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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Lemonade Stand

My wife and I recently came as close as we get to having an argument. Being unable to satisfactorily articulate my position I lost the discourse. It seems the ten year old grandson of an acquaintance has been producing art work, glass candle holders and such and selling them at fairs and on line. He has a professional business card and an enthusiastic sales rep in Grandma. My wife sees this as a good thing. After all at a very early age he is learning a craft and the business side of art.

Mad Magazine character, fountain pen
3" X 2 1/2", 1960's

Mad Magazine character, fountain pen
3" X 2 1/2", 1960's

With a new fountain pen, around the age of our young glass artist, I copied the above drawings from Mad MagazineIt would never have occurred to me to try to sell them. I suppose where art is concerned I am naive and idealistic but it is doubtful my work would be where it is today if I wasn't.

In the context of a children's lemonade stand this ten year olds endeavor is a fun and uplifting story. I don't for a moment begrudge his efforts or any potential successes. But I can't help thinking that by commercializing a child's artwork, equating art and money so early, something profound may be damaged or even lost - that sense of joy and satisfaction in the simple act of creation.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

"Only connect …"

E. M. Forster's novel Howards End begins with the simple epigraph "Only connect …". I have always interpreted this as Forster referring to human interactions. Central to our lives are relationships and how we connect with those around us.

Multiple times in these posts I have stressed how important making a working connection with a subject is to realizing a meaningful drawing or painting. In recent months I have unconsciously stumbled upon an insight into this evasive union. Achieving it requires one to surrender - totally - to the moment and task at hand. If contact is to be made it will happen in that context on it's own accord.

Reclining Nude, oil pastel, 9" X 8 1/2". 2013

As surely as I type these words this revelation will prove to be a chimera. But a least for now, temporarily, a path to that elusive connection seems clear to me.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Abstraction

It has always been my contention that good abstraction has its roots in realism and that at the heart of realism lies abstraction.

Depicting objects, people and places in some recognizable way has always been my goal. It is the way I interpret subjects and approach drawing and painting. At the same time I admire abstraction and have always anticipated moving in that direction. This shift won't happen by accident. At some point I will have to make a deliberate attempt to "see" abstractly.

Nude, oil on linen, 5" X 6 1/2", 2007-8

The above image is a cropped version of a larger painting. The original included an entire figure crossed legged in front of a curtained window. The end result wasn't successful and the canvas eventually found its way into the discard pile. On the verge of throwing it away I wondered if maybe a section could stand as a whole.

This is as close as I have come to seeing the abstract qualities in the human form. They only became apparent after the fact. Perhaps it can suggest a path away from pure realism but in all likelihood I am wired to see the world that way.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Costly Nudes

Working from the live nude has been of immeasurable benefit to my overall drawing and painting skills. At the same time pursuing the nude has had adverse consequences when it comes to the commercial side of my art career. This is not said with any regrets but just as a fact. It's not simply that nudes take time away from other subjects or have a limited collector base. In a much broader sense nudes, male nudes in particular, make many people uncomfortable. I have no way of grasping to what extent this is the case.

Female Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 9 1/4" X  13", 2012

The vast majority of would be buyers who find their way to my studio are looking for cityscapes or still lifes. I have made a habit of putting away most of the nudes or at least turning them to the wall. I don't do this out of any embarrassment on my part but to spare others possible discomfort.

Perhaps this perception is misguided. Maybe people are more open minded regarding nudity in an artistic setting than I imagine. But somehow it seems a simple art nude still has the power to shock while at the same time impoverish its creator.