Friday, January 03, 2020

Year In Review

About this time of the year, people often take a look back over the past year.  Well, okay, normal people do it sometime in December.  I'm lazy and held off until early January.  But hey, better late than never, right?

A few statistics.  Over the past 12 months, I've done 23 oil paintings that survived to get a title.  There were probably half as many again that got wiped out or otherwise destroyed.  Of the survivors, 8 were commissioned wedding paintings.  That's a good number for me, I think.  Any more and making the wedding paintings would be too much like a real job.  As it is, they're still a lot of fun and a great creative challenge.  Of the other paintings, ten were oil on panel figure and portrait studies, done during our weekly life sessions, most with some touchup work over the next day or two.  Another painting was a revision to a portrait from a few years ago - it was enough of a revision that I considered it a new work.  The remaining four paintings were total creations: "Reflection" is a psych study of a young woman, "The Conversation" is two people not having one, "Siren on the Styx" was a total invention from my subconscious (I think, but damned if I know for sure), and "Moving On" was my last painting of the year.

Oil painting wasn't my only medium.  I did 31 charcoal and pastel works on paper that survived to get titled, and maybe half again that number that went into the garbage.  All were figurative works.  I started the year doing two portraits for a couple who really deserved them.  I also did several portrait and figure works based on photo sessions with the lovely Natalie and Jazmin, both of whom are great models with a real talent for projecting their personality.  When I'm working from photos, I don't just copy the image, I try to find something that goes beyond what the camera saw.  In one case, finding that "something" required using Natalie's head from one image, arms from a second, and body from a third! 

Two more of my charcoal and pastel pieces were commissioned portraits.  Almost all the rest were studies that I began in our regular life sessions and then completed later.  At one point during the year, I did a big cleanup in the studio and found a bunch of old charcoal drawings from my life sessions between 2004 and 2010.  Some of those were fairly decent (maybe that says that I haven't learned anything since then?) and I thought I'd touch them up with pastels.  Most of those turned out well while some went in the trash. 

I also got to work with the WLOS TV news crews this year for another courtroom session.  Those are always interesting and fun.  Cameras are not allowed in federal courthouses, so news outlets will use artists to capture something of the proceedings.  This year, it was the sentencing of several county employees convicted of corruption.  I've written about the experience before.  Courtroom proceedings can be enjoyable as long as you're not one of the participants in the proceedings!

So that was a pretty good year.  For this year, I'm hoping to do about the same number of wedding paintings.  I want to see if I can do something more with the charcoal and pastel works (not sure what "more" means yet), and I want to develop a series of oil paintings along the lines of the last one completed.  It's ambitious, but if you're not striving for something, then what are you doing?

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