Surprise! Monday blog is a day early because tomorrow I am over my head with exciting engagements that leave me no time to blog: First, workshop with Robert Liberace learning how to draw figures in red chalk as was done by the Old Masters, and we’re talking OLD old masters–Da Vinci, for example. Then Monday afternoon and evening my bridge group–our three Manchester members anyway–is heading out to Baboosic Lake for an unusually festive visit with Jackie, our Merrimack player–she’s making chili for us and taking us for a boat ride on the Lake in addition to our usually austere bridge playing.
The theme today is “profiles” because yesterday Peter Granucci had us anatomizing waves, which I am stretching to mean profiling waves, while earlier in the week, and the week before, in my Portraits class with Cameron Bennett, we started out with profiles. Cameron seems to think profiles are easier than other angles of the head. For him, maybe.
Profile #1 is a grisaille (black and white) copy of a Jacob Collins head, which we started in class and are supposed to be finishing up as homework over a two-week period.
I trust that by combining the photo original with my copy, I will meet the “fair use” exception to the copyright rules. Sorry about the glare on the wet paint. I had to blast the light from the front in order to keep the sunlit background from shining through and obliterating what I am trying to show you. Both this project and the next one are taped high up in my window where I can stare at them from time to time and where neither cat can rub up against them. Fur on a painting is not, I have found, a desirable quality.
As additional homework over the same two weeks, we had to find ourselves a profile by a master to paint, again in grisaille. I made the immediately obvious choice of Madame X, by John Singer Sargent, which in the original is pretty darn close to black and white anyway.
I can see that neither copy is perfect yet, but pinpointing the reason becomes harder and harder as I eliminate the more obvious defects. Every day, I notice something to fix. Madame X’s nose has been a nightmare. Such a unique nose but so very subtly unique that it cannot be captured casually. I knew it would be hard when I chose it.
Last Thursday, we painted, still in grisaille, from a live model:
I believe I caught a likeness, albeit not a perfect one. It is a challenge when you have only two hours minus breaks to work with the model. Mine was one of the more complete-looking efforts in the class, but a likeness must come before completeness.
At least I’m fast, which gives me more time to capture the likeness–more time to make mistakes and correct them. I am thinking that all the mistakes are necessary markers, milestones to progression. I SHALL get that nose on Madame X right by the end of the week!
Meanwhile, waves. Waves are not easy by any means, but let’s face it–you get a lot of latitude on the details as long as you get the elements right. So practicing how to paint waves Saturday with Peter Granucci and my plein air painter friends was a joyful experience. I learned the terms to apply to a wave: “base” “ridge” “eye” and, most interesting, the “dump”. The dump is the part of the wave that is crashing over. The eye is the thinnest part, illuminated by light, which I find the most magical element. The rock doesn’t really fit the theme, but Peter gave us a rock to work on at the end–dessert.
I taped all of my Saturday paintings to a hardboard to see how I might be able to fit all four into one frame. All of these were painted on canvas pads; to get three of them home, I simply closed the cover on them, which is why the thickest paint has that funny texture. (The fourth one fit into one of my “Art Cocoons”.)
I don’t quite know what to do with these four paintings of nonuniform sizes and needing mounting on something harder than air. The hardboard is one possibility. Maybe I shouldn’t try to get all four into one frame. I’m open to ideas–and offers.