Friday, May 10, 2013

Making Artworks Again

When you haven't done much artwork in two years, you really get rusty, y'know?  That concept was pounded home to me this week.  I went to a life-drawing group early in the week and made some charcoal drawings.  Yesterday, I had a model come to my studio so I could work with oil paint.  Results both times were less than spectacular, which is about what I figured would happen.

Our model in the life drawing session was a lovely young woman.  This pose had a good bit of drama to it, with strong lights and darks, the V formed by her arms (V's are unstable visual elements, so they bring a dynamic quality), and the serious pensive look on her face.  My drawing is a bit off, and now I see a number of things that I would do differently, but I think the drama came through.  Maybe I'll go back into it and correct a few things ... famous last words, as any artist will tell you!

A later pose was much quieter.  We still have the strong V shape, formed by her arm, but this time it's in a horizontal format, and part of a longer zig-zag formed by her hip, back, arm, and blanket.  Altogether, not too bad ... the drawing doesn't jump out at me, but it's not so bad it goes into the trash right away, either.  It'll wind up in my every-growing collection of figure drawings that sit in a box for years.

Then on Thursday, I had one of my favorite models come to my studio.  I wanted to play with oil paint again.  We started with a bunch of short 30-second poses to loosen us both up, and I drew quick gestures with the paint.  You can't see any of those gesture drawings because I wiped them out as fast as they were done. Later, we did a few longer poses.  This one was nice because of the flowing lines from her dress, the tightly-contained yet relaxed pose, and the light/dark contrasts between her skin, the dress, the chair, and the wall.  Painting this was an exercise in remembering my painting instincts.  It wasn't just the color mixing, it was the color selection, creating shapes with areas of color rather than lines, getting my eyes to see what was really there (versus what I thought was there, which is something different), getting my hand to follow my eye, nailing the proportions, when to clean the brush, which brush to use for which areas, whether to use painting medium or straight paint, right down to how to hold the rag in my left hand.  Most of these decisions are things I shouldn't have to think about, they should be automatic, but they aren't.  Not yet, anyway.  I need more sessions in the studio.

We finished the session, I photographed the sketch, and then wiped it out.  This painting isn't a keeper.  I probably won't have any keepers for a while.  This to me was like spring training for an athlete - a much-needed session to get warmed up and back on track.

Whitney was the model for my last painting, "Impertinence", completed two years ago.  She hadn't seen the finished painting, though, and I hadn't realized until now that the painted image was bigger than she is!

So it's great to be painting again, even as rough as it is right now.  More to come.

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