The fun of painting a marble sculpture is that it's a figure, which I love to paint, and the creamy-white surface reflects all colors, both warm and cool.
This is 'The Libyan Sibyl', by William Wetmore Story, sculpted in 1868, a tribute to Sojourner Truth - a modern-day oracle who fought for women's rights and abolition. The Libyan Sibyl, named Phemonie, was the daughter of Zeus and Lamia, according to the Greeks. This statue and Story's Cleopatra are two of my favorites - now residing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Please click here for a larger view and purchase information.
This new piece is another visual obsession of mine - lines of people. When there are several figures in a composition, the challenge is to enjoy painting each individual but pay close attention to how they relate to each other - mostly with respect to proportions.
That's the tough part - especially given that we're all different heights and weights. It's truly a great exercise with figures.
Taken from the upper level in the American Art wing of the Art Institute of Chicago - where patrons frequently form a line to enter a special exhibition.
I'm back home - returning from the opening reception for a three-artist show at the Morris & Whiteside Gallery held Friday evening - and I must thank all of you who came to the gallery, it was a great pleasure meeting you. There was a huge turnout, around 135 people, and I'd like to also thank Mother Nature for providing a beautiful, sunny, warm spring day and evening leading up to the party - it just made everything perfect.
My appreciation extends to Ben Whiteside and Jack Morris, the owners of the gallery - they really know how to treat their artists and patrons right. They sold a dozen of my paintings and continually make me beam with pride.
Speaking of beaming with pride, Charley Parker, the host of my favorite art blog linesandcolors, featured my work in his latest post - please click here for that article. Thank you Charley, I'm honored to be included in your writings and observations.
To see all of my paintings included in the group show, click here.
If you do some people-watching on any beach, you're bound to see the likes of this woman, truckin' down the edge of the water - faster, I may add, than I can. I have wanted to paint her for months - a truly chiseled body of bones and muscles.
Speaking of motoring - I'm heading to the coast to attend the opening reception at the Morris & Whiteside Gallery this Friday night. I'm really looking forward to meeting a few of my collectors and friends - please join us if you're able.
My good friend Karen Hollingsworth is one of the hardest working artists I'll ever know - same with her husband Neil. Every so often, we'll get together just because we need to get out of the studio and act like regular people - something I always look forward to.
This Friday night at Mason Murer Fine Art in Atlanta, Karen's new paintings will be featured in a group show - if you're in the area, please join the party. Below is one of my personal favorites.
Painting people viewing art is a favorite theme of mine, noticeably, and there's a couple reasons why - the opportunity to continue painting humans of all sizes, heights, races, ages, in a still moment is first and foremost - the reproducing of paintings that span decades is not only big fun, it teaches me a lot about color, composition and techniques - and once in a while, I happen on a perfect marriage of personalities with the featured art - like this young couple in front of the very iconic, most-recognized painting in the Art Institute - "American Gothic" by Grant Wood.
I'm not a great fan of abstract expressionism, with an exception to Franz Kline's work - which seems to have a hold on me when I find myself in a room with his paintings. I think they're handsome mostly - easy to digest. And I've longed to include one in my own painting.
I can't say this one came easy for me - I knew what I wanted - a somewhat graphic, stark quality using the least of color and mostly enjoying the warm/cool whites and blacks. I spent a long day on the first attempt, only to deem it a failure. It wasn't what I had envisioned. It sat beside me for weeks - untouched - and one day I picked it up and started over - this time without a preconceived vision. And it worked. Lesson learned.
I think my favorite features are the three elements - the Kline painting, because I got to play with subtle, jazzy edges of colors on the black shapes ....
... the figure, for it's stark black areas and multi-whites marrying with the Kline.....
....and that far-right, abstract shape - an area I was so sure should be filled with more details, until I realized it wasn't necessary.
