At 7:00 pm, white sheets went up over the windows of the French Bleu Gallery.
Here, in this gallery on Carmel’s Main Street, seven artists met last Tuesday for a three hour session of painting and drawing from a nude model—and for a glass of wine or two. The artists come from a variety of backgrounds: some are professional painters, some are not. They range in age from their twenties to their sixties.
The one thing they have in common: a high level in skill in portraying the human figure on paper or canvas.
Susan Mauck is the organizer of this by-invitation figure session; she’s also owner and major exhibitor of the French Bleu Gallery. Mauck, who had formerly housed her studio in the Stutz, relocated to Carmel about a year and a half ago. Her gallery also serves as her own studio space as well as a community gathering place.
The model for last Tuesday's session was a young bartender by the name of Adrienne Krantz. At 7:00 pm this petite brunette slipped out of her red kimono to the tune of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane,” blaring out of a MacBook. She was wearing nothing underneath.
To start off, Krantz struck a three-minute pose with her hands in her hair. She was directed to do so by Andrew Bridges who, in addition to being a painter and a photographer in his own right, is interim manager at the Evan Lurie Gallery down the street.
Meanwhile the seven artists, including Mauck and Bridges, set to their easels—all except one Fred Gissubel who got busy with pencil and acrylic on a flat table.
The next pose that Krantz was directed to strike was a standing position. She was given a blue shawl to hold behind her.
Mauck was working with oil paint, on paper. Quickly she painted three figures loosely on Krantz’s form. A blitzkrieg of brushstrokes fell together on the paper before her. In a very short time she had multiple figures portrayed in a variety of poses. A blue shawl appeared, as if by magic, between two of the figures. The colors were mostly soft pastels, and the skin colors of the figures ranged from rosy to light brown.
After twenty minutes or so Mauck was done; she detached the painting from her easel and moves onto a new composition.
Later there were a series of longer poses with the model wearing her kimono, partly disrobed. As hours went by a freeform conversation took hold in the gallery space. It ranged in topic from types of music the artists like to listen to while making art to the effect of the Internet on education.
Carmel resident Fred Gissubel, a participant in this session, really appreciated its relaxed nature.
Gissubel is a thirty-four year old apparel designer and illustrator recently transplanted from Pennsylvania. For him, Mauck’s Gallery—in the heart of the Carmel Arts & Design District—is just a short drive away. But it’s not the proximity of this particular venue that is the main draw for Gissubel, a veteran of open figure drawing sessions held by the Society of Illustrators in New York City.
“This is close to what that was like,” he said. "People are doing own thing rather than students putting too much pressure on themselves.”
French Bleu Gallery address: 111 W. Main Street, Suite 145, Carmel, IN.
For gallery hours call 317.331.3734 or email firstname.lastname@example.org