The first week of the spring 2013 session at the Aegean Center has all but ended. As I sit in Pebble’s Jazz Cafe, overlooking the bay of Paroikia, the sun begins a slow descent towards the faint outline of Sifnos to my west. Since my return at the end of January the sunset has moved slowly north along the ridge of that island, the daylight has increased and the temperature has become warmer. There have been welcome harbingers of a lovely spring: warm, breezy with high clouds and only sprinklings of rain, barely enough to dampen my laundry hung out to dry, birds singing in the bright morning…
My work for the next few months has been laid out for me, a buffet of grand proportions. My own large-format portrait work, which I have written about before, takes priority if I wish to have the printing finished by the end of May and the work at the framers by June. This is the beginning-of-the-end of a long-term project, the seeds of which I planted during the winter of 2011/2012. I have two or three more sittings to arrange and then I can begin crossing tasks off the list.
I am also teaching in the darkroom, guiding the bright and eager minds of our small cadre along the meditative paths of silver photography. I have been impressed in this first week by their enthusiasm, previous experience and general attitude towards the idea of ‘slow photography’. I can only hope that they, too, feel as if I am an able mentor for their journey. There are two or three returning students working on the darkroom, which benefits everyone.
The third element is my return to oil painting. I loved it the first time last spring and this time around seems no different. Just today I was working on a piece and I was struck by how much I love oils: their malleability and fluidity, the ability to push them around on a properly prepared canvas…
The fourth menu item this session is a fascinating journey into the world of Johannes Vermeer, more precisely his use of the camera obscura in his work. There are three of us working with Jane Pack and in the next few weeks we will construct a full-scale replica of the master painter’s camera, discover how he applied it and use it ourselves to draw, and then paint, some still lives.
When I realized a few days ago the scope of the labors set before me, my heart and mind quaked. I quickly spoke to an advisor which helped. I know that I can accomplish all of these things, but like a plate of food at the above mentioned buffet, this kind of smorgasbord can seem impossible to consume. Like any dinner, it starts with the first bite. Before I know it will be the end of May and I will be ordering coffee and dessert.