Art under Stress

I’ve had a bad week.  It started a week ago Friday night when I downloaded my bank statement and discovered all my money had vanished.  Someone had been systematically withdrawing a few hundred here, a few hundred there, using apparently a clone of my debit card.  I managed to freeze the card and send off agitated messages to the bank, but that was going to have to “it”  until Monday because I was committed for the entire weekend to “Art in Action”–a semi-annual event in Londonderry that combines display and demonstration.  The bad stuff continued the next morning–Saturday–when I was packing up my car with all the gear required for Art in Action:    My backpack could not be found.  This Creativo ArtPak backpack contained all of the supplies I was going to be using for the demonstrations:  Soltek easel, Rosemary brushes, Michael Harding oil paints, palette knives, brush holder, brush washer with Gamsol, brush tube, little container of Liquin–all inexplicably gone.  And I could not do a damn thing about it until Monday.   Fortunately, I’m big into redundancy, so had no problem gathering up a backup easel, paints, brushes.  I even had a second brush washer.  Off I went to Londonderry, with my little Prius loaded down with display panels and 8 paintings (the display), and my two helpers sharing the front passenger’s seat.  The helpers were my daughter, who would also serve as my model, and my boarder, who performed as the muscle.

Whereupon an interesting phenomenon revealed itself:  despite, or because of, the stress I must have been suffering  subconsciously, I was easily able to zone in on my painting.  Maybe I zoned too much, to the point of ignoring the small streams of people flowing past me, instead of engaging them like I was supposed to.  Some kind of compulsion held sway over me; perhaps I just needed the escape from daily woes that always comes from surrendering to the art.  Whatever, I turned out some good stuff to show you and was looking forward to getting them published last Monday . . . when the knockout blow came.  I found out that the perpetrator of my losses was someone whom I had loved and trusted.  There would be no more escape into painting for the rest of the week as I juggled that mess alongside urgent tasks and important meetings related to my many volunteer activities.

The crisis is over.  The bank has restored the funds to me and the perp found another patsy to cover the theft so as to avoid prosecution from the bank; and my homeowners insurance is covering the loss of the backpack.  I am starting to sleep better.  The hole in my life that represented a certain loved one is still empty and most likely will stay that way permanently.  But I am moving on.  So here, a week late, are the three paintings I was working on during the Art in Action show.

For the first one, I asked my daughter to sit for her portrait again (she did this for me at last Spring’s Art in Action ).  I didn’t want to include her dog this  year as I wanted to complete a more serious oeuvre.  I had a spotlight lighting up her right side and a black drape behind her.  We started about 10:30 and I declared it finished about 2:30.  Nancy looks sad and tired, and that was her on that day. But she loves the painting and my portrayal of her.  Can’t ask much more from a portrait.

Portrait of my daughter

Portrait of my daughter

The next day, Sunday, I worked from a  photo that another artist, Rollande Rouselle, had emailed to me with assurances that copying rights belonged to her.  She wanted to see what I could do with it.

Haitian boy, photo

Haitian boy, photo

I had it on my iPad and was able to set up the iPad practically next to my easel.  I cropped the photo in order to enlarge the facial features.

Haitian laborer

Working Boy

The hardest element was the bundle of sticks, but I worked at it until the blobs of paint conveyed the idea, and then I quit.

I still had about an hour left so then I picked out a photo of a cat from a book of cat photos, and got this far on it.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

My efforts to paint the perfect “Fur” a few months ago stood me in good stead.  Should I finish?  Once  you get the eyes of a cat, the rest is window-dressing.


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 Bartlett Inn and Bernerhof 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; in the lower level of the Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH; 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 the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!


8 responses to “Art under Stress

  1. Sorry you had to go through all these financial horrors:( But glad they recovered your loss (except for the stress and lost energy!) Art is a good thing to zone in on under stress:)


  2. Your portrait of Nancy is fantastic and I loved your take on the African boy. But the stress (and disapointment) must have been (and still is) unbearable. I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope that time will dispel some of the hard edges of the personal situation, but keep painting-it’s a stress-buster. Ellie


  3. Good Morning Aline!
    First, I am so sorry for your hurt and pain!

    The depth of emotion shows in your work and helped you turn out two MASTERPIECES. Too often we we strive for detached observation. Controlled passion when we need that emotional involvement.
    Note that painting a loved one is one of the hardest things to do for maybe two important reasons… One , you want to paint an exact likeness to convey the love and beauty you FEEL towards that person – very hard to stay detached. Two, personal want to portray what you “see” can have disasterous effects on their ego and yours if they are not happy. In other words- “you see me like that?!” Yes , you do. 🙂 ; they don’t understand.

    Critique: Painting from life is always preferable to painting from a photo. A photo is a flat, lifeless moment in time that restricts the give and take that takes place between an artist and their model. You don’t love or feel for the photo. They also lack emotion and life. I believe you subconsciously capture that when you worked on the little boy in the photo….not your best work and I know that YOU strive to make everything your best. It is not your ego, it is something much deeper and more profound than that. Suggestion: expose yourself to the children you find appealing and let them show you life.

    The portait of the cat, please don’t touch it again! KNOWING WHEN TO STOP.
    You said it all, now be satisfied with that please. You have a “feel” for cats. That comes as maybe a gift from Freckles. You loved a cat and you combine educated emotion in conveying that.

    The portrait! Excellent! worked all over in the same manner, you captured not only her emotion but also used a fervored detachment. Have you ever studied the passionate pieces of the great masters ? You were INVOLVED and it shows but at the same time , you rendered in all the accumulated art lessons you have experienced– this is something no-one can teach.
    I used to love Artemesia Gentilesi. She beheaded Holefranes ( if if I say and spell correctly) The depth of her hatred, passion, love that she was feeling, experiencing. look at the sweat on her brow; look at the way the the little tendrils of escaping hair curl up in her involvement. Can you SEE the psychological value? Yet we are given a perfect painting.
    You express all this and more . Keep up the good work! This is definitely an award winner if you are lucky to have good Judges.
    Happy Mother’s Day! Janice 🙂 ( and again, thanks for sharing ! )


    • Thank you for the thoughtful comments. Although I have occasionally painted from photos, most of my production is from life. However, I have “permission” from Albert Handell to paint from photographs. ( He critiqued both my Plein air landscapes and a few from photographs I had taken, and found the photo-sourced ones equally fine. ) So it is not universally true that a painting from a photo is stilted and lifeless. It all depends on what the artist “sees” in his head. Memory and imagination and experience. That being said, my rendition of the Haitian boy relied pretty much exclusively on the photo. Would you know that if I hadn’t told you?

      Sent from my iPad, Aline Lotter



  4. Sorry to hear about your shocks of the last week. It is such a shake-up but yours especially so. Your Art in Action paintings are marvellous Aline. The total focus worked in your favour!


  5. Oh my, I am sorry this happened. Glad you got your money back, which is only part of what you lost. Thank you for the beautiful art and hope to see you soon.