The In-House Model

When, a few months ago, I faced the fact that not enough artists were coming to my Monday morning life sessions to cover the cost of the model, I struck a deal with the model who lives behind my garage:  my 19-year-old granddaughter Natalie.  She now sits for me for free in exchange for her room behind the garage, and still gets cash when other artists join me for a particular session.  She does not pose nude, but frankly, I was getting weary of painting the nude body anyway.  Moreover, as I never tire of pointing out, paintings of nude bodies are difficult to exhibit.  Americans are such Puritans!  Except for museums, which unfortunately do not have room for a learner such as I, people running exhibit spaces are paranoid about the possibility that children might clap their wide eyes on a picture of a nude human being.

So you will see Natalie more often now.  For the first pose pursuant to this arrangement, I had her dress up in her mother’s wedding gown.  The gown had been hanging (literally) around since we cleared out attic and closets for a big garage sale that I had in early October.  I retrieved it from the sale items along with some vintage items of clothing that deserved to be memorialized in paint.

Natalie was at first resistant.  The gown was old-fashioned with lace and puffy sleeves, and covered her up to the neck–definitely not something that a modern girl like her would choose to wear anywhere, much less to her wedding.  But the gown fit her like a glove, and after a while she got into the costume spirit of the enterprise. She has now spent a total of four Monday mornings in the thing.

The first week was just me and one other artist, so access to a good perspective on the model was not an issue.  I chose a 18×24 panel and took my time, expecting to get a few more sessions with this pose.  But more artists showed up the next week, so we had to move her out of the corner to get more good vantage points.   But I have not given up on the first pose.  I like the concept of the bride with her bare feet up, hair all frowsy, head thrown back in exhaustion:

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The Wedding is Over (WIP)

The second pose is more formal.  Natalie applauded the change because it got her closer to the fireplace and was more comfortable than the first pose. We all five started on portraits that were, at most, 3/4 length, so what she did with her feet was immaterial.  (The feet were clad in slippers and resting on a toolbox stepstool.)  I took photos at the end of the second and third weeks, then took a photo of her so that I could finish the piece using that as my reference.  Today, I fixed some details and took another photo, its status today, which might be final.  All four stages are shared with you below:

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The bridal portrait (WIP)

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The bridal portrait (almost done)

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Bridal portrait–the real thing

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The bridal portrait–finished, maybe?

Two days ago, we started on the third pose.  Two other artists were with me, and we agreed to go at it again next Monday, but I think I’m finished with the face and hair at this point.

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Snuggled up by the fire (WIP)

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The snuggle for real–photo of the model in her pose

Natalie is all wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire, the best pose ever, according to her.  Next Monday I need to rearrange the folds of the blanket for the sake of the composition, bringing the back folds across her body instead of running down into the corner.  Also, I feel that the blanket should be more in the shadow, competing less with the light on her face.  I don’t want to bring the face into a more “finished” state.  In fact, I’m afraid I have already lost a certain fresh quality.  Here’s an earlier state of the painting:

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snuggled early version

Another part of the scene that bothers me is the chair.  I’m thinking maybe I should get rid of it.  Or change the color.  To what?  I hate it when I find myself in a color quandary.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  My painting “Darkly” (link to it here) has  finally donned a frame and can be viewed at E.W. Poore Framing Studio in Manchester, as part of the Manchester Artists Association “Artist of the Month” program.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

 

 

Explore, Express . . . Exploit?

I have been taking a class at the NH Institute of Art with Patrick McCay.  He teaches this class every semester for the Community Ed students like me (not going for a degree or a certificate), and I have taken it before (twice) because it’s not the kind of class where you get taught something specific.  The idea is to bring in your own project with the goal of exploring, expressing and exploiting.  The class is not over yet–we may have three more meetings before the end–but I thought I would catch you up on my doings there.  In the course of doing that, I will catch you up on a painting that I started some years ago in the first iteration of EEE, as I have come to call it.  It is the huge (for me) painting of the top of Mount Washington at the end of the bicycle race.

