The Argos Gallery maintained by Eli Levin in Santa Fe, NM is the location where most of these drawings were produced. I attended the life drawing sessions twice weekly, for a number of years beginning in 2003. The management of that drawing group was impeccable. The lighting was simple, the models were placed impeccably on their marks and the room was always full. There are many drawing groups that have come and gone in Santa Fe, this one has met every week, continuously since the 1960’s, even on holidays. Eli also hosted the Santa Fe etching group which has a similar pedigree.
That group was always attended by a number of gifted artists. It was a privilege to draw along side them. We were all there training our eyes and hands, like musician practicing scales. The radio played whatever was on the public station, usually classical, sometimes jazz or show tunes. Conversation was allowed, even with the models. It was a salon like atmosphere, with both casual topics and deeply nuanced subjects embraced. Eli had been trained at the Art Student’s League in Manhattan. His father had been an art critic. Eli also had degree in the classics and he is a learned and gracious conversationalist. He paints with egg tempera that he makes with eggs from his own chickens. He’s in his golden years now and still working. When not painting he is drawing or etching, constantly honing in on something, like a hound chasing a hare.
While Eli’s level of focus and commitment to figurative work may be beyond me, it certainly inspires me. I find drawing the human portrait and figure endlessly interesting. The longer I’ve done it, the less I need to have an actual model in the room in order to draw one. The act of drawing connects senses with motor skills. It is a form of active relaxation. This collection represents dozens of hours of therapeutic engagement with simple materials and primal subject matter. Drawing from life has been an enjoyable way to train my powers of observation and appreciation of nature.