Sunday, May 21, 2017
This was done from a Christmas photograph, and so -- many challenges, oy! In particular, the edges, some merged and some stingingly clear against the dark. I looked at lots of portraits for help, or permission, or whatever jolt forward I could get hold of. Some of the most helpful were: Jennifer Balkan, Suzanne du Toit, Frank Duveneck, and the most awe inspiring that brings me to my knees, Rembrandt's Portrait of a Girl in a Gold Braided Coat. That painting is so amazing it makes me afraid to paint anything. Best to ration your exposure, like look at it at night, and then there will be some hours before you are at work again.
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
I learned a lot on this one. The portrait was mostly painted first and then seemed to need the bird. I crowd sourced the bird (for approval) on instagram. Everybody liked a different bird. but it was helpful to see all the variations...I am a new user, so still stumbling along there. I painted 8 or 10 birds on her shoulder in various degrees of color intensity and personality intensity. Then I removed the bird altogether and it seemed empty, so back it went. And now I have a sort of narrative painting and I don't want a narrative, however -- it seems like maybe this one could be such mysterious narrative that is could be ok. Maybe a FELT narrative. That might be like an alternative fact, though.
Also I learned that that when painting goes wrong, or anything else for that matter, it is a good idea to go directly to youtube and watch episodes of Tapeman, you feel much better immediately and it frees you up to make changes and not be too serious.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
In this painting I had an opportunity to execute (!!) a move I learned last year in Joseph Todorovitch's class. I asked him about laying in a highlight and he informed me that the whole surface of the skin had to be prepared to accept it, so it had to be worked up in graded values to the pitch where it took the highlight at the top of the light scale. That entire conversation made me see the surface of skin differently, also for me it it was an opportunity to further break the brush stroke, which I prefer. T.'s work is in the category of "naturalism", where everything is smooth and perfect.
This baby is 2 minutes old and being held by the nurse, ...I would like to have seen the rest of the nurse....her hand is so long and flat. I bet all the nurse's bones are long. Anyway, newborn babies are fun to paint while they are still in the mashed form and a little swollen. Hard to get the photo though - most people are apologetic or thinking it's something not to show around.
I used more color and purposely stepped outside of my palette, ( alizarin, yellow ochre and ultramarine) adding cerulean to get a glowing blue green. I've been reading about people's palettes, most painters seem to pride themselves on a smallish one which is supposed to insure color harmony. Oy, another frontier.
Friday, January 13, 2017
My intentions were to go for color, and worse still, pattern in the background. As I got going it seemed that the folds of my nightgown, which I had tied around my head, made a busy enough area, so I let it go. Maybe you have to hold the intention of pattern in your head in a strong way and not let the painting take you where you are not wanting to go, maybe even do the pattern first and outsmart yourself.
For years I have been trying to figure how to do Van Gogh, how to have the color and the form too.There is a majesty about just the skin itself that might supersede color, maybe you have to give first importance to the skin until you get weary of it, and then you can go for the color. Might be a good problem for exercises. I have a little postcard of a baby's head by V.G. in my studio, the whole thing is mint green, the baby AND the background, and it is just jaw dropping good. There are not that many paintings of babies that I remember as good, or remarkable, but his are always positively gripping.
Friday, January 6, 2017
It is what it is.
How many times I have thrilled, I mean really gasped out loud -- to see that line that Freud can paint on the top of the lower eye lid. It is usually pinkish or reddish, it gleams on the edge of that flap of flesh that embraces the lower part of the eye, and all the complexity of the eye ball and lids pass into my understanding, and also its aliveness, its wetness. I am waiting for that day to come for me. I have painted it, and wiped it out 10 thousand times. Maybe his models had more protruding eyes, his lights were better, they all had allergies.....I don't know the answer. I wanna see that line and paint it and have it work.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
Another year under the belt. These are my offering to the drawing group Christmas bash, at which there are multiple models to draw from and plenty of food and drink. Ah, Los Angeles...
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Although I have not posted at all since May I have been painting consistently but wiping most of them. This one though is a commission and I used real linen and worked larger, life size -- so I knew I had to take the painting all the way to the finish line. That sort of altered the way I tackled it. Also I did a few preliminary oil sketches to get familiar with everything and had a wee bit more confidence when I got down to business. I just loved his face, his level gaze. And the plaid, the plaid!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
This one was touch and go. A.had just got a bad haircut and was very upset, crying, and her nose and eyes were red and swollen. I was immediately in a hurry to get it down ( and yet not seem heartless) but keep her in her engorged state as long as possible.
