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:
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:
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.
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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