Art in the Park

Before I get caught up in narratives of what I’ve been doing in the recent past, allow me to tout the upcoming event, “Art in the Park”, this Saturday, September 20, at Veterans Park in Manchester NH (rain date is the next day, Sunday, September 21).  This is an annual art show from the artists of the Manchester Artists Association.  We put up tents;  we put up racks; we cover said racks with artworks.  We wait. . . for people to come by and ooh and aah and maybe buy a piece or two.  Many cards and prints will also be on sale.  I am sharing my tent and racks this event with Linda Feinberg, who writes poetry to go along with her cards and other artworks.   This year The MAA is also sponsoring a children’s art show in conjunction with our own, in order to support the value of art making in the schools and to encourage potential artists to carry on.   If at all possible for you to visit us at this event, I beg you to do so.  It’s important for not just me, but for all the constituencies involved–artists in Manchester, artists in New Hampshire, school children, and the general public– who need more art in their lives!  To encourage high attendance, I am going to give away a piece of art–probably a drawing–via something like a raffle (not really a raffle because no payment will be required).  To qualify for the gift, you might have to answer a question about the artwork I am about to post in this blog.  So pay attention now!

Mostly what I have been doing this past week is tweaking the paintings of the past month, hopefully for the good, but I have also been drawing at my life groups.  The Monday life group has a new model, Robbie, whose face I found to be more interesting than his body, and I tried out a new medium:  pastel pencils.

New model, Robbie

New model, Robbie

Robbie, 2

Robbie, 2

Our Saturday group got together for our first meeting of the Fall, for our standard short poses followed by a few longer poses (but not long poses by the standards of Monday’s group).   I used charcoal.

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

40-minute pose

40-minute pose  (my favorite)

40-minute pose

40-minute pose (wish the edges were more interesting)

Finally, here is your first view of “Nap, Interrupted”.  I started it a month ago, then had to leave it alone while I pursued my landscape paintings.  Yesterday I tweaked it a little, but not so much as to make it worth another round of photos.

Gracie Portrait, WIP

Nap, Interrupted  (WIP)

This painting of my smallest cat, Grace, who, by the way, has an earlier post entirely devoted to her (see it here), was prompted by (1) the sale of my other gigantic cat painting called “Fur” (hmmm, I thought, cats sell!), (2) a great photo of Grace I had been saving to paint, and (3) a 2 by 4 foot canvas (dimensions that match the photo) just lying around.  Also in my mind was something Paul Ingbretson said, to the effect that you should paint every painting with the hope that  your painting will be the one to first draw the eye of anyone who enters in an exhibit space.  I am certainly doing the hoping here.  Whether the hope is ever realized . . . , well we can only hope.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Double courses, Double helpings

I’ve been painting so much lately that I have not had time to blog.  Today’s blog, therefore, will cover a lot of activity.  On the menu are three pure landscapes and three figures in the landscape.  You have seen earlier versions of two of the latter, so we’ll start with those even though my changes to the originals represent my most recent activities.

The Black Kimono, Take 2

The Black Kimono, Take 2

I felt I had to fix the arm in Black Kimono.  That is kind of a dangerous thing to do, especially since I had no photo reference, or if maybe I did take one, I forgot to look for it.  I just plunged ahead, building a right arm where I felt it should be, given where the left arm was.  The right arm still disappears behind her thigh, but the angle is more natural, and the plumpness of the forearm conveys the message better.  I am not declaring Black Kimono “done” yet because I am considering whether to add some pale streaks of lights reflecting off the kimono, so as to better delineate the leg underneath.  I hesitate because the result will be gray, and that can just look messy.

I have not had much experience with black.  In fact, I used to not carry a tube of black with me at all.  If I needed black, I would just mix the darkest available colors, usually ultramarine blue and burnt umber.  I learned that in one of the first courses I took at the Institute.  Peter Dixon was teaching color theory and Renaissance painting, and combined both of them in the same room at the same time.  So I picked up basic color theory along with grisaille and glazing.  Black was not used for either course.  Since then, I have encountered many other teachers who make “black” with their own combination of darks.

Yesterday morning we met again in the Lessard garden with our nude model.  You’d think with another three hours to work on something that seemed really close to finished after the first three hours, that it would be perfect now, and I even could have started a second painting.  Alas, not so.  I’m less happy with it now than I was last week.  Maybe happiness is a function of the number of hours expended on something.  Longer generates higher expectations, perhaps higher than achievable.

