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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Self Portrait in Black Hat 1

9x12 oil on canvas

Because I am taking a class from a figure drawing association where they teach you how to draw and paint like Rembrandt, and all their work looks like a Rembrandt, and who doesn't like Rembrandt?, and even if you don't want to paint like Rembrandt, you want to know the method so you can do your own thing hopefully at that level ... anyway, all this pressure is making me want to paint like anybody but Rembrandt and to use any palette but his. So I whipped out my splurge tube of Old Holland Veronese green and built myself a palette of this with Winsor red,  Raw Sienna,  Alizarine, Cad yellow, also Ultramarine, and yes even some sap green so I could get a good black. Here's the thing: I'm just going to have to figure out how to do it with color. I can't be making brown paintings. It was exciting to use this fabulous green -- and because I was semi-hysterical overreacting while I was painting I figured out just from vigorous blundering how to tame the green, how to mix it into everything so there was some harmony, but the painting, whatever the quality of the image is, has color that (in my opinion)works, and does not read as brown. Bwa-ha-ha!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pomeranian Twins

14 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

Here they are, the Pomeranian Twins.  This is the latest addition to the crew of dogs rescued by
the Dallas couple.  A few years ago I copied some paintings of Queen Marianna by Velasquez because I fell in love with (among other things) the steady gaze of the young queen, so grave and patient. The gaze is the same here. And both Queen M. and the Pomeranians had good bling to paint, always fun.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jean on the Pillow, 2

16 x20 inches,
charcoal on butcher paper

This is another go with the Natrim charcoal. It did not stay up on the surface on this paper as it did on the Mi-tientes so it was hard to manage. With drawing, the paper becomes a concern, how to keep it intact, keep its surface receptive, get the charcoal to come off, not too much, not too little. (Unlike painting, where you can happily work the surface to death, scrape it down, still viable.) This is a different method of drawing than I have used before, because only the big shapes are established in the beginning, so there is a lot of adjusting and fitting pieces together while the charcoal is still light. Maybe everyone draws this way, I don't know.  It's certainly an easier way to quickly get the whole figure in proportion. But there's a guy in my drop in life drawing class who starts with the tip of the model's thumb and moves the entire figure out from that point, everything in its perfect place ---aaaugh! Well --
crawl, walk, run, I say.

Friday, January 16, 2015


oil on canvas, 10 inches square

I have painted 13 or 14 dogs belonging to a couple in Dallas, and this is a new one in the gang. They collect sick animals that have no hope, pay for their outrageously expensive surgeries, and then give them a new life in their home. At Halloween they dress everybody up and take pictures. This is Daisy, new to the family but I think elderly. Two more are coming, twin Pomeranians wearing crowns. Really fun to paint - I love doing them.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Jean on the Pillow 1

20x16 inches, charcoal on paper

This is the first of my efforts with the Natrim charcoal, expensive Italian charcoal in long squared off bars. They come in different hardnesses and you have to sharpen them to a 3 inch gradually tapering point. They are temperamental, in that sometimes the density of the charcoal is too high and you can't get a mark out of them. The desired effect as I understand it, is to get a very even patch of mark making, a perfectly flat area. So you have to learn what the charcoal will do, how it can be built up in flat tone. Then the gradual darkening occurs over this tone, by gently adding more charcoal, because if you did the first layers correctly you will have a smooth surface which will hold more and more... This is almost more painting than drawing. Mark making is not the first priority, although there is a bit. I got way too dark here too fast.

My most favorite and entirely delicious movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, just got 9 Oscar nominations, which makes me so happy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Mugshot 86: Aubrey

8x6" oil on panel

OK, back in the saddle after the Christmas frenzy. I am involved now in two outside activities, a drop in life drawing group and an actual class at Los Angeles Association of Figurative art, Exploring Portraiture. I'm doing lots of drawing, so pleased about this because it is the most obvious way to improve. In the portrait class, the method of drawing requires attention to the masses and the forsaking of line, the line, the beautiful line, which I love but might be the enemy of painting. Maybe it's just MY enemy because I have relied overmuch on it. Anyway, the important part of this is to see the masses and how they connect. Now I'm practicing mass-seeing at the bank, the grocery store,  the conversation where I'm trapped.