Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Artwork Updates

A few weeks ago, a cousin sent me a box of old family photographs.  Her father passed away several months ago and she's been sorting through all his effects.  These photos were of my mother, her parents, and her maternal grandparents.

One of the photos grabbed my attention.  It was taken a few months after I was born, when my parents visited my mom's family to show off their new addition.  They handed me to my great-grandfather, Ruben Bell, and snapped this picture:

I was really taken with Ruben's expression.  This was a man who led a hard-scrabble life.  He had been a sharecropper in rural Tennessee and had buried four of his six children early.  Now here he was, in his 70's, with his first great-grandchild.  This was the only time we were together, though.  Ruben died on Christmas Eve a few months after this picture was taken.

Being and artist, I had to do something with this image.  So I grabbed a canvas and here's the result:

Ruben and Me
Oil on canvas, 24"x18", 2014

I liked the fact his face was in heavy shadow, yet you could still get a strong impression of his emotions.  The background had to change a bit.  My posture in the photo was inelegant, to say the least, so it had to be modified, and while I was at it, I changed the outfit and added a blanket.  This may look like a simple copy of a photo, but trust me, it isn't - and it was harder than it looked.  Sometimes things come together quickly and other times they don't.  I wouldn't call this one a "fight", but there were some aspects that required, shall we say, a considerable amount of heated discussion between me and the damn paint.  But it works and I'm happy with it.

There are quite a few other photos in that box that are crying out for similar treatment.  I might do a series of paintings based on them.  Sounds like a bit of fun!

In addition to this painting, I've been going to life drawing sessions when I can.  Here's one from last night:

The Monday night sessions that I go to are two hours of very short poses, lasting only one to three minutes each.  That's quite a challenge in itself, as you have to get the essence of the pose very quickly.  If you don't get it, tough luck - we're already on the next pose.  It's actually a lot of fun.  Last night, our model was an aerial gymnast.  She spent several years doing aerial acrobatics with the circus.  She was the one who had the long streams of colored silk that she'd wrap around herself and do all kinds of flips and rolls 30 feet in the air.  Last night, though, she was only a few feet in the air but still doing some amazing things.  Like the splits in this quick sketch here.  Every try to draw somebody that's hanging upside down?  It's quite difficult.  Since everything is turned  around and coming at you from unusual angles, you have to actually look at what's there, understand it, and put it down on paper.  If you're used to drawing figures, you often draw automatically, because you're used to the eyes being this far above the nose, which is this far above the mouth, with a chin that's formed in a certain way.  When everything is reversed, your brain goes "erf?" and short-circuits, and you have to connect your eyes to your drawing hand.  Which should be connected anyway.  So this was a great exercise.  Go find yourself an aerial gymnast and draw her/him - you'll learn a lot!

Other life drawing sessions are more traditional.  I went to one that had traditional 20-min poses.  This allowed me to work with charcoal and Conte crayon again.  I hadn't used those in quite some time, so I was a bit rusty, but it came together again after a bit.  Here's one of sketches I did:

B's Back
Charcoal and Conte crayon on toned paper, 13"x10"

I've got this one in my Etsy shop now, along with quite a few others.

So that's a sampling of what I've been working on lately.  Hope to have more to show you soon.

1 comment:

  1. I love the painting and can't wait to see more of the photographs in that box!