2001 was the worst year of my life. I feel much better now but back then I could only get off the sofa to go to open studio figure drawing once or twice a week. I thought the black paper was appropriate for my mood and it makes a dramatic looking drawing. Notice the look on the model’s face. hahahah
Last night I had a dream that I was painting at home because it’s cold and windy out and I spilled paint on the rug. It was some special hand woven antique imported rug, not mine. I wanted to escape before they saw the paint and I had to climb out of there over these timbers that were spanning a huge dark pit. The timbers were burned or rotted so it was dangerous. Finally I managed to haul my butt out of there and it was great!
Now, I’m not really feeling the Christmas spirit this year and that’s ok. Feeling apathetic is a big improvement over the stress of so many Christmases past.
I did buy a poinsettia for myself. That’s my one decoration. That’s all I want. Maybe I can paint it. Every year I want to paint a poinsettia and have never done it.
Nah, it’s an underpainting for the figure I’m planning on putting in the painting. It’s 2.25″.
The texture of the water is showing through. I might try to scrape that off. before adding color on top of this.
I’m a little conflicted about this figure because I’m breaking one of the few rules I remember from my art school days back in the 1970s. That rule of the academy was never copy a photo. I see more successful artists than me are copying photos. No one cares anyway. It’s not as much fun breaking a rule that no one cares about. The photo isn’t really making it easy to do. Why not copy a figure?
I was undecided about how to proceed with putting a figure into my painting but I wanted to try and I don’t have a model. As I was reading other blogs I saw a photo with a dark figure and thought it looked great! Check it out! George writes great poetry and songs too!
I walked around the pond and tried to see if any light would be seen on the figure from the opposite side of the pond where I’m working on the painting. There will be only two little spots of sun on my guy. The top of his hat and his left shoe. All the rest is shadow because it’s backlit.
This wasn’t easy for me to get a plan worked out but now that I got past this one hang up I’ll go back to Pleasure House Point and finish this soon.
Man this new block editor is driving me nuts. Blocks show up on top of my text and I don’t know how to make them go away. If anything shows up on the post, I don’t care.
This is my second dancer. I’ll transfer this and the first one to a larger paper later. I might draw the dancers from the other side or I might draw a flower that’s blooming and I liked it last year. The finished dancer painting won’t happen for a while. I haven’t made a definite plan yet, like which medium to use. And there’s another drawing I started a couple years ago at Fort Monroe that I’d really like to finish if I can get through that tunnel traffic. If I run into a traffic jam I give up. I’ll go somewhere else. The dancers would be best completed in the winter so my easel isn’t blocking the path. I can hold this size sketchbook in my one hand and draw with the other but a large piece of paper would need my drawing board and easel.
That’s only one decision out of hundreds. I’m also thinking of the background. My models are on a pedestal so they’re no where near the ground. If I draw them on the garden path will it look like they’re floating? I guess it will if I don’t connect the figures to their shadows. It seems to me like their breasts defy gravity pointing to the sky like that. I didn’t make the sculptures. I just draw them as I see them. hahaha They could be nymphs. I guess nymphs could float off the ground. I might go with the antigravity idea.
My models are made of bronze and I’d like to paint them in bronze colors. I’m not sure exactly how yet, Which media to use, probably not oil paint. I still have to sketch the second dancing girl and she’s in a more difficult pose to draw. She’s leaning back. I’ll do it next week.
The back of the sculpture looks good too, so I might draw both sides. I’ll have to transfer the sketches to a larger paper. They’re holding hands while dancing.
It doesn’t make any difference how long it takes me to come up with a plan for my dancing girls. They’re not going anywhere. I might even wait till winter to do it so there will be less people at the garden and I won’t be in the way on the path.
ok, I'll try to use it.
Twice I was heading over to Fort Monroe to work on a drawing that I started a couple years ago when the strange atmosphere of the place freaked me out and I gave up on the drawing. It's an old fort and was under Union control in the Civil War. The battery I was drawing is freakin spooky. Yesterday and today I wanted to go there but it's on the north side of the Hampton Roads Tunnel and there was a big traffic jam both times. It wasn't rush hour. I didn't want to sit in the jam so I went to Norfolk Botanical Garden and walked a little since it's close to where I abandoned the highway traffic mess. I'll try for Fort Monroe after Labor Day some time in Sept. Hopefully the traffic jam will be gone by then. I don't know why there's so often a jam up there on 64W but it's enough to keep me on Southside.
I remembered Norfolk Botanical has a great sculpture of these two beautiful girls dancing so I started a sketch. My luck in the garden wasn't much better than the highway. As you can see, I didn't get very far with the sketch. I saw a mosquito on my arm. At first I was in the shade then 10 minutes later the sun was beating down on me. I almost went back to the car for my bug spray then I thought, oh well, I'll try to get over there earlier tomorrow and remember to use the bug spray. These are the problems of your plein air artist. It doesn't always go as you hoped with the weather and the bugs.
