When Londonderry Arts Council decided to take the plunge and allow nude images to be exhibited at their annual “Art on the Common”, an outdoor art show to be visited by regular folk and their innocent, sheltered children, I threw caution to the winds and signed up. In order to show my nudes, I had to mount and frame them. Big effort, but more significantly, big expense. After the one-day show, I had about 25 paintings of nudes, many of them in new frames purchased for the occasion. What to do with all those riches? Hang them up, of course. I have one room in my house pretty much covered from ceiling to floor by artwork, most of it my artwork. I took down all of my artwork, and replaced those pieces with my nudes. When you walk into that room now, you are pretty much overwhelmed by the beauty of the naked body. It’s a bit too much, even for me. That room is where I host the weekly bridge game, and this week was the first time my bridge players had seen the room in its reborn splendor. I allowed as how the display was too much, and was rewarded with this telling remark: “I’d say you got that down — you don’t need to do any more.”
Need vs. want. I am an addict. I spend so much time in a week working on my little studies of nudes that I have not made a lot effort to get outside and paint landscapes, or put in some time on my large studio project. Between my Saturday group, my Tuesday group, my Tuesday night class, my Friday morning workshop, and my Sunday group, I currently probably have more opportunities for life drawing and painting than practically anyone else has ever had since the beginning of modern times (by which I mean the 20th and 21st centuries). The ability to admit this may be my first step back on the pathway to normalcy. Or not.
I think I will take down most of the nudes gracing my walls, but I can’t stop myself when it comes to the drawing and painting part.
Sometimes I get distracted by the face. The ability to paint or draw portraits is important to me. I keep thinking that if I just keep trying, I will eventually learn how to capture the elusive likeness, and when that happens, only after that happens, I can start to apply some Art to the likeness. And that thought has led me to another breakthrough insight into modern art, at least the kind of modern art which represents a depiction of something. The depiction of something with paint or whatever other medium can range from photographic to practically abstract. The purely photographic requires a great deal of skill and patience. But it’s doable, given time, talent and determination. The other end of the spectrum is largely inspirational. The amazement it engenders in the beholder is something more rarefied than mere appreciation of skill. That is not to say that both appreciations cannot be embodied in a single work of art. Sargent, say. Or my latest hero, Eric Aho, an abstract landscape artist. Also, see Antonio Lopez Garcia , a realist of inspired genius. Here is one of my favorite works by Garcia:
An artist who creates amazing, inspired art is gifted with more than mere talent for drawing and painting. He (or she) is gifted with genius. I suppose it is my hope that somewhere hidden inside me is a spark of genius, if only I can find it. And that’s why I can’t stop drawing and painting nudes. It’s my pathway. To destinations unknown.
So, speaking of which, here are SOME of the nudes of the past week, one of which is a portrait:
This young gentleman is a new, inexperienced model. I hope we see him again. In addition to the full figure above, I also drew a pretty accurate portrait, but forgot to photograph it.
I am starting to misremember when and where I painted what, but I’m pretty sure this charcoal drawing happened in the past week in Adrienne’s studio. I just can’t figure out how I must have drawn this as well as the portrait below within the same three hours. I would have skipped over this one but for the breast resting on the ottoman–does it perfectly evoke the soft tissue or could I have done it better? Doubt is such a demon.
You all know Becky by now. I thought this was an excellent likeness when I drew it, but now I think I have made her look just a little bit older than she is.
This is a colleague who models for us occasionally so as to defray his cost of participating as an artist. Artists make the best models.
Our new long-limbed model. Drove me crazy as I kept revisiting the question, is her leg (arm, foot, hand) really that long or have I exaggerated it?
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.