Working from photo’s

In the Atelier forum on facebook they have been talking about the pros and cons of working from life vs. photos. It is pretty much agreed that working from life is required for any serious student of art. However some were of the viewpoint that working from photo reference was somehow not as valid as work done in front of a live model or still life. Well, that is very easy to say for someone that has access to *space*. Models can be found, still lives set up… life is everywhere, just paint from it, right? Easier said than done when there is no space between your easel, the wall in front of it and the wall behind you. When I one day have the luxury to have a nice little set up to my right or left that is appropriately eye level then that day I will work from life every day, day in and day out and love the hell out of it. When I one day have the gift of being able to place a model a reasonable distance away from my easel so I might use sight size I will have a personal renaissance of drawing and painting only from the life. Until then I will take advantage of the models at school WHEN I can and I will paint and draw from *whatever* I need to so that I can continue to work at home and fill that crazy need within to just “do it”.

Absurd to think that somehow there is less validity in the work of an artist that has no access to the luxury of studio space. It is thoughts like that that create a subtle and specific kind of elitism that can divide even something as free as making art into the “have’s” and the “have not’s”

Speaking of photo’s… I have been working on a few pastels lately. I thought I would show the the steps so far of one work in progress. The still life comes from a larger still life I set up and took multiple photo’s of creating different individual still lifes. I spent some time drawing from the still life before I had to take it down due to above mentioned space issues. Now I am working primarily from memory and photo reference. It still has a long way to go – I’ll post it again when it is finished.

Done! Anchorage & Irene

I finally finished my pastel “Anchorage! You can see the progression in the below posts. It has come a long way, and it took me a long time to finish but I fell in love with the subject even more so than when I began. The light in Anchorage in the evening is the most amazing light I have ever seen. I have also finished a little drawing called “Irene”. I had some fun with this one adding abstractions and atmosphere to it. Now it’s time to start new work. that is always a little unnerving.

I am going to do a large drawing in the style of :Reverie” or another girl reading a book. I already prepared the drawing board and it is just waiting. It is going to be approx 18×24 in graphite, charcoal and Conte Noir. I am also starting two pastel still lives and an abstract snowy landscape of Anchorage again. And I am still working on my little grisaille still life. I want to start a new painting so bad I can taste it. In color even!¬† Anyway, here is “Anchorage” and “Irene” . I really hope you like them!

Anchorage_completeIrene_lg

Latest WIP: Anchorage Out my Window

Here is the latest from my work in progress of Anchorage. In the post below you can see the progression. It has a ways to go before it is done. I am really struggling with the path and I have not evens really started on defining the tree sky edges but I am starting to see it really emerge. I am working so hard on my classical drawing and on my value paintings that it is refreshing to work in color on this one.

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Seraphim – Acrylic on paper

I just finished this small painting of an angel. This is the last acrylic I am going to do on the very rough 140lb Arches Watercolor Paper. I liked the matte effect the acrylics achieved on the paper but it is just too hard to get any detail at all, it is rough on the brushes and the paper likes to roll a bit after it is removed form the board. This goes for my acrylic abstracts as well. I think I am going to be painting on canvas and on panels that I prepare from now on. I really did like the effect the watercolor paper had on the acrylic though. Ah well, another experiment done. By the time I learn to paint I will know exactly what I want to paint on. Where my skills are really being tuned are my still lifes in drawing and pastel. But I am compelled to paint and I know one day my skill will meet my vision. It is just a matter of ‘doing the work every day’. Something inside compels me now like a man on fire… but happy. The symbol of the Seraphim has much significance for me and it is really an overly simplistic title for this piece. I am very influenced by alchemical image and vision.

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Squash on Blue – First Pastel Drawing

My first pastel drawing is done. I know it is really simple but it is my first use of the medium and was the most fun with a medium that I have had since I had to stop oil painting. The only thing about pastel that makes me cringe is the vulnerability of the surface but I am using a self prepared surface that has a lot of pumice tooth so your not supposed to have to worry about the permanence. Still….. In all other regards it a really fun medium. Pure, opaque pigment lets you layer easily and blend there on the paper. People call it drawing but it feels quite like painting to me. I do miss using my brushes though, and the smell of turp. As a alternative medium it is making really happy at the moment. I am working on two other pastels I will post the results when they are done.

Hard Pastel
Prepared Arches Paper
11″ x 15″

SquashonBlue

Reverie – Graphite, Conte on Paper

Here is a gallery of my most recent drawing Reverie. I am finally starting to come into my own in class and get comfortable with the mediums. I have also been looking at a ton of great contemporary representational artists that both elevate my aspirations and inspire my learning. Looking at great art also keeps you humble, very, very humble! For the first time in a completed drawing I achieved the goals I had and found a few unexpected lessons along the way. I am now drawing almost every moment that I am not in class or asleep and I am loving it. I am also exploring pastels and will put up my first pastel eggs as soon as I get a picture of them.

I am so grateful to the circumstances that have made my study of art possible – though they are so – very – hard. At 46 years old you hear a lot of things in your mind that carry doubt and fear. To start over, to begin new where I should have begun years ago is a humbling moment of acknowledging big mistakes and embracing a future that you have no idea where it will lead. So many of the artist’s I look at with awe are younger than me and have already been doing their art 10-15 years, and I wonder if I can even achieve half of what they have achieved in terms of craft, I wonder if I should even be so bold as to try. The answer to that lay in my heart and is truth, and must be honored. One thing that my experiences and age has taught me is to appreciate the ride, enjoy the act of creating itself and don’t let competition and outcomes drive too much of your activity. It is the ego that wants to be a great artist. It is the Artist that simply wants to create. Be the artist, do your very best.
Reverie_med

ReverieGraphite and Conte Pierre Noirre on Paper
15.5″ x 22″

Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

This is the most encouraging and inspiring talk that I have heard, possibly ever. Ya, it is that good.

As you may know I am going back to school at 46 years old. I ran into some really difficult times over the last few years that pretty much ‘simplified’ everything for me and opened up some time. Instead of letting the losses get me down anymore – I am turning it into an the opportunity of a lifetime. A time to completely re-invent myself in the image of who I have always wanted to be, doing what I have always wanted to do – make art. Some people have told me that it is too late to learn the skills I need to express myself the way I would like. There is the fear that I am nuts for trying to establish myself as an artist so late in life. They are saying it is too late to be who I want to be – and I refuse to believe that.

This talk is not just for young graduates, but for anyone that is on the artist’s journey – no matter when it begins.

Composition 23 – New Work

I just finished a new piece. This is a 15″ x 11″ Acrylic on¬†Arches 140 lb., cold press paper. I have a really small working area in my flat so am limited in size and to a certain extent gesture, but not imagination. I have found the challenges of working both small and in acrylic really interesting. I’ve become very aware of how external constraints manifest themselves both in the conceiving and the execution of a work. I am just starting to get used to the small size and re-discovering my voice all over again.

Composition 23

Composition 23