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!
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.
For fun here is the start of a new pastel I am working on. The image is a view out my window of my little apartment when I lived in Anchorage. These are underpaintings. I usually use a very bight colors to lay out my compositions and establish color balance then work my way deeper and deeper into more realistic tones letting the colors shine through. This one will go through quite a bit of evolution before it is done and it will be weeks. I love pastel. I am working hard on classical drawing practice and painting oils in indirect grisaille, it is a rigorous discipline. The pastel gives me a chance to breath and work directly with color. I think it is important as I learn the traditional methods to keep making pictures that are colorful and fun. One feeds the other and it is all a path to finding your own expression which emerges out of the sfumato of your efforts.
Umber underpainting with open grisaille on the right.
I have decided to begin my oil painting re-introduction in Grisaille, or monochrome. I will be using a gray palette where I can focus on learning the feel of the paint in application and clearly communicate value. I am basically teaching myself painting using my drawing classes as a foundation and information I can find online from classical realists and different ateliers that openly share knowledge.
I applaud the ateliers that do this. They are making at least some portion of a classical education available to us who simply cannot afford the atelier classes. I know that without the critique of an experienced teacher it is an uphill battle with results that may never match those with a full house of classes and workshops but, what? Do I just not do it because I can’t pursue the curriculum full tilt boogie. Do I wallow in the discouragement or just get over it and paint. I seek to find the best sources of information and apply it to the best of my ability. I am very fortunate to be able to take figure drawing and classical drawing at the Neoteric Renaissance School of Art. Drawing is the backbone of my painting program. I have already seen a vast improvement in my painting from where I left off over ten years ago just through applying how I am starting to see and sticking with the spirit of classical art studies.
All that said I begin with two still lifes.
The first some eggs and the second some oranges. I will post some as I move forward in the work. Below are my under paintings and the “open grisaille” beginnings along with the reference material I am working from. I have no room in my very small apartment for a still life so I am relegated to working with photos of still lives I have put together. The drawings are done using a grid system and the techniques I am learning via the Bargue system of drawing. The under painting is a burnt umber. The grisaille palette is a value string made of a mixture of ivory black and burnt umber for the dark and titanium white for the light. I am using a nine value string. My lean medium for my open grisaille is turpenoid with a tad of liquin to assist drying time. My fat medium will have a little more of the liquin.
Other than that, in terms of application I feel like I am learning to drive for the first time and I am just a little out of control of the car.
On the easel today — a painting of a woman with roses. The reference for this is a cemetery statue. It is a umber under-painting. The detail in the eyes and flesh will be worked in at the color phase.
I am using a new medium – water soluble oil paints. I just started experimenting with them last Wednesday. I like them very much more than the acrylics I have been fighting with for so long. They are buttery and work into a nice consistency or glaze when using the thinner and mediums made for it. They are not quite as nice as regular oils but it is real oil paint with a real oil paint feel. This makes me very, very happy and is a solution to a quandry I have had for a very long time. Next challenge – how to do multiple oil paintings in a tiny studio environment.
Also is a pastel I just started today of the redwoods in Henry Cowell park. This one has a long way to go too!
New drawings for my final project. Bell Book and Candle Series, Pastel on prepared paper. I like these though not as much as some others I have done recently. I was trying to use use the marks to give a subdued, realistic still life energy and atmosphere. There is a symbolic story to the series drawing from the literary and mystical traditions of the object relationships.
In Christopher Marlowe’s play Doctor Faustus, the lead character is subjected to excommunication using this process: “Bell, book, and candle; candle, book and bell, / Forward and backward, to curse Faustus to hell.” (Scene 7, lines 83-84).
My title piece, Bell, Book and Candle (the three items) is the final piece and represents the closure of the excommunication, a renunciation and the final end/death. Like the Death card in the Tarot – it has a reverse significance. In death is a new beginning.
Of course, the paintings have to communicate this in some way, and in that I was not as successful and I would have liked to have been. Pastel is a new medium for me and it was fun to work with, through trixtie. Lost control of it a little, also the series went a little darker in value than I intended when all was said and done. Loved doing the realism of the still life, I think I lost it a little in the marks. All in all tons of lesson! And fortunatly, there is always more art to make!
Bell Book and Candle 15″x22″ pastel on prepared paper
Hard at work on my four pieces for my final project. A lot going on in a very little space… They will look very different when done than they way they look here. Things are flowing very well! I love pastels. The marks you can make are so amazing. I have however, devised a way to paint with oils in my little apartment. I will try it this summer. We shall see. I will always have a fondness and will probably always do pastels.
This is a color study I did of a broom I have on my door. The detail of the wood handle was surprising to me. It amazed me the detail I was able to get with pastel, being they feel like little rocks in your hands. (The whole piece photo is curved.)
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.
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.
ReverieGraphite and Conte Pierre Noirre on Paper
15.5″ x 22″