In my opinion, the Hudson Valley is a growing center for the arts. When I first think of places that hold a lot of art, I usually think of major metropolitan cities — but upstate New York is still rich with a vibrant art and music scene. Major films are being shot in and around New Paltz and even some celebrities have become familiar faces walking along Main Street like Kate McKinnon and Penn Badgley. The town has a booming DIY music scene, with spectacular shows in the basement of a stranger’s house or one of our town’s notorious bars. We also have amazing visual artists who spend time creating amazing works, from our very own SUNY New Paltz students to local talents who have made New Paltz their stomping grounds. One artist in particular is creating an environment for young creatives to express their skills under his particular guidance and methods.
Alex Canelos has opened up his home studio right off Main Street to enrich the lives of younger artists who are “interested and enamored with drawing.” He created his nonprofit organization, Sevenfold Guild for Collaborative Arts, less than a year ago in March, but Cenelos explains that, “the idea behind it started 20 years ago. I’ve been doing art lessons here and there, just one off lessons. So I thought, let me start from here, start small, and let’s kind of see where it goes from here.”
While interviewing Alex Canelos for The Oracle, he took me on a journey through his classroom and artistic process when creating a curriculum for his students. Canelos began with a drawing warm-up, which consisted of loose organic lines to create abstract images. The lines are used to get students thinking about movement and to get into a rhythm tempo. The exercise reminds us to relax our mind. “Part of what happens is that we might come from another class, a math class or something like that and we’re just so tensed up and then we start drawing. It’s a good way to warm up and start working,” Canelos said.
Something about Canelos’ method of teaching that I find different from other forms of training is that he doesn’t ask his students to regurgitate an image in front of them. He really goes into the process of creating a drawing, highlighting the key aspect of telling a story.
“That storytelling aspect is really important. I took this character, still in pencil, still erasable, but then we get to a point where we’re using inks and a brush,” he said. “That’s where there’s no erasing. You have to try to get into a sort of place where I’m gonna make this mark, it might fail horribly, or it might come out the way I wanted it to.” He makes note of the importance of how sometimes when making art, you don’t always create the image that was in your mind, part of the process is working and adapting with what you’ve made. “I have an image in my mind of how something’s going to turn out, and it almost never turns out as I expected, and how to navigate that difference between [them],” said Canelos.
The Sevenfold Guild for Collaborative Arts offers multiple classes for different experience levels such as cast drawing, linear perspective, figure drawing and comics drawings for tweens. The age range for students is 12-19 years old, but Canelos explains that he’s willing to work with students of all ages as long as they show the drive and passion. The studio space can accommodate three students per session, with classes being held between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., allowing Canelos to teach up to 36 students. The Sevenfold Guild for Collaborative Arts is always looking for new talents to work with, and has even offered apprenticeships for SUNY New Paltz students.
Alex Canelos uses his passion for art and shares his knowledge with the lives of young artists daily. The classes that Canelos offers are perfect for anyone first starting out, looking to expand their skill or looking for a nice after school activity. Make sure to check out Canelos’ website or Instagram if you are interested in learning more or check out one of their classes!