February 5, 2015

“Aht Is Wicked Hahd! Be Audacious! Let ‘Er Rip!”

Diane Bramble, being audacious,
taking risks with her art
Each year, the school makes an award to one or more of our staff from the Polly T. Donald Enrichment Fund.  This fund was created by generous parents and community donors as a tribute to my predecessor, Polly Donald. Its purpose is to provide a unique opportunity for faculty and staff to revitalize and grow outside the classroom.  Polly believes that an individual's personal growth inevitably enriches those with whom she/he comes into contact. The fund aims to revitalize, inspire, and support personal growth, enriching the Friends' School community at large.

Last year’s award winner was 2nd grade teacher Diane Bramble.  Now in her 26th year at Friends’ School, Diane has enriched and inspired hundreds of Friends’ students. The PTD Fund Committee was pleased to have granted her this award which she used to take an amazing art workshop in Maine. 

This is Diane’s story in her own words:

The Thomaston, Maine, Academy & Library
"I went on an art adventure last summer. In June, I flew to Boston, rented a car, and drove up the east coast to Thomaston, Maine to take part in an intensive art workshop led by painter Steven Aimone. I was inspired by Steven’s book Abstract Painting and Drawing and I wanted to learn from a master painter and teacher.

One of the first things I learned, and here I speak in the patois of a New Englander, “Aht is wicked hahd!” It is, making art really is wicked hard! I’ve always loved dabbling in art—creating it and appreciating it, but I’ve never been face to face with myself as an artist before. Seeing myself on the canvas every day, a 6’ x 6’ canvas, was a force. I had to jump into the beginner-ness of it all, surrender to the process, and do my best to remember that I don’t have to even be good at it—just do

what Steven urged all of his students to do, “Get in there, be audacious, let ‘er rip!” So I did.

Water, water everywhere! 
A classic sunset in Maine.
The workshop took place in a 100-year old former schoolhouse that now serves as the Thomaston town library. The ten other workshop participants and I painted from morning to night while learning about the language of non-objective composition. We worked with the elements of that language: mark, line, shape, texture, and color. We studied abstract expressionist painters, such as Franz Kline, Philip Guston, William deKooning, Amy Stillman, and Richard Pousette-Dart. We learned from the master painters, Steve the teacher, and from each other. Important take-aways that apply to art and life:

     When you’re stuck, change big.
·      When you lose one part of yourself (in a painting)…you gain another part.
·      Listen to your gut without pauses.
·      There are many possibilities.
·      You can try to be like another artist, but you are just who you are.
·      When something works, even though it shouldn’t, that’s when the magic happens.

One of the quotes I used as a reference point during the workshop is by Adolph Gottlieb and Mark Rothko, painters from the New York School. “To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored by those willing to take the risks.”

Thank you to all of the donors and committee members for the Polly Talbot Donald Fund for giving me this transformative experience where I was able to explore, learn, risk, and grow as a painter and a person. I still believe that creating art is hard, but now I’m willing to face that canvas with greater courage because I now know that art is an adventure.
And I’m in."

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