Happy Spring to you - although I have a great appreciation for the soft, grayish tones of winter, I found myself eager to place something colorful in front of me and play with my paints. I've been nothing short of brain-dead after finishing up 18 new pieces and getting them to the galleries - I've even done my spring cleaning, tax returns and whatever else I've neglected since November. Time to get back into the groove.
This painting is a quick, painterly, cheerful portrait of the flower before me, sitting in my favorite POM glass.
I could really dig being right there, on the water's edge, how 'bout you? This painting was a tough one - my brain couldn't quite get the slump from behind - I think I painted and wiped three times until I got it right. It's what you can't see that throws off what you can see. I had to paint this woman - the light, shadows on the chair were wonderful - leaving me with the water, which I did and redid numerous times.
I ended up with a mosaic-like approach that I love. After all, looking at the vast ocean on a bright day can be almost blinding - glistening, sparkling, daubed with color and light. It's just one way to get it on paper - a subject that could be as rigid as a photograph or impressionistic as you want it to be.
With this new painting, again, the minimal background brings more attention to the figures - and especially dressed in black, the man and woman have a graceful, interesting, united form. I love the interlocking fingers ....
I really love placing figures in front of a nearly blank background - concentrating more on the form and playing with the edges. I used a palette knife to lay on the off-whites of the enormous abstract painting, essentially sculpting around the figure, pulling some traces of the darker paint as I went. I really enjoyed working this way.
About five years back, when I was just starting to paint, I emailed a well-known artist and asked him to take a look at my work and tell me what I was missing. He offered one comment that stuck with me - to pay as much attention to the edges as the content. I was too tight - too illustrative. And it's not what I wanted to achieve - I wanted to find the balance of details needed and leave the rest to impression. With each and every painting, I have to pay great attention to that fine line - not to say there are days when I desire to tighten up and other times I desire to really lay on the painterly strokes.
I don't have a favorite feature in this new piece - I love all of it. That final dab of light blue on the bathing suit mattered, although I don't know what made me do it other than intuition.
The edges are just as I want - allowing some to be rough and some soft.
Front and center, on the third floor of the Art Institute, hangs Gustave Caillebotte's enormous painting 'Paris Street, Rainy Day' - certainly the biggest crowd-pleaser in the museum. There's plenty of room to not only get up close, but to back up a good 30 - 40 feet and take it all in. When I was a teenager, I would sit on the floor in front of this masterpiece and draw dozens of versions of parts of this urban scene - not knowing I'd paint it dozens of times thirty years later.
My favorite feature of this new piece is the man on the far right, on his way out. I have wanted to add more movement in figures - a slight blur or even a ghost of a shape - just knowing when it's right is the tough part.
And knowing how to get the idea across, without looking like my hand smudged the paint unintentionally is even harder. It's something I'm working on more and more, mostly behind the scenes.
This new painting is the largest piece in the show - done on a cradled masonite panel - and like the painting 'Below the Belt', I added a paprika-like ground color on top of the black and let that vibrant, warm tone show through in many of the edges as well as the floor, which is what I love most about the end result.
The two figures were wonderful to paint, especially the woman who has that great S-shaped posture. Included front and center is Georgia O'Keeffe's 'Black Cross, New Mexico', one of my all-time personal favorites in the Art Institute of Chicago.
How about a moment of Zen - forget the cold, wet, dreary weather outside and imagine yourself soaking up the warm sun on the beach all by yourself. And remember, brighter days are ahead. Not soon enough - but it's coming.
My first thought about this new painting is it can best be appreciated in person. The vibrancy of the skin tones, the yellow towel and especially the turquoise water and multi-blues sky - the texture and warmth in the sand, which I used a palette knife for most of that - yes, I wish I could hold up the real thing right in front of you. As with most paintings.