White Floppy, Take 2

White Floppy, Take 2

Her new face is what bothers me the most, but I also see background “errors”.  And one of the reasons for spending the extra time–improving the patterns of light and shadow on the figure–just don’t dazzle like I hoped.  It seems that just when I feel I am making significant progress of that ladder of artistic proficiency, I come up short and get knocked back a peg or two.  Did I just mix a metaphor?  How embarrassing!  I used to be so good with the English grammar stuff.

While we are looking at figures in the landscape, let’s check out the Last Pose of Summer–the last one in David Curtis’ garden.  Our model Mary Ann brought a costume reminiscent of Gibson Girls–between Victorian and the Roaring Twenties.  On top of her filmy white gown, she wore a dusty pink lace coat.  Dusty pink is close to the color of skin in shade.  How hard will that be to depict!

The Last Pose of Summer

The Last Pose of Summer

I kind of think I nailed it.  I would have liked to capture more definite leg shapes, but it was windy and the fabric kept swirling around her so as to prevent any sort of definitive anything.  Go with the flow, I say.  So I did.

For the pure landscape selections, we have another local back yard, one to dream of, a trip southward to a vista of brackish marshes, and tree portrait from the Boston Arboretum.  However interesting these scenes might be to a viewer, to this artist they felt dreary for the lack of a human presence.  Or even a dog presence.  I have become quickly spoiled by my good fortune in David Curtis’ garden.  Still it is good to be outside painting:

Elaine's Back Yard

Elaine’s Back Yard

This really is in the back yard of a fellow artist, Elaine Farmer, who just moved to Amherst and invited us over to paint on her fabulous garden.  But we can’t resist water.  And there was a little foot bridge over the stream, whence I painted.

Cox Reservation

Cox Reservation

The Cox Reservation is located in Essex, Massachusetts.  David Curtis and a group of his followers meet up there regularly to paint.  I have actually painted this scene before, when Sharon Allen and I were exploring the Essex National Heritage Area.  As I was driving down, I resolved not to get sucked back in with this vista, but rather to find something interesting, preferably with flowers, to paint close up.  So much for resolutions.  I hate vistas.  They are so hard!   When I started on this one, there wasn’t even any water to paint, but as the tide rose, it got better.  But why was I even there?  I don’t know.  Something in my afterlife must have required it.  No, I have it!  I just compared it to the earlier one (linked above), and it seems my vistas have improved somewhat since 2012.  Yea!

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Finally, the Smoke Tree.  I had to deliver a painting to the Arboretum anyway, so I decided to make a day of it and paint something.  No vistas this time.  I went looking for flowers, and found mostly flowering trees, which is not something very common at the end of summer.  This bush (“tree” is reserved for bushes that grow a lot higher) was located at the top of Bussey Hill.  Luckily, there was a road to get me there.  (They let me have a driving permit because I couldn’t carry my gear all that way, and I do have handicapped privileges due to the arthritis in my back.)  I labored over the Smoke Bush so much harder than I should have had to, and I suspect that is because I had the time to do so.  Had a model been present to paint, the tree gets abstracted in the background.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Continuing the Garden Binge

Encouraged by the success of the red parasol painting, I returned to the David Curtis garden in Gloucester two more times.  I have provisionally titled these two by the most prominent prop–a reflecting ball and a black kimono, respectively.

The reflecting ball was, to me, an annoyance, but I had to deal with it.

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

David advised us to paint portraits rather than a figure in the landscape, but as you can see, I ignored his advice.  Two weeks prior, I had already committed to painting that tree in the background.  Plus, the less real estate I needed for the reflecting ball, the better.  David praised (I think it was intended as praise) it as telling a story.   Why does mine tells a story and the others not?   A women in gypsy outfit gazing at a reflecting ball?  Must be a story in that, right?  The answer lies in the fact that I painted a figure in the landscape, not a portrait.  To tell a story, you have to back off a bit, gain some perspective.

Last Sunday we gathered around our model decked out in a black kimono and holding a fan.

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

This one I enjoyed a lot, almost as much as the red parasol.  It was allegedly the easiest of the Curtis Garden Series.  Certainly it presented nothing as complicated as that red parasol and cupid statuette;  the fan? –not even close.  Then why, when I could complete the Red Parasol with 15 minutes to spare, am I dissatisfied with Black Kimono?  Something about her right arm doesn’t look correct.

