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.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Post-Truth

The Oxford Dictionary has designated "post-truth" as the word of the year. The general meaning being that we live in a time where what one believes to be true is more important than what facts may indicate.

Female Nude, oil pastel on toned Canson paper
10 1/2" X 8", 2016


For too many of life's endeavors it is difficult to quantify what is true or false. To my thinking, at least where the arts are concerned, questions involving truth speak to integrity. On occasion certain works simply ring true.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Doubt Revisited

I wrote a post three years ago about doubt (see December 30th 2013). For most artists some doubt regarding their work is unavoidable and even desirable. But I have always viewed self doubt as a lack of confidence and therefore a character flaw. That is until I came across this quote by Henry James: "We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."

Female Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 10 1/2" X 9", 2016

I am currently going through an uncertain period with my painting. To say that I have doubts relating to multiple aspects of my work would be an understatement. Before reading James I would have been doing some major hand wringing right about now. But what a comforting option he has given me.


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Baby Won't Wait

I know artists who work best under the impending deadline of a show. Other than the rare commission I haven't worked with any real deadlines since art school and I like it that way. A couple of weeks ago I got word of another expectant mother in search of an artist (see July 18th, 2016 post). Her main interest was to participate in a body positivity exercise. She had already posed for a drawing group and found the experience enjoyable and empowering.

Pregnant Nude, oil pastel, 11" X 7", 2016

We set up a meeting where it quickly became clear that her pregnancy was in its ninth month. In all likelihood we wouldn't have the luxury of multiple working sessions before she gave birth. All live model sessions come with built in time restraints but this one had an extra sense of urgency and finality. The above drawing is one of three attempts from our lone session. I find working with pregnant models very appealing but I think a seventh month starting date might be better for my nerves.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Don't Go There

It has never occurred to me to discuss politics on this blog but unless one has been living under the proverbial rock the topic is hard to avoid. I will only broach it in a general sense because in the aftermath of our recent national election so many in my social circle seem to be concerned. I am sensing a genuine collective angst.

Male Nude with Bullwhip, oil pastel, 11" X 7", 2016

Media coverage reached absurd frenzied levels in the lead up to the election. Comedy shows no longer had to write scripts. Actors could simply recite actual dialogue. In the wake of all this my soul saving stance has been to shut out the media including Television, internet, radio and newspapers. I went cold turkey. The first week or so was unsettling. Missing the emotional rush and filling newly available time was disorienting. I got through it. I'm on the other side. I'm reading books, drawing and painting.

We are in an emotional time for our country. My best prediction is that it will bring out the worst and ultimately the best of our nation.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Oils

Oil paint as a medium is held in high regard by both painters and the art appreciating public. Oils deserve all the reverence and accolades directed their way. Pigments suspended in oil can be used in a wide range of applications from thin washes to heavy impastos and endless combinations in-between. The colors are radiant and can be blended in subtle or bold ways. On a well prepared surface oil paintings can last for centuries.

Popcorn, oil on linen 3" X 4 1/4",  2008

The very qualities that make oils desirable also make them difficult to master. As a result many artists are reluctant to pursue them. What they don't realize is that hidden in the complexity of oils is an important advantage - they are forgiving. Easily the most forgiving of all the painting mediums I have tried. When wet mistakes or unwanted areas can simply be wiped away. When dry any mark can be scraped away or painted over. If you paint and haven't already done so try oils!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Simplicity II


"One day I will find the words and they will be simple" …..  Jack Kerouac


Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 10" X 8 1/2", 2016


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Renewal

Sometimes drawing from the live nude can be just the tonic for what ails you. Case in point - an oil pastel on toned paper from a recent long pose session at the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia.

Seated Nude, 12" X 10", 2016



Friday, October 28, 2016

Changing Roles

My first exposure to figure drawing came in college where a lifelong appreciation of the discipline began. For the next three decades still life painting dominated my work but whenever possible I sought out live figure sessions. Until very recently the last ten years have been devoted predominately to the figure.

