Art in the Park

Before I get caught up in narratives of what I’ve been doing in the recent past, allow me to tout the upcoming event, “Art in the Park”, this Saturday, September 20, at Veterans Park in Manchester NH (rain date is the next day, Sunday, September 21).  This is an annual art show from the artists of the Manchester Artists Association.  We put up tents;  we put up racks; we cover said racks with artworks.  We wait. . . for people to come by and ooh and aah and maybe buy a piece or two.  Many cards and prints will also be on sale.  I am sharing my tent and racks this event with Linda Feinberg, who writes poetry to go along with her cards and other artworks.   This year The MAA is also sponsoring a children’s art show in conjunction with our own, in order to support the value of art making in the schools and to encourage potential artists to carry on.   If at all possible for you to visit us at this event, I beg you to do so.  It’s important for not just me, but for all the constituencies involved–artists in Manchester, artists in New Hampshire, school children, and the general public– who need more art in their lives!  To encourage high attendance, I am going to give away a piece of art–probably a drawing–via something like a raffle (not really a raffle because no payment will be required).  To qualify for the gift, you might have to answer a question about the artwork I am about to post in this blog.  So pay attention now!

Mostly what I have been doing this past week is tweaking the paintings of the past month, hopefully for the good, but I have also been drawing at my life groups.  The Monday life group has a new model, Robbie, whose face I found to be more interesting than his body, and I tried out a new medium:  pastel pencils.

New model, Robbie

New model, Robbie

Robbie, 2

Robbie, 2

Our Saturday group got together for our first meeting of the Fall, for our standard short poses followed by a few longer poses (but not long poses by the standards of Monday’s group).   I used charcoal.

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

40-minute pose

40-minute pose  (my favorite)

40-minute pose

40-minute pose (wish the edges were more interesting)

Finally, here is your first view of “Nap, Interrupted”.  I started it a month ago, then had to leave it alone while I pursued my landscape paintings.  Yesterday I tweaked it a little, but not so much as to make it worth another round of photos.

Gracie Portrait, WIP

Nap, Interrupted  (WIP)

This painting of my smallest cat, Grace, who, by the way, has an earlier post entirely devoted to her (see it here), was prompted by (1) the sale of my other gigantic cat painting called “Fur” (hmmm, I thought, cats sell!), (2) a great photo of Grace I had been saving to paint, and (3) a 2 by 4 foot canvas (dimensions that match the photo) just lying around.  Also in my mind was something Paul Ingbretson said, to the effect that you should paint every painting with the hope that  your painting will be the one to first draw the eye of anyone who enters in an exhibit space.  I am certainly doing the hoping here.  Whether the hope is ever realized . . . , well we can only hope.

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;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Continuing the Garden Binge

Encouraged by the success of the red parasol painting, I returned to the David Curtis garden in Gloucester two more times.  I have provisionally titled these two by the most prominent prop–a reflecting ball and a black kimono, respectively.

The reflecting ball was, to me, an annoyance, but I had to deal with it.

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

David advised us to paint portraits rather than a figure in the landscape, but as you can see, I ignored his advice.  Two weeks prior, I had already committed to painting that tree in the background.  Plus, the less real estate I needed for the reflecting ball, the better.  David praised (I think it was intended as praise) it as telling a story.   Why does mine tells a story and the others not?   A women in gypsy outfit gazing at a reflecting ball?  Must be a story in that, right?  The answer lies in the fact that I painted a figure in the landscape, not a portrait.  To tell a story, you have to back off a bit, gain some perspective.

Last Sunday we gathered around our model decked out in a black kimono and holding a fan.

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

This one I enjoyed a lot, almost as much as the red parasol.  It was allegedly the easiest of the Curtis Garden Series.  Certainly it presented nothing as complicated as that red parasol and cupid statuette;  the fan? –not even close.  Then why, when I could complete the Red Parasol with 15 minutes to spare, am I dissatisfied with Black Kimono?  Something about her right arm doesn’t look correct.

Yes, our model actually held that fan up for twenty minutes at a time (she braced the elbow against her side), but her feet would fall asleep.  Whenever the timer signaled her break, she would forget that fact about the feet, try to take a step, and collapse in the grass.  Gracefully.