Yes, our model actually held that fan up for twenty minutes at a time (she braced the elbow against her side), but her feet would fall asleep.  Whenever the timer signaled her break, she would forget that fact about the feet, try to take a step, and collapse in the grass.  Gracefully.

We all enjoyed ourselves very, very much–including David, I guess — he invited us back next Sunday.  Since Bea is going out of town for Labor Day weekend, I shall have to drive down alone.

The Ultimate Opportunity in figure painting  occurred on Monday, when our life group left the studio to meet with our model in the Lessard garden.

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

We will meet again next week to work on the same pose.  I could almost call the painting finished, but it would be a pretty rough finish.  I think I can do better:  The head is slightly too large.  Some of the spots of light on her could be more delicious–meaning more contrast between light and shadow on her.

All three of these garden paintings demonstrate the benefit of using a dark (mostly burnt umber) ground.  I’ve been using previously painted-on panels, having sanded them down first.  The ground helps to hide the remnants of the original painting, which might otherwise be distracting.  The darkest ground provides the best cover, but my real reason for choosing a dark ground is the lovely foliage depth that occurs so effortlessly.  I can leave the ground showing behind her in the whole upper right section.

All that help, still not “finished”.  What magic took over when I painted Red Parasol?  And how do I get that magic back???

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Essay on Composing Pictures

(Almost) No pictures this week, but lots of words.  My two CF card readers both died on me, so I can’t transfer my camera photos to the computer.  Luckily, I had on my mind that I should write something about the workshop I took last month with Paul Ingbretson, on the subject of Composition . . . of paintings, of course, but I decided that the material applied equally well to photography.  So I use the word “picture” throughout the essay.  At the end, for purposes of illustration, I’ll include a painting that I corrected a few weeks ago at Paul’s recommendation.  Yesterday, Paul met with us again to see what, if anything, we had retained from the workshop, so this is a good time for me to review and reconstruct my thoughts on the subject of composition.

I have written this up not from the outline Paul gave us, not from the notes written up by a former student of his and handed out at the workshop, not even from the notes I produced myself (radical happening, that–I never take notes).  No, this is mostly a mergence, a convergence, of what I absorbed from what Paul was trying to get across plus a few elements from my own experiences.  I hope it makes sense and somewhere in the prose produces a lightbulb of understanding for someone, an understanding that had not previously existed.

Composition of Pictures in a Nutshell

(Thoughts after taking workshop on “Composition” with Paul Ingbretson)

 The composition of pictures involves the harmonization of elements with respect to:

Arrangement/placement of shapes/objects

Color (hue—red, blue and yellow) given to the shapes and the background

Value (light, dark, all gradations in between) given to the shapes and the background.

 

The goal of good composition is to achieve Unity AND Variety—and to help get across the idea or mood that the artist wants to express.  It is VARIETY that makes the picture interesting, but UNITY is necessary to create harmony, loveliness, and the chosen mood.

Beginning with your choice of a subject and your selection of elements to incorporate in your picture, you are making compositional decisions. What colors, for example, and why?

 

ARRANGEMENT

After choosing a subject, and after selecting the objects or elements (or shapes) that you wish to incorporate in that subject, your next task is to arrange those elements or objects so as to distribute them in the picture harmoniously and interestingly.   Your decisions will have to be informed by the colors and values of the objects. Therefore, you have to be thinking about all three major concepts—arrangement, color, value—at the same time.

[Arrangement choices while painting en plein air in a landscape do exist, albeit limited by reality]

Rules: Create overlaps; avoid tangents. Avoid same sizeness of objects or distances between them. Avoid boring!

Placement of the arranged object(s) within the picture frame  involves cropping the picture for best effect—should the center of interest be in the middle, up, down, right, left, etc.?   Consider zooming in, or out.

Subtopic: LINE

However, the most important effect of arranging  is the line or lines that will be created thereby—of the objects AND the values (see below). The dominant line or “thrust” may be symmetrical or asymmetrical, simple or complex, straight or curved; can form a geometrical shape like a triangle or circle, or can meander, like the letter “s”. The dominant line had better not be boring!  Subordinate or counterlines add interest as well.

[One of the few rules--to be broken at your own risk--is: Do not place an interesting element close to the edge of the picture where it might distract from the intended focal point.]

Rule:  For the sake of unity, patterns need to be repeated, but for the sake of variation,may not  be duplicated exactly.  Patterns need to harmonize with one another.

 

COLOR

The initial selection of subject and objects/elements already goes a long way toward determining a color scheme.   However, you will need to think about a dominant color, and make sure that the placement of that color will unify (harmonize) the picture.

