March 8, 2018

Portrait Exercise

I'm headed to Montana for the rest of the month and before leaving,  I wanted to spend time fooling around with a colorful portrait.  This is based on a photo from Maine a couple of summers ago.

Workshop with Colin Page

I took a workshop last weekend with Colin Page.  He's an artist whose work I've admired for years, seeing it in galleries in Maine, and keeping up with his website.  The weather last weekend was crazy windy and crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to get to the studio was nerve-wracking.  It was good that the focus of the weekend was painting still lifes indoors.

The setups were colorful and chaotic and intimidating.  Without the challenge, I wouldn't have even tried to tackle setting up a still life like that, much less painting it.  Doing it helped me realize that I put up a lot of barriers (takes too long, silk flowers are icky, can't get the arrangement right etc) that really fall away when I have the opportunity to focus exclusively on painting.

Here's the one of my paintings, about 90 minutes in, during the workshop (and that's Colin in the background working with another painter).  I did take it further than this in the workshop, but I think it's not ever going to be "finished."

February 27, 2018

NY Cityscape in process

I was recently in New York City and took photos of the fronts of old apartment buildings with fire escapes.  There must be plein air painters in New York City... but I've never seen anyone out on the narrow sidewalks, so I'm thinking a lot of what we see in art as city street scapes are painted from photo references.  That said, there's photo references and then there's projecting a photo onto a canvas, tracing the outlines of buildings and then painting from that.   I'm fine with people doing whatever works for them, but I personally draw the line at drawing lines from a traced projected photo.  It's just not my way.  I don't use projectors or rulers and I generally don't draw at all on a canvas before I paint.

Which could explain, in some measure, why a lot of photo-realist paintings look a lot more realistic than what I'm going for.  I'm less interested in reality than illusion.

I have been fooling around with the very complicated structures, iron work, looking-up perspective and light patterns on the building facades in this small painting.   It's coming along.

January 18, 2018

The Card Game in progress - Big changes!

I broke away from the color of the slide that I'm using as the reference for this painting.  I was feeling like the warm colors weren't working and that maybe the color was an artifact of old light bulbs or old film.  Here's the new look!  I'm feeling like it's much closer to what I want in the painting, so I'll give it the weekend to see what to look at next.

I've moved on from studies of my grandma's card game, where I was working to find the right way to paint the expression on the faces of the players.  I'm now into a large painting that's coming along, slowly.  I'm still working out composition issues that didn't seem so important in the small studies -- whether or to to paint the Hummel figures on the inset shelf behind the card players, for one -- as well as trying to figure out whether the warm colors of the old Kodachrome slide should be retained or changed to a more balanced warm/cool look.

Here's where it is as of now.

November 28, 2017

Back to the Card Game - updated

Here's the latest update 
I've returned to the old image of my grandmother and friends playing cards.  The earlier sketch I'd done has attracted a lot of comment and interest, especially when people look at the woman on the left.

As with all of these  old images, I'm finding that as I sketch them, they go from being intriguing at this stage (a a lot of white, unresolved space) to a stage that I find less satisfying.

detail from the earlier sketch
I think, in part, it's a function of photos (whether old or not) that lack my eye in defining a focal point.  Of course the other part of that is that I need to adhere less to the strict depiction of the image and more to my vision of what I want to see in the work.  I find the initial sketch brings out large shapes, relationships between objects (or people) and allows me to tell a story.

I'm going to keep playing with painting these old slides and see how I can find the interpretation that works for me.  And for now, I'm going to leave this "unfinished" and think about whether or what comes next.

November 16, 2017

San Francisco Ferry Building

I did a little 8 x 8 painting of the San Francisco Ferry Building today in the studio.  I had the great pleasure of going there earlier this week while visiting a friend in California!

November 9, 2017

Edgemoor Lane Fall -- in progress/updated!

This is after the 2nd day of work on the painting

first day's work

Walking down this sidewalk toward my studio has been a real joy as the leaves have been turning.   I realized today that since I've been thinking about this landscape so much -- how the light hits the maple leaves, how the Japanese maple and holly hedge on the right cast shadows -- that it was time to paint it.

I need to knock back the intensity of the shaded plants on the right -- they jump forward of the maple a fair bit, when they should sit more quietly in deep shade.

Right now there's large blocks of color everywhere, and I had thought before painting that I'd need to break up the leaves on the ground a bit more.  I may study that on my walk to the studio tomorrow and see where it leads me.

November 3, 2017

Birthday Party 1962-3?

I'm still not sure where this project is going, but I'm continuing to explore painting from the slides of my family from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A lot of the slides are cut off in strange ways -- faces cut in half, feet missing and the like -- that is making me wonder if I should fill in some of the details (in this one, I used feet from another slide to rough in the black mary-jane shoes on my sister) or if the strange cropping should be part of the look back into the past?

I love the homemade paper hats we are wearing in this image.  The framed print on the wall is Picasso's The Lovers, which hung in our house when I was growing up, so I guess my grandparents were visiting for our house in upstate NY for a birthday for one of my sisters or me.

October 26, 2017

In the Old Wooden Boat -- in progress

I started this last week -- it's from a slide that must be from 1960 or 61 in the Adirondacks.  That's my grandmother, mother, sisters and I'm the baby in the front seat with the white knit hat on.  Much more work to do on this, particularly on the faces of my sisters.  There's not much detail in them and there won't be, but the shapes of light and shadow aren't right yet.

October 20, 2017

Grandma's Card Game -- updated

here's an update, may still do more work on this but I love the way it feels now...

quick sketch from an old slide
I started a sketch today from a photo of my grandmother and friends playing cards.

Just having fun with these old images!