Well, if you're interested in this drawing technique here's the start. First I decided to draw the head 1.5" because that's about the smallest I can draw it, so I marked 1.5" sections down the paper. This way of measuring the figure using the head as a unit of measure keeps the figure in proportion as you're working on it. The ideal figure has 7 heads. The foot holding the weight is below the chin. The nipples are at the second head, except not this figure because I'm looking up at her so they're above the second head. The pubic mound is at the 3.5 mark on the figure as indicated on my sketch by the v. I put it approximately where it needs to be in line at the back of the head. To get that placing I held my pencil straight up and down and lined it up with the head. I hope you can visualize what I'm saying. To measure the proportions of the figure you have to hold your pencil out at an arms length. Rest your arm on the sketchbook. Rest the sketchbook against your body. If you take an easel out to draw, rest your arm on the easel. Close one eye and put your thumb on the pencil at the bottom of the chin. Then lower the pencil and check the proportions. Live models vary from the ideal. Don't feel self conscious about standing there holding a pencil out at arms length and closing one eye. It's the best way to start a figure drawing. I often was in open studio figure drawing groups and most artists don't use this technique to draw the figure. But if you want to be accurate it helps. Then start blobbing in the general shape with charcoal. Get all the figure roughed in before starting to refine it with line work.
I didn't get the first steps finished today because of the mosquitoes. So far I'm not itchy.
Baby, these are some beautiful girls dancing. And the poetry on the base is uplifting. This is what it says.
so many gods
so many creeds
so many paths
that wind and wind
just the act of being kind
is all this sad world needs.
Arther Morris 1862 - 1920
A guy just called me from the same apartment complex where my art was stolen, different building and told me he had my art. He found it propped up at his door. He knew it was stolen. My phone number was on the back of this drawing. He’s an artist too, also named Chris, and refused to take a reward.
I’m so glad to see this one again! All I can say is thank God. I got my stuff back. And thanks to everyone that was pulling for me to get my art back! I never would have figured prayers would help me but maybe they did! Everyone come over tonight and let’s celebrate! the drinks are on me!
The model for this is another statue in Hollywood cemetery. She’s holding a wreath over a grave and I changed it to a cornucopia. I think I took the wings off her, but that was long ago, like 2008 or so, I forget.
My computer is still on the fritz. It won’t upload another photo.
You might think I look like Venus. It’s me. I’m left handed. hahahah
After my art folders and favorite paintings got stolen a couple days ago I wondered what was missing and what I still have. I still have one big cardboard folder with some things I was really glad to see. This is one of them. That’s me painting in the nude under the weeping cherry.
I also have a bunch of oil paintings that I’ll try to keep.
They don’t move. There’s no need to worry about running out of your 20 minute time allowance before the model needs a break. The artist can take a break any time they want to and the model will be in the exact same pose. You can even go back any time any day and the model will be the same.
I can finish a drawing. Don’t get me wrong on this, open studio figure drawing practice is necessary, the more the better, but I never could finish a drawing. I had lots of sketchbooks full of sketches that I threw away when I moved. When I looked back at my figure drawings from years ago I could see an improvement that came from the open studio. I work slowly though, and I do enjoy finishing a drawing, which I could never do in the 3 hour or so time of the open studio.
Lighting isn’t a problem. Check it out and decide what time of day you like the light and go then. There is no getting stuck on the dark side of the model. You can’t beat natural light.
The pose is good. Like to see a graceful model in an interesting pose? Statues are more likely for that than some nude sitting or standing around.
They’re ideal figures. Easy on the eyes, in perfect classical proportion.
It’s not crowded. Sometimes at open studio figure drawing, my view is blocked by another artist . When I go out to draw a statue, I get to pick the best side to draw from. No other artists are there drawing.
Last but not least, THEY’RE FREE! Who needs to pay a model to do figure drawing?
This sculpture is “Breaking Ground” by Kathleen Farrell. It’s the WPA monument at Norfolk Botanical Garden. During the depression the government had this project where they hired 220 African Americans to dig gardens by hand. 200 were women and 20 were men. It looks like back breaking work, doesn’t it? And that’s not all, they had to watch out for snakes, and the weather made it even more difficult. This model probably saw something moving on the ground, because she’s not looking at her shovel, she’s looking to the side. Yikes!
It’s a great show of American Impressionists titled “The Artist’s Garden”. I drove to Norfolk yesterday to see it. The show ends in the beginning of Sept.
It’s exciting to see old Impressionism. There’s a lot of variations in the different artist’s styles. These artists had academic training. You can see it in the beautifully drawn female figures. An artist doesn’t get this kind of results by tracing a photo. This took years of figure drawing practice.
I wanted to see if the old Impressionists used glazes, and yes, I see layers of glazes in a lot of the paintings. Modern Impressionists don’t use glazes. This painting shows a lot of variation in the way the paint was applied. Some is glazes and some parts are painted thick.
The old Impressionists didn’t have a formula. I doubt this was finished in one day. They had inspiration. They were daring and groundbreaking. Modern Impressionists are in a big hurry to finish paintings because they think it makes them look “prolific”. They have a good level of successful paintings that are marketable because they have a formula, which they might call “streamlining” a painting, or “simplifying” or something like that. That’s why all modern Impressionists work looks the same. Modern Impressionists are on some kind of art treadmill. I want to paint like this guy, Curran.