You know what I just realized? Painting from photographs is way (I mean WAY) easier than painting from life. Obvious? Not until now. Until I painted the Haitian boy carrying the bundle of sticks (see here), I had not painted from a photograph for so long that I had forgotten what it was like. I don’t remember thinking it was easy. But then came the Haitian boy, and I just popped it out with hardly any effort, followed by a pretty decent cat portrait. Then yesterday, after painting two successful landscapes from photographs, after being dissatisfied with two plein air efforts, it hit me. Wow! I’ve been doing all this the hard way. The hardest way! No wonder it has been a bit of a struggle.
On the other hand, I suspect that past struggles to paint from life are exactly what made painting from photographs seem easy.
I will show you first the stuff painted from life, then the recent landscapes from photographs.
This large (20×16) figurative work is unusual in that the model (yes, Becky) is standing and we had close to three full sessions of three hours each to work on it. This was the last pose from the open studio course I took with Deirdre Riley.
Yet another seated pose of one of my all-time favorite male models–so I tried to Think Different, but Better. We had two of our unmoderated Monday sessions for this pose, so I tried to get the drawing perfect, and apply the paint with gusto. Towards the end, I wiped out the left hand (appearing to our right) and started it over after asking him to spread that pinky finger the way I remembered it originally. Good decision. You even get a feeling for his finger pressing into his flesh. (By the way, because of my request, our model traced his fingers on his thigh so as to ensure consistent finger spread between breaks–I call that Above and Beyond the call of model duty!)
After the Monday morning of figure painting, I indulged in a Monday afternoon of landscape painting. I went intending to paint a barn, but found myself seduced by a massive tree and the lavender stones at its base. After about an hour and a half, I had the canvas covered, mostly in green and more green. Horrible. Yesterday I took it in hand and glazed it over in darker shades to alleviate the poisonous green. Here is the Before and After:
I hope you feel as if that branch is reaching out to grab you. Takes me back to my childhood obsession with the Oz books, in which grabby trees were pretty common.
Wednesday I met up with colleagues (Fran, Cindy, Bea), whom I had last summer dubbed the Cornwall Four (here) because we were drawn together by the workshop “Inspired by Cornwall” last summer, given by Cameron Bennett.
We were in the woods next to Dorrs Pond, on a path trafficked by dog walkers, joggers, distracted school children, disabled adults, delinquent teens, delightful immigrants–and I was accessible to all of them. My chair was uncomfortable–I had to lean forward to paint, and my back could not take it. Enough of excuses. I just felt dull about the whole thing. So yesterday, I tried to pizzazz it up. Mostly a matter of spreading darker colors over most of it and lighter colors where I remember the light being. It satisfies better, but I don’t think it is going anywhere.
All that straining and effort to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. What a contrast to the next project. It all started a week ago Friday when Sharon Allen picked me up for a jaunt up North. It was raining, but we were hoping that as we got father north, the sun would appear. It didn’t. But we were on a mission: To paint or photograph the barns of Madison, New Hampshire. Our effort was part of a larger event organized by the Friends of Madison Library, a fundraiser in which our paintings would eventually be offered for sale, commission to the Friends. So we drove around photographing five barns that are part of the event, and whose owners didn’t mind having artists set up painting on their properties. We didn’t encounter any such thing, nor did we ourselves try to paint in the rain. Sharon had brought a tent for us to paint under, just in case we were overcome by irrational desire to paint through the rain. Instead and more sensibly, we photographed madly, even through windshield streaming with water.
So Thursday, with my dissatisfaction with the two plein air paintings painfully in mind, I decided to tone my canvases in burnt umber. Start dark, I strategized, and then block with in the lighter values. It worked! (Chorus of hallelujahs)
I used acrylic paint for the layer of dark. New puzzle. Do I report the media for these two paintings as “mixed”? Some of the dark acrylic undertone definitely shows up in the finished painting. But if I had started on a canvas that was primed in white acrylic, and left some of the white showing, I wouldn’t call that mixed media.
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 in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; 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; a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: email@example.com).
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!