This is three weeks of painting effort on the last pose. The pose lasts 1 more week but I 'll be in the city. I'll work on this in the studio over the next week. It is intentionally not a polished realism. It is an exercise in neutrality even exaggeratedly so. When I painted with watercolors I thought of neutrality as earth tone thing. Making grays from colors mixed with various earth toned pigments. These neutrals are created with compliments. The effect is a lot like my acrylics from the 70s, transparent layers that created neutrals achieved unconsciously.
This is a continuation of my last post on finding a non-pose pose. The chosen pose. This is week two of over painting efforts. We have a good mix in our group. Johan Sellenraad a long time local artist transplant from NYC. We work in his studio along the Delaware River in Millanville, PA. Johan makes big, Subaru sized, paintings of canvas in a strong confident style full of reference. Judith Reeve paints with a expert feel for the figure and gorgeous approach to color.
Over the past several years this has been a tremendous education for me. The simple length of time that we have painted together has allowed me to observe and absorb knowledge and attitude that has helped me along my journey. Please visit their web pages to find out more about Johan and Judith.
At our weekly long pose painting session, every Thursday for 3 hours, it was time to find a new pose. Johan likes to find poses that are interesting and not posey. These are the quick 2 to 5 minute poses I did while we searched for the pose. I used grey pastel on bristle plate. Our model Cathrine strikes poses as naturally as breathing. I like all of these gesture pose sketches.
This is the 'non-pose' that we decided on. Not a real expressive gesture but very strong and complicated. Again in chalks.
This is the first session in paint. I'm working on a 24 x 36 canvas. All the colors are roughed in. The drawing needs some adjustment and the color has to be warmed. More next week.
In my previous post of a pair of peaches I took s step in a different direction. Less polish more essence. The juice not the skin of the fruit maybe. This painting of Hickory nuts from the tree in front of my house are the next tippy toe movement on that path. Finding the balance in space. The ground. The harmonious colors. Applying the paint loosely. Scrubbing it out letting it tack up. Repainting the accents and minimal detail. Gently dusting the focus out again. Again applying paint even more sparingly. I think the result is more real than the polished apple realism that I had achieved earlier this year.
In my next post I'm going to elaborate on this by first by going back to my earlier post of my on my journey into realism.
Here's the thing. I haven't been happy with my studio painting for a while. This last month I was painting a boat painting from a photograph. Not a bad photo but hard to in interpret. I thought it would be a good idea to paint a little still life from the real thing. While i was shopping today I bought a couple of peaches to paint this evening. This afternoon I had put the boat painting in a drawer. Maybe in a year or so I'll think its great but it really sucks. What the hell am I doing trying to paint a boat photographed on a overcast shitty day. I think I'll weld that drawer shut.
On to the peaches. I painted for a little over 2 hours. A long time for a small painting and I wasn't even near the end or happy. I started wiping areas repainting them with the same unhappy result. Did I mention that I'm a little over realism. I mean what does it show? That I can copy a photo or a set-up. Big deal. After two or three partial wipes I'd had it. I wiped the whole damn thing and I love it. I smoothed some stuff out. and signed it. To me its reality maybe not realistic but certainly real. The colors are peachy. the light is alive. It has energy and expression. And best of all now I can eat the peaches.
For most of my life i've worked from photographic reference. That's how we were taught back in illustration classes. Of course Life Drawing was a important part of art school but the vocation thing was working from photography. Your own or more than likely others that you collected and categorized in you personal morgue files. The public library even had morgue reference files that you could search. All to much like office work for me. I abandoned reality for humorous imagination while still in school. Somehow relying of morgue picture wasn't a funny idea. Even though I worked from my imagination, working from photos was a big part of my process until 2012 when I left the work world. The first thing I did was mine my collection of thousand of photos subjects to paint. The second was find opportunities to paint from life. I found a weekly life drawing session that was and hour and ten munites each way. I went every week like clock work. It saved my life as an artist.
