I love all things Google. Last Thursday I plugged in “ART LESSONS + BANGKOK” into the almighty search engine and up popped http://www.attic-studios.com. Who am I to argue with their algorithm magic? My wife is a talented artist whom had her talent repressed by logical Thai society and ended up being an accountant for many years. Did she like being an accountant? A story for another day. I, on the other hand, have zero artistic talent but face the reality, daily it seems, that I will die one day – hopefully not soon. We thought it would be fun to take art lessons – together. We’re dare devils at heart. She, to increase her talent and me to face my fear head-on and jump outside the box. In this case clear up into the Attic. Attic Studios in Bangkok, Thailand to be more precise.
So it was that same morning we headed down, brilliantly without an appointment and in my case a clue, to Attic Studios. It turns out that just one block over from the Dead Artist Bars of Sukhumvit 33 in Bangkok you can find a lot of actual live artists and breathing art studios on and off of, Sukhumvit 31.
Upon entering Attic Studios we found several children in the middle of a group art lesson painting at easels while looking at a live model dressed in traditional Thai costume. We were only on the ground floor of the three story art studio. Elzan, the young assistant to Elsie Evans, was very pleasant, very helpful and very informative. She pleasantly informed us that we couldn’t have chosen a worse time to drop in (my bad) but we should go up the stairs to the second floor and wait for Elsie, whom was teaching on the third floor until 1:00 p.m. or 30 minutes away. It seems I was standing in front of the live model and this made it rather difficult for the kids to do their assignment. So we did. We went upstairs.
The second floor of Attic Studios looked amazingly like what you would expect from an art studio. Bookshelves full of art books – color coded, no less. And I mean tons of books. A comfortable couch for waiting. Tea and coffee available. And clutter. But not the kind of clutter I produce. No. This was artistic clutter. The kind of clutter that looked cool. The kind of clutter you want to leave as is because … well, because it looks cool. The kind of clutter you wanted to learn how to make, which in my case was why I was there.
As we waited I felt I was in a time warp: adult students came down from the third floor. Parents came up from the first to wait for their children to finish their lesson. And they all looked like they lived in Santa Cruz, California, which once made a Top 100 Artist’s Towns in the USA with populations under 100,000. Only I was in a South East Asian City of 9 to 12 million people, depending on whether she is in yin mode or yang mode, so it was all a bit surreal.
Elsie came down and let us know that she was in the middle of teaching but would be happy to talk to us in about 15 minutes. No worries. It may have been the worst possible time for them but I was enjoying myself. My wife tactfully reminded me that people do make appointments in civilized society and I nodded my head as I looked at the canvas paintings stacked about the walls.
Elsie came down a second time, apologized for the clutter that I was envious of, and proceeded to be charming, inquisitive, patient and most of all genuinely interested in what both my wife and I were interested in, which happened to be quite different from each other. Elsie also gave us a tour of the third and final floor – the main studio, which was also very cool. Cool is cool. It’s as good a word as any to describe all three levels of Attic Studios. As a bonus, Elsie and I both share Scottish ancestry. In Elsie’s case she was born in Scotland before coming to Thailand over twenty years ago. You get the feeling that Elsie has seen every level of art student and in my case every level of fear and her solution seems to be: start. Casual, modest, comfortable and obviously talented with people and art is how I describe Elsie Evans.
Henry Miller, when he went into his Big Sur phase, where he painted a lot, had a security guard to keep unwanted visitors out. And those that were allowed in, were required to read a long hand-written note posted the old fashioned way by Henry on his gate, reminding people, among other things : “When you come please be so kind as to check your neuroses and psychoses at the gate.” I can surmise that Elsie Evans has the type of personality that would have earned her a first name basis with Henry’s security guard and a visit to see Henry any time, had she wanted to. A visit Henry would have looked forward to, not dreaded as he must have with some of his visitors/fans.
There is a quote on the Attic Studios web site, attributed to Elsie that I particularly liked. Since I am doubtful about my artistic ability, it is comforting to know that someone as good and as interesting as Elsie Evans also had that thought. I suspect it is just one of many reasons that make her a good instructor:
Over the years I have painted many portraits in pastel, oil and acrylic. I started them initially because I thought I couldn’t do them ……Wow I was right!!! They were awful. But the human face, all around us, young, old handsome, ugly is fascinating, I had to persevere, still have to. The fluidity of the face is what interests me the most. – Elsie Evans
My hope is, this will not be the last post on this blog about Attic Studios. That I, too, will persevere. Being good at something provides a certain comfort level. Not being good at something and doing it anyway is a whole different ballgame. I am looking forward to learning the rules of the game from Elsie Evans.
Attic Studios provides Adult Workshops; Junior Workshops; Life Drawing Classes; Corporate Events; School Visits; First Friday Events as well as Mural Paintings and Art Restoration. For more information visit their web site, where all the photos used in this blog post came from: http://www.attic-studios.com/ or LIKE them on Facebook at Attic Studios.