Monday, April 25, 2016
This is the nicest guy ever, the guy you would want to be your lawyer if you HAD to have one. He attends the same drop in life drawing session I go to, and agreed to let me shoot him under the model's light -- which as you can see is extreme from the top down, a very friendly situation for painting. There was a painting on the wall behind him which I took out and then put back because -- well, this guy can really draw and yet is a lawyer, and I think all lawyers should have to take some life drawing classes along the way and learn to see human beings with some tenderness, and when I am dictator.....
But really, this painting is all about the plaid shirt.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
This is a second painting of an earlier photograph from 2 summers back, may not be the same pose, but same sitting. 4 Italian women took me to see the Kahlo show in Rome and I asked them to dress up as Frida (afterwards) and I shot them to paint. This was based on Ellen Heck's Forty Fridas show - heartbreaking beautiful. I found painting the women much more difficult than I thought -- I didn't quite have the skills to get what I wanted, and what I wanted was a good Ellen Heck. I am laughing to realize that now. However I have continued to paint them and slowly they are coming into my own version of them. This is G., a proud beauty. There was so much definite pink and green in her skin because of the lighting -- we were in front of a balcony of course, with the sunshine streaming into the darkened room -- and then I had to figure out how to lay the pinks over the greens and vice versa and preserve each color but match tone. Really interesting technically to do, and fun to try to get it.
Friday, April 22, 2016
This started out in realism and finished itself in abstraction, my old home.
I have a thing about plates, dishes --- I love them. Also fun to work biggish again, to really swing the arm and use fat brushes and palette knives and work in a frenzy, collapse into a chair and evaluate for a couple of hours. Realism is a different way of working (for me so far), a lot of technical stuff (and some of it crap I think, but which?) needs to be established and then I think, transcended. Oy, I don't know the answers.
Well, I have been doing a lot of painting but no posting because I have been taking a class with Joseph Todorovitch and learning new stuff, therefore I've been in that in-between place where nothing is any good, nothing really resolved because, well, the whole experience rocked my world.
I recently decided I would finish everything up, starting from the left off place of not knowing what to do, and just taking the whole thing gently but firmly to its logical end. New stuff seeps in somehow, but it's the old bicycle thing, all the parts working smoothly without wrenching effort, and then you're simply riding, fantastic
Do more painting is the thing to do, and make more of an effort to paint for pleasure. So in these paintings next up, it's what I did for fun.
Monday, January 25, 2016
I've done this motif several times, trying to work my way through it, to learn about the space, color, landscape (aaaugh!) clouds, lots of new things, but fun things. This still isn't what I want...I wanted something that is more abstract and modern in regard to color and space. Still this was fun to execute. And I can see better what the problems are that must be dealt with in the planning stages. Upper one is mine and the lower is by Piero della Francesca, known in Italy as "The Nose". Correct title is: Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, c. 1485.
Friday, January 8, 2016
This was a quick sketch at the end of the day. I used big brushes and lots of paint and medium and worked like a house afire and did not let myself put the details or highlights in until the very end, also tried to get the big spaces covered right away, including the background. Now I know to get my background color in early, otherwise I have color troubles, things don't relate. In this one I wanted the stark white of the bathroom behind her so that overall the painting is quiet, bathroomish. She was crying hard because her sister was taking up too much room in the tub, so her eyes are red and she is aggrieved. It was really fun to paint...I'm getting faster, finally!
Wait a minute.....
I just realized I have hit the 100 mark so I went back to find my first mugshot, and here he is, done July 2011. It is a complete mystery to me how I assimilated whatever was necessary for me to be able to paint the one above.... It isn't that I didn't try hard for this one below - in fact at every step along the way I concentrated and gnashed my teeth and thrashed about, tried to ask the right questions so I could get the answers I needed, took classes, looked at painting, stretched as much as I could, painted as much as possible,etc, and did not feel much better about the results. Apparently if you stick at it though, the information enters you. I can think of no other explanation. I regret that I feel it necessary to say that I know I am not now arrived at any high place, but even I can see the difference between these two, and I'm encouraged!
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
As soon as I saw this man I was beside myself to have his photograph. He graciously agreed to pose. I have another shot of him smiling but it is not as interesting of course. On this occasion he was returning to his hometown to receive awards and celebrate his retirement. Thank you, where ever you are.
Monday, November 30, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
This is 8 x 10 or so, oil on board. His skin was so colorful, pearlescent. And there was such sweetness in his face. It is difficult for me to recall an American adolescent, or anyone else for that matter, with such an absence of cynicism. You never really know about these things, even so - beautiful to observe it.
Friday, November 20, 2015
This is the second painting of a boy/man in a painting class I took last year. He was indifferent to everything that went on, never brought supplies, borrowed everything from the rest of us, came late or not at all, was emotionless on the surface. And yet, he had a sort of princely thing about him. He was young enough to have softness in his face still. He seemed strongly rooted.
