Archive for January, 2010

What Next?

January 27, 2010

In need of a break from thinking about what to paint, I instead attended an uninstructed figure study session at the Art Students League on Saturday afternoon. Our model held the same pose for three hours, including breaks of course! Although it took me about 15 minutes to find a good viewpoint in the crowded studio, it was refreshing to be surrounded by artists instead of painting alone in my apartment or at a plein-air location. It felt good to “catch a pose” without thinking too much, but the bad news is I have run out of canvases.

Saturday’s model was straightforward to paint. She held her position well, her features were not too angular and her pose was not overly dramatic. My previous attempt at capturing a nude model’s pose occurred in Michelle Torrez’s class last spring. Although daunting initially, I grew to love the exercise of capturing the gestures of models who held poses ranging from 3 to 10 minutes, or a final long pose lasting 20 minutes.

I tried to remember Michelle’s advice on mixing paints to create accurate skin colors. Although my accuracy in rendering her skin tones is questionable, my value contrasts are not. Considering this was my first attempt at a nude in almost a year it is a success!

For Lack of a “Green Thumb”

January 18, 2010

It is only mid-January and I already need a break! My most recent attempt at “marrying” the appearance, colors, values and textures of three South African flowers was ambitious, and the limitations of painting a canvas on my living room table only increased the effort. I lack a “green thumb” both in the garden and the art studio, hence the reason I rarely paint flowers. I began my initial color sketch on January 2nd after a two day snowboarding trip in the high country to bring in the new year. Three days later (of painting that is) I spent an evening in an Art Students League studio. A large easel had never seemed as necessary before.  Its vertical work surface helped me to better unite the three separate backgrounds and values.

What better way to begin the year with yet another trip down memory lane of my recent visit to South Africa. My childhood neighbor Dagmar accompanied me on a tour of Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens one rainy morning. The gardens are world-renowned and span a large majority of the western base of Table Mountain. Only indigenous flowers such as the Protea (top left), and orange Pin Cushion Protea (top right) are cultivated, and the sculpture garden is interspersed with stone carvings by African sculptors. I photographed the third flower in my friend Sheila Chant’s garden in Plettenberg Bay.

My dull apartment lighting and flat painting surface contributed to the muted flowers in this image (left). Although they do resemble my original photographs, each flower’s varying surroundings fail to connect with the others. I patched up the Protea, brightened the pink flower’s petals, and darkened the value contrasts while at the League. I resisted the temptation of using a paintbrush versus a palette knife in my effort to capture the curvaceous appearance of the orange flower’s  petals.

At home on the fourth day, I continued painting the canvas which I placed on my microwave so that it could rest against a wall. I love the end product’s textured 3-dimensional surface. My paintings are becoming increasingly more abstract and I am excited to be taking my first abstract class with Michael Gadlin next month.