Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life Drawing in the Studio

We had our life drawing session last night. Our model was a young lady who has worked with our group for several years now. Two of my drawings turned out fairly well.

Krista #16
Charcoal and Conte crayon on toned paper, 19"x12"

Krista #15
Charcoal and Conte crayon on toned paper, 19"x12"

Friday, March 18, 2011


Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where
The flowers is.

That nonsensical poem came from my first art teacher many many years ago. It still pops into my mind, unbidden, every spring when I see the plants coming back to life. Which is happening now and it's wonderful to see. My grass has been turning green for the past couple of weeks and might even need mowing in another week or so. Our daffodils popped open a week ago. Yesterday, the forsythia started turning yellow. Today, I saw the first sprigs of green on the bushes lining our driveway. The maples are just starting to bud. The tulip poplars and birch trees haven't woken up yet, and the oaks are still sound asleep. They're always the last to come to life and the last to drop their leaves, anyway.

I've got a bit of spring fever today. I wanted to get out into the yard, but pushed myself to go down to the studio instead. There's work to be done. I need to get the portrait completed - it's been on my easel for a long time now. Can't move on to the next project while this one is still front and center. Unlike some other artists, I don't really work on multiple paintings at once. I'm a linear, one-at-a-time kinda guy.

On Wednesday, we had a long pose during our weekly life drawing session. Here's what I came up with. Not the greatest, but it was a fun study, a bit challenging.

Oil on panel, 20"x16"

So now it's time to get the big portrait back up on the easel and start working again. Enjoy your spring day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Serendipity Happens

I'm a bit frustrated. It feels like I've just been spinning my wheels in slow motion this past week with little or nothing to show for it. In last week's post, I mentioned that I was going to the doctor for a case of painful tennis elbow. She put me on an anti-inflammatory called Meloxicam. I lasted four days on it before the side effects became too much. It made me tired and grumpy, upset everything from the stomach on down, and made me feel like I had a case of the flu. Yuck. As soon as I quit taking it, though, my body perked back up. The elbow is better - not completely well, but now it's just a minor annoyance. I'll take that and run with it.

The doctor also said to give my arm a rest, meaning no painting. So I spent several days on the computer instead, doing my job search. To me, this is a very frustrating experience.

To start with, there is the Great Silence. This is the standard response to a well-written submission that is carefully tailored to the opening. It's what I hear most of the time, particularly from federal agencies, even when I could clearly do the job in my sleep. Drives me nuts. The next most common response is No. At least it's a decision and I can accept that.

All is not bleak. A couple of companies have been vocally interested and had me provide more information. And as I go through the process, I'm learning more about what to say, how to say it, when to say it, how to write it up, and so on. It's iterative, and I'm getting better at it with each interation.

Last week I participated in a virtual career fair. It was essentially a military-focused career fair that was conducted online. Very interesting. There were almost 60 companies and agencies participating. I researched almost all of them, and of that total, there were 2 1/2 that I was interested in. As it turned out, none of them really had anything I wanted to do, but another company popped up out of nowhere and the more I looked, the better it looked. The recruiter was very helpful, interested in me, and wanted more information. Lesson learned: prepare yourself beforehand for these events, research all the companies, and when something unexpected comes up (as it will), go with it.

Actually, this happened to me before. Back in 2007, I attended a career fair in Washington, with the specific intention of talking with the State Department about going to work for them in Iraq. As it turned out, the people at the booth were completely ignorant of the program I was interested in. But while heading back to my car, I stopped in a drug store and spotted a freebie newspaper focused on federal and contractor jobs. It had a section that pointed me directly to the program that I went to the fair to learn about. Which led to me working in Iraq for a year and a half. So the fair itself, for which I'd prepared, was a bust, but the trip was a success due to the unexpected.

And it goes back to something else I learned back in art school: Serendipity Happens.

Yesterday, with my body back to normal, I returned to the studio and picked up a brush again for the first time in a week. Man, did it feel good to be painting again! I worked on the large portrait, putting in a completely revised background. Serendipity happened here, too: everything came together and a beautiful sky appeared behind the young lady with a rose. Now the bottom section needs to be put together. It'll come.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Life Drawing

Charcoal and Conte crayon on toned paper

Last night we had our regular Wednesday night life drawing session. Our model, Claire, is a dancer and always takes wonderfully graceful poses. My first couple of drawings were junk, but then things started clicking and this was the last one of the evening. I think it came out pretty well.

Because of the preparations for the show at Mars Hill College and with job-hunting, I haven't been able to put a drop of paint on the portrait in over a week. I'm going through withdrawals now! Must .... paint .... must .... paint .....

Over the last couple of weeks, I've developed a bad case of tennis elbow in my right arm. Okay, so it actually started a year ago from working out in the gym in Iraq. I was able to pretty much ignore it for a long time ... "it'll go away ..." - NOT! And now it has gotten to the point where my arm locks up when I'm working at the easel and constantly burns. So I've got an appointment this afternoon to have it looked at. I can hear Dr. Heiselmann now: "So, how long has this been going on?" Me: "Umm ... a year ..." Okay, so I'm a bit hard-headed and slow!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Exhibit at Mars Hill College

Mars Hill College is exhibiting a collection of my paintings and drawings through the end of the month. The show is titled "After the Conflict". It includes a few large paintings that were done a few years ago, recent oil paintings, and some drawings and watercolors that were done in Iraq.

Here are (left to right) Lament, You Don't Understand, and Warrior. These paintings were part of my "Meditation on War" series.

I built a support for all of the Portraits from Iraq, turning the collection of eight separate panels into one artwork.

These are six drawings from the "Baghdad Sketchbook", plus the small painting Tent City.

The show runs through the end of the month. It's in Weizenblatt Gallery, in the Moore Fine Art Building. Hours are 9-4 Monday thru Friday, closed weekends.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Life Drawing

We're still doing the life drawing sessions in my studio on Wednesday evenings. Last night we had a new male model who was quite interesting to draw. This drawing took about 20 minutes and was done in charcoal and white Conte crayon on toned paper. Last week, we had a young lady in for a portrait session. It was fun, but my work (in oil on linen board) was crap, so I wiped it out. That's the way it goes: sometimes the drawings or paintings flow easily, other times they're a struggle, and sometimes you can't get it right no matter what you do.