Getting Ready for Oscar Night

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” I “coulda been . . .”– not a contender but an illustrator.  A life drawing professor  (in my senior year at Cornell I lightened up with some “gut” art courses) encouraged me to go for graduate study in illustration.  I brushed it off as totally inconceivable.  Thinking back, I’m not sure why it was so inconceivable.  Probably because my expectations of myself were so grandiose.  I intended to accomplish something globally meaningful–foreign service and diplomacy appealed to me then.  If only I had pursued illustration as a career, I would now be so much further along the road to artistic distinction.

My respect for illustrators has ballooned since I got into the art biz myself–their skills  underpin both Illustration and Fine Art.  [Aside:  one of the pointless debates prevalent in the art community is how to distinguish Fine Art from (a) Illustration and (b) from Craft.]  Many illustrators are also fine artists [i. e., makers of Fine Art].  Many of them stop pursuing commercial work altogether in order to concentrate on making Fine Art.   They have to be among the best, or slightly nuts, or both.  (I also suspect a highly compensated spouse factors into those decisions.)   Illustrators tell a story?  Illustrators paint by commission?  That’s exactly how fine artists  operated in the past. Monumental paintings depicting events and telling stories were always painted to satisfy a patron.  Like the Sistine Chapel.  Like Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”:

The Nightwatch by Rembrandt

The Nightwatch by Rembrandt

Like DeBray’s “Antony and Cleopatra”:

Jan de Bray - The Banquet of Antony and Cleopatra

Jan de Bray – The Banquet of Antony and Cleopatra

Commissioned or not, telling a story is illustration.  Why is there even an effort to distinguish illustration from fine art?  Photography–invention of–accounts for a lot of new issues besetting artists.  Photographers can tell stories, produce portraits with a lot less effort and expense.  Artists have had to find new ways, different markets, in order to survive as a full-time artist.  Hence:  abstract art.  To sum up, the existence of abstract art is a reflection of the artist’s need to find a meaning in her art that is distinct from story-telling or portrait-making, now the role of photography.  That’s how I see it, but bear in mind I have never taken a single course in art appreciation or art history.  I have no business pontificating on matters of which I am uninstructed!

But I have wandered far from my main topic.  My painting above results from an order to produce a painting that illustrates an Oscar-winning motion picture.  Oscar Night at East Colony is March 1, the day before the actual 2013 Oscar awards ceremony.  Each of the 30 East Colony artists is choosing a movie, and our patrons and followers will be invited to guess what movie is being  illustrated by each of us.  Winners will receive a cute little Oscar replica.  Oscar Night:  Saturday March 1, 4-7 p.m., at 55 So. Commercial Street, Manchester, NH.

Because of the contest, I can’t tell you what movie I am illustrating, but isn’t it all too obvious?  I feel it is obvious because the movie was one of my favorites (along with “On the Waterfront”).   Hint:  this movie would have been nothing without its music .

To create my illustration, I looked for images on the internet that matched up with the figure I envisaged as my central figure.  The blurring motion of the hands was suggested by one of those images.  It’s not a slam dunk to suggest hands without actually painting hands.  I think I got it.  Even more important to the illustration was need the feel the runner’s huge gasps for breath, and his straining to keep his speed up.  The shapes and value changes in his chest and neck achieve that, I hope.  This painting is, however, not completely done.  The background that I invented to stay in the background is nevertheless too dull– appropriately so in the story-telling sense, but a cop-out in the painterly sense.  The background should be able to stand on its own as a painting, don’t you think? I have a week to get it right.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   and at her studio by appointment (email:

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

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