Roaa is a young (14 or 15) Sudanese girl now living in Manchester. She is a Muslim, I am told, but lucky for us, not opposed to being painted or photographed. We have painted two other Sudanese women, but they were not Muslims. So we felt very honored that Roaa was allowed to pose for us on the last two Sundays. On the right is my piece as completed that first Sunday, in about two hours. I had marked off a 9×12 section of canvas from a pad to use as my surface. Subsequently, I took it to an informal critique, and made a few improvements. Here is the new, improved version.
The changes were so subtle that they may get lost in the translation to digital photographs.
Covering 9×12 in two hours is a lot easier than covering 16×12, as I was remindedyesterday at our second Sunday with Roaa. I decided to paint bigger, intending to go for more of a head portrait. But when she got situated in the light with her hands again cupping each other, I could not resist another half-figure portrait. Naturally, with the enlargement came complications, and I could not achieve the likeness that I had captured the week before. I am going to have to find a way to stand (as opposed to sit, as I usually do) for the painting of larger portraits. When I stand, I can more readily back away to get a better perspective. Or I must at least remember to use my reducing glass. The catch is, while I am working, I’m not thinking about whether I need to check my work. During the process of painting, I may not be “thinking” at all. So every now and then, I should stop painting and tell myself to think. So annoying.
The wrap that she wore for this sitting was a peach, almost pink, but at the end I decided to lay over some cadmium yellow, from the tube I got from Michael Harding. It’s so vivid, I love it. Why do I still call it “peach”? It’s the color of the insider of a real peach, isn’t it? Anyway, this is an unfinished portrait, but I’m not going to develop it any further. Roaa thought it looked more like her mother than herself, and that may be because I got the nose too long. Again.
In a parallel theme, I am taking a course with Larry Christian at the NH Institute of Art. It’s the same course that I took back in 2006 when I first started on this art track, but today I’m jumping in at an advanced level. As luck would have it (good luck), nobody in the class is a beginner. Larry encourages–no, demands— his students to loosen up. I like to work fast, so it’s kind of liberating for me. I dug out my compressed charcoal, ready for anything. Saturday, at SLG, I tried to apply the new thinking, with three pretty different results. Bet you can’t tell which one took 20 minutes, which took 40 minutes, and which took 50 minutes.
But I know you can tell where I used the compressed charcoal! It’s a bit like finger painting, and it took two days of scrubbing to get the stuff completely off my fingers. Badge of honor.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the Derry Public Library; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.