Last week, without really thinking about it yet fully conscious of it, I produced something, finally, that I have been aspiring to for many years now. Here it is:
This aspiration started with a class that I took with Patrick McCay at the Institute–a course called Explore, Express, Exploit. At that time, what I had in mind was achieving a style that was loose as opposed to tight. Following Patrick’s course, I took Painting the Contemporary Portrait with Cameron Bennett. Cameron gave us a list of portrait artists, “portrait” being loosely defined and the artists being avant garde, and suggested we look them all up to find one who could inspire our own modern and unique take on portraiture (again, loosely defined). I glomed onto Carolyn Anderson, American artist living in Montana, somewhat obscurely. She seems to be an artists’ artist–known to and collected by fellow artists but not yet collected by museums.
Since then, her work has always been in the back of my mind, even when I am producing the hard-edged, detailed works that seem to come out of me unbidden.
You’ve seen a few nudes from me. Here is the only one I found on Anderson’s website:
And here is one of her portraits, lovely beyond words to describe:
By comparison, I know, my big breakthrough seems heavy-handed. But it occurred–bloomed– quite naturally that Tuesday morning, without a trace of the manipulation that I felt I was guilty of when painting loosely for effect. “Loosely” implies something casual, effortless, airy–not something forced or faked. Here is one of my earliest efforts, and it’s not horrible, but still you can feel the strain it put on me:
I know from past experience that this reaching a new level, slightly closer to the high level occupied by my hero, does not mean I am permanently raised on that new level. On Friday I tried not to slip back too far. I worry about being too self conscious about it. A Catch-22. You can only succeed by not trying so damn hard.
So here is Margaret, the model with whose limbs I have recently struggled in vain to organize*. I got a break when we posed her with her hair covering up one of her shoulders.
*”organize” is the word used by Robert Liberace to describe the first stages of a drawing or painting, which the parts are sized and fitted together–the jigsaw puzzle stage. It’s so the right word that I am adopting it.
Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:
at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at Stella Blu American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.