To reprise the tale:  My son had competed in the bicycle race up to the top of Mount Washington, and I was at the finish line watching for him.  I took a lot of photographs that day, and I used quite a few of them later as inspiration for paintings, but this last big one was supposed to be my magnum opus.  It was very ambitious.  I originally intended to include lots of figures of cyclists and the crowds cheering them on, but when the class ended before I finished the painting, I stopped working on it.  Then I forgot about it except occasionally when I would come across it and try to dredge up a desire to finish it.  Whatever had been the inspiration, it had fled.

So this year for my first EEE project, I brought in the MO (magnum opus) resolved to bring it to completion by simplifying the composition, and abstracting and subtracting most of the figures.  The cyclists are now represented by bicycle wheels. Clouds have been deployed to obscure the foreground so as to focus attention into the center of the canvas.  I am titling it “The Finish Line.”

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The Finish Line, 24×36, oil

It may not qualify for the soubriquet “magnum opus”, but it is a few baby steps down the road toward more abstract representation (if that isn’t too much of an oxymoron) of landscapes, something I long to achieve.  In this regard, J.M.W. Turner is my hero.  Although Turner is not considered to be an abstract painter, I feel that he found ways to represent nature that were not strictly observed.  He painted emotionally, which is odd when you consider what a brusque, rude man he could be, according to the movie.  (“Mr. Turner”, a must-see movie in my opinion.)

My second project in EEE was to create a large painting from a plein air painting.  Many, many landscape artists do this routinely:  they paint outdoors only to produce “studies” from which to create the large masterpiece of the same scene.  Me, on the other hand, I paint outdoors on the chance I might make a good finished painting.  For this project, I chose “The Start of Winter “,  see previous post from October, Artists Getaway Weekend.  The title of the bigger version is “Winter Arrives in the White Mountains.”

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Winter Arrives in the White Mountains, 18×24, oil

What next?  I was getting desperate for ideas.  Looking around my studio, I noticed an old painting on a panel that had been sanded down in preparation for becoming an entirely new painting.  But  the composition of the old one was good, and its ghostly image remained on the panel.  So I decided to re-paint the scene as a new me, using palette knife and greater energy and contrasts.  I also eliminated one element in the old painting that was just getting in the way of a scene that was already busy enough.  The subject matter is a little waterfall feature in a private garden.  The owners, Tiffany Gardens in Londonderry, had added a Japanese lamp or icon alongside the waterfall.  It had looked pretty in its place, but in the painting, it subtracted attention from the waterfall.

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Reconnected Tiffany Waterfall, 14×11, oil

For my most recent class, I used a charcoal drawing from last Saturday at the Saturday Life Group, intending to replicate it in paint using a more expressionistic approach than my usual figurative work.  The drawing shows the model’s head, shoulder, arm and hand–from the side and back.  Her arm was over a chair that blocked my view of the rest of her body, but I made a virtue of my limited perspective by drawing her almost life-size onto my paper.  Unfortunately, I did not have the same size canvas for the replication, so the composition is not as perfect.  Jokingly, I promised to connect and paint an inch of extra canvas to the bottom of my painting, but in fact, I wonder of any composition is as perfect as it could possibly be, and we have to accept merely “good” sometimes.

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Joey’s Head and Shoulder, 14×11, oil

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

The Appeal of Sunflowers

Sunflower Bouquet

Sunflower Bouquet

This bouquet of Sunflowers and small blue companions was a gift from another artist (thanks, again, Flo) for whom I was doing a small favor. I started the painting the same day that I received them, when the flowers were fresh, but it took me a few weeks to finish i; the flowers had all died in the meantime. So this painting is from both life and from memory. My tea mug just happened to be there when I started, and it filled a compositional need, so it got to stay.  The blue of the companion flowers is picked up in the cat’s eyes  on the mug.  No, I sure don’t know the name of the companion blue flowers.

What is it about sunflowers that makes an artist want to paint them?   Their sunny color, their sunny symbolism, their over-the-top size are all hard to resist, but I was also drawn to the complexity and variety of the brownish, greenish centers of the flowers.  Until I had a bunch of them in my hands and could examine them close up,  I never realized that the centers were variable in color and have quite a lot going on, design-wise.

My sunflowers were mostly dark brown in the center, but on the periphery of the center, little green and yellow shoots were pushing through the brown matrix.  Gosh, I really need to find out what all that stuff is, and what it is called.  Excuse me, I’m off to Wikipedia to learn.