We all enjoyed ourselves very, very much–including David, I guess — he invited us back next Sunday.  Since Bea is going out of town for Labor Day weekend, I shall have to drive down alone.

The Ultimate Opportunity in figure painting  occurred on Monday, when our life group left the studio to meet with our model in the Lessard garden.

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

We will meet again next week to work on the same pose.  I could almost call the painting finished, but it would be a pretty rough finish.  I think I can do better:  The head is slightly too large.  Some of the spots of light on her could be more delicious–meaning more contrast between light and shadow on her.

All three of these garden paintings demonstrate the benefit of using a dark (mostly burnt umber) ground.  I’ve been using previously painted-on panels, having sanded them down first.  The ground helps to hide the remnants of the original painting, which might otherwise be distracting.  The darkest ground provides the best cover, but my real reason for choosing a dark ground is the lovely foliage depth that occurs so effortlessly.  I can leave the ground showing behind her in the whole upper right section.

All that help, still not “finished”.  What magic took over when I painted Red Parasol?  And how do I get that magic back???

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 for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Essay on Composing Pictures

(Almost) No pictures this week, but lots of words.  My two CF card readers both died on me, so I can’t transfer my camera photos to the computer.  Luckily, I had on my mind that I should write something about the workshop I took last month with Paul Ingbretson, on the subject of Composition . . . of paintings, of course, but I decided that the material applied equally well to photography.  So I use the word “picture” throughout the essay.  At the end, for purposes of illustration, I’ll include a painting that I corrected a few weeks ago at Paul’s recommendation.  Yesterday, Paul met with us again to see what, if anything, we had retained from the workshop, so this is a good time for me to review and reconstruct my thoughts on the subject of composition.

I have written this up not from the outline Paul gave us, not from the notes written up by a former student of his and handed out at the workshop, not even from the notes I produced myself (radical happening, that–I never take notes).  No, this is mostly a mergence, a convergence, of what I absorbed from what Paul was trying to get across plus a few elements from my own experiences.  I hope it makes sense and somewhere in the prose produces a lightbulb of understanding for someone, an understanding that had not previously existed.

Composition of Pictures in a Nutshell

(Thoughts after taking workshop on “Composition” with Paul Ingbretson)

 The composition of pictures involves the harmonization of elements with respect to:

Arrangement/placement of shapes/objects

Color (hue—red, blue and yellow) given to the shapes and the background

Value (light, dark, all gradations in between) given to the shapes and the background.

 

The goal of good composition is to achieve Unity AND Variety—and to help get across the idea or mood that the artist wants to express.  It is VARIETY that makes the picture interesting, but UNITY is necessary to create harmony, loveliness, and the chosen mood.

Beginning with your choice of a subject and your selection of elements to incorporate in your picture, you are making compositional decisions. What colors, for example, and why?

 

ARRANGEMENT

After choosing a subject, and after selecting the objects or elements (or shapes) that you wish to incorporate in that subject, your next task is to arrange those elements or objects so as to distribute them in the picture harmoniously and interestingly.   Your decisions will have to be informed by the colors and values of the objects. Therefore, you have to be thinking about all three major concepts—arrangement, color, value—at the same time.

[Arrangement choices while painting en plein air in a landscape do exist, albeit limited by reality]

Rules: Create overlaps; avoid tangents. Avoid same sizeness of objects or distances between them. Avoid boring!

Placement of the arranged object(s) within the picture frame  involves cropping the picture for best effect—should the center of interest be in the middle, up, down, right, left, etc.?   Consider zooming in, or out.

Subtopic: LINE

However, the most important effect of arranging  is the line or lines that will be created thereby—of the objects AND the values (see below). The dominant line or “thrust” may be symmetrical or asymmetrical, simple or complex, straight or curved; can form a geometrical shape like a triangle or circle, or can meander, like the letter “s”. The dominant line had better not be boring!  Subordinate or counterlines add interest as well.

[One of the few rules–to be broken at your own risk–is: Do not place an interesting element close to the edge of the picture where it might distract from the intended focal point.]

Rule:  For the sake of unity, patterns need to be repeated, but for the sake of variation,may not  be duplicated exactly.  Patterns need to harmonize with one another.

