Monday, March 24, 2014

Olena Babak at Oak Hollow Studios

Portrait by Olena Babak

Olena Babak

Portrait Workshop
Through the realm of Facebook, I have connected with many new friends. Olena Babak is one such person. One day, a flyer appeared in my newsfeed advertising a workshop at Oak Hollow Studios in Carthage, N.C. the workshop given by Olena focused on Portrait Drawing in Charcoal and Pencil. 

Olena is a classically trained artist, originally from the Ukraine. Currently, she lives and teaches in Maine. The flyer described her workshop as a five-day intensive workshop. The workshop focused on the fundamental concepts of portrait drawing - shape, value, edges, conceptual thinking, and anatomy.

Drawing by Olena Babak

Oak Hollow Studios
Owned by Carmen Drake Gordon and is set on a beautiful 40-acre farm. The studio offers a classical atelier environment, with on-going workshops, life drawing sessions and classes. 

The workshop was advanced and was my first portrait drawing workshop. I knew it would be above my abilities but felt the timing was right. Arriving at the class, I learned that all of my classmates, including the model, had studied at or taught at Jeffrey Mims, Academy of Classical Design. It was well above my skills, however, it would ultimately lead to a breakthrough for me and my work. 

Olena is an enthusiastic and energetic teacher with so much to share. From the moment the class began on Monday until the conclusion on Friday, we were mentally and physically engaged. Throughout the day, Olena would circulate from easel to easel and discuss each person's progress. 

Drawing by Olena Babak

Portrait Painting
Olena developed her painting style to facilitate portrait sessions with clients. She moves quickly through a process to capture the basics of a likeness in a 2.5 hour sitting. This process enables her to bring the drawing to a finished state without the client's presence. 

The basis of the class was to incorporate her processes for working quickly. Each morning we began with a lesson and exercises. The information flowed, and we worked along with Olena as she taught and demonstrated. During the afternoons, we worked with a model. By the end of the first day, it was clear the class would be as rewarding as it was intensive. 

Olena Working

Workshop Concepts
Below are a few of the concepts addressed in the workshop:
1.Use vine charcoal to mass in big general shapes, create a visual path of light and dark, lump mid/dark values into dark shapes and all else into light shapes.
2.Use straight lines, create shapes with value, and use value patterns to create proportions.
3.Measure to get proportions and likeness, establish angles, and compare sizes, relationships, etc.
4.Refine shapes, values, and angles.
5.Begin to define anatomy, draw schemas for eyes, mouth, and nose. Work from skeleton/skull.
6.Refine values, the order of light, big shapes, and proportions.
7.Analyze work from the conceptual because models won't always be available.

Drawing by Olena Babak

The week
To step outside of my comfort zone was a good choice. It was challenging and enormously rewarding. Everyone in the class was focused on learning as much as possible and moving their work forward. The energy in the room was palpable and inspiring. 

Olena is a talented, giving and dedicated teacher and Oak Hollow Studios is an enjoyable working environment. Carmen an excellent artist herself has created an environment conducive to learning, sharing and creating. 

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Artfully Yours,

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Women in Philanthropy and Leadership

Women in Philanthropy and Leadership Conference 2014

Quotes from the Speakers:

Kathrine Switzer  "Take a Negative and Transform it" and "The Secret to Success is to Show Up"
Margueritte Willis  "If you really want to do something you'll find a way.  If you don't you'll find an excuse."
Wendi Nix  "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
Nathalie Dupree   "Every woman should have a job, support herself, love to do it and make the world a better place."

WIPL Conference
Recently I had the pleasure of attending the 4th Annual Leadership Conference held at the Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Quite a few people have asked me about the conference so I've written more about the schedule and added couple of videos one taken by myself and another provided by CCU Chanticleers on You Tube which will give an idea of the atmosphere of the conference.

For two days approximately 650 people, primarily women gathered together to listen to amazing speakers share their stores.  Some of these women literally changed the world we live in with their choices and actions.  Listening to their stories of  accomplishment and transformation was truly inspiring.

About WIPL and The Conference
Here's a brief overview of the organization.  Women in Philanthropy and Leadership or WIPL was formed in 2007 under the leadership of Coastal Carolina University First Lady Terri DeCenzo and some of the area’s leading philanthropists, business professionals, and CCU faculty and staff.  Since that time the organization has awarded more than $110,000 in scholarships.

This  was my first experience and didn't know what to expect prior to the conference.  The two days were a mix of Featured Speakers in the main ball room and Breakout Sessions in smaller conference rooms.  Over the two days  three Breakout Sessions offering 4 mini workshops each session were offered.  This is where it became difficult, all of the sessions featured dynamic and interesting speakers.  Choosing between the workshops felt similar to someone placing a plate of 4 chocolate truffles in front of me and saying choose one, 3 times.  I really wanted the other 9 truffles too.  

Please click this link

to see a video produced by Coastal Carolina entitled Reflections from WIPL 2014.  Conference attendees and Keynote Speakers were interviewed and shared their thoughts about the event.

First Day

The first day started with Keynote Speaker Terry Haas,  HGTV personality, Partner in River Landing Realty, Expert, and someone who is apt to spontaneously ignite with or without notice.  A great person to kick off the two day event.  Terry Haas was followed by 2 sets of Breakout Sessions ending with a networking reception in the vendor/sponsor hall. 

Day one Breakout Sessions also featured Pawleys Island locals Betsy Bailey of HIA and Sassy Henry of  Palmetto Cheese, Seaview Inn and Get Carried Away in a segment entitled From Idea to Implementation and with JouJou Safa of Bizuzu Boutiques and Peter Gasca of Wild Creations .

Second Day
The second day started with a Continental Breakfast before everyone headed to the main ballroom for the featured speakers.  Later in the morning a breakout session was offered and afterwards a very nice lunch then on to several more featured speakers.  That evening a banquet was held in the main dining room, which unfortunately I wasn't able to attend.  The photos posted of the event looked lovely.

The second day was full of personal stories, the important moments that changed these women's lives, set them on the path of their journeys that ultimately affected us all.  Truly an inspirational day.


Here are a few of the Outstanding Featured Speakers for the second day:
Nathalie Dupree, Chef and Author
Kathrine Switzer, Athlete, Author
Sharon Epperson, of CNBC
Wendi Nix, of ESPN
Paula Harper Bethea, Executive  Director of SC Education Lottery, 
Chris Linnares, Psychotherapists, founder of Diva Dance.
For a complete list please go to

Chris Linnares of Diva Dance gave a talk towards the end of the second day and here's my video.

Thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors of Women in Philanthropy and Leadership Conference 2014 for providing this avenue for everyone to come together and create more in our lives.