The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog started 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.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Performance Anxiety

At a live figure session both model and artist are in a sense performing. The model acts as the stationary muse while the artist works to capture some essence of the moment. One might think group sessions would be the more intimidating environment. Surprisingly, not for me. With twelve artists in a room I'm less self-conscious about my work than when it's just the model and myself. The group provides a certain level of anonymity.

When starting a private session with a model I find myself confessing that I don't know what I'm doing. I'm not trying to be self-deprecating or humble. I think I'm trying to inoculate both of us to the process we are about to witnesses. As I stand in front of a blank canvas I honestly don't have a clue what is going to happen.

Academic Male Nude, oil on linen
38" X 20", 2014

No one likes to stumble in front of an audience, even an audience of one. When you are working from life sometimes the marks you put down are just wrong. As time passes I'm less inhibited about people seeing my mistakes. Painting the live figure is a journey often involving miscues and wrong turns. The challenge is to keep finding ways back to the solid path.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Self-Centered Lot

Most artists I have known over the years tend to be self-centered, many too a fault. I am as guilty as anyone. Being ego-centric about one's art is undoubtedly necessary to produce anything worthwhile. But an unwillingness to seek out and appreciate the artistic endeavors of others can be detrimental. If you don't objectively look at work outside your own sphere you can't possibly get better.

Reclining Nude, oil pastel, 6" X 9", 2012

Some artists don't even feign interest in other artists work. Most express only a fleeting curiosity before re-focusing on their own narrow world. We should keep in mind that there is intrinsic value in everyones work. Sometimes it's just the enthusiasm they bring to the act of creation but that may be the most important value of all.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mine Field

It's happened. I've begun analyzing not just how I make pictures but why I make pictures. I suppose doing this blog it was inevitable. Dissecting my working process and painting methods has been extremely helpful. But looking too deeply into desires and motivations is a mine field.
Two Figures, oil on linen, 42" X 33 1/2", 2014

This is the largest and most complex figurative painting I've ever attempted. It's not perfect and I have some "issues" but it satisfies something in me. I left it hanging in the studio to contemplate. It started messing with my head.

I don't know from what spring the initial concept for this painting emerged. I don't know how the energy continued to flow to see the painting to completion. I do know that I don't need to quantify or justify what or why I paint. Some things are best just experienced.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Déjà Vu

I've seen this pose before. It happens every now and then. Working from the figure over a long period of time it is inevitable that one will encounter the same or very similar poses.

This is the vantage point I was presented with at a recent group session. I like foreshortened angles but this particular one was just too familiar. I got up and searched the room for a fresh point of view only to find all the "prime" locations taken. I retreated to my spot and set to work. I reasoned that no pose or situation is exactly the same so I'll try to extract the essence from this one.

Reclining Nude, oil pastel, 9" X 11", 2014

Photographing the drawing in the studio the next day I had a strong feeling of deja vu. Then I remembered a drawing that had only recently surfaced. An old friend had kept it. I probably would have tossed it years ago. It offered me a record breaking 39 year gap comparison!
Reclining Nude, graphite, 6 1/2" X 6 1/2", 1975
Collection of Arleigh Williams

It is nearly impossible for two poses to be exactly the same. There are a virtually limitless number of subtle position variations. But as these two drawings show they can come awfully close.