 

COLOR

The initial selection of subject and objects/elements already goes a long way toward determining a color scheme.   However, you will need to think about a dominant color, and make sure that the placement of that color will unify (harmonize) the picture.

[Outdoors, the dominant color is blue. We don’t “see” it because our eyes seek out the reds and yellows.]

Weaving or spotting of one color throughout the picture tends to unify the picture. Discordant colors, like discordant music, if used, can succeed only if they are well placed and mean something. Background color is critical to harmonize the picture and to set off the subject.

Although one primary color should dominate throughout the picture, variations on the other two primaries should be represented. A monotone is (usually) not very interesting. That is not to suggest that any of the colors need to be high in chroma. Subtlety can be more fascinating than stridency.

If a color is used only once in a picture, that object tends to stand out in importance. Even if subtle variations of the color are “smuggled” elsewhere in the picture, that singular object will remain the most important one in the picture.

Rule of threes: repeat a particular color three times (in three different places) and repeat pattern three times (but don’t duplicate!)

VALUES

The distribution of values in a picture creates abstract patterns that intrigue the mind of a viewer. The eye jumps to an area of high contrast, or to the lightest area in the picture.

Silhouettes are example of extreme values—light and dark with little mid values.

Spotting of values (lights or darks) may create or support lines.  Hence the compositional element of “Value” is actually a subtopic of Arrangements.  Perhaps everything is a subtopic of Arrangement and we circle back to the concept that composition means Arrangements–of shapes, lines, colors and values?

 

MOOD

The mood of a picture is the narrative that the artist wants to express or explore. All elements of composition must be geared to serve the mood.

The End.  For now.

The corrected painting I have to show you is an example of the importance of color and the rule of avoidance of a singular color.  You have seen this painting several times before, as I struggled with colors and values in an effort to “make it work”.  The basic layout was pleasing to me, so I could not figure out why I was not totally happy with the painting.  Paul told me why.  Here is the most recent but not final version of “Three Turrets”:

Three Turrets, v1.3

Three Turrets, v1.3

Here is the latest, corrected version:

Three Turrets, updated

Three Turrets, updated (from the porch of the Currier Museum’s art school)

Do you agree that the added patch of green in mid left harmonizes the painting with the previously singular patch at bottom 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 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; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Garden Magic

I get so caught up in my narrative blog content that I always forget the marketing bits, where I would be announcing I got into this show or that, and sold this painting or that.  Such a waste of those small, ephemeral moments of triumph!  Meanwhile I’ve been moaning about failures.  Wallowing in failures.  I hereby resolve hereafter to “accentuate the  positive,” starting right now:

  • My painting of “Margaret and her Nook” has been published in an online mag called “Art and Beyond”; here is the link to the magazine; you will need to click forward to find my page.
  • 5 of my paintings were accepted in the “Healing with Art” exhibit at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester.  (reception Tuesday Sept 9, 5:30-7:00)
  • My painting of “Fur” has found its forever home, after being on exhibit for only a few hours at the Bedford Library.
  • My painting of “Willow Path in Winter” has been accepted in the annual JPOS (Jamaica Pond Open Studios) exhibit at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.   Reception Thursday Sept 18, 6-8.
  • My application to apply to the Copley Society in Boston has been accepted–allowing me to apply for Professional Artist Membership, which requires a long checklist of images and written materials that I need to produce before a January deadline.  Checklists?  No problem for a former tax lawyer.

Listing the good things maybe once a month will at least boost my spirits, even if it doesn’t have any noticeable effect on sales.  Sales are the ultimate boost in spirits.  Nothing says “I love your painting” quite like the handing over of real money in exchange for the painting.  One of my teachers had a standard reply to anyone who said “I love your painting”: . . . “It’s for sale.”  But we can’t all buy all the paintings we love.  I know that all too well.  So it’s OK to keep telling me when  you love my painting even if you can’t buy it.

So, down to the real business, that of creating beautiful paintings, maybe to sell.  I spent two afternoons last week in a garden full of little nooks and pathways and whimsey.  This garden is hidden behind an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood.  It was created by colleagues of mine, a photographer/painter-husband/wife combo–although credit for the garden has to go principally to the husband.  The wife, Dee Lessard, paints beautiful still lifes but has little experience with plein air painting (or gardening).  Her husband, Guy Lessard, was pretty pleased to find Dee and me at our easels in his garden, immortalizing  the beauty he had built.

