The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog started August 9th, 2012 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 add them to the conservation.

All drawings and paintings posted on this blog were done entirely from live models or on location.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blind Certainty

Have you ever been certain about something? So certain that you plunge into a task not bothering to pause and question the initial premise. So certain that you are blind to any warnings of potential problems. In a sense every painting requires a certain level of myopia. If you stopped to do a realistic assessment of your chances for success you might not start.

Drapery Study with Nude, oil on linen, 26" X 30", 2004 - 2006

This is the first painting for which I hired a private model. It was 2004. The painting I envisioned was to have a prominent drapery study with a nude figure as a secondary element. I had worked the drapery to near completion before engaging the model. To say this was not a good way to approach a painting would be a gross understatement but it seemed plausible at the time. As is often the case this image looks better in reproduction. In real life the figure is disjointed and never fit naturally with the drapery. The composition is constrained and awkward.

Looking back I now see this project as a colossal overreach. I was in way past my competence level. So it joins my stack of failed canvases. I now try to approach a painting with my mind and eyes as open as possible and a constructive skepticism has replaced certainty.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Getting Away

A little over two weeks ago I went on a nine day vacation with my family. I spent the time kayaking, swimming, sunning and reading - lots of reading. No internet. No cell phone. I had no intention of doing any drawing or painting and didn't.

Upon my return I was refreshed and seemingly ready "to get back to it". Except that I wasn't. Instead of being greeted by my two paintings in progress, I was confronted with a backlog of long neglected projects. Canvases needed to be stretched and primed, business cards needed updating. Decisions needed to be made regarding a future exhibition. I even made some small corrections to a couple of "finished" drawings that had been nagging me. It has taken a full week to feel caught up.

Nude Study, oil pastel, 10" X 7", 2014

Before going on vacation I was so focused on my painting and studio issues that basic tasks had been ignored. I was oblivious to a growing list of obligations. More than likely these chores would have eventually become unmanageable.  It's important to periodically get away - to fully disengage. I returned with a fresh, clearer perspective.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I've decided to dedicate my one year blogging anniversary to the figure model. In particular those who have posed for me. Ten years ago when I started focusing on the figure I knew I wanted to work from life. The prospect of hiring models was both exciting and daunting. What I didn't and couldn't anticipate was how important a good working relationship would be in this equation.

Reclining Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 9" X 11", 2012

Working with a model is a collaborative effort. Sometimes a models contribution is simply their own unique posing style. With longer term projects it can be more complex. Something about a lifestyle or personality often becomes an integral part of a work. A good figurative drawing or painting doesn't just reflect an artist's vision it must also capture some inner essence of the model.

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 9" X 12", 2013

This might also be a good time for some apologies to all who have modeled for me. For the twenty minute poses that turned into forty five minute poses. For the "just one more minute" that turned into ten. For putting up with my frustrations and ramblings. And now we can add enduring no air conditioning in a second floor studio over a Chinese restaurant - in August. (Oh and just a heads up there is no heat either). Why on earth would anyone put up with all this?  I'm grateful you have, thanks.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Past vs Present (Part Two)

After my last lengthy and less than successful attempt at a self-portrait I had no intension of doing another - at least not for a long time. Then a highly improbable series of events led me to draw the second image below. It's on cheep paper so the drawing is a bit rough but the 19 year gap comparison was irresistible.

Self-Portrait, colored pencil, 10 1/2 X 8 1/2, 1995

Self-Portrait, oil pastel, 9" X 6", 2014

Same old serious mug eh?