Loose Ends

I trust everyone did something special to celebrate the holiday generally known as Christmas. Some people still regard it as a primarily religious holiday. For the rest of us, it primarily means time off to get together with family, eat too much candy, exchange gifts. It’s the candy and gifts that make me dread Christmas. Back in the seventies, I converted to Judaism, but I still have to celebrate Christmas. Once more, I have survived, with the help of the granddaughters. One is the decorator, the other the cook. Pictured above is the decorator, Natalie, trying to stare down Honey on Christmas morning.

With all that help, I should have got a lot more art done, but somehow, that didn’t happen. I did a lot of reading and studying about art, though. I read Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty” novel about art as an industry, before giving it to my daughter as a Christmas present. For studying, I leafed through James Gurney’s “Color and Light” and attended online webinars by Johannes Vloothuis.

Sooo, it’s time to tie up some of the tattered ends I left dangling two weeks ago. Number 1: The course at the NH Institute of Art, “Painting Portraits in the Style of Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn” with Cameron Bennett, ended the week before Christmas. My Zorn copy, a 3-week homework assignment, garnered a score in the high eighties (for accuracy), which was what I had hoped for. Cameron didn’t like the ear, however. If you want to take another look, judge for yourself, go here.

A classmate (Ruth) produced an amazingly faithful copy of her print (a Sargent)–indisputably 90%–and I wish I had had my camera so I could share with you. Ruth spent an incredible number of hours working on her copy, whereas I was complaining every week about having to put in a few more hours on mine. I learned a valuable lesson. Just because I can capture a “good” result quickly does not excuse me from trying to achieve the best result, no matter how long that takes.

Number 2. The second 3-hour session of the live half-length portrait was not enough to produce a finished painting. I so regret now having started out with a drawing on the canvas. The drawing absorbed too much of my limited time with the model. I should have dived in right away with paint, as I did with the smaller, head portrait. Drawing with paint comes more naturally to me anyway. Here are the two of them, side by side. To see the charcoal drawing that used up the first 3-hour session, go back to that page where you found the Zorn copy (link is above).

I have started a new painting, which I will probably call “Farmers Market”. I am using assorted snapshots that I took on Marco Island when I was visiting Mary last February. I started this painting by toning a 24 by 30 canvas with Indian red. While it was still wet, I wiped out the bigger shapes. The next day I worked up the simplest shapes–the tents. They may not stay white. I took a quick photo of it this morning, so as to have something to show you. I’m afraid I lopped off the top inch or two, so the composition as presented to you is flawed. Next time you see it, it will look better if only because I took more care in the photographing.

You might object that the buildings in the background look more like Boston than Marco Island. I decided to place my Farmers Market in an urban and urbane setting so as to play off the contrast between farm and city.

Next, I think I will focus on the figures, using large printouts of my digital photos to help with the details. How I wish I had figured out how to project my photos onto my TV screen!

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