OK, I’m back, more confused than ever.  But I gleaned that the yellow petals are called the ray florets and are not really the flower of the thing.  The flowers are the tiny rosettes that grow from the brown matrix.  Wikipedia kindly provided this picture isolating the flowers from the (dead) ray florets.

Sunflower_disk

An even more intriguing statement is this one: “Sunflowers are especially well known for their symmetry based on Fibonacci numbers and the Golden angle.”  If ever there was a secret formula for attracting artists, that has to be it.  Thank god I finished the painting before I was made aware of this aspect, or I would have got hung up on the idea of depicting the Fibonacci sequence and Golden angle, which are present in the way the rosettes swirl from the center outward, in a closely knit spiral.  Here it is, simplified:

spiralsBlack I don’t really understand how those two math concepts produce the sunflower design, and I’m so glad I don’t have to understand it as it was beginning to make my head hurt.    Here’s a website on the subject that you might enjoy.  Or not.

My Sunflower Bouquet is for sale.  It is painted on a 20×16 stretched canvas and I am asking $925 for it, unframed.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.   For the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit another of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house through the month of November.

Opening this week, with a reception Friday night, 5-7, is the 2015 Regional Juried Show of the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn.  Also on Friday night, 7-9, is the reception for the Womens Caucus for Art annual 6×6 exhibit at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH.  Opening this week as part of NH Open Doors is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square in Amherst, NH, Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5, from now until the day before Christmas.  This Sunday, as part of the NH Open Doors, I will be painting a demo at the store.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

October 2015 Artists’ Getaway Weekend.

WordPress keeps track:  it has been 21 days since my last post.  Oh, dear!  I could look back at my calendar to nail down exactly what happened in these three weeks, but I know you’d rather not hear about physical therapy and closet cleanouts and yard sales.  Or mishaps with cars.  That last event will have long-lasting repercussions.  My auto insurance company does not want me as a customer anymore.  I feel humiliated.  I’ve had a bunch of smallish accidents–fender benders, we used to call them–followed recently by my backing out of my garage with the hatch back still in the upright position.  For safety reasons, cars crumple when they meet resistance, so the old-fashioned fender bender is now a very costly proposition.  I never used to have any kind of accidents; in fact for many years I went without auto insurance and I never had reason to regret it.  But now I am leasing a car and boy! that insurance coverage is a necessary resource.   I am now thinking I need to find a way to survive without the luxury of car ownership.  I won’t have to decide  until June.

Last weekend Sharon Allen was my ride.  She took me and my painting gear with her up to Bartlett for the Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend.  Besides Sharon and me, and Byron Carr of course (he organizes the event), we were joined by Betty Brown (Wolfeboro), Michele Fennell (Kensington), Suzanne Lewis (Rhode Island), Morgan Murdough of Henniker, Sean Carroll, Elaine Farmer of Amherst, and Beverly Belanger with her husband Joe.  Our best day was the Thursday travel day.  We painted from overlooks first on the Kancamagus Highway and then Bear Notch Road, which is a shortcut to Bartlett when it is not closed for snow.  Sharon sold one right off her easel.  While she was working on her 6×12 vista view, I was working on a tall tree portrait on a 16×12 panel.  The blue peak in the far back is Mt. Chocorua:

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

Portrait of a Tree in Autumn

Our next stop on Bear Notch Road produced this one from me, more of a vista on a smaller panel (9×12), very representative of my style.

Bear Notch Road overlook

Bear Notch Road overlook

Friday we spent the day at train stations, first the depot in Crawford Notch, then the big station in North Conway.  The weather was threatening rain all day, so we chose spots where we could seek shelter and still paint, ergo, train depots.  My morning painting never got finished, but it has potential.  Trees need skeletons to hold up those leaves.  Note the tiny hikers emerging from the path up Mt. Willard.

At Crawford Depot, WIP

At Crawford Depot, WIP

It was not finished because after only one hour, all of us agreed that it was simply too cold for us, and besides, we were hungry.  We returned to the Inn to eat leftovers from Thursday night’s dinner and get ourselves warmed up for the next round.