Magic Garden No. 1

Magic Garden No. 1

If you follow the path marked by the stepping stones, into the darkness beyond,  you come upon a pool full of dappled sunlight and brilliant koi.  I longed to see (and paint) a figure leaning into her reflection here.  But saving that one for when I have a model, I chose this simple scene that melds so delightfully a  half dozen different plant varieties.  I completed this one in a two-hour afternoon, just before the skies opened up in buckets of water.

A few days later, we went back out, Dee to continue working on the one she had started and me to find another magical place.  No. 2 is to the right and down a slight slope from No. 1, looking back at another path to get to the koi pond.

Magic Garden No. 2

Magic Garden No. 2 (before adjustments)

The Fairy Chapel

The Fairy Chapel  (Magic Garden No. 2, after adjustments in color and value)

Guy rescued the little church birdhouse in an antique store with steeple intact.  But adverse elements had obliterated the steeple over time, so I was painting what could have been a New England meeting house when Guy came over and requested that I add the steeple.  I was only too happy to oblige.

For both garden paintings, I had started with a surface toned dark, mostly with burnt umber.  Very little of the toned surface still shows, but where it does, it enhances the contrast that makes a painting interesting.

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; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

Yesterday Bea Bearden and I drove down to Gloucester, Massachusetts, to attend a plein-air-with-figure workshop in a garden attached to the home of David Curtis.  Although David, as we are encouraged to call him, is an anointed master painter (member of the Boston Guild of Artists), I had not been acquainted with him, his work, or his teaching before Friday, when I got the call from Bea and signed up for the workshop.  I feel extremely lucky to have got the opportunity.  For the past few years, I have not been signing up for plein air workshops (unless they involved the figure somehow).  I’ve taken so many plein air workshops in my short career as an artist, and done so many plein air paintings, that I had begun to feel I could not learn anything new.  (“Know it all” syndrome.)  Besides, it is the figure that I wanted to concentrate on now, so that’s where my workshop budget went.  However, in one casual Sunday afternoon (three hours) David Curtis conferred upon me new insights into plein air painting.  The kind of insights where you might say, oh, yeah, why didn’t I see that before!  Maybe you did see it, but I hadn’t, not consciously at least.

Here are my two favorite insights:

  • First:  On an overcast day (that’s what we had yesterday), the light comes from overhead, not at any angle.  Hence the tops of flowers, e.g., are catching the most light.  Duh! you say?  I know.  Obvious when you think about it.  But I had never thought about it before.
  • Second: Did you notice, in the Sargent exhibit at the Boston MFA a few months ago, that there were very few skies showing?  The absence of sky, usually the lightest element in a landscape painting, allows there to exist in the painting a different lightest object–one not at the top of the painting, which is, after all, a damn awkward place to suffer a focal point (unless you are focussing on clouds).  From this opportunity to create a lightest spot elsewhere on the canvas comes  the power to be unusual, to be dramatic,  to capture the viewer.  We all want to capture the viewer, and hang onto her.  Now we have a new tool–eliminate the sky as an element of the scene.

We were a group of nine students in Gloucester, all quite accomplished painters.  On the way home, Bea and I congratulated ourselves on the fact that we held our own in this company.  We will join them again for two more Sundays later in August, and I am so looking forward to it!

Due to the speed with which I work, my painting was completed within the three hours of the workshop.  Even better, it is one with which I am very happy.  The flowers gave me the opportunity to paint just the kind of landscape that I like best, and the lovely model with her coral dress and orange-red parasol were a feast for the eyes.  Thank God I brought my cadmium orange and cad red light.  And my perylene red and quinacridone magenta.  All were needed for the many reds and pinks in this painting.

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

I made sure that my angle on the stone cupid showed off his best side too.  Can you tell that the flowers inside the ring of granite stones are impatiens?  The dabbing technique to simulate flowers and leaves is something I adopted back when I was first studying landscapes with Stan Mueller, and he encouraged it.  It’s not something I can always work into landscapes vistas, and maybe that’s why I prefer not to do vistas.  I began this painting with a burnt umber ground, applied to cover up the Campobello Island seascape underneath.  (I’m getting more and more ruthless in my painting demolitions.)  The dark ground helped me speed toward completion.

