So- as I've worked my way down the luminous lines that comprise silverpoint, I've found myself wanting to go in the opposite direction as well, deep into the velvety blacks that comprise charcoal. Problem is, I've never like working with charcoal myself, even though I've always enjoyed the look of it when handled well by others. It's been in the same category I reserve for pastels and watercolor: something other people do but doesn't appeal to me because of the way I work. Problem is, there's not another good way to get those blacks, and learning how to handle black has been on my "to do" list for far too long. so- it was time to bite the bullet, and I assigned myself a drawing in order to learn a little about the medium besides what I'd already learned from quick sketches, before I embarked on a piece of work that I was really invested in.
It wasn't as bad, or as messy as I'd feared- and it didn't get away from me, as I'd also feared. I guess thousands of artists over the last few thousand years can't have gotten it wrong. More to learn, but at least I've made it through the icebreaker.Comment on or Share this Article →
So- I'm too distracted by the studio move(s) and spring and shows to work well. Ruined what was a promising silverpoint the day before yesterday, and with it my entry for Virginia Artists 2013. Deep sigh. Nothing to do for it, so I crossed the deadline off of my list, and have been dedicating myself to organizational activity for the last two days. Needs must. Painting the walls and assembling a new drafting table at d'Art. Still need to shop for a new task chair. Taking down drawings that need to be delivered to the Creative Mark show in Suffolk on Saturday, and bringing in a basic load of paintings to 111. Varnishing, photographing and framing a few of the "kitchen" paintings that have been stashed in shoeboxes around the home studio- the little pieces that have at their heart my lunch or dinner or a snack- you get the idea. They're all under 6" x 8" and headed down to 111 tomorrow to have a place on a wall- no more shoe boxes for them. Here they are in all their digital glory. If you have a chance, come on down to 111 Pennsylvania Ave in Norfolk for a glass of wine on the evening of Friday, the 19th and you can see them up close and personal.
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Well- at least a few things were settled over the course of the week. "A Pair" was selected to be part of the Mid Atlantic Exhibit, at d'Art in Norfolk, which then allowed me to determine which drawings were headed to the "Creative Mark" drawing invitational in Suffolk. (For any of you wishing to attend, more information is available at the "Events" tab.) It'll be interesting to see how they fare, and what kind of company they'll be keeping; acceptance rate was under 14% this year and I gather that entries came in from all over the country. Good fun!
Playing the catch-up game progressed as well; another little portrait, Pixie, is finally complete. Three to go, plus the big one on the easel, but I am grateful to cut down on "my to do" list in any way shape or form. In any case, on Tuesday, when so many things were still flying about the ethers, and after having spent Monday working my way through another ongoing, long term project, I decided that I needed to just FINISH something, so I started a little landscape which I worked on that day, and then again today after the first layer had skinned over, and unlike most of my projects, it's done, and done quickly, and while I might not want to work that way every day, it sure feels good to just blow off a little steam, to start and complete something on just the first surge of energy. Now on to laying out the piece I have in mind for submission to Virginia Artists, which won't be done in a couple of days, continuing the catch-up, and waiting for other possibilities to evolve.
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so... I promised myself that I would mail the packages, do some laundry, total all my receipts for the tax preparer, translate some Kathe Kollwitz, and then go and work on the black jacket in this portrait. Or the piano. Anyhoo, something dark. But then I was at the easel, and the light was just right, and before I knew it, in I went to do some up close and personal work on hands and then tho' I didn't mean to, Andrey's face, and what can I say- the Black Keys were playing and I started having way too much fun to stop and before I knew it, it's now and time to make dinner. Taxes and laundry and Kathe Kollwitz tomorrow...
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Trying to think long range, prioritize after losing five working weeks- what balls can be dropped and which can be juggled, and which ones are crystal, that is to say, would shatter if I let them slip. Still working at home- haven't managed to move more than the big easel down to 111, and next weekend I'm off to see if I jury into another studio setting, and if juried in what would be on offer from them. All of which makes me wonder if I should just hold off on moving anything anywhere for the time being and just continue to work in my own garret studio with its fine skylights. Moving time = time away from the drawing board/easel.
There's more to be paid for the lost time; shows I won't be able to enter, etc., and the catch-up work on commissions still requires a lot of catching up, and then there's the work I can see in my head, the in-sights that are demanding to be let out. Now that I have my energy back I'm waking up in the middle of the night again thinking about all of it again; the one benefit of my illness was that I was so exhausted that I could sleep for eight hours straight, woohoo, without being nudged awake by easel dreams that intruded upon my sleep like honey badgers.
This piece is coming along, but I'm beginning to think I'm going to have to restretch it a wee bit smaller.Comment on or Share this Article →
During the course of the last two and a half years as I painted and drew my way to the M.F.A., I was often asked about whether I would teach painting and drawing. Drawing I could fathom, but teaching painting seemed somehow out of reach. I thought that perhaps it was because I have been drawing for so much longer than I have been painting, but everytime I contemplated explaining anything but the most rudimentary of processes, I started drawing blanks, particularly when it came to explaining how I went about the business of moving paint with a brush.
I honestly have no good idea, except that a good sound track seems vital.