It has occurred to me recently that I have underestimated how long it would take to learn the skills that are necessary for realism - and I don't even want to do photorealism, or any heroic form of realism....just a straightforward realistic take on the beingness quality of the model - how to state that? - and also to have the physical presence of paint, lots of paint. So now that I realize I had that (ridiculous) goal, of thinking I would reach a level of competence and could go on to other issues, maybe I will have more room, more ease in the process of doing it. Maybe be more r-r-r-r-r-relaxed.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
This is about 10 x 14 inches, on Italian linen sheets that are gessoed, all in a pad. Much superior to the American ones, easy to work with. Have been still looking at Maria Lassnig's work, thinking how to paint in this more personal way and still have flesh, Lucien Freud's sort of flesh. I haven't a clue how to achieve this other than stumbling toward this idea.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
With Maria Lassnig in my heart, I am soldiering on, looking for a way to use color differently and also psychological acumen rather than precision. Although, of course, it would be very fine to also have precision.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I have another jam jar label to do a painting for, so I have done a couple of warm ups. In Italy when the season is finished for something there is no more of it to be had, so I thought to brush up on plum while there still are some.
Monday, July 13, 2015
I'm working in Italy in not optimal conditions, but who cares, que sera, sera...
My real camera is not working so I have to make do with the iPhone camera.
I have been looking a lot at Maria Lassnig's work, she has many portraits with pots on the head, and so just for fun ---- my sainted relatives agreed to pose. Fun to do something that is not heavy.
Now off for apperitivi.
Friday, March 20, 2015
5 inches square oil on panel
I am working on a larger painting and I'm scared. It's going pretty well, actually, but I get nervous.
If I have a smaller painting to work on with fewer issues and some opportunity to make things work quickly, and then possibly post it at the end of the painting day, I'm less nervous about the big painting. And if I do the little painting first and fast and the big painting doesn't work, I don't immediately conclude that I should have gone to secretarial school. This could be neurotic or smart.
This is one of the remaining lamb chops on aluminum foil.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
6x8 oil on panel
Some fun must be had between the slogging bits. Meat is as much fun to paint as pastry and less dangerous. With meat though, if you are going to eat it, you have to race - I figure it's ok to be under the lights for 1 hour, more than that and they are sacrificed to art. The lamp causes them to constantly change, slumping down and beginning the colorful disintegration. This can't be thought about too much or you can't eat them. And it's very hard to throw out lamb chops. I found a pack of 5 at Trader Joe's at a very good price, so I can have a couple of more goes.
The second is a little color swatch of Veronese green. I didn't have any thalo green to compare -- V. green is much less agressive. But not shy, either.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
8x6 inches, oil on panel
This is an important thing I have learned during this stint with the Russian painters: get a base layer of paint down first and paint everything else into it. I have been fitting the pieces, the many thousands of pieces of tone and half tone, into the whole, like a puzzle. At the moment my opinion is that flesh is painted best (in oils) with this approach, because the nature of the oily fat paint is already so close to the look of skin. Not that you can't get some chop to it...some blocky bits which lay on top of each other and are not blended. I am anti-blend, don't know how this is going to work out.
I have been looking at Frank Duveneck's work this week, just below mine -- such confident brushwork. Just enough, almost underdone. You can see that every thing is worked into an average skin color, the brushwork is economical and direct. This photo of course doesn't do it justice, the paint is sumptuous.
Monday, March 16, 2015
This is a fellow painter in my class. I took photos of anybody who would let me do it, everybody wincing. Harsh light from the top is the painter's friend, if not theirs.
Thank you all for those encouraging comments on my last post, I appreciate it!
Monday, March 9, 2015
8x10 inches oil on panel
I have been painting like mad but not posting because I have been taking painting classes and doing exercises on all the off days. As usual, I find when I take a workshop I can do nothing, can't control anything, can't get any effect, and finally cannot find any joy in painting at all. This time though, because the classes have lasted about 6 months, I calmed down enough to stop expecting any results and learned how to put the paint down differently, which is what I was after. My instructor painted in an academic manner and was articulate about the processes, also was a really nice guy and let me pick his brain. I took in lots of little paintings and he pointed out the problems and we talked about how to solve them. When you boil it all down, it always is the same, you have to see differently, but once you do....Yes! I think I have turned a corner at last. One of the many corners.
Because I have been having trouble getting a good solid sense of form, I shot some photos with an overhead LED reading light shining down on me, so I could get a distinct light/dark pattern and painted from it. That move is a big help before you even get going.