Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Conversation with Camie Davis Salaz

"The Athlete" by Camie Davis Salaz
I have been a fan of Camie Davis Salaz for some time. She has quite the reputation around these halls for her skills as a figurative painter and for her unyielding teaching style.  “She pushes you for more,” Will Jones recently explained to me. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action this Summer when she arrives at GCA to teach a portrait workshop. Meanwhile, lets hear more about work... ~ Leeanna Chipana
Leeanna: Throughout history, the general public's knowledge of myth was robust in comparison to today. How do you think the viewer sees or relates to your work in lieu of their varying knowledge of the stories of myth?

Camie: I suppose it is natural for some, to feel Greek Mythology is not applicable to our modern age. The Greek Myths were indeed written for another civilization 3,000 years ago and yet they too wished to understand their world and their place in it, as a civilization and as an individual. One might argue that with all our "advancement" we are still wondering about the questions of Life, Death, Wisdom, Love and Beauty; the very content of Greek Mythology. 
Indeed, what study of Philosophy does not include Plato and Aristotle? What study of Science and Mathematics does not include Euclid? What study of Literature does not include Homer, Hesiod, Ovid..... And what true study of art does not begin in the cast hall, amidst the Greeks? 
Mythology speaks to me, partially because the questions and ideas are written in story form and are written quite Beautifully. Also, I am a sucker for Drama, Life and Death scenarios are my fave....
In regards to "the viewer and their knowledge of myth" it is my responsibility as artist to impart the ideas and/or meanings of the work of art as sincerely and beautifully as possible, whatever the viewer's comprehension of Mythology may be.
Leeanna: Speaking of drama, your figures are often in graceful, twisting or in contorted poses, how do you approach the design of your figures?  Is it from life or imagination?

Drawing for "Orion" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: I begin the pose with the idea of the work of art so I guess the answer is imagination. With Narcissus, I wished to capture both his character's inability to pull away from his self and his terror of drowning, so I tried to imagine what that would feel like and how the physical body would/could express these feelings and thoughts. I then explained my ideas to the legendary John Forkner; life model, athlete and Shakespearian actor, and he really took it home!! 
Because the poses are often difficult, I have to shorten the posing time, sometimes down to three minute poses. However, the benefit of a single artist studio is that my models only have to hold the part of the pose I am working on. I really couldn't do it without such wonderful models who believe in my projects and get into character.

Leeanna: Lastly, your portrait workshop description talks about learning how to create “naturalistic” flesh tones. Bringing about natural looking values to the skin is quite the challenge. Could you tell us a little bit about your process for achieving this?
Detail from "Narcissus" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: Working with color has not been a particular gift of mine, so I have had to resort to my understanding of hierarchy in Nature as my color guide. All color is in a hierarchy in nature; there is only one "highest chroma, only one "Darkest Dark", only one "brightest light" and all other values and hues must follow suit taking their place among the lesser chromas, the mid tones and so on. I have found that the more ordered a painting is, the more naturalistic it feels, so I rely heavily on these principals of hierarchy while teaching color.

Camie Davis is teaching a 3-Day Portrait Drawing and Painting Workshop

June 30th - July 2nd, $425 (Monday through Wednesday) In this workshop students will be working towards the completion of one finished portrait.

Click here to read more about our workshops.

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