In the process of painting this, I did the figure first, the water next, the people walking about and in the ocean way in the distance - and then wiped the whole thing off. Those moments are funny - here I just spent hours on what I thought was nearly complete and it's as if my hand just took over and grabbed a rag and, in seconds, trashed it. So I sit there stunned for a minute, hearing that little voice that assures me it wasn't right and get over it. Just as quick as it disappeared, I start it all over again - lessons learned - which usually makes the second attempt much more successful.
Now.... mix yourself a margarita and click here for a larger view.
I may have said this before - when I'm in a museum, I find myself so focused on looking at people rather than the art. It's been an obsession since I was a kid - watching the human figure and studying how we move, stand, balance, sit ...... all of it. And when I start a painting, there's always something that stands out right away - a feature that is essentially why I'm interested in the photograph in the first place. In this case, I saw this gentleman and his clothes as one united, interesting form - I felt the weight of the fabric, the heavy load of the backpack and especially the zigzags created by the folds of the pants. I just love that feature.
I also saw the warmth of the overall tones - the golds, reds, greys - and chose to paint a rich, paprika-like color on top of the black surface I usually start with and hoped it would peek through in parts as long as I didn't go too far and cover it all up. The challenge being to let the edges do what they do, without nit picking. Like here in the legs .....
I was so happy with the some of the red showing through the creamy wall and the looseness of the shadows around the Picasso - again allowing edges to overlap and disappear into each other. That's what I get when I stay away from small brushes - I'm forced to take more control of the strokes but I can't over-paint it.
This young man was studying Picasso's 'Mother and Child', which hangs in the Modern Wing in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Booster Seat I and Booster Seat II each is 8 x 10" both are sold
Whew ! All of the new paintings are officially in the Morris & Whiteside Gallery, currently being hung for the three-artists-show opening Friday, the 26th and I feel I can relax a little bit. And I'm very happy to start showing you each and every painting - and if you don't mind - I want to add to that some of my favorite details or 'sweet spots' that make them special.
Let me start with the paintings you see above - two women taking a rest on a bench in the Art Institute of Chicago. It's where thousands of visitors take a load off and hopefully get a boost of energy to get back to exploring. Now, you may recognize the woman on the right, I had painted her a few years back - but with this new piece, actually both paintings - I applied the oils with a palette knife, nice and thick, then carved into it with a brush, adding more detail and control. I can attest to this being more difficult and frustrating - but the challenge lies in moving the paint around, almost sculpting it in parts. Some areas have slabs of color on top of color, like in the pants and the back wall and the swirling of thick paint to move with the folds of the clothes.
You may also notice, even though I'm one of three artists in this show, I titled my work "The Tute and a Tan". Let me explain how my brain works, with respect to getting the job done. I can move forward, fairly quick, if I have a specific direction. In this case, I chose to paint scenes from two of my favorite people-watching spots - the Art Institute of Chicago aka the 'Tute' - and the beach. Once I can visualize a grouping that marries well with each other, I start working. There isn't an artist that doesn't get stuck not knowing what to paint next - and this way of thinking and preparing helps me motivate.
All of my paintings in the show can be viewed here - and thank you for looking. A short video can be viewed here as well. Hope you enjoy.
This might be a workshop meant for you - my second Field Expedition this year taking place November 1st - 5th at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. I've seen the studio space, it's fabulous - and like the New York City workshop, we'll be painting in the early part of the day and photographing in the afternoons. I picked this location because it has provided me with loads of imagery for paintings - the beach, the low-country landscapes and Savannah and Charleston are near enough for a short road trip for more.
Also, the fine people at the Morris & Whiteside Gallery will be hosting an evening get-together at their gallery for our group and you may also be interested in scooting over to Charleston after the workshop is over, for their Palette and Palate Stroll during the weekend. Should be great fun.
More information can be found here and you can call Vince Fazio at the Sedona Arts Center for further details and registration.
"You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is... unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far." ~ Alice Neel
"If I had the energy, I would have done it all over the country" - Edward Hopper
"It's what you carry to an object that counts." - Andrew Wyeth
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"When I'm old and gray, I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in."