016  is to learn to integrate all aspects of my life in a balanced manner.

Like everyone else, I wear many different hats, I am a mother, daughter, wife, artist, professor and someone who loves to be active and enjoy nature. Being one thing should not rule out another, but after all these years I am still learning to juggle it all.

Professionally, I am a college professor and artist. Time for research and studio is as important as all the other professional demands. Over the years, I have come to realize that productive time in the art studio does not have to be a long painting session like the ones during graduate school. Although uninterrupted studio time is ideal sometimes it’s not possible. Under those circumstances it is better to work shorter times than do nothing at all, even if it means an hour here and an hour there.

When I first graduated from my MFA, 17 years ago; I balanced a full-time job and studio practice, by scheduling long studio sessions in the weekends. This was a change from being in the studio day and night but I adapted.  Two years later, I became a professor and I am still teaching full-time. I love teaching, it has deepened my understanding of visual arts and creative thinking; more specifically my understanding of drawing. I find that teaching forces me to evolve continually and allows me to be a constant learner.  My work in the classroom has influenced my art work, for example I have reconnected with direct observation drawing and though it’s not the only way I work, it has affected my work in a positive way.

During the academic year, I tend to work on small pieces and focus on larger ones in the summer.  As long as I’m regularly drawing, even if it’s only in my sketchbook  I am still growing as an artist. This is one of the reasons why keeping a sketchbook is so important for me, and why I started the Sunday sketchbook feature in my blog.

At  a personal level, my roles as mother and wife are central and I also try to find time to nurture personal interests such as reading, exercising and being in contact with nature. My reality as a mother is changing now that the boys are 9 and 12. I can do many of the  things I love with them, such as taking long walks or bike rides, enjoying a movie together and finding time to work in my studio. Things were not like this in their early years, I remember feeling like studio time was simply impossible and it would frustrate me. Now looking back, I wish I had not been so hard on myself for not being able to do much art work then. In the end, the joy and intensity of motherhood has only made me a better artist.

Many artists often have to change the way they work while they have small children. In my case,  I began working small,  which was a contrast to my preference for large format. Because of my focus on a new format, I began exploring silverpoint as a medium and did observational drawings of Nicolas (my firstborn) as he slept.  At the time, I was concerned about the drawings of my baby coming across as sentimental, now I understand I was responding to the wonderful experience of becoming a mother.

My work has become much more personal over the years. At my age, I have seen people’s stories unfold and I am more responsive to life. I realize now, that the drawings of family members at different ages, including the ones of my children and the ones of my father’s struggle with Steele Richardson’s disease are all part of one grand narrative. My every day life experiences provide powerful content for expression.  I have come to the realization that instead of compartmentalizing each aspect of my life, the key is in the integration.

Three generations

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations”, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008 Enter a caption

Collaborative journal entries from sketchbook project

A while back I posted some mixed media work from the sketchbook project journal I worked on in 2010-2011. The theme I chose was dirigibles and submersibles. This week I am posting some collaborative sketchbook entries I did with my son Nicolas (then seven). Working collaboratively can enhance creativity. In this case the sketches were very meaningful for me, because I was collaborating with my own son. These include collage and drawing as well experimentations with overlays. This brief post leads into an upcoming post about children and drawing. Look out for it soon!

Why blog about drawing?

Drawing has always been a central part of my life. Here I am decades ago, working on a figurative piece. To the day, I am still fascinated with figures in motion and continue to learn from artists who inspire me.

 

drawing-ballerinas1

Here I am, age six drawing in our porch.

drawing-ballerinas2

I was inspired by my oldest sister Sara and wanted so badly to draw like her!

As a child, my passions were playing outside, reading, drawing, nature and all kinds of sports. Throughout elementary school I dreamed of being a writer, I sort of still do….

My pursuit of a Fine Arts career was driven by my love for drawing and aspirations of living a creative life. In my formation as a graphic designer at the University of Costa Rica, drawing was emphasized in the program. In my painting practice, preparatory sketches (from thumbnails to fully developed value drawings) are important and lately my studio work is mainly composed of drawings.

drills sketchbook

Sketchbook 2- page spread. Drawings from direct observation during karate class.

sparring drillswp

“Sparring Drills” 2012 38.5″ x 29.5″ charcoal and pastel on paper. This drawing was based on the sketchbook page above.

I am currently a professor in the Foundation Studies program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Working with a diverse group of students allows me to reflect on the role of drawing in different art and design fields, without forgetting that it’s an activity that helps individuals develop further as human beings.

This blog will include my reflections on drawing as an artist, instructor and constant learner.  I would like to post weekly on this blog and reinforce my studio practice through writing. As I continue on this journey, I am ready to share my insights and connect with other people who practice drawing in one way or another. I am also very excited about the prospect of fulfilling my writing dreams through blogging!

Thank you for visiting.