The weather seemed somewhat improved after lunch–the rain seemed to have ended and all we had to contend with was clouds and wind.  We did not need another train station for shelter, but for some reason, we ended up there.  Silly artists!  After the afternoon train pulled out of the station for its leisurely trip north to Crawford Notch–the very spot we had abandoned that morning–three of the four of us started a painting that depended on those tracks remaining clear of trains.  What were we thinking?  And I had deployed a 20×16 panel to work on–way too big to finish in an hour, which is about how much time we had before the train was back.  Not a good day in terms of results.  But did we learn anything?  Beware of tracks bearing trains.

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

Block-in; clouds over N. Conway

Friday night most of us dined together at the Red Parka and returned to the Inn to drink wine and talk, talk, talk.  I held out until the end but it was getting pretty hard to keep the eyelids propped open.  It wasn’t even ten p.m. and I usually stay up past midnight.

Arriving late to join us was Ginny Barrett, an artist I know from the Manchester Artists Association.  Ginny is not a plein air painter.  She was there to do a story about plein air painters on her local access TV program.  Her videographer was to join her Saturday and they would be conducting an interview with each artist over the course of the day.

Saturday:  Interview Day.  To keep all of us in the same general area for the sake of the interviewers, we gathered at the meadow west of North Conway, via the road signed as “Balcony Seat View”.  Albert Bierstadt was somewhere near this spot when he painted “Moat Mountain”, a beautiful and accurate vista that hangs in the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester.  I learned something about the sun, my eyes, and the deceptions practiced upon me by both.  You see, I had discovered years ago that when the sun shines directly on the surface of my painting, I paint too dark.  So I avoid that situation, sometimes by using umbrellas to shade my work space, sometimes by turning my back to my subject matter and peeking over my shoulder.   And sometimes by facing the sun so that the panel creates its own shade.  Saturday morning I could have used an umbrella and faced White Horse Ledge, but I decided to face the opposite direction, and paint what I could see in that direction, which meant the third option:  I was looking right into  the sun.  Imagine my shock and horror when I later discovered that my painting was just as dark as if I had the sun shining directly on it, instead of into my eyes.  Michele said it probably had something to do with the narrowing of my pupils in the sun.  Here is the result–the painting looks like a nocturne (painting of night scene).

Accidental Nocturne

Accidental Nocturne

The cold and wind chased us out of that spot too, so the softest of us (that would include me) decided to try our luck at Glen House.  In January a few years ago, when Sharon and I tried to paint en plein air up north in the dead of winter, we had sought shelter at this oasis across from the Mt. Washington Auto Road, and they allowed us to paint inside, looking at the weather through their floor-to-ceiling windows.  This time we came in with four painters plus Ginny and Paul (the photographer), but we were again allowed to set up and paint inside.  Having already wasted two 16×20 panels, I wisely brought out a 9×12 to use for a modest painting of the clouds and peekaboo mountains.  It was snowing on top of Mt. Washington, and the clouds swirled in and out, obscuring then revealing first this ridge, then that one, and the sun occasionally found a hole in the clouds with which to torture us with brief glimpses of light.

The Start of Winter

The Start of Winter

This was a fun and rewarding project–from the inside, where we were warm and sheltered from the wind.  Outside there was rain, there was sleet, there was hail, and of course, some snow.  I’ve decided I paint much better when I am not totally miserable.  Must be age.  Used to be that a little misery took me out of myself and allowed purer artistic instincts to emerge.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.   For the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit the other two parts of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

When Something Ends . . .

Something else comes along to fill the vacuum.  Last week, I had to announce to all on my list of figure artists that I was ending the Monday Life Group, after more than five years I think.  It does not work as a drop-in kind of thing unless a sufficient number of artists are willing to show up a few times a month.  I needed five artists to break even at the other studio, three to break even at my home studio.  When times were good, more than the minimum would show up, and I would have extra money to tide me over those weeks when not enough artists showed up; but when  you get down to three, there’s just no slack to work with.

Being forced to paint every Monday from the live model was very good for me and for my progress as an artist;  I feel lucky to have had that experience for so long.  There is a silver lining though, in the opening up of a whole half day in my calendar.  I’ll have more time to lead tours at the Currier, work on my blog and finally get to more floral paintings.  Perhaps flowers will replace figures.

So here is the last of the MLG output:  my granddaughter Natalie.