Portrait Study, oil pastel on toned paper
10" X 7", 2016

Throughout each stage figurative work played distinct roles in my development as an artist. First as an exciting learning exercise. Then as a welcome break from the solitude and static nature of still life. Most recently the figure has provided a much needed compelling and difficult challenge. Now I am aware of the figure taking on a new role as the binding agent to all my artistic pursuits.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Labels (part two)

I didn't drop the title "professional" artist without some deliberation and sole searching. I had few concerns regarding what others would think but was unclear how I would react. Now, after nearly three years, the consequences of this change are clear - there isn't any real downside. It turns out I have been drawing and painting for so long that no label will change how, what, or why I paint. Ultimately how you define yourself is what matters.

Standing Nude, oil on linen, 18" X  9",   2006

One morning a few weeks back I woke up not really in the mood to paint. I'm a hobby artist after all and don't need to go to work if I don't want to. Problem is I was nearing the end of a long term painting that is season sensitive and the summer light was waning fast. So I hit the street and ended up having a very productive plein air session. Walking home that afternoon I never felt more professional.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Labels (part one)

Hobby artist. For someone who has devoted their life to drawing and painting it would be hard to find a more derogatory term. But that is what I officially am now. I quit being a "professional" artist three years ago when I could no longer muster the will to keep detailed business records. It wasn't that the task was particularly daunting I just resented the time it took away from my work. So I stopped checking the sole proprietor box on my income tax form and started checking "hobby artist".

Two Models, oil pastel, 14" X 10", 2012


I'm not breaking any tax laws with this change. In fact the new designation is a good fit for my current circumstances. My main takeaway from this exercise is that how you define yourself is more important than any official label. I will elaborate in my next post.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"Cheating"

I recently overheard someone referring to using photos as source material for making art as "cheating". This sentiment suggests that they give one an unfair advantage. It is understandable considering the scope of subjects and access to detail photos provide. 

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 8 1/2" X 6 1/2", 2016

From the moment of their invention the usefulness of photographic images would have been immediate and obvious to a painter. But in the early years they served merely as tools augmenting an artist's traditional training and knowledge. The problem arises when photos become the primary or even sole source for a picture.

Working from live subjects is exhilarating. It challenges your abilities and has the capacity to stir ones passions. If anyone is being cheated by using photos it is the artists themselves.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shank Shot

I'm not a particularly avid sports fan but for some reason sport/art metaphors keep finding their way into this Blog. While all metaphors are imperfect it might be that sports offer a degree of clarity for comparisons sake.

On Sunday afternoons I occasionally watch golf on television. (Don't judge me). The winner usually makes one or more spectacular shots. But almost always the primary reason for their victory is that they avoided making major mistakes. There is no redo for an errant tee shot. A disciplined consistent approach in all aspects of the game is rewarded.

Nude Study, oil on linen, 9" X 12", 2013

Painting also rewards a disciplined approach but a technique based on avoiding mistakes won't yield the best results. The richest paintings welcome missed brush strokes as a necessary part of the game. With oil paints in particular there is no line that can't be corrected, no area that can't be rubbed out or painted over. It is this search for the right marks that produces the most dynamic results.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Unexpected

I have worked with a good number of models over the years. Certainly at this point I have seen thousands of different poses. I enjoy searching for the essence in the most ordinary of them. But it is easy to get lulled into formulaic approaches even in the charged environment of a nude figure session. So every now and then it is a welcome surprise when the model does something unexpected.

Drunken, Naked Cowboy, oil pastel 8 1/2" X 9", 2016


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fake Joints and Other Fixes

In the wake of my show last February I wasn't prepared to take on any new projects. I did have a few "finished" paintings around the studio that had some issues. As a general rule I am reluctant to re-visit completed works as past attempts have yielded mixed results. But most of these paintings seemed eminently correctable needing only minor changes and clarifications. One work, a 17 year old still life, proved a bit more complicated.

Still Life, oil on canvas, 18" X 22", 1999-2016

The birth place of this painting was a cramped dark attic studio in the late 1990's. It was apparent that I had been overly influenced by the environment and the result was a very dark painting. The value of whole areas needed to be lightened and of course one change necessitated another. Ultimately the project spanned several weeks and required recreating most of the original setup (including rolling fresh joints - cigarette tobacco this time).  It is a lot easier to hit the "enhance" button on a photo app.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Seduction

All good art involves an emotional connection between the artist and the subject. The very best works, the ones that spark your passion, are the ones that seduce you. The work is calling you. From the moment a concept takes form you are in a very real sense helpless. When at the easel you don't want to leave. When away you can't wait to get back.

