Friday, November 14, 2014

Oil Painting IV

Another term oil painting, but with a new professor.  (It's really my second time through Oil Painting II.)

Last term, I did north of a dozen paintings.  I've done four so far this year.  I'm starting a new classroom painting today and a new homework this weekend, but the jury's still out if I'll really complete two more paintings over the next three class sessions.

Slowing down, though, has taught me that there are still miles to go once I've thought a painting is done.  It takes time to just look at the object and see the final details, which, inevitably, results in little marks and highlights being added to the painting.

So, it's good not to be in a rush with a painting. It's good  not to make any marks sometimes but just look.  Understanding before action -- what a novel concept.  At least for me!

Here's the production to date.

 Classwork Still Life #1

Homework #1
Classwork Still Life #2

Homework #2
I'm sure, I'll find out  in class today that homework #2 isn't done.  Even though I think it is!


I know I'm not the first to notice this, but I'm at the age where I'm learning more about the profusion of doctor types.  I can see why people retire.  At some point there are not enough hours in the day to work and make all the doc appointments.

Over the last few years, my optometrist sent me to a retina specialist to fix an occlusion in my right eye.  After lasering it didn't work, she tried a shot in the eye.  Maybe it wasn't in the eyeball, but it was close enough!  The shot didn't fix the problem but caused my eye to droop to half-closed.  After a year of dimmed vision (and looking dim as well), it was off to the eyelid surgeon to fix the broken upper eyelid levator muscle.

Lately, my annual physical means a follow up visit to a specialist of some sort.  The latest was to the urologist for confirming check from the, ...umm.., backdoor entrance.  Fun.  Twice in the same month!  (How does someone decide to be a urologist, anyway?)

All in all, though I'm not complaining.  It's great to have expert mechanics around to keep the machine running an fixing it when something breaks. 

I guess more doc visits just come with the aging territory.  Get use to it!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Vacation Paintings

School starts next week and with it my fourth oil painting class.  Due to my work schedule, it has to be a different session and with a different professor.  It should be interesting.  And my production should go up from the two paintings I did this summer.

Here's the first -- Waiting at Heathrow.

And the second -- my fifth attempt at landscape painting.  Lake Champlain.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Annabelle's Dolly

A couple of weeks ago in oil painting class, the professor decided to do something novel.  There is always a still life or two set up for each class.  This week the stands were empty.  The challenge was to go into the object room, select objects and set up our own still life to paint.

While my classmates found wine bottles, shiny pitchers, fabric and the like, I was attracted to a broken wooden toy train and a smudged baby doll.  (Did I mention that I became a grandfather recently?)

The train was missing a wheel, but I found a toy frying pan just the right height to prop it up from behind.  I stuffed the dolly in the coal car and went at it for most of the four-hour class.  Here's the result.

Later, Marcia suggested I write a poem to go with it.  So I did:

Annabelle’s Dolly

Annabelle’s dolly lives in a train.
You may think that odd, but it’s really quite sane.
The train needs no rails, nor wheels, roads or wings.
But in it, her dolly can do anything!

She travels the world and explores foreign lands.
She tries out new things and finds out “I can!”
She laughs and has fun and enjoys every minute.
She savors the world and everything in it.

Annabelle’s dolly lives in a train.
You may think that’s odd, but it’s really quite sane.
The train is her transport to worlds beyond.
Exploring and learning from dusk until dawn.

Maybe it's not great art.  Nor is it great poetry.  But it's inspired by a great little girl. 
We love you, Annabelle! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Oil Painting III

Here we are at the half-way point of Oil Painting III and, unlike the prior term, we only have three paintings to show for it -- a classroom portrait, a classroom still life and our one homework assignment (which we've been working on for six weeks).

Last term, one homework assignment was to paint an abstract version of a figurative painting. This term we reversed the process and painted a figurative version of an abstract painting.  I chose Arthur Dove's That Red One.  I thought its large geometric shapes and colors would be within my capabilities to paint.  But what objects did it represent?  That was the (first) hard part.

For the round shape, all I could think of was a donut.  Maybe I was hungry.  When I showed a print  of the Dove painting to a colleague she suggested the round shape was a tire.  That clicked for me and I was able to construct the figurative painting below.

What does it mean?   Beats me.  But it was a good exercise to advance my skills.

In class, we've been working on a portrait the whole term except for last week when we did a still life.  The still life is still wet and still at school.  But here's the portrait of our model, Colleen.

I'm not sure it looks like her, but it looks like somebody.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Octopus

As a rule, I don’t read novels.  At least not since Mark Twain, well, maybe Kurt Vonnegut, stopped writing them.  Somehow, while I can devour history, biography, self-improvement, how-to or text books, I get bogged down in a novel.  Maybe it’s because my mind rebels at trying to sort out facts from fiction.  Maybe it’s because I struggle with names and keeping the characters straight.  Maybe I feel like reading a novel is an opportunity cost – I could be learning something from a non-fiction text.  Whatever the reason, reading a novel is tough slog for me.

A couple of weeks ago, I came face to face with this challenge.  For some reason, my art professor has decided to inflict a great books reading program on me to accompany the figure drawing class.  It started slow with a couple of Beatrice Potter books followed by a Babar book. I could handle that. But then the reading program took a quantum leap with a 1901 novel by Frank Norris – The Octopus.  A novel!  Literature!!  Yikes!!!

I read the really long (to page xxv), esoteric introduction written in 1958 by Kenneth Lynn – a Harvard professor.  That about did me in, but I tackled the first 33 page chapter. I think that took me a week of mentally exhausting effort to get that far.  I decided to quit right there.  But, alas, my professor ragged on me all through the next class about giving up.

With that goading, I decided, I’d at least read the last chapter to see where the heck this thing was going.  That helped.  I spent most of Sunday slogging through another 130 pages or so of the 448 page missive.  I have to admit, I’m (sort of) interested.

Why does my professor think this is good for me?  He says great reading helps creativity.  Maybe it’s also because Frank Norris spent two years in Paris studying painting before embarking on his writing career.  This training sure shows up in his prose.  He describes the physical aspects of his characters and settings in rich detail -- seeing them with an artist’s eye:

“Her neck was thick, and sloped to her shoulders, with full, beautiful curves, and under her chin and under ears, the flesh was white and smooth as floss satin, shading exquisitely to a faint delicate brown on her nape at the roots of her hair.  Her throat rounded to meet her chin and cheek, with a soft swell of the skin, tinted pale amber in the shadows, but blending by barely perceptible gradations to the sweet warm flush of her check. The color on her temples was just touched with a certain blueness where the flesh was thin over the fine veining underneath.”

This goes on for two pages.  Looks like there was some figure drawing in Paris and that he remembered it.

As I said, I’m kind of interested now.  The unintentional part of the novel, perhaps, is the picture it paints of late 1800s and early 1900s life and values.  And I’m going to make it through this quest.  I figure if I can read about 70 pages for each of the next four days, I’ll arrive at the finish line.

Who knows, maybe I’ll learn something.  The only downside is that I think my professor has more novels on my great books list program.  And they’re not Pigling Bland or Peter Rabbit!