This portrait was begun when I was ill and pretty foggy brained, and when I came upstairs to look at it the day after I'd put down the bones, I stood in front of it wondering just how it had made its way unto the canvas. And a big, 4' x 5', canvas at that- two lifesize subjects and a grand piano. Clearer brained, I set about trying to make rational decisions about my pallette, brushes, mediums, but in the end it was to no avail- I just felt my way though the tubes and squished. How to explain that to a student? And so it continued today, but really, I have faith that somehow, it's just going to work out. Not exactly edifying explanation of technique, but maybe the thought that one can pull it off is the most important thing. Still, this I know- it's merely impossible as a teaching methodology.Comment on or Share this Article →
Brought the big easel down to 111 Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday in preparation for painting in my studio away from home. I'd hope to move down there a few weeks ago, but a bad case of pneumonia and a follow on reaction to an antibiotic thwarted me- the antibiotic gave a shake, and disallowed me lifting my arms. No painting, not even any drawing for a few weeks. I don't want to be in that position again any time soon. I mean, I like reading, but just consuming and not creating was the most demoralizing experience I'd had in a long time.
Slowly but surely I'm recovering, tho' not as quickly as I'd like. Managed to stretch a large 4' x 6' canvas, but then was wiped out. Moved the easel, but then was wiped out. Layed down the basis for a formal portrait, but couldn't contemplate painting for another hour, much less two. That's turning out to be a good thing for this piece, I think- I've had to really assess what will make it work, and decided that it'll be all about the textures- the high gloss of the piano, the sheen of silk, the opaque darkness of wool, and then the essential humanity of the bits and pieces of exposed skin.
I'll take the painting down to 111 next week, and start working on it there, in the fine north light of the front studio. Going to "work", instead of just shambling up the stairs to the studio, getting distracted by the dogs or the dust bunnies but painting in a fishbowl, as it were. More later on how this experiment goes.Comment on or Share this Article →
I delivered "branching" to its new home yesterday and helped determine where and how it would hang. It's a large drawing, just about six feet long- my wingspan, as it were. It ended up in a spot that was remarkably similar to where I would have hung it had it come home with me- its limbs fingering out unto a pale blue wall as if it was planned for the spot. The morning light hit it just right; it looked ready to embrace the world. Made me a little misty.
The new members of the smallcanvas studio web of allies had chosen the piece because it spoke to them and as they articulated to me the reasons why they'd decided to bring it into their lives I thought about how extraordinarily fitting it was, and how it paralleled my impulse to make the piece but was still quite their own. I think about that often when in the studio- my reasons for making a piece are one thing when it is under my hand, but when I've done my job, then the piece's own life begins, with a purpose I can only guess at, and that in a nutshell is what determines its, not my, success.
Just a little background on the drawing before I go. It's about life size, the subject being a small and well groomed fig tree that I pass many time in any given week either on foot with the poodles, or when I bike by. Fruit trees are very much the dogs of the arborial realm, I've decided- tended to and shaped to enhance their relationship with humans more than any other trees. This one is particularly well loved, despite evidence of some past injury to its core. In life, I could just about span its reach. When I began the drawing last January, I took a deep breath, and I continued to breath deeply for a good 90-100 hours until I declared it done. Originally I'd intended to leave it barren and bereft, but at the last minute decided it needed a little magic, and in a nod to my northern European roots, I festooned it with a wee bit of mistletoe, for the protection to life that it affords.
Then I was done, and it was ready for its own adventures, first as the pediment of the "innagaddavida" altar installation at the Visual Arts Center, in Portsmouth; then off to the Peninsula Fine Art Center Biennial in Newport News, where it took an award of excellence; and then finally to 111 Art in Norfolk so that I could defend my thesis, and where it took pride of place, looking out through the front window, and reaching out as it were, to passerby, until one took it home to a wall like a blue sky.Comment on or Share this Article →
...and it seemed fitting that I finally got around to organizing and updating the web site. More of that to come, but in the meantime, let me know what you think of the look and direction. I've archived most of the old stuff, and shuffled the collections. I'll probably delete at least one of those in the weeks to come, and disperse the contents to other galleries. I'll also be playing with the background colors, trying to figure out which will serve the drawings and silverpoints best; the dark background of the old design was not doing them any favors. Anyhoo- I appreciate the input, and hope to see all of you more often in the coming year!
I also hope to be settling into a new studio- more on that later as things shake out. In the meantime, it's back to the drawing board (and the easel) scratching all the itches that had to wait while worked on the thesis show and documentation, and sometimes just letting off a little steam. Lots of metalpoint ahead (mostly gold and silver), a few portraits that have been waiting in the wings, and who knows what else.
Here's the latest, "Life Lesson" a small (4" x 5") silverpoint that's destined for the TAA Miniature show. It's a study for a larger silverpoint that I'll begin shortly. Speaking of which- it's that time.Comment on or Share this Article →
I've been slow in loading the silver/gold/copperpoints into the portfolio; I am/have been waiting for time to add its seasoning: these are all still so new that they have very little oxidation which will eventually darken and warm them.
Here are three for the road.
"wish"- a small piece, 5" x 4" executed on prepared paper; "nautilus", 7" x 5", on goatskin parchment (!), and
vine, 16" x 28" on prepared paper.
They are part of the body of work that will comprise the second chapter of the thesis, and I'm planning on another four or five in the portfolio over the next few months in order to have a proper conversation going on the walls.Comment on or Share this Article →