Working with Florida State University’s Department of Art Professor and MFA Program Director, Judy Rushin, on her latest sculptural painting this summer has so far been one of the most rewarding and therapeutic experiences of my art education. As a senior double major in the BA Art program, I wanted to study under an artist with sculptural or painting disciplines before my graduation at the end of the summer. After taking an experimental painting class with Professor Rushin in the spring, I became very interested in her studio practice and working methods and I was eager to learn more from her.
Every morning at 10 am I meet Judy in her studio at CAB and we work together on two projects that will be shown at the Ringling Museum in August: Slide not Slump and Here, Today. My duties are broad and range from sanding and painting to creating diagrams and gathering supplies. On Mondays I report to FAR and work in the Small Craft Advisory Press shop making tiny print panels for an artist book that Judy collaborated in designing. Since my interests focus in sculptural painting and book arts, this internship has provided me with the most appropriate avenues for gaining the experience and skills I need to move forward in my art education.
I particularly enjoy the small intermediate tasks that go towards preparing and finishing the painted panels. Some entire mornings are spent simply sanding down the corners of the panels and during those times I feel very meditative and calm. Judy will often ask my opinion on a color choice or an approach method, but she also puts me in wonderful little work stations where I get to focus solely on craftsmanship and be absorbed by the manual work.
One of my favorite jobs in the installation room was creating a diagram of the colors in the piece. Together, Judy and I went through all the paint jars in her studio and matched the colors used in the piece to the panels and labeled them with simple codes. Then, it was my responsibility to use those codes to create a schematic color diagram that will be used as a guide for installation in the gallery. First, I created a digital drawing in SketchUp which was printed and used to organize the layout of the piece. Then, I used the color codes and assigned each color to a set of panels which created the key. Finally, I labeled the backs of the panels with their row letter and color code. It was so rewarding to approach the completion of the piece, and the act of organizing and redrawing the piece as a diagram was very satisfying and nearly therapeutic for me. Through this internship I am able to discover the working methods and practices that feel natural and right to me. I find that the delayed gratification of working through multiple extended steps is a process that pleases my artist’s brain.
I hope to keep Judy as a reference and connection in the future. As I continue to look for similar positions and apprenticeships with manual and hands-on craftsman work after my undergraduate education, Judy has also been providing me with further contacts in the Tallahassee art community that will surely be helpful to pursue as well.
As the first panels for Here, Today were being painted, placed and waxed for finish, I continuously helped with taping, sanding and sealing the edges of more panels.
Each unit of panels creates its own color relationship using repetition and variance across the rows – a reference to the painter and color theorist, Joseph Albers. One of my favorite aspects of working on this piece is watching how it is changed and rearranged as more panels and come into play.