[Outdoors, the dominant color is blue. We don’t “see” it because our eyes seek out the reds and yellows.]

Weaving or spotting of one color throughout the picture tends to unify the picture. Discordant colors, like discordant music, if used, can succeed only if they are well placed and mean something. Background color is critical to harmonize the picture and to set off the subject.

Although one primary color should dominate throughout the picture, variations on the other two primaries should be represented. A monotone is (usually) not very interesting. That is not to suggest that any of the colors need to be high in chroma. Subtlety can be more fascinating than stridency.

If a color is used only once in a picture, that object tends to stand out in importance. Even if subtle variations of the color are “smuggled” elsewhere in the picture, that singular object will remain the most important one in the picture.

Rule of threes: repeat a particular color three times (in three different places) and repeat pattern three times (but don’t duplicate!)

VALUES

The distribution of values in a picture creates abstract patterns that intrigue the mind of a viewer. The eye jumps to an area of high contrast, or to the lightest area in the picture.

Silhouettes are example of extreme values—light and dark with little mid values.

Spotting of values (lights or darks) may create or support lines.  Hence the compositional element of “Value” is actually a subtopic of Arrangements.  Perhaps everything is a subtopic of Arrangement and we circle back to the concept that composition means Arrangements–of shapes, lines, colors and values?

 

MOOD

The mood of a picture is the narrative that the artist wants to express or explore. All elements of composition must be geared to serve the mood.

The End.  For now.

The corrected painting I have to show you is an example of the importance of color and the rule of avoidance of a singular color.  You have seen this painting several times before, as I struggled with colors and values in an effort to “make it work”.  The basic layout was pleasing to me, so I could not figure out why I was not totally happy with the painting.  Paul told me why.  Here is the most recent but not final version of “Three Turrets”:

Three Turrets, v1.3

Three Turrets, v1.3

Here is the latest, corrected version:

Three Turrets, updated

Three Turrets, updated (from the porch of the Currier Museum’s art school)

Do you agree that the added patch of green in mid left harmonizes the painting with the previously singular patch at bottom right?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Garden Magic

I get so caught up in my narrative blog content that I always forget the marketing bits, where I would be announcing I got into this show or that, and sold this painting or that.  Such a waste of those small, ephemeral moments of triumph!  Meanwhile I’ve been moaning about failures.  Wallowing in failures.  I hereby resolve hereafter to “accentuate the  positive,” starting right now:

  • My painting of “Margaret and her Nook” has been published in an online mag called “Art and Beyond”; here is the link to the magazine; you will need to click forward to find my page.
  • 5 of my paintings were accepted in the “Healing with Art” exhibit at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester.  (reception Tuesday Sept 9, 5:30-7:00)
  • My painting of “Fur” has found its forever home, after being on exhibit for only a few hours at the Bedford Library.
  • My painting of “Willow Path in Winter” has been accepted in the annual JPOS (Jamaica Pond Open Studios) exhibit at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.   Reception Thursday Sept 18, 6-8.
  • My application to apply to the Copley Society in Boston has been accepted–allowing me to apply for Professional Artist Membership, which requires a long checklist of images and written materials that I need to produce before a January deadline.  Checklists?  No problem for a former tax lawyer.

Listing the good things maybe once a month will at least boost my spirits, even if it doesn’t have any noticeable effect on sales.  Sales are the ultimate boost in spirits.  Nothing says “I love your painting” quite like the handing over of real money in exchange for the painting.  One of my teachers had a standard reply to anyone who said “I love your painting”: . . . “It’s for sale.”  But we can’t all buy all the paintings we love.  I know that all too well.  So it’s OK to keep telling me when  you love my painting even if you can’t buy it.

So, down to the real business, that of creating beautiful paintings, maybe to sell.  I spent two afternoons last week in a garden full of little nooks and pathways and whimsey.  This garden is hidden behind an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood.  It was created by colleagues of mine, a photographer/painter-husband/wife combo–although credit for the garden has to go principally to the husband.  The wife, Dee Lessard, paints beautiful still lifes but has little experience with plein air painting (or gardening).  Her husband, Guy Lessard, was pretty pleased to find Dee and me at our easels in his garden, immortalizing  the beauty he had built.

Magic Garden No. 1

Magic Garden No. 1

If you follow the path marked by the stepping stones, into the darkness beyond,  you come upon a pool full of dappled sunlight and brilliant koi.  I longed to see (and paint) a figure leaning into her reflection here.  But saving that one for when I have a model, I chose this simple scene that melds so delightfully a  half dozen different plant varieties.  I completed this one in a two-hour afternoon, just before the skies opened up in buckets of water.

