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.

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


I have no business 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.