Monday, December 30, 2013

Twenty For 2013

It’s been a productive year, and I’ve had great support from everyone who follows the blog. I’m ending with twenty new images of small-scale paintings and sketchbook drawings.  There’s a lot I could say about each one, but this time I thought I’d give them their privacy.

I hope we can all go farther in the year ahead.

"Figure Near A  Yellow Wall"-acrylic on canvas, 7" x 5"

"White Skirt"-mixed media on paper, 12" x 9"

"Drawn In Paint"- acrylic on panel,  9" x 12"

"Tilted Gaze"- acrylic on wood, 12" x 9"

"Lagoon (Long View)"-acrylic on paper, 10" x 10"

"Garden Bench"- acrylic & pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

"Garden Light"-acrylic on linen, 9" x 12"

"Lagoon (Magenta Mix)"-acrylic on wood, 10" x 10"

"BART Sleeper"-colored pencil on paper, 8" x 8"

 "Shoulder & Hand"- colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

"Two Greens"-acrylic on wood, 12" x 12'

""Lagoon In Autumn"-acrylic on canvas,  5" x 7"

"Woman With A Cane"-colored pencil on paper,  8" x 8"

"Hand On A Chair"-tempera & crayon on paper, 12" x 9"

"Rio Del Mar"-acrylic on canvas, 10" x 12"

"Buttoned Dress"-acrylic on linen, 10" x 8"

"Rio Del Mar 2"-acrylic on paper, 10" x 10"

"Irishman"-colored pencil on paper, 8" x 8"

"Garden Bench 2"-acrylic & colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

"Red & Blue Figure"-acrylic on wood, 12" x 12"

Friday, November 29, 2013

9 From November

Work continues on the smaller drawings and paintings. In the new year, I’ll be having a solo show of large-scale figure paintings. For now,  landscapes and life-drawing sessions take up most of my time.
“Floor Pose” was drawn from the model and then re-drawn from a photograph. The forced stillness in the face is the opposite of naturalism, but it’s also true to the pose.

"Floor Pose"-colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

In “Garden Figure,” the figure and ground  are connected by fragmentary color. The caffeinated marks still somehow manage to convey contemplation: a woman sitting, looking out over a garden--but with all the electrons painted in.

"Garden Figure"-acrylic on wood, 12" x 12"

As in “Floor Pose,” “ Right Glance” was first drawn from the model, but many months went by before I re-drew it from a photograph.  It’s a classically over-staged life-drawing pose, a study in angles and melodrama, which suits me fine.

"Right Glance"-colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

“Green Blouse” is another hothouse flower; the simplified setting wasn’t  about to keep me from laying on the color.  All she needs is a rose in her hair to turn it into a flamenco poster.

"Green Blouse"-acrylic on paper, 10" x 10"

I continue to do a lot of on-the-spot pencil drawings, and “Toddler” is a good example of the practice. It was done in less than five minutes, with vision and revision as one thing.

"Toddler"-colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

“Green Scarf & Sweater” returns to the garden setting but in a quieter frame of mind. It’s so muted & non-specific, I’m surprised I kept it,  but there’s also some sense of mystery there that continues to hold my attention.

"Green Scarf & Sweater"-acrylic on paper, 10" x 10"

“Vest” has the specificity that “Green Scarf & Sweater” lacks, the feeling of a particular person alive to a particular moment.  There’s the same sureness as in the “Toddler” drawing, but in this case it took me three or four hours to acheive.

"Vest"--colored pencil on paper, 12" x 9"

The first Wilder image here is a trumped-up addition. It certainly wasn’t done this month, maybe not even this year. Still, it connects with “Wilder Blues” (a bona fide November entry )  in a curious way.  A single color dominates both scenes, red in the first painting and blue in the second, but each of them is counterbalanced in a very different way. 

"Wilder Storage Tank & Barn"-acrylic on wood, 16" x 12"

"Wilder Blues"-acrylic on paper, 10" x10"

See you next month with a final post from Lucky ’13.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Garden, Studio & Lagoon


It’s been a fine month to paint outdoors, notwithstanding the recent blast of cool weather. I’ve been working from the model in a garden setting and continuing the landscapes around Neary’s Lagoon. The color has shifted a bit, sometimes settling on neutrals, other times turning to the primaries—it all depends on the quality of the light. Even so, many of these images were restructured in the studio. The studio-changes were mostly a matter of strengthening color, since acrylics can lose intensity after drying; however, a few images were essentially transformed.

“October Garden 1” uses the contrast of warm reds and bright paper white. This time I painted straight into the light, and the glare comes across in the unpainted areas.

"October Garden 1"- acrylic on paper, 11" x 11"

Switching to panel in “October Garden 2,” the central image is a bit more definite. The background and figure are woven together by the rhythm of the brushstrokes, but there isn’t a lot of depth to the painting; it’s more like a an intricate piece of decoration.

