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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Freedom

I recently had the first model session in my new studio. The most striking difference is space. In my old studio I could only move a couple of feet in any direction. Now, after settling on a pose, I was free to move in a 180 degree arc looking for just the right working angle. It would be hard to overstate how freeing this new environment is.

Nude Study, oil on canvas, 10" X 14", 2014

Years focusing on still lifes have made me very aware of how important subtle changes can be in a pose. Anyone watching me set up a still life could easily think I was crazy. (I won't dispute this conclusion). I often spent enormous amounts of time moving elements a fraction of an inch. Shifting the light source back and forth till things were just right. Then finally moving the easel an inch or two before starting.

I have done hundreds and hundreds of drawings and paintings from the live figure over a forty plus year span. As I paced back and forth contemplating the above pose something struck me - I'll never come close to exhausting the possibilities. I could have worked from half a dozen different angles on this pose alone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dead or Alive

I often talk about drawings or paintings working or not working. What makes one collection of pencil lines or paint strokes successful and another not? Everyone has their own criteria. For me it is very simple. A work of art is either dead or alive. Of course there are gradations but ultimately it is that simple. This quick gesture study is as alive as any drawing I've ever done.

Female Nude, oil pastel, 5" X 4", 2011

Here is a self portrait from 1987. It isn't the best likeness but it still speaks to me even after 27 years.

Self-Portrait, ball point pen, 9" X 8", 1987

I have quite a few unfinished paintings tucked away around the studio. Many have been there for years existing in some form of suspended animation waiting to be resurrected. When I hold a mirror to them there is still evidence of a faint breath. I'm afraid it's time to admit that nearly all of them are in irreversible comas and aren't going to make it. Every now and then I try to jolt one alive like Frankenstein's monster but my success rate is close to nil.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Opportunity Cost

In December of last year I posted an image of a female nude study and commented that it had cost me half a million dollars. That single drawing didn't cost me a half million dollars but to get to the point where I could do such a drawing did. I came by this number by computing the "opportunity cost" of pursuing my art over my adult lifetime. Opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Half a million dollars is not a precise number but I think it is a conservative one and the meter is still running.

Male Nude, oil pastel, 10 1/2" X 9 1/2", 2014

During my core working years I worked three days a week at a "regular" job. I was lucky enough to have an employer that allowed this. There was always pressure to work full time but I had another agenda. Due to my part time status my income and benefits were three fifths of what they could have been. I have sold a considerable amount of art over the years but much of that income was offset by studio rent, art supplies and model costs.

I have plenty of regrets in my life. Things I wish I hadn't done or would do differently if given the chance. Pursuing art isn't one of them. I would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact I make that decision anew every day. What possible value or price would you put on a life lived in the pursuit of fulfillment?