They've been meeting in Corona del Mar every Tuesday for the last four
years to paint the human figure, save for August and December vacations.
An all-women group thus far, this unnamed band of professional artists
has joined together to share inspiration, information and the standard
model's fee of $15 per hour.
"Most groups that paint together do quick sketches," said Deloma
Davis, a Laguna Hills artist who has taken part in the painting sessions
for more than a year and a half. "We have a model that comes and poses
the entire month. That's really important, because it gives us a chance
to do important work."
One such model, a bag of costumes under her arm, arrived at their
studio on Fernleaf Street. Awaiting her was a group of painters whose
five regular members and three substitutes are more than enough to take
up all the best views in the room.
Why paint from a live model, who will never return to exactly the same
position after each 20 minute break, and not from a photo?
"The photograph is flat. It's not a three-dimensional image,"
explained Edith Stalay, a regular and former children's book agent from
Corona del Mar.
The artists also feel that they can sense emotions and other invisible
phenomena in the presence of their subjects and translate it to the
"It's a gift that the artist gets from the model," Stalay said.
Inspiration also comes from the outside world. Donna Fradkin of Costa
Mesa said she is inspired by her experience as a psychiatric social
"In my work as an artist, I see the world as such a beautiful place. I
see that if more people can see the beauty in the world there would be
less problems," she asserted.
That search to create beauty is a common tie between the women. While
many of the women have attended figure classes in order to work "from
life," they said they find the poses in a class situation too short to
complete a portrait.
The group schedules a model every month for four-hour sessions so they
have the time to work in oils. Pastels and charcoals are other favorite
Members discuss ahead of time props and backdrops and choose between a
nude or clothed subject. Each member takes turns booking the model.
The group hasn't been able to agree on a name yet, perhaps due to the
strong personalities involved.
The studio has been rented from retired architectural delineator
Robert Jackson and his family. The space has panoramic windows that
invite natural light and a wide, shallow sink of the kind used to develop
photography. Sixteen foot ceilings create plenty of wall area filled with
canvasses. Many flowers and a water garden courtyard keep spirits high.
This environment has nurtured commercial success. Ruby Aranguiz of
Corona del Mar, one of the founding members, recently put 24 of her
figures on display with the prestigious Fingerhut Galleries. Many of them
were painted in these sessions. Her landscapes were the subject of a solo
show at the South Coast Art Gallery.