"October Garden 2"- acrylic on panel, 12" x 12"

The drawing “Tunic” is include here as an example of the sources used in the paintings. Each outdoor session begins with some brief drawing time to warm up and to try out poses. Once in a while, these warm-ups go well enough that they deserve to be shown.

"Tunic"- tempera on paper, 9" x 12"

“October  Garden 3” has some quality that I’m still trying to figure out. Rather than being made by someone and presented to an audience, here the image feels like a collection of isolated movements joined together as the viewer focuses.

"October Garden 3"- acrylic on panel, 12" x 10 1/2"

The Garden series may have more entries. “October Garden 4”  & “Sling-Back Chair” were both started and completed indoors. In “…4, ” the garden was invented from memory. In the context of the garden series, “Sling-Back Chair” retains some of its predecessors’ light and air.

"October Garden 4"- acrylic on wood, 9" x 10"

"Sling-Back Chair"- acrylic on panel, 10" x 9 1/2"

Out at the lagoon, fall continues to accentuate the yellows.  If I were back in Manhattan, looking out my window at endless gray, these are the kind of paintings I’d put on my walls.

"Lagoon Waterside"- 9" x 10"

"Lagoon In Sunlight"-acrylic on panel, 9" x 10"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Smaller Paradise

Small-scale work was the beginning for me, mostly landscapes painted outdoors. Over the years, my paintings have gotten larger (especially the studio canvases) and they seem to take everything I’ve got. In smaller work, I feel less pressure and greater control. Color becomes central. Form, and the forms of intent that manifest it, play a secondary part.

"Blue Structures"- acrylic on wood, 8" x 10"

The setting for figures can be a reinterpretation of the observed background. Alternately, the setting  can be a mood that acts like three-point perspective, moving the eye forward to the primary image.

"In Orange"-acrylic on paper, 11  1/2" x 9  1/2"

Figure and ground can also work as a unified architectural rhythm. In “Doreen, Yellow Chair,” my  main concern was to make the background emphasize the falling verticals that shape the figure.

"Doreen, Yellow Chair"-acrylic on wood, 7  1/4" x 6  3/4"

Painting outside is a constant education. The tilt of hills, the reversal of water as sky, and a thousand other incidents combine to demonstrate unity, not as a force, but as a language.

"Lagoon, Yellow Hillside"-acrylic on wood, 10" x 10"

After you accustom yourself to a small format, there's plenty of room in a 10-inch square for character and detail, without having to resort to tight rendering.  In “Doreen, Pleather Chair,” I tried to make the figure as solid as possible and still be non-photographic.

"Doreen, Pleather Chair"- acrylic on wood, 10" x 10"

In the painting “In White,” I was less concerned with contour than transparency. I wanted that watery quality  to carry  through skin, foliage and even the furniture. “In Orange,” the darkness shifts forward; here the light pushes toward the surface, helped by the original under-painting.

"In White"-acrylic on paper, 13" x 11"

With “Cowgirl,” the attitude evident in the clothes and posture is ( I hope) softened by the patterning of the background.  Again, the under-painted color is used to try to break down the barrier between the inside and outside of the forms.

"Cowgirl"-acrylic on paper, 9  3/4" x 6"

“Small Paradise” is an idyll that uses a combination of observed and remembered poses.  Sometimes painting is a fact and sometimes it’s a means of transportation. Here the intention is simple: whatever you see and remember can also be reconstructed as a paradise.

"Small Paradise"-acrylic on panel, 10" x 10"

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Road To Simplify

This is the second in a pair of male bathers, both of which began from photographs and drawings.  It shows an older man, seen from above, with fragments of secondary figures extending off the canvas. The cropping and aerial view came from a photograph, but after the initial session, drawings became the central source for the painting. ( If you scroll down, the drawings can be seen in last month’s post).

Older Bathers #2-1

  In version 5, the paint-handling remains fairly loose, but the structure of the painting is beginning to tighten-up.

Older Bathers #2-5

By version 10, some interesting sections of the painting had been built up, but it still felt like a collection of fragments. What little connection there was between the parts was achieved by alternating color in the contour lines.

Older Bathers #2-10

In spite of some pleasing flourishes, version 13 pushed the mechanistic feeling of the painting to the limit. It had become stylized to the point of losing any human connection.

Older Bathers #2-13

 The alternatives seemed pretty clear. I could abandon it and start over from scratch, or scrape it back  and lose a lot of  “good-looking” painting. After I decided these good-looking areas were mostly flash,  I opted to scrape it back.  

Older Bathers #2-17

Painters tell themselves to be ready to sacrifice any part of the image in order to make the painting stronger as a whole. It isn't an easy guideline to follow, but through the rest of the process, that was my policy.
A return to a more humanized form was clear by version 22. I had pared down the painting and at the same time gained back some emotional content. Still, the balance of color and value wasn’t what I wanted, so the search went on.

Older Bathers #2-22

  After more than two dozen variations, this one felt right. Though it wasn't an easy painting (they almost never are), I was finally rewarded by something in the work.  

"Older Bathers #2"-oil on canvas, 54" x 48"