Nude Study, oil pastel, 7" X 7", 2016

I have experienced the joy of being seduced by drawings and paintings many times over the decades. It is a wonderful thing. However, one must be careful with longer term projects. A seduction can easily morph into an obsession. If longevity is even remotely ones goal it is advisable to maintain some distance and perspective in the midst of an amorous seduction.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Year Three

August 9th marks the third anniversary of this blog. Anticipating the first and second anniversaries I composed posts specifically dedicated to the occasions. This summer has been so consumed with painting outside that the date snuck up on me. So with no burning issues in mind as I start my fourth year blogging I will just share an early "warm down" drawing from my recent expectant mother sessions.

Seventh Month, oil pastel, 12" X 6", 2016

Compared to three years ago I am in a very different place with regards to both my art and life in general. The fascination continues to be that each new door I pass through seems to invariably lead to more doors.


Friday, July 29, 2016

Only the Flaws

I'm sure many personality traits common to painters transfer positively into their everyday lives. A good painter must be focused, disciplined and dedicated. But what about traits that have negative consequences? Topping my personal list would be a tendency to be overly critical. I approach art (not just my own) with a heightened critical eye. I gravitate to the flaws.

(Don't look too hard at the baseboard trajectories in this 2009 figure study)

Male Nude, oil on canvas, 8" X 10", 2009

Without this flaw radar it is doubtful my work would ever improve. Problems arise when it encroaches on ones personal realm. I am a multi-flawed individual as are we all. Collectively we form an imperfect world. But going through life primarily focusing on what's wrong with ourselves, other people and the world in general is not an optimal way to live. Accepting, maybe even embracing, some of life's imperfections is a better course to chart.


Monday, July 18, 2016

A New Life

On rare occasions something out of the ordinary and wonderful comes your way. A month or so ago I received an e-mail from a women in search of a figurative artist. She was seven months pregnant with her first child and had in mind an original artwork that would capture this special time in her life. She knew other women who had gone to photo studios for this purpose but was looking for something more personal.

A New Life, oil pastel on toned paper, 13 1/2" X 8", 2016

I avoid commissions like the plague but this request struck a nerve. I have had the good fortune of working with pregnant models several times over the decades. The first time in college. Every one was a special experience. My main trepidation in this case was that I didn't feel up to the task. I had been working outside on a cityscape oil the last two months and my figure drawing skills had atrophied. But this project was so compelling I tossed aside my fears and offered to make an attempt if she was agreeable. The warmth and joy this expectant mother projected was contagious. The experience exceeded anything I might have imagined.


Friday, July 8, 2016

Tennis Anyone?

I have played tennis since I was a teenager. First with my father then with my kids. Played may be a bit generous but I can return the ball over the net with some regularity. In the game of tennis, more than any other sport I am familiar with, ones level of play is clearly affected by ones competition. If the person you are facing is better than you your game is likely to improve. Conversely, if your opponent is not very good your game will almost certainly collapse to their level or worse.

Nude study, oil pastel on toned paper, 8 1/2" X 8", 2016

Most endeavors are to some extent like tennis. Art is no exception. If your contemporaries and mentors, the people you are around or seek to emulate, are on or below your level your chances of improving are slim. On the other hand, if you step on the court with painters better than yourself at the very least you will feel the impact of a hard serve. You are going to lose the match but the odds are your game will improve.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Two Painters

I recently started a downtown cityscape. It is a view I have wanted to capture for years but was reluctant to attempt due to the complexity of the scene. Then I came across two painters, one long gone and one still working, that set this project into motion. The first was Canaletto an eighteenth century Italian urban painter. Two of his early Venetian scenes were on view at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. They both blew me away. I was inspired and humbled fully aware that I could never hope to work at his level.

Downtown scene day 4, oil on linen, 24" X 40", 2016

The artist that actually got me to set off with my French easel was a British born New York based painter Rackstraw Downes. I attended a film and artist talk at the National Gallery where he was featured. I had been aware of Downes for decades but never keyed on the fact that he is primarily a plein air painter. The film left a lot to be desired, but seeing the 77 year old artist in person was an eye opener. He was clearly past his prime. Age and the rigors of painting outdoors had taken their toll. At 65 I'm just a little over a decade behind Downes. Best to hit the street while I still can.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tough Angle

Sometimes when the model gets into pose at a group figure session you are presented with a less than optimal vantage point. An angle where you just don't have much to work with. If the room is crowded moving to find a better view isn't always an option. So you have to make the best of it.