Natalie on arm of sofa

Natalie on arm of sofa

I booked her for only two weeks, and it just proves that two weeks is not quite enough to complete a portrait, no matter how loose the style.  I would have like to do more work on the hair and skin tone, but I pressed to get a face in. It is a pretty nice likeness, right down to the pained expression.  Her hip was hurting.

My other output last week was in Canterbury, the town center of Canterbury.  I have many times painted in Canterbury Shaker Village, but never before in the town of Canterbury.  We (plein air artists) were invited to paint during the Farmers Market and bring some works to sell, but Flo Parlangeli and I went out there in the morning, before the Market, so as to have something of the town to show, maybe sell.  We were warmly welcomed by the people of Canterbury, especially the hospitable librarians.  Chocolate cake with vanilla icing left over from a library anniversary party the night before!  And bathrooms!  The Market itself takes place in the Library parking lot.  To paint our first painting, however, we set up outside the general store, called the Canterbury Country Store.  I later learned that the Town owns that store, probably because it’s not really a going proposition.  But it sells good ice cream!  There was a constant stream of residents stopping in for one thing or another.  That was when we noticed one coming out with the ice cream cone.  We had to immediately take a break and try the ice cream.  Also the storefront looks adorable:

Canterbury Country Store

Canterbury Country Store

Maybe I can count this as a floral painting.

We moved downhill to the Library and the Market mid-afternoon, where we were joined by Sharon Allen, Mary Crump and Ann Traynor Domingue.   The Market was fun.  School kids were given some kind of scavenger hunt which required them to ask an artist what “plein air” meant.  That’s why we were invited!

I was at that point a little tired, and being pleased with what I had already painted in the morning, not in the mood to stretch myself.  I looked for a convenient subject, one that allowed me to keep my easel shaded and the table with my paintings for sale nearby.  By facing toward the sun, I can keep my painting shaded, and the painting itself keeps the palette in shade.  The subject I found when I faced the sun was Sharon:

Sharon at Canterbury Market

Sharon at Canterbury Market

I don’t know why she needed two things protecting her from the sun–her canopy chair was backed up by her ShadeBuddy–but my depiction is accurate (as always).  Notice the plastic bag that she throws her oil-smeared paper towels in.  She uses those blue shop towels, as do I, because they are much sturdier that ordinary kitchen paper towels, even Viva, and I wish I had got the blue towel more prominently present in the picture.  Sharon has burned her name onto the back of her Guerrilla pochade box.  See that orange straw coming out of the plastic cup?  Sharon keeps Dunkin Donuts in business single-handedly.  I believe, but am not positive, that Sharon was painting the musician who was playing his heart out just behind me.  I could have done him instead, but it would have been complicated since I could not use my ShadeBuddy on the hard macadam surface where I was so comfortably chilling’ out.  Yeah, I was just lazy.

The rest of my week was taken up with so much interference:  meetings, exhibit chores (I was appointed chair of an exhibit in Concord — see below), physical therapy (I’m going to solve the new knee problem and maybe even the old lower back problem that keeps me from standing to paint).  At my age, because of my age?, I am productive only half the time I am awake; the rest of the time I am chillin’ out.  I like to think of chilling out as restorative, but worry that it’s not restoring anything useful.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  I have also had a painting at the Red River Theatre all month, which I had overlooked in previous posts, but it comes down at the end of the week.  And for the month of October I have two paintings in the Womens Club of Concord, part of a three-part 20th anniversary exhibit by the Womens Caucus for Art.  However, the hours during which the WCC is accessible to the public are unpredictable.  You can visit the other two parts of the 20th Anniversary exhibits at the Kimball Jenkins carriage house and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Fresh Air painting

We hit two locations last week: Wednesday at St. Gaudens National Park in Cornish, NH; and Sunday  near Mt. Washington and Crawford Notch.  Both times I was with Sharon Allen and Betty Brown, and on Sunday, Mary Crump and Jim O’Donnell joined us.  Sunday was Day Three of the annual International Plein Air Painters (IPAP) paintout.  I had to skip Days One and Two because of schedule conflicts.  I think that was a good thing–I was fresh and rarin’ to go on Sunday.

Augustus St. Gaudens was a sculptor.  His two most famous sculptures are the Shaw Memorial, which sits outside the State House in Boston; and Diana, the largest of which lives at the top of Madison Square Garden.  A small Diane graces the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH, and another large one is on display in St. Gaudens’ studio.  This is the view of her that I could get from the doorway; I was not allowed inside because of my canine companion, Justice.

