Monday, February 23, 2009

Fourth stage

I know, I skipped the thrid stage. Well, I didn't skip it, I just didn't post it. All I did was re-establish the darks (as you can see by comparing the first and second stages -- by adding the background by darks seemed washed out in comparison).

Anyway, this is not ment to be an art lesson or anything, I'm just showing the progress of the work at hand. You can see that I've established all of my local colour and my light values.
Now that the whole thing is roughed in I can start applying the paint in more of an imposto method -- trying to break away from the smooth, pollished look to a more tactile, thicker paint.


Here's the latest addition to my little family. It was a Valentine's day gift from my sweetie. I named it "Paprika". I guess you can expect to see a few goldfish watercolours in the future.

It's a tough little sucker to get a decent photo of ... I can only imagine how it's going to be trying to paint those darting, waving colours.

Second Stage

Stage two of the "Crosswalk Politics" piece was simple and direct. While it's still an underpainting, you can see that I've added the background and figure on the sidewalk. I've tried to keep it low key and cool ... as much as you can make a red brick building in the shade cool. I'll return to it when I've established the rest of the colours and values.

I'm still not sure about this whole project. It's an experiment. I'd like to do a whole series of street scenes and hang them together to see if I can pull off a true urban feeling without it being a cleche`.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I took a few days off in conjunction with the weekend. I needed the time off. I’ve been battling self confidence issues and depression. I guess they kind of go hand in hand. I think that all artists battle them from time to time – some of us more than others. It’s a face that we don’t like to show to the world or even those closest to us. It's not a new thing for me - and it's not a pretty thing - I’m not quite myself while trying to pretend that the dragon is not in the room. The thing is, I don’t know if its exhaustion induced, diet, chemical, or psychological. I have the nagging feeling that it could be the latter because of the upcoming departure from the safety of my j-o-b. It’s not something that I am going into blindly or taking lightly.

It took me the first day or two off just sort of pulling myself together … then I pushed myself to work on a still life. I struggled with it … and felt myself recovering a little. Just the act of painting really helped. But second and third looks at the work threatened to split me apart again. I didn’t scrap the first start, ‘cause I do see that it can be salvaged – I think, but I got a better start at the still life the second time with some suggestions from Bren, at least I think that the start is decent – time will tell, really.

Wanting to put a distance to the whole still life saga for a little while, I started something completely different. It’s a bit of a departure for me.

Late last summer I was wanderin’ around in the city just taking it all in. It was a sunny, breezy afternoon and I was just enjoying watching the people and taking pictures of just about everything with my new camera. As I was shutter-bugging, I saw a rather interesting old duffer in one of those old man "go-to-hell hats" (don’t ask me what that means, exactly, I heard the term a few times down in Biloxi, MS, and never did figure it out). He had one of those faces that would be wonderful to sketch if you could get the codger to sit still long enough.

The man was following a rather impressive schnozz. Two other gentlemen were at his heels, and they were all crossing the busy intersection at the cross-walk. I actually couldn’t decide if the three were together or the two other guys were merely following the nose in the chapeau. The two in question seemed to be trying to stay up with the first as they shared a very animated conversation, one of them gesticulating as his comb-over flapped in the wind. For the entire world, it looked like two cronies trying to keep up with their boss while discussing some world-shaking, important legislature or something. For all I know, though, they could have been discussing the recent Red Sox win, some juicy office gossip, or hoe-handle production for fiscal year 2007.

While deleting a ton of unwanted photos from my computer today, I stumbled on the scene described above. At the time that I took the picture I thought that it might make a fun watercolour. Finding it tonight I was again inspired by the photo, but decided to do it as an oil painting instead of water paint.

As long as I was doing something so different, I thought that it might be a good idea to rough it out in great detail, as has been suggested to me by my wonderful Brennie. It’s not my normal m.o. but perhaps it should be – at least a little more than I usually do.

The activity was therapeutic and helped me work through some more issues. I liked the way that the work was going. Also, while I worked, a decent title came to me; “Cross-Walk Politics”. At least that will be my working title (always subject to change).

One of the things, though, about painting strangers from photos, is of a legal nature; in order to show it – sell it in the gallery, I either must alter the features of the three enough that they won’t be recognized, or I’ve got to sleuth them out and get them to sign a model release form. In spite of the rather photo-realistic approach that I’ve started with, I hope to loosen up a little in subsequent sessions. Maybe recognition and identification won’t be much of an issue.

I’ll try to be a little better about keeping up with this post so that you can see how it develops. It’s going to be a little tricky; the difference between an illustration and a fine art painting done from photo references is a hair-splitting affair. Mostly, though, I think that it stems from intent. My intentions aren’t to illustrate an article or anything, they are to capture a certain time in this nation when we all seem to be concerned with and focused on things economic and political.

We could go off on a tangent here about illustration v fine art … but, like I say; it’s hair splitting – one could make the argument that most of Rembrandt’s work was of an illustrative nature because he drew inspiration from stories in the scriptures. We won’t go there. We’ll leave that to the so-called art historians and critics.

Anyway, here for your perusal, is a look at the start of my therapy piece.