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 7 1/2" X 11", 2016

While potentially frustrating I think these situations are actually good exercises. They force you to look harder searching for areas that might yield some interest. If you can turn an awkward or tough view into something even mildly interesting just think what can be accomplished when you are presented with a more prime vista.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mindfulness

Here in the summer of 2016 mindfulness is all the rage. The concept being that an optimal way to live is to spend ones life fully focused on the present moment. This is by no means a new phenomena but it has certainly hit critical mass. Entire books have been devoted to the subject. Monks and great thinkers have spent their lives trying to achieve a state of mindfulness.

Portrait Study, oil on linen, 14" X 12", 2016

It occurs to me that creating art is a consummate mindful act. When fully engaged in a drawing or painting there is no other consciousness. This quality is one of and perhaps the most desirable aspects of making art.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Price vs Worth

I bought this little basket at a thrift store. I purchased it because I was taken by its design and how well it was crafted. I also bought it because an injustice was being perpetrated on its creator. The price tag reads 25 cents. I don't know who made it or when or where it was made. I do know it has a beautiful classic design and the weaving is excellent - tight and symmetrical. It must have taken hours of labor by a skilled craftsperson to complete.

Woven Basket, artist and date unknown

It is a cliche that our culture too often puts high value on things of minimal worth and little or no value on things that are worthy or even priceless. My hope is that the person who made this basket earned more than the equivalent of a quarter. I also hope they derived satisfaction and fulfillment in creating such a delightful object. When it comes to art there is too often little correlation between price and worth.


Friday, May 27, 2016

The Profit Motive

I know quite a few people who have taken up painting mid life or later. Some even make the admirable decision to leave careers to pursue a long denied passion. Unfortunately too many feel the need to be "serious" artists. By serious I mean they want to turn a profit from their art. If one's sense of fulfillment as an artist requires making more money than you spend the odds are stacked against you.

Reclining Nude, oil on canvas, 12" X 16", 2016

Making a profit (not to mention a living) as a painter is no easy task. One had better be prepared to paint impressionistic landscapes or children and pet portraits from photos. If your direction is more personal be prepared to bleed. Your bank account, your ego and your physical self are all going to be tapped. The secret to longevity is to keep the hemorrhaging to a less than fatal flow.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Inspiration

Inspiration is like a moving train with no set schedule or route. It can arrive anytime and from any direction. Sitting idly waiting for inspiration is not a good idea. If you aren't moving it can be difficult if not impossible to jump onboard when it comes by.

Figure Studies, oil pastel on toned paper, 6" X 10", 2015

The best way to engage an idea is to be already working on a parallel track. A track that nurtures and challenges your mental and physical skill sets. That way you can use your existing momentum to grab hold when opportunity presents itself.



Friday, May 6, 2016

Formula

Most commercially successful artists settle on some kind of working formula fairly early in their careers. A formula involves approaching ones art from concept through execution with the same or nearly identical set of rules. This approach leads to a consistent and easily recognizable product - both sought after qualities by galleries and collectors.

Nude Study, oil on canvas, 16" X 14", 2016

Partly by choice and partly out of an inability to do so I have never settled on a formula. However, working from the live figure has necessitated developing a purposeful method. Aside from mixing a fairly consistent pallet this approach is more a mindset than a rule set. After sizing up a subject I just start putting down marks searching for a connection. When contact is made I enter a working zone. What happens next is still a mystery and never follows the same trajectory twice.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Is It Art?

I remember working from an older male model in a figure drawing class during college. He took a pose where one foot was raised on a chair or box. My vantage point was from behind. His rear end and genitals were prominently displayed. During a break a classmate looked at my unfinished drawing and said that he didn't think it was "art". Being a young fresh student I wasn't of a mind to declare when something was or was not art so his comment always stuck with me.

Reclining Male Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 8 1/2" X 12", 2016

At a recent figure session I was presented with the above view. The pose had good movement and complexity so I set to work in the thirty minutes available. Is it art? You tell me. Forty odd years later I'm still not inclined to make that judgment.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Canabalism

I had no intention of dealing with figurative art photography in this blog. I am not well versed on the subject but feel the urge to comment after my recent visit to a Smithsonian contemporary portraiture exhibition. About half of the show was photography. My main takeaway, at least for this venue, was that advanced digital photo devises are suffocating and consuming fine art photography. This digital assault is different from the one being waged on photo sourced drawings and paintings but the result is the same - the life is being sucked out of the art form.