Today I worked on another portrait of my daughter Nancy.  The Group (Monday Life Group) agreed that we wanted to paint the blue patterned kimono that she uses as a coverup between poses.  My parents had brought this kimono back to me from Japan in 1966 or thereabouts, and after five decades  it is finally coming into its own!  However, it was not possible to deal with the pattern in the time given to us.  Moreover, the wet blue paint did not allow for adding fresh whites and pinks where needed.  So this is a Work in Progress.

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

After the kimono dries, I will add the patterns using this photo I took with my phone.

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

I don’t know if I really missed the tilt of her head as much as the photo suggests, but someone did tell me recently (Paul Ingbretson, I believe) that we humans have a hard time overcoming an innate desire to untilt heads.  I have noticed as much in myself before, so I was trying extra hard this morning to counter that tendency.  Sigh!  Regarding the size of her irises, that was a deliberate decision to exaggerate them in order to get across how one perceives Nancy’s eyes.  They come across as large.

Last week Nancy had posed for us nude, but wearing quite a deep tan–from walking the dog, she claimed.  Her droopy eyelids of last week caused me to bring her a large iced coffee this morning in the hope that we not get the sleepy look again.

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

I almost want to hide this one from you, because I feel I butchered the nose.  Still, it’s interesting as a study of skin tones.

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; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Fast or Slow, Which Works Better for Me?

You could rightfully assume that when I turn up on the web after a longer-than-two-week hiatus, I’ll be accompanied by a raft of new paintings.  Sorry to disappoint.  Although many hours in the past 17 days have been spent on various kinds of art-related activities, painting actual pictures was only a smallish part of it.  One workshop with the accomplished portraitist Mary Minifie produced a single portrait (representing three days of labor), while another three-day one with Paul Ingbretson on composition produced nothing but horrible practice scribbles.  Even worse, last Monday’s session with our lovely preggie model was lackluster, the result not as appealing to me as my first painting of her.

One saving grace: as a small favor to me, my friend Arthur offered to sit for me to do his portrait, and I managed to turn that into a big favor.  Immediately upon viewing the painting after the first sitting, his mom declared herself a buyer.  And after the second sitting, my model asked me to do another one for him.  Although I wasn’t timing either session, I think the first sitting lasted about an hour and a half, and the second about an hour.  Hence:  24 hours on a Margaret produced with Minifie versus 2.5 hours spent on Arthur winging it on my own.  Both paintings are 11×14, so there was no size differential.  No surprise–Arthur’s portrait looks rough while Margaret’s looks delicate.

Arthur

Arthur

Margaret July 2014

Margaret July 2014

Mary Minifie started with the selection of clothing and background.  The goal was to enhance the beauty of our model’s skin tone, and also to create a pleasing composition, in which color plays a major part (a point that got made again in the second workshop).  That took one hour.  I thought then that it was an outlandish amount of time to spend on the selection of drapes to form a background, but looking back, I appreciate its importance.  My photograph of the painting, even when adjusted, may not convey the right color impressions over the internet, especially when the actual hue, value and intensity had been so carefully calibrated.  When you look at the completed painting, can you appreciate the rightness of the color of the background?  What about the color of her shirt?  What about that bit of white in her bodice?  The shirt, by the way, was painted with a lapis lazuli from Michael Harding that I found in a batch acquired through eBay.  So beautiful–the blue used by Vermeer, before ultramarine was invented.

The next big chunk of time was spent on Mary’s demo of, and our attempt to duplicate, the egg approach to portrait painting.  We first tried it on a small 5×7 panel, then on our big panel.  The basic idea:  paint an oval in the shape of the model’s head matching the tint of each area of the head and neck, gradually increasing the detail as we decreased the patch of skin being matched in paint.  In theory, the features start to emerge.  Attention is also given to her pearl earring, her red hair ornament, and her hair itself.  Margaret was much better at holding her pose than Arthur, of course.  In theory, the better painting should result from this approach.

