Classical Realism: Discover what is creating a buzz at the Borland Gallery

March 2015 Posted in Arts, Culture & History, People
Female nude by Ulan Moore.

Female nude by Ulan Moore.

By Steve Ritchie

The Borland Gallery was packed with local art lovers on March 6 for the First Friday opening of an exhibition of representational paintings and drawings by local artists Ulan Moore, Helen Bouchard and Brian Sheridan.

The walls of the small gallery space were covered “salon-style” – floor to ceiling – with dozens of drawings and paintings by the trio, who last year completed an intensive four-year training with Juliet Aristides in an atelier program at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.

The exhibition, which continues through the end of March, features original works in a classical realism style, and is creating a lot of buzz in the local art community.

“Ulan has a devoted local following, who appreciate him as an artist and as an instructor,” Silverton Art Association Education Coordinator Stacy Higby said. “This style is now re-emerging in popularity. More people are becoming interested in classical realism and the pursuit of beauty, and schools are re-opening across the country.”

Since the triumph of impressionism and subsequent modern art movements, classical realism has fallen out of favor in the art establishment, as well as in art schools and college programs. Moore believes that a return to a focus on technical skill in painting and drawing would serve the art world well.

Art classes
Ulan Moore teaches at the
Silverton Art Association
Class information: 503-873-2480
Moore and Bouchard plan to
offer private lessons in the future.

“The pendulum always swings back,” Moore said. “Since the time of Cezanne and Picasso and those guys, things have gone kind of crazy. What I mean by that is for centuries artists were trained. Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Holbein were all trained. . . What has been lost is the technical training aspects of drawing and painting.”

The training in the atelier, or artist workshop, that Moore, Bouchard and Sheridan attended was rigorous, and more closely resembled an apprenticeship than a course of study at an art school. Every day was spent learning and practicing drawing. For an entire year, they did only charcoal drawings, learning the importance of “value” and using the full scale of white to black. Following that, they spent another year painting in black and white. In the third year, they began using a limited palette of one cool color and one warm color, and explored the range of hues that can be derived from just two colors.

Self portrait by Ulan Moore

Self portrait by Ulan Moore

“It’s like practicing any (musical) instrument,” Bouchard said. “You’re not born with the ability to play piano or the cello. You need to take lessons and to practice and practice and practice. That’s what we’re doing. It has been such a long journey to get where we’re at and it will take a lifetime.”

Moore, 46,  a self-described “country boy,” grew up near Silverton, and became a commercial artist and graphic designer. His real interest was always to draw and paint what was in his head, but these aspirations were nearly derailed when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in his 30s.

“At that point, I couldn’t even write my name anymore, so how was I going to draw,” Moore said. He spent a year training himself to draw with his left hand, then was accepted into the atelier.

“I figured if I could get through the first year, I’d be OK. I was able to do that and actually (my symptoms) improved a little bit. It’s a hard game to be an artist. It always has been. It can be discouraging with all the obstacles put in front of you, but the person who isn’t discouraged can make it . . . In our society it’s all about having it now,” he said. “You need to slow down and do what it takes to be good. It’s not necessarily a race for the fastest horse, it takes some endurance and perseverance. But the rewards are just so amazing that you can’t even put them into words.”

"Autumn Bike Ride Around Lake Washington" and self portrait by Helen Bouchard.

“Autumn Bike Ride Around Lake Washington” and self portrait by Helen Bouchard.

Two sketches by Brian Sheridan.

Two sketches by Brian Sheridan.

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