St. Gaudens' Diana

St. Gaudens’ Diana

Justice was with me as a treat for him.  When I leave him at home, I have to lock him in the bathroom because nothing else seems to contain him when he gets the urge to defecate in the living room.  To the list of outdoor painting problems, therefore, I have to add the possibility that your dog will scare off strangers who might want to see (maybe buy?) what I am painting.  He was pretty good on Wednesday; only chose to bark at two people.  Nobody was interested in what I was doing anyway–they were there to see St. Gaudens.

The statuary found in the gardens outside his home were not his pieces.  However, he chose the statues to decorate his garden, so they must have enough artistic merit to justify a painting of them.  For my first painting at St. Gaudens, I followed Betty’s lead and painted a statue of Pan standing over a fountain of sorts and surrounded by plants with huge arrow-shaped leaves, similar to a house plant that I used to cultivate but whose name has slid out of reach in my memory.  Here is my photo of the statue, followed by my painting.

Pan's Garden

Pan’s Garden

Statue of Pan

Statue of Pan

Mind you, the light had changed between the time I took the photo and when I got to the point of lighting my composition.

For my second painting (usually I paint two in a day when we are out for the whole day), I wanted to include St. Gaudens’ house.  I also fell in love with the light hitting an ornamental grass that graced flower pots that line up to lead down from the house into a semi-secluded outdoor room.  Here is my first taste:

Line of ornamentals

Line of sun-struck grasses 

Just as I got set up to paint, a rain cloud arrived and slowly passed over.  I checked my iPhone, and as far as it was concerned, the sun was still shining.  So I sat tight, using two sun umbrellas to shelter in place.  Justice was not pleased.  I suggested to him that he could get under the chair I was sitting on for pretty good protection, but no, he had to rely on my easel/palette tray.

Here is what my subject looked like for about 20 minutes.

St. Gaudens home in the rain

St. Gaudens home in the rain

As a result of the rain shower, and perhaps also the complexity of my subject, I could not finish the painting of the house and garden.  I may use photo references of the grasses later to complete the floral grouping in the foreground.

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

St. Gaudens house and garden (WIP)

Justice did not accompany me on Sunday to Crawford Notch.  On Saturday, a friend took him away to Massachusetts for sleepovers, but that left the Great Dane, Honey, all alone.  I lined up a few people to let her out periodically.

On our way up to Franconia Notch, the weather was concerning–cloudy, drizzly.  Then it perked right up as we continued north of the Notch, on past the Mt. Washington Hotel, which coincidentally was hosting a major art fundraiser for the northern forest.  We had to get to the Willey House because Betty and perhaps others would be meeting us there  for IPAP.  The weather deteriorated.  Clouds were very low, and it felt as if it might drizzle at any moment.  But it didn’t!  We stuck it out.  My painting seems to have darkened as it dried, which is odd.  If I had had sun lighting my canvas, I would have painted too dark, but I certainly had no sun that time.

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

The ducks were bobbing around back and forth all day, and whenever a new person approached the duck food (actually fish food but apparently good for ducks too) feeding station (25 cents a pop), they would swarm toward that person.  I had to have a few ducks in the painting.  Those white blobs represent the white feathers.  The rest of them–grays, browns– kind of get lost in the water.  Here is a different photo of the painting, a little too red but without that bleached out spot and better for discerning ducks:

Webster Mountain under cover

Webster Mountain under cover

After having lunch at the Willey House, we headed up to the Mt. Washington Hotel.  The sun was still shining on the Hotel, but the mountains were still obscured with clouds.  In addition to sun, this spot had wind.  Most of the artists who were there painting not for IPAP but for the fundraiser were set up on the leeward side of the wide veranda that encircles the hotel.  Betty and Mary joined them, while Sharon, Jim and I went in search of an angle from which to paint the horse that we had spotted as we drove into the hotel.  It wasn’t easy because of the distance the horses were from the road, and the impossibility of getting any closer.  That last line of defense for the horses were cattails, ergo wetlands.  The closer vegetation was probably infested with ticks.  Wimps we were.  And when I sat to paint (which is how I have to now), my line of sight on the horses did not include any legs.  Perhaps just as well. I have not painted many horses, and all I had to worry about was the body, neck and head.  Legs and feet can come later.

