The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog starts in my second year of working almost exclusively from the figure.

In the fall of 2015 I reintroduced still lifes and an occasional cityscape into my painting repertoire. Rather than abandon this figure blog or start a new one I decided to just add them to the conservation.

All drawings and paintings posted on this blog were done entirely from the live model.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Your First Time

Anyone who has worked from the live nude remembers their first time. Mine was in California in the early 1970's. I was taking a beginning life drawing class at Long Beach State University. The memory is still quite clear. The initial shock of facing a naked model followed almost immediately by the more shocking realization I had to draw something. The scene was exhilarating and a bit frightening.  I regretfully didn't save the drawing.

I'm trying to imagine at that moment what synapses triggered in my brain and where the impulses landed. I think even forty odd years later I still go to that place in my mind when working from the figure. Every live session has some resonance of that first time. Most are toned down versions due to years of familiarity. Some still approach that intensity when the pose and environment are particularly suitable.

Seated Nude, oil pastel, 11 1/4" X 7 1/2", 2012

I have spent the last two years working almost exclusively from the figure but continue to call myself a still life painter. That's what I painted for over thirty years. I'm not sufficiently comfortable or confident with the figure to claim to be a figurative painter. Working from a live model involves another person in the creative process. There are complexities and personalities I haven't explored or even imagined.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Timeless

Stating the obvious I'm a realist painter. I would describe my work as traditional and I suppose much of it could be viewed as academic. My current painting method and style, however, haven't evolved from traditional academic study. Since leaving school in the mid 1970's my primary learning method has been trial and error (lots of error). Partly because of this I've always felt my work is of its time. I date my paintings and drawings with just the year. The century I assume would be obvious.

 Nude Study, oil on canvas, 11" X 9", 2013

I can't put my finger on why but there is something about this nude that gives it a timeless quality. I've never felt this before in a painting. If I signed it 1913 or even 1813 I'm not sure even someone well versed in art history would readily dispute the date.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hindsight

It is very difficult to be objective about ones own art. This is especially true with just completed works. Viewing your work through the lens of time can clarify flaws not apparent initially. Sometimes overnight I can make a clear objective critique. Other times I need months or even years to see a work without bias. This time aided insight is one of my primary learning tools. If I can objectively see what's wrong in an older work I must be making progress.


Seated Figure, colored pencil, 10 1/2" X 9", 2006

The reverse can also happen. I often go through old drawings looking to toss images that no longer serve a purpose. On rare occasions, as with the image above, I find one that might make my current "so close" category. This seated nude was from eight years ago. Always the critic I think the front hand needs to be larger as it comes toward the viewer. But I can see I was working in the moment and the lines were sure and confident. Even though flawed this drawing possesses a certain power.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Closure

I've gradually become aware over the last couple of years that the paintings I want to do - need to do - can't happen in my current studio. It's affordable and artfully funky but the rooms are just too small. I've had my eye out for a new space. There have been a couple of possibilities but nothing has materialized. To break my inertia I have been considering increasingly radical plans to start movement toward the door.

In the midst of these unsettled feelings I decided to do a "closure" painting. I would do an interior oil that would hopefully capture some essence of the place and let me move on. With a difficult perspective in the tight space I thought it wise to do a preliminary drawing - something I almost never do. I set to work about six weeks ago. The drawing process was so enjoyable I decided to forgo the painting and let the drawing be the finished product. I had no way of knowing this would be my last work in my alley studio.

Studio Interior (Model on Break), oil pastel, 12" X 15", 2014

Within a couple of weeks of starting this project another studio space suddenly became available. The new space is a bit of a wreck but it is just what I have been searching for. Coincidence? Would the new space have presented itself had I not begun this drawing? There is no way to know the answer. I'm not particularly superstitious but the timing of these events has me thinking.