Dan McCormack, Tricia_P-01-10-16--13AB
Pinhole camera-digital pigment print, 18" X 24"


How can clear and flawless images created using the most advanced technologies fail as fine art? The answer may lie in the question. Just days after visiting the portrait show I came across the above pinhole camera photo in a small local venue. It evokes an emotion beyond just the subject matter. Somehow its low tech origin allows the image to resonate.

William Eggleston, dye-transfer print
21 5/8" X 14 5/8", 1970
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

William Eggleston was a pioneer in fine art color photography. His images, at least in part by virtue of their relatively primitive processes, now stand as icons of the genre.


Friday, April 8, 2016

The Walking Dead

For the two and a half years of this blogs existence I have dealt with relatively specific topics regarding the human figure. If I have preached any broader narrative it would be the benefits of working from life vs working from photos (which now include digital images of all kinds). I have come down clearly on the side of life but have been reluctant to firmly dismiss the photo source side. Until now.

Nude Study, oil pastel, 10" X 7", 2016

I recently saw a large juried group exhibition at a major Smithsonian museum. The theme of the show was contemporary portraiture. Drawings and paintings made up about half of the show. I toured the exhibition with a group of friends whose combined art knowledge could fill a dense volume. The consensus opinion was that the show failed in some deep-rooted way. The reasons given were varied but for me the main explanation was clear. Virtually every drawing and painting in the show shouted photo sourced! Many were expertly rendered but almost without exception they were lifeless.

As disappointing as the drawings and paintings were the photography also came up short. I will explore that topic in the next post.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Virtual Reality

Someone recently showed me on their smart phone a number of private Facebook figurative sites. I am not on Facebook so the existence of this universe was a revelation. It is possible, in fact quite likely, that this virtual world eclipses my reality based one many times over and has for some time. Who knew? Probably everyone but me.

Thirty minute figure study, oil pastel, 11" X 9", 2015

The main problem I have with these sharing sites is that they don't discriminate. My brief encounter showed that most anything and everything gets posted. One even included a failed painting attempt of mine. I'm guessing the model took and posted the picture without my knowledge. Unless there is some educational purpose for doing so, posting flawed art just lowers the discourse.

So now the question arises: To what extent does, (would, could) the real world of figurative drawing and painting exist without the virtual one?


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dynamism

Exhibitions that deal with the Renaissance period often include figure study drawings. Most were done as practice or preliminary studies for paintings or murals intended for churches or cathedrals. Designed to be viewed from a distance the poses are often exaggerated with bodies twisted into all manner of extreme positions.


Male Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 8 1/2" X 12 1/2", 2015

The difficulty encountered by the model in these situations is obvious but the artist also faces a test. Gone are the familiar conventions of a seated or reclining pose. Awhile back at a group figure session the model in the above drawing held this pose for thirty minutes. This particular model takes his craft seriously and works hard to perfect and hold seemingly impossible poses. He may be onto something. Perhaps I should seek out some cathedral commissions.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Competition

There should be a competition of sorts playing out in my small town arts community but I am at a loss as to the rules of engagement. The arena I've chosen to compete in is different than most - my primary focus is on drawing and painting . I have great admiration for anyone who puts paint to canvas and over the years have been mindful of not criticizing their efforts. But apparently for most local artists wrangling over sales and status is the main event, actual painting comes in at best a distant third.

Reclining Nude, oil on canvas, 14" X 17", 2011

I find myself standing, brush in hand, in a nearly empty coliseum. There is a great deal of noise and commotion coming from a packed arena right next door. The visual arts should offer a clear and graphic scoreboard tracking ones relative progress. It is through an exchange of ideas and techniques that we get better but too little of that is in play. I have no desire to defeat any fellow painters but I wouldn't mind sharpening my game with an occasional combatant.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

On Exhibiting (part two)

This post is appearing in the aftermath of my first exhibition in four years. The show I managed to mount was both in scale and in scope a quantum leap above anything I had done previously. Standing in the gallery rooms before the first visitors arrived I felt a warm sense of fulfillment. The opening drew a full house of artists, models and friends. Surprisingly even a few nudes sold. By any metric I value it was a resounding success.

