Sunday, February 15, 2009

Poseidon - Portrait #2 - Getting Started


Poseidon - 18 x 24 - oil on panel (top image)
Poseidon - close up of face (bottom image)
Ever since I read a Newsweek article about Kehinde Wiley, who paints urban black men in classical poses juxtaposed against backgrounds of feminine wallpaper, I've been fascinated by the concept of posing a modern-day person in a classical pose in order to tell a unique story.
Thinking about how to paint people so the paintings are more than just 'portraits', it occurred to me that as a girl I was fascinated with Greek gods and goddesses. In fourth grade I friended the scary and ancient librarian lady, who helped me check out lots of age-appropriate mythological story books. I continued reading them through high school. After that I stopped. I have no idea why. Probably because boys were more interesting.
Allan's read a lot of Greek mythology, so I asked him what Greek god he'd like to be, if I were to paint him. Funny question. I thought he'd pick Juno or Atlas. He didn't hesitate for a second before deciding: Poseidon, god of the sea. Thus, this painting was born, Poseidon it was.
He posed by wrapping up in his blue blanket with a shovel for the trident. I snapped about 50 pictures of him looking fierce and scary and finally got one that captured what he felt a portrait of Poseidon would look like.
Here's the progress thus far. The green underpainting is the Verdaccio. The flesh colors are roughed in, and this is by no means a finished painting. I want the flesh to be, well, real, so I did a lot of practicing with the flesh mixtures. In the background I hope to convey a sense of angry ocean depths, with swirling green and blue colors.
My goal is to create more than a portrait of Allan, aka Poseidon, god of the sea. I like to think maybe it's a portrait about how angry the gods are over how we are polluting the ocean. Or something like that.
I'll let the viewer decide.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Klimt Scarf

Klimt Scarf (top image) - 16" x 20" - oil on panel
Study for Klimt Scarf (bottom image) - 9" x 12" - gouache on paper
See on my website
In keeping with my plan to paint people in 2009, here's my first portrait. Keep in mind it's my first portrait in eons, and I haven't worked out all the intricacies of flesh mixtures yet. But in my opinion it's a benchmark I can use to measure future progress, and I happen to love the model (and that scarf) very much!
I primed this panel with oil-based gesso, creating a smoother surface, while still allowing texture effects. And I didn't use any medium in my paint, which is new for me, resulting in each layer taking several days to dry. I had to find other projects to occupy myself, which led to my pencil explorations.
Also, I didn't paint a Verdaccio, which I will in my next painting. Not having that green map of light and shadow made it difficult to paint the actual shadows.
For the background I smushed a bunch of bright colors around; which was fun! The little goauche study allowed me to work out the light and dark areas, and give me a better idea of what I really wanted to paint, instead of having to guess when I actually started painting.
So for my next painting, already in the works, I want to practice more painterly brushstrokes, and capture more character.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Love/Eros at the Sixth Street Gallery





Love/Eros
Opening Reception
Sixth Street Gallery
We attended the opening reception of this art exhibit celebrating romantic love. My painting of hands was featured on the postcard invitation. You can see it in the first photo, just above the pianist's head.
Jim Martin was the featured gallery artist. His digital photographs were semi-abstract, very colorful and expressive. His information said he is color-blind!
Afterwards we stopped next door and watched glass-blowers make a glass. It was a toasty environment, just right for this chilly February evening.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Coal Plant

Coal Plant - 5 x 7 - graphite on illustration board
My March issue of The Artist magazine had an article about artists over 60. I read it with interest because, well, 60 isn't that far away. One of the artists, Terry Miller, does detailed graphite drawings. I thought that was neat because I used to love to draw, but I haven't done anything in years. So I Googled Terry and found his blog, which inspired me to try a little graphite drawing myself. Here it is: Coal Plant. Since pencil is black and white, I chose a subject that contains a lot of black; coal. Plus it continues my Power of the Wind environmental theme focusing on wind energy. It's definitely cleaner, wind that is, not graphite. I smeared a lot of graphite dust around, but fortunately gum erasers take it right off. I think I'll try another in keeping with an environmental focus, but the subject has to contain black. Bats! Just like Bats, Butterflies and the Wind. Stay tuned.