Since then I've found several other life drawing opportunities closer then the hour ten. Working from life allows you to see in dimension to create and understand space. Every week I paint with Johan Selenradd, Jim McGinty and Judith Reeve. All three incredible and different painters. I learn something new every week, color, composition, space and form. Even the importance of painting just to paint for myself.
The above painting of our model Catherine down over two weeks about 4 and a half hours of painting time. We did two posses combined on 1 canvas. Just great fun. It's unfinhed and will remain so.
This is one of the most painted light houses in Maine. A search will find hundreds of variations of the iconic structure. I think my painting is a little unique in that I focus on the two windows. One has the last light pouring in the other reflecting the darkening sky.. I love looking trough windows in my paintings.
Today I downloaded the Prisma app onto my iPhone. This is a quick self portrait I did a month or so ago. The others are Prisma conversions. Each took about 30 seconds.
These are fabulous! And I think the app was free😜
On Sunday The Upper Delaware Outdoor Painting Society meets at various spots around Wayne County, PA and Sullivan County, New York. This week we, really me, because it's summertime and everyone is busy having fun. Well so was I. After a nice lunch at the Boat House on the lake I heading for the little boro of Hawley. Sat in the shade and did a little sketching. First was the old feed and grain A sturdy old brick structure left over from when this was a more prosperous region. I've also wanted to sketch this place now I have. The awning over the loading dock and one of the upper floor windows are in some serious disrepair but otherwise it appears solid. A point in time.
Around the corner is The Ritz Theater. A very nice, although a bit moldy, old theater and movie house. No more movies here but local production are offered year 'round. I focused on the Marquee. A hodge lodge of motifs and styles. The box office beckons the lure of JuJuBes.
Judith Reeve and I will be sharing a booth at this years Riverfest
Judith Reeve grew up along the Delaware River, not far from Chadds Ford. At the age of nine, she met Andrew Wyeth. This meeting, in hindsight, was a pivotal moment allowing her to recognize the possibility of painting being a vital life-long pursuit. For more information visit Judith Reeve at http://attentiveequations.com
As a student Jim Kingston studied the Brandywine style of Illustration under Norman Baer, a disciple of Howard Pyle. He spent his life in the world of humorous illustration, commercial artist and as a leader in transforming art-production into the digital age. Working in watercolor for most of his life he has transitioned to oil painting over the past 5 years. For more information on Jim Kingston visit his web site; http://jimkingston.com
Behind our house in the woods are a group of Dalleks masquerading as pine trees. The powers are great. But what are the chances of Dr Who showing up here.
I've been busy. Shifting directions a little bit. Not a lot, I'm returning to a more expressive style. A few years ago after a long absent from painting, a five year stint at Bloomberg News, I started a little quest to paint with a more realistic polish. I think I achieved the goal but find the polish a little dull.
For over a year now I've been painting long, up to 9 hour, life poses at Johan Sellenraad's studio. With Johan and Judith Reeve. Two very different influences. I had found myself being frustrated with my fairly good attempts at realism. Real but not expressive. Too much chasing what I thought I was seeing. I had been 'studying ' Judith's color palettes based on the teaching of Robert Henri. That forced me to expand and starve my palette at the same time. Great fun great results. Gone are the umbers and earth tones here now is color based on light.
At the same time I was building Johan's web page in Squarespace. He had it all organized all I had to do was execute it in a format. It was a revelation. Highly expressive realism in coherent theme. Compositional challenge is the cornerstone. Most of the time copying what you see isn't really challenging. It's the artist job. Johan has done a great job of this for his long artist life.
The Upper Delaware River Painting Society. Earlier this spring several of my painting buddy's formed a Facebook group the promote outdoor painting. Really it was a way to force us into the outdoors because we'd rather stay home and eat doughnuts.
So lot's been happening. Lot's more to come.