Portrait Study, oil pastel, 6" X 5", 2016

Exhibition Wall

In a post a month ago I said it is essential for visual artists to put their work on display. This show now stands as a vivid marker in my art career. It also provided a needed sense of finality. Now I can start on the next phase of my artistic adventure and just like when facing a blank canvas I have no idea where I'm going.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Success Ratio

The final selections have been made for my upcoming exhibition. In addition to twentyfour paintings eighteen oil pastel drawings made the cut. Working from a model two or three times a week over four years I had hundreds of drawings to choose from. What, I wondered, has been my success ratio. For each chosen drawing how many attempts found their way into the "miss" stack? I honestly have no idea.

Fermale Nude, oil pastel, 9" X 8", 2016

A baseball player that gets a hit every third at bat is as huge success. My success ratio is no where near that percentage. It is probably closer to 1 of 30 or worse. On reflection I've decided there is no reason to quantify this number. Working from life involves a random ever shifting set of variables. Sometimes the planets just line up.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mile Posts

There are events in everyone's lives that serve as markers or mile posts. A graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, events where you remember the specific time, place and circumstances. They can signify a beginning, end or maybe the apex of a certain life stage. Many of my paintings and drawings serve as markers in my art career and life.


Abandoned Bus, oil on canvas, 15" X 20", 2000

Often an extended period of time has to pass before a pictures "marker" role becomes apparent. For the painting above I was between studios and spent a summer working outside. Even after sixteen years this picture still transports me back to the place and time of its creation.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

On Exhibiting (part one)

Four years ago I swore off exhibiting. Prior to that time I had mounted shows every two years or so. This pace became untenable as my interest in the figure grew. Attending or arranging model sessions became all consuming. Now with an abundant body of work I feel the time is finally right for an exhibition.

Thirty minute figure study, oil pastel, 2014

Putting ones work on display is essential for any visual artist. Garnering attention and generating sales are the most obvious reasons for exhibiting. However, the show I am compiling will consist primarily of nudes and I anticipate few if any sales. My main motivation for showing at this juncture is personal. I want to put down a marker indicating where my work stands at this particular time and place. Somehow I need this before moving on.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Oh the Romance

Perhaps it didn't start with van Gogh and the impressionists but certainly since that time the general public has had a tendency to romanticize the lives of painters. The hungry artist working in a garret studio engaged in the heroic pursuit of some idealized vision. The more suffering and torment the more romantic the endeavor.

Nude study, oil on linen, 9 1/2" X 7 1/2", 2015

All art is to some extent a product of its creators environment. Throughout the ages, except for a select few, artists must have worked under difficult conditions. But in the end paintings are fantasies. The real world circumstances behind their creation are rarely known. For some reason working under and overcoming adversity does romanticize the process and enrich ones art.


The picture above is of a room in my current studio as I first found it two years ago. This image doesn't begin to capture the worst of the problems. Who but a lowly painter could possibly see this as anything short of appalling? In spite of the condition I was immediately drawn to the place - where better to begin a romantic adventure.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Validation

Everyone wants validation that what they do matters. Artists are probably more desirous of this than most. After all art is a direct expression of self. An absence of praise or recognition can be felt as personal rejection. In our culture selling ones art is the clearest expression that it is of value. The more sales and the higher the prices the more important your art and therefore you must be.

Sleeping Model, oil on canvas, 12" X 10", 2006

I sold the above painting some years ago. Happening upon the image recently I was struck with a mild sense of regret. I would gladly return the purchase price to have the painting back. It marks a time and place that were special to me. That's all the validation I am seeking.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Staying Power

How have certain visual art forms managed to survive and even thrive in our modern era? Since the invention of the earliest photo processes painting has faced extinction. Smart phones have upped the ante with their gushing stream of digital images. Why would anyone need or even want a hand painted picture when a more accurate one can be had with the touch of a finger?

Oil sketch on canvas, 9" X 11", 2006

Painting survives, at least in part, because the medium possesses and can project a unique power. The sensations emitting form an art work can remain tactile and alive indefinitely. When I stand in front of certain art objects, even ones centuries old, I can still feel the creators energy. All that is needed to extract that energy is an open and receptive viewer.