A few days later, we went back out, Dee to continue working on the one she had started and me to find another magical place.  No. 2 is to the right and down a slight slope from No. 1, looking back at another path to get to the koi pond.

Magic Garden No. 2

Magic Garden No. 2 (before adjustments)

The Fairy Chapel

The Fairy Chapel  (Magic Garden No. 2, after adjustments in color and value)

Guy rescued the little church birdhouse in an antique store with steeple intact.  But adverse elements had obliterated the steeple over time, so I was painting what could have been a New England meeting house when Guy came over and requested that I add the steeple.  I was only too happy to oblige.

For both garden paintings, I had started with a surface toned dark, mostly with burnt umber.  Very little of the toned surface still shows, but where it does, it enhances the contrast that makes a painting interesting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

Yesterday Bea Bearden and I drove down to Gloucester, Massachusetts, to attend a plein-air-with-figure workshop in a garden attached to the home of David Curtis.  Although David, as we are encouraged to call him, is an anointed master painter (member of the Boston Guild of Artists), I had not been acquainted with him, his work, or his teaching before Friday, when I got the call from Bea and signed up for the workshop.  I feel extremely lucky to have got the opportunity.  For the past few years, I have not been signing up for plein air workshops (unless they involved the figure somehow).  I’ve taken so many plein air workshops in my short career as an artist, and done so many plein air paintings, that I had begun to feel I could not learn anything new.  (“Know it all” syndrome.)  Besides, it is the figure that I wanted to concentrate on now, so that’s where my workshop budget went.  However, in one casual Sunday afternoon (three hours) David Curtis conferred upon me new insights into plein air painting.  The kind of insights where you might say, oh, yeah, why didn’t I see that before!  Maybe you did see it, but I hadn’t, not consciously at least.

Here are my two favorite insights:

  • First:  On an overcast day (that’s what we had yesterday), the light comes from overhead, not at any angle.  Hence the tops of flowers, e.g., are catching the most light.  Duh! you say?  I know.  Obvious when you think about it.  But I had never thought about it before.
  • Second: Did you notice, in the Sargent exhibit at the Boston MFA a few months ago, that there were very few skies showing?  The absence of sky, usually the lightest element in a landscape painting, allows there to exist in the painting a different lightest object–one not at the top of the painting, which is, after all, a damn awkward place to suffer a focal point (unless you are focussing on clouds).  From this opportunity to create a lightest spot elsewhere on the canvas comes  the power to be unusual, to be dramatic,  to capture the viewer.  We all want to capture the viewer, and hang onto her.  Now we have a new tool–eliminate the sky as an element of the scene.

We were a group of nine students in Gloucester, all quite accomplished painters.  On the way home, Bea and I congratulated ourselves on the fact that we held our own in this company.  We will join them again for two more Sundays later in August, and I am so looking forward to it!

Due to the speed with which I work, my painting was completed within the three hours of the workshop.  Even better, it is one with which I am very happy.  The flowers gave me the opportunity to paint just the kind of landscape that I like best, and the lovely model with her coral dress and orange-red parasol were a feast for the eyes.  Thank God I brought my cadmium orange and cad red light.  And my perylene red and quinacridone magenta.  All were needed for the many reds and pinks in this painting.

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

I made sure that my angle on the stone cupid showed off his best side too.  Can you tell that the flowers inside the ring of granite stones are impatiens?  The dabbing technique to simulate flowers and leaves is something I adopted back when I was first studying landscapes with Stan Mueller, and he encouraged it.  It’s not something I can always work into landscapes vistas, and maybe that’s why I prefer not to do vistas.  I began this painting with a burnt umber ground, applied to cover up the Campobello Island seascape underneath.  (I’m getting more and more ruthless in my painting demolitions.)  The dark ground helped me speed toward completion.

Today I worked on another portrait of my daughter Nancy.  The Group (Monday Life Group) agreed that we wanted to paint the blue patterned kimono that she uses as a coverup between poses.  My parents had brought this kimono back to me from Japan in 1966 or thereabouts, and after five decades  it is finally coming into its own!  However, it was not possible to deal with the pattern in the time given to us.  Moreover, the wet blue paint did not allow for adding fresh whites and pinks where needed.  So this is a Work in Progress.

