Portrait of a young man resting on the handle of the shovel, contemplating the hole he has dug for himself. Why is he digging a hole for himself? Unimportant. Why is he nude? Hmmm. He’s in a nudist colony?
I struggle with the titles of my nudes. The models must adopt a pose that they can keep for 20 minute stretches (sometimes longer), so the figure is contemplative, dreaming, sleeping, reposing. . . well, you get the idea. One could simply title this one “Nude Male”, but that would not distinguish it from all the other nude males in the portfolio. One could number one’s nude males. Or one could come up with some witty thought superimposed on the model, which is what I attempted to do today. I was inspired by the captions attached to the animals photos that circulate the internet, which captions awe me with their inventiveness. I think, however, that it works better for cats and dogs than it does for a naked human being. The caption needs to acknowledge the nudity somehow, to make it work better for the nudes. Something like, “Only five more minutes and I can put on my pants.”
On this point Degas’s bathers had the advantage–their natural nudity, nakedness, did not have to be explained away. (By the way, that exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be closing February 2.)
Today’s nude was the pick of last Saturday’s life drawing session. Sunday I finished the reverse-painting-on-glass and delivered it to the owner, who was pleased. I also finished the Covered Bridge. In response to an excellent observation from one of my followers, I removed some offending slashes of white, which I guess I had intended to symbolize water laps. When you paint loose, the results can be brilliant, or when not so brilliant, just careless. An artist needs another, more objective eye to catch those things, and it doesn’t have to be another artist’s eye either. I always listen to a criticism and act on it, unless I am very sure of my own contrary view. (Many times, the stated objection does not actually identify the real problem–it could be something nearby that throws the viewer off.) In addition to making that and other various improvements to the body of the Covered Bridge painting, I painted the sides of the canvas in colors approximating the action going on the main canvas. The painting can now be hung without a frame, as a “gallery wrapped” painting. That is important to me, as the artist, because otherwise I would have to invest in a frame in order to exhibit the painting.
The rest of Sunday was devoted to another project: homework for my fifth (at least) course at the Institute with Cameron Bennett on portraits. But this time, something different–for him and us. We are trying to BE different, paint somehow “out of the box”, using as possible inspiration other contemporary portraitists who are painting in styles newly invented or at least newly applied. The only artist on the list supplied by Cameron whose name I even recognized was Chuck Close. I am not drawn to emulate his monumental portraits. The artist I am drawn to is Carolyn Anderson. Her portraits are so loose as to be almost not even there.
In class I tried to emulate Anderson in pencil, drawing a portrait from a photograph:
After drawing my careful image, I erased a lot of it so as to leave ghosts of the image. This exercise was the starting point of my painting effort yesterday, but yesterday I tried to be looser right from the get go. Nevertheless, when I reach the point where I thought everything was correctly placed, there was a lot of smudging and subtracting. Not enough! This is still a work in progress–don’t judge it too harshly, and remember what I am going for:
This isn’t going to be easy! Especially for me, who has been accused of getting too hung up on the details. I love the details. It’s a mystery then, why I am so beguiled by Carolyn Anderson’s way of painting.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.
Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com