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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Maren with Bow, 8 in square, oil on panel

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

L. with Pot and Bird, 22 x18 in, oil on panel

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

Maren, New Born 12 inch square oil on panel

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

SP, Blow 12 x 16 inches oil on panel

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

Eye Surgery. 16 x 10 inches, oil on canvas paper

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.