I read recently about someone's struggles to improve their painting, and how the more they tried, the less it seemed they understood. Or they saw how much there was that they still did not understand. But in comparing their work to work of previous years, they could finally see that their skills were being honed and the work improved. I have felt recently that there might be just the slightest bit of improvement in my own work, infinitesimal perhaps, but there. Until today, when my hand seemed to become disconnected from my brain; I had ideas, plans, but the paint that hit the canvas was an out of control mess which just got worse the more I pushed at it. I tried a smaller canvas, with similar results. Finally I turned to the pencil, going back to the very basics; I just had to salvage something out of this day of effort. It isn't going up on a wall, but at least it reminded me that I can get to what I am after from time to time. Claude Monet.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Not content to stick with one thing and get better at it, I find myself trying all sorts of subjects, different media, putting in the hours it will take to achieve some improvement from my rough starting place. I find that doing some figure drawing, even if from photos, can teach me to better get proportion right, and to lay out the subject with more speed and confidence than in the past.
These cartoons of Emma Lou, the wife of Alrion in the previous post, show the same effects of Time on the visage. It seems the face is a magnet that collects all the hard work and disappointments of a lifetime.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
One thing I have been fairly consistent about is taking time occasionally to draw the face from photos, often old family photos, since they are black and white and full of character. The above is not a family member; it is supposed to be Stéphane Mallarmé, the French poet. Charcoal on paper. For some reason I am happy with the tie.
This one is from an old family album: it shows the same man, Alrion Wilson Gifford, at two different points in his life. It is fascinating to me how age and Life can change ones face, but the underlying structure remains the same. These were quick cartoonish sketches, still charcoal, but on a smaller scale.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
For a number of reasons, I haven't been able to spend much time in the studio for the past two weeks, mainly because my house has been filled with a dozen or so in-laws day and night. Peace has at last returned, and when I tried a little painting this morning, I was watched by these two boys hanging just outside the door, feeding on the dried corn and food block. It was hard to move around much, because they were wary of my presence. The last day or two this forked horn, spike and a young boy with just the beginning of an antler bud have been hanging around for hours at a time. I did a couple of quick sketches, not that I will post them here; I'm not about to branch out into wildlife painting until I can get a basic landscape or portrait right.