However, I am happier with my portrait of Arthur.  It reminds me of a tour de force by Rose Frantzen titled “Portrait of Maquoketa”.  Maquoketa is the name of her home town in Iowa, to which she had returned after a period of trying to “make it” in the Big Apple.  She set out to paint all of the Maquoketa residents who were willing to sit.  You really should visit this page where the story and all of the portraits are kept.  In the meantime, enjoy this cover of her book, which contains all 180 of the portraits and a clever flip-book effect in the corners, whereby you can watch a painting in progress.

Frantzen book cover

Frantzen book cover

Frantzen’s method is called “alla prima” because the paintings are completed in one sitting without any kind of underpainting or academic preparation.  Alla prima (or almost alla prima in “Arthur”‘s case) suits me better than the classical approach mastered so well by Mary Minifie.  Alla prima is something I can do now, whereas the more academic method would take me years to master, and I don’t have that kind of time left to me, unfortunately.  Although I expect to live to be 100, I’m not sure I will be able to paint until 100.

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; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Hands and Feet

Last week, I hadn’t done much new in the painting department, so I looked for a topic that I could discuss using past doings.  I came up with “hands and feet”, and even got started with this text.  But then my computerized photo library went kerfluey, and as you probably know, kerfluey computers tend to soak up all available time until they are fixed.  “Fixed” has still not occurred, but in the meantime I found the time to produce new art–because I sent the recalcitrant Mac Mini to the geniuses at the local Apple store.  Luckily, I was in a position to repossess an iMac I had loaned to a granddaughter–I am very much into Redundancy, and it has worked for me.

So I will complete what I wanted to say originally about hands and feet, and seque into a somewhat more moments issue, one that has less to do with drawing and more to do with an entire approach to painting.

This will not be my first discussion of hands, but I am shocked to see that it has been so long since I first addressed that subject.  I thought maybe 18, at most 24 months.  But it was over 45  months ago!  See that earlier blog from October of 2010 here. My overall strategy when trying to depict hands and feet with paint is to first swipe in the larger shape and then try to array the fingers and toes with quick, unlabored strokes.  If the strokes work, then I push the paint around a bit, add light and dark values, toying with the elements–before wiping them out and starting over.  If the first strokes don’t work, or the toying with them loses the first good strokes, I don’t give up hope.

[Not giving up is the most important part of painting.  Eventually, if you keep trying, it comes together, more or less.  Mine have come together before, so I know the next one will too– eventually, as long as I keep trying.]

Let’s examine a few efforts:

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

These are perfect examples of what I always TRY to do–get the shape and size correct, let my strokes suggest fingers if I am lucky.  Below are some hands I had been working on the last two weeks–first are the “draft” ones, then the finished ones:

Detail, Week 1 of Pose

Detail, Week 1 of Pose

DSC_0007

After second week, I’m not exactly proud because there is little improvement.  Sometimes that happens too–I keep trying to find the magic, and I keep getting the pedestrian.

Take a look at yesterday’s hand:

29 Weeks

29 Weeks

As I worked on her hand, I was consciously applying what I knew I was going to write about in the blog.  We can only speculate whether that helped.  I painted that hand at least five times, not changing anything really, just varying the contrast, the values.  But I did that very same thing to the entire body.

This was a first-time model, recruited by one of our regulars when she learned that we value the opportunity to paint a pregnant woman.  We have her for next Monday’s session too, but I think I am content with this effort and so plan to work on a portrait next week.

I set up the lighting for “29 Weeks” to create maximum contrast between the light hitting her directly and the shadows behind her.  But even while planning to paint a “light and shadow” version, I was pondering whether I am more attuned to “local tone” painters, as one of my DVD experts, Quang Ho, terms it.  Van Gogh, for instance.  Van Gogh paints relatively flat colors, representing the actual color of the object without showing the effect of light or shadow.  To separate elements one from another, he often outlines them in a dark line.  To create texture and interest in large shapes, he makes patterns.  No gradation, no atmospheric perspective.  Here’s a good example:

A Meadow in the Mountains Le  Mas de Saint-Paul 1889Paul (1889), by Van Gogh

A Meadow in the Mountains Le Mas de Saint-Paul 1889Paul (1889), by Van Gogh

Imitating Van Gogh gives me a instantaneous rush of pleasure–it could be the thick paint, the permission to abandon shading, the richness of color.  Whatever, I feel good even when the painting turns out not so good.  Achieving a quality result result after hours of laboring over the core shadows, the half tones, the reflected light, etc, etc, leaves me with a feeling of accomplishment, but no real “high”.  As I painted “29 Weeks” I was thinking about that even as I painted light and shadow.  Maybe, for next week, I should try the Van Gogh approach and see how it comes out.  And see if it gives me a “high”.