Horses under gray sky

Horses under gray sky

I painted the horses on a panel toned with cadmium red.  You can see hints of that red here and there. The sky was the last piece I put in.  I liked it with the bright red sky.  I hated the whitish gray sky.  So before it dried completely, I tried wiping out the whitish gray.

Horses with Pink Sky

Horses with Pink Sky

Red appealed to me I think because it is dark, and I wanted a dark value in the sky so as to increase the attention paid to the field.  It is hard to determine the value of red as juxtaposed to other colors.  I supposed I could make a dark blue sky.

So that is what came from two days of painting outdoors in the fresh air, sunny and cloudy and sometimes wet.  Before I close, I know that Bad Cat acquired some fans, so here is another shot of him in my bed.  His real name, by the way, is Blue.  Bad Cat Blue.

IMG_0804

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Fabulous!

Duveneck Reader

Duveneck Reader

“Fabulous” was David Curtis’ word for this painting, completed in his Gloucester garden as the last figure-in-the-landscape event.  As if to prove he was not using the word casually, he added that it was a “prize-winner” (or “award-winner”–same thing except some awards don’t come with any prize other than the glory).  I took that pronouncement as a challenge–I went home and entered it in the Artist Magazine competition for Artists Over Sixty.  Doesn’t that narrow the pool so as to benefit my odds?  On the other hand, artists who have been painting all their lives are pretty darn good by the time they attain the age of sixty, which hurts my chances.  If/when I get passed over, I get to tell David Curtis he has been overruled.

The title, “Duveneck Reader”, arises from the fact that the book her right hand is resting on is titled “Duveneck”.  It is an art book about the painter Duveneck, who was affiliated with the Boston Painters.  As such, he occupied a middle ground between academic painting and impressionistic painting–pretty much what I do too.  Anyway, David was so pleased that I included the book and actually thought he could read the word “Duveneck” on the spine of the book in my painting, that he might have been biased in his assessment of the overall quality of the painting.  Hence, I felt I had to include the name in the title of the painting.  (There’s not much logic involved in titling paintings.  Numbering them seems like a cop out to me, so if something just pops into my head, I accept that as a valid title.)

For the competition, I didn’t rely solely on the one painting.  As long as I am entering, I might as well include two more of my recent figures (at the cost of $20 per image).  I chose the Bridal Gown as one, and a nude that I have just completed after three Monday sessions.  The nude furnishes a good example of how very tiny adjustments can improve (I hope!) the overall effect of a painting.  First, here is the painting after the end of the first session:

After one session

After one session

I knew I was going to have two more sessions (each is three hours) with the model in this pose, so I concentrated on getting the proportions and angles correct, in other words, the drawing of the figure.  I could afford to leave the skin tones, facial features, hands, and drapes for another session.

After session two

After session two

After two sessions, the painting seemed almost complete.  Thinking back onto Steven Assael’s demonstration, however, I knew I could improve on the skin tones.

At the end of the third and final session, I had this.

After session three

After session three (try to ignore the shadows at top, from my easel)

My artist companions thought the hands were too small.  The size of the hands had been on my mind throughout as problem areas, and I had measured them against her face, taking into consideration the fact that she does have small hands, and at least one of them was extremely foreshortened in my eyes.  But I accepted the verdict of Laura and Nancy, so after they left the studio, I opened my palette back up and got to work enlarging the hands.

American Beauty (final)

American Beauty (final)

Nancy had suggested I just make the foreshortened hand wider.  I did so, and also blurred the left edge.  The other hand, which had been so difficult to render in the first place, now had to be re-rendered without help from the model’s presence.  Insane.  But the very fact that I had painted it dozens of times with her present enabled me to recreate a slightly larger version without her present.  I think it actually turned out better.

You might have noticed that I hardly touched the red drape after roughing it in the first week.  The shapes of the drapes changed drastically not only between weeks but also between poses–even during poses at one point.  During the second session, one of my cats became enamored of my model and the drapes.  He explored the possibilities and ended up carving out a napping spot behind her hip.  Wiser the following week, I locked all four cats up in my bedroom.

Bad Cat

Bad Cat

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!