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

After the kimono dries, I will add the patterns using this photo I took with my phone.

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

I don’t know if I really missed the tilt of her head as much as the photo suggests, but someone did tell me recently (Paul Ingbretson, I believe) that we humans have a hard time overcoming an innate desire to untilt heads.  I have noticed as much in myself before, so I was trying extra hard this morning to counter that tendency.  Sigh!  Regarding the size of her irises, that was a deliberate decision to exaggerate them in order to get across how one perceives Nancy’s eyes.  They come across as large.

Last week Nancy had posed for us nude, but wearing quite a deep tan–from walking the dog, she claimed.  Her droopy eyelids of last week caused me to bring her a large iced coffee this morning in the hope that we not get the sleepy look again.

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

I almost want to hide this one from you, because I feel I butchered the nose.  Still, it’s interesting as a study of skin tones.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Fast or Slow, Which Works Better for Me?

You could rightfully assume that when I turn up on the web after a longer-than-two-week hiatus, I’ll be accompanied by a raft of new paintings.  Sorry to disappoint.  Although many hours in the past 17 days have been spent on various kinds of art-related activities, painting actual pictures was only a smallish part of it.  One workshop with the accomplished portraitist Mary Minifie produced a single portrait (representing three days of labor), while another three-day one with Paul Ingbretson on composition produced nothing but horrible practice scribbles.  Even worse, last Monday’s session with our lovely preggie model was lackluster, the result not as appealing to me as my first painting of her.

One saving grace: as a small favor to me, my friend Arthur offered to sit for me to do his portrait, and I managed to turn that into a big favor.  Immediately upon viewing the painting after the first sitting, his mom declared herself a buyer.  And after the second sitting, my model asked me to do another one for him.  Although I wasn’t timing either session, I think the first sitting lasted about an hour and a half, and the second about an hour.  Hence:  24 hours on a Margaret produced with Minifie versus 2.5 hours spent on Arthur winging it on my own.  Both paintings are 11×14, so there was no size differential.  No surprise–Arthur’s portrait looks rough while Margaret’s looks delicate.

Arthur

Arthur

Margaret July 2014

Margaret July 2014

Mary Minifie started with the selection of clothing and background.  The goal was to enhance the beauty of our model’s skin tone, and also to create a pleasing composition, in which color plays a major part (a point that got made again in the second workshop).  That took one hour.  I thought then that it was an outlandish amount of time to spend on the selection of drapes to form a background, but looking back, I appreciate its importance.  My photograph of the painting, even when adjusted, may not convey the right color impressions over the internet, especially when the actual hue, value and intensity had been so carefully calibrated.  When you look at the completed painting, can you appreciate the rightness of the color of the background?  What about the color of her shirt?  What about that bit of white in her bodice?  The shirt, by the way, was painted with a lapis lazuli from Michael Harding that I found in a batch acquired through eBay.  So beautiful–the blue used by Vermeer, before ultramarine was invented.

The next big chunk of time was spent on Mary’s demo of, and our attempt to duplicate, the egg approach to portrait painting.  We first tried it on a small 5×7 panel, then on our big panel.  The basic idea:  paint an oval in the shape of the model’s head matching the tint of each area of the head and neck, gradually increasing the detail as we decreased the patch of skin being matched in paint.  In theory, the features start to emerge.  Attention is also given to her pearl earring, her red hair ornament, and her hair itself.  Margaret was much better at holding her pose than Arthur, of course.  In theory, the better painting should result from this approach.

However, I am happier with my portrait of Arthur.  It reminds me of a tour de force by Rose Frantzen titled “Portrait of Maquoketa”.  Maquoketa is the name of her home town in Iowa, to which she had returned after a period of trying to “make it” in the Big Apple.  She set out to paint all of the Maquoketa residents who were willing to sit.  You really should visit this page where the story and all of the portraits are kept.  In the meantime, enjoy this cover of her book, which contains all 180 of the portraits and a clever flip-book effect in the corners, whereby you can watch a painting in progress.

Frantzen book cover

Frantzen book cover

Frantzen’s method is called “alla prima” because the paintings are completed in one sitting without any kind of underpainting or academic preparation.  Alla prima (or almost alla prima in “Arthur”‘s case) suits me better than the classical approach mastered so well by Mary Minifie.  Alla prima is something I can do now, whereas the more academic method would take me years to master, and I don’t have that kind of time left to me, unfortunately.  Although I expect to live to be 100, I’m not sure I will be able to paint until 100.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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