Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Process

Lautrec drawing of singer Yvette Guilbert (artistic inspiration)
Reference photo for painting

Sophisticated Lady (Rebecca in Gloves)

I'm trying to document my creative process, if only for myself. But I think it is crucial for an artist to look at why certain influences are important, what is the goal of painting or drawing, using a particular process, media, subject matter, color...all of those things. I hope that as I enter information and post paintings, I'll begin to see my own work in a more objective light.
This was a fun piece, one where I began to get more uninhibited with color, less afraid of botching a portrait, and more confident about the "look" I wanted. I did not ask Rebecca to pose like this. It was a natural moment after I gave her the gloves to put on. The portrait of Yvette Guilbert is one I love because it is so dead-on candid and graphically edited to capture the singer exactly as she was. I had hoped to try to capture a similar feeling, even though as you can see from the reference photo, much interpretation was done, but the expression was very much what the drawn portrait suggested, not overtly caricature, but a with enough cheeky wink*wink*! How fun. And Becky is a born artist's model.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Glug glug

Well, the last pic in the series is my latest painting. I felt it is important to look back, see where the journey used to be and where it has led me. The drawing on top (Sara, Smile) was supposedly published in "Strokes of Genius 2". I got no notice of the book's publication and have checked repeatedly on Amazon. I don't know where that went. The drawing is colored pencil, my portrait style in the past. The second piece is a still life painted with acrylic on canvas. The style is remains very sedate and quiet, low key color, more dependent on value for its structure (the lights and darks). Now the third is an extreme departure. It is acrylic on stretched, dyed paper. Even as I myself look at these, I wonder-all have good points, all are the same artist, but who is the real me? I was rejoicing that my husband saw the last painting and said, "How joyful!" That has been my aim. A dear friend and artist in her 80s, whom I have known for years, looked at the style of painting on the canvas and asked me, "Where's your joy?" She told me the most memorable thing about me is my laugh and buoyant presence in life. My work simply did not reflect it. She felt it was all that our family had suffered having a son in prison, and maybe that's in part true, but really, to be completely honest, I was trained as a traditional painter. I was hugely fortunate to have had atelier training after the style of the Old Masters. But there comes a time when one must depart...and yet I know I would not be the excellent painter and draftsman I am without that training.
The vase is a "glug jug", a traditional item found in English homes. When water is poured out of the jug, it makes a very loud, distinctive glug-glug-glug sound.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"White" Vase

I'm trying to keep my goal of a picture a week. This was done on Sunday. I do know if I continue posting and publishing my art, I will have to have better reproduction equipment. The colors are just not right, but at least it gives an idea. For example, the far right corner contains my signature on a red fabric stripe. You can't see it at all. But even with those limitations, this was by far the most confident attempt. I love the stripes, the strong patterns, bold colors and the way acrylic handles. I have continued studying the Post Impressionists and now The Fauves. They were the next group of painters to come along, including Henri Matisse and Andre Derain. The Fauves, or "Wild Beasts", used their own color systems. They did not necessarily, or even never, use local color. Skies were yellow, grass blue-whatever suited the pictorial harmony. Now they were representational painters, which means they painted the observed world, boats, landscapes, figures...but the color was used in a more emotional vernacular, which is what I'm trying to get at, while remaining true to realism. I was also studying Wayne Thiebaud, and I loved one quote out of his book just simply titled with his name,"The simultaneous reading of depth and flatness in paintings...reflects Thiebaud's grappling with the dilemma that faces all modern painters: how to reconcile three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface without adhering to the concept of pictorial space defined in the Renaissance". Yes, uh huh, that's right, Wayne! It's hard. My solution was, let color define shapes only as much as is needed for contrast and separation. The green vase is actually bronze, but the local color did not help my composition. The stripes served as a secondary dissolve into patterning that was not necessary dimensional, and the final horizon of background was my original drip and splattered imprimatura. There are planes of reality, and my thing is, let them coexist. They don't have to be formally reconciled. Isn't that true of the physical and spiritual worlds?

Monday, March 2, 2009

out of darkness


"Little Dipper"


Fruit 3 (so says my photo file!)

..Into the light! Or at least the 21st century digital camera technology age! I clearly have to practice, but because I use really saturated, intense chromas and very "hot" colors, photographing the work is extremely difficult. My little Canon Powershot is not up to the challenge of taking exhibit quality photos. But for keeping records, it's perfect and a heck of a lot smaller, easier and better than film. These are all works in their entirety, Becky at the top, "Little Dipper", my seashells and then fruit I just finished. I haven't titled the three yet. But looking at them together in a file I feel like I'm starting to have artistic consensus. My style is getting there, my color preferences consistent and obvious, and I think this will work for me! The fruit was great fun. And I do think I capture a bit of the Post Impressionist sensibility, getting back to Lautrec. I have to keep trying, keep practicing, and eventually get a digital SLR for show quality photos. I do need to do work that is that first!
I do have to say with Little Dipper I tried to get the feeling of the weight being in front to pull your eyes down like Lautrec-his large images would usually be frontally directed. It just turned out to be a classic genre painting. Every child has this moment, staring longingly at the water and someone else having fun, and wishing mommy would get up and swim, too. It didn't start out that way but I love the concept. I just need to improve and come up with them sooner.
So hopefully my photography and painting will improve together!