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; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Two weeks of earnest painting

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.

Extended pose, green

Extended pose, green

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.

Extended pose, red

Extended pose, red (12×9)

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:

Poison! (wip)

Poison! (wip)

Cured!

Cured! (12×16)

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.

A walk by Dorrs Pond

A walk by Dorrs Pond (11×14)

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)

Madison Barn #1

Madison Barn #1 (11×14)

Madison Barn #2

Madison Barn #2 (11×14)

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: alotter@mac.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!

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Afterglow; Exhaustion

My show was Sunday.  Many of you remembered that, and succeeded in getting there, for which I am most grateful.  Others of  you may have tried to come, but gave up when you couldn’t find a parking spot.  If so, I apologize.  I never thought to check my reception date against the schedule for the Fisher Cats games.  I won’t ever overlook that detail again!  [Fisher Cats is the name of a AA minor league baseball team, farm team for the Toronto Blue Jays; its stadium is pretty close to the building where East Colony Gallery lives, and its parking lot becomes a Fisher Cats parking lot on game days.  The building owners tried to save us prime spots in the front of the Gallery; unfortunately, the normal signs there declare “Do Not Park”, so, in the absence of guidance, people were probably afraid to park there!]

Nevertheless, we had a decent turnout for our party, and I got to reconnect with some people I had not seen in a long time.  Alas, I did forget to take pictures, but this was because I was too busy talking, so that was a good thing.  Usually, at these shindigs, I am too shy to engage people in talking about my paintings.  Having people there whom I already knew was such a blessing!

Meanwhile, I had an extremely busy week of painting:  five-day workshop with Sean Beavers on figure painting; one night class with Deirdre Riley on the same subject; two paint outs, one in Exeter, New Hampshire, and the other in Goffstown.  And the Monday life group met as usual  yesterday morning.  I’m sure it was good, in the abstract, to be painting so much, but it may not have been beneficial for the output.  I was spreading myself too thin, especially as exhaustion began to take its toll.  I must accept the fact that, at my age, I can’t keep performing day after day at the same high energy level.

The workshop paintings fared better than the landscapes.  For Sean’s class, we had one model in the morning, doing one pose all week; and another in the afternoon, doing his same pose all week.  Two completed paintings emerged, plus one half-done portrait:

Figure and Detail

Figure and Detail

After spending three days on the figure, I developed an urge to paint the model’s portrait.  Since I had space on the same piece of canvas, and needed to fill that space with something, my decision to lay it down next to the figure was a no-brainer.  Only problem was, I was really too far from the model to paint a decent portrait.   I couldn’t see any nuances in the facial features with my uncorrected eyes from a distance of 15 feet.  Moving my easel was not an option because (a) I would have obstructed views of the artists on either side of me, (b) my spot was my spot for the afternoon painting, and that would have meant two moves, and (c) let’s not kid ourselves–this is only for practice.  The fact that I ended up doing close to the same thing for the afternoon painting just means I’m consistent.

Competing Lights

Competing Lights

For this pose, Sean set up a spotlight with red cel in front of the model, and one behind the model with a blue cel, emulating sunlight.  The effect was quite dramatic.  Fun!  I spent four days on this painting, and so had only one day to fill with a practice portrait:

Portrait version

Portrait version

Again, my inability to see detail that far away, and the shortness of time remaining to me, meant I could not produce a finished portrait, but I got the big pieces right.  Sean was actually impressed!  But bottom line, the face in my figure painting is more interesting that this “forced” portrait. (To me.)

The paintout on Saturday in Exeter ended with a wet paint sale to benefit the American Independence Museum, which had organized the event.  We had a gorgeous day.  Every other day last week it rained at least a little bit.  My goal for this event was to paint something pedestrian but so well that someone would want to own it.  I failed.  Not in the pedestrian part but in the wanting part.

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

I’m not sure the name of the river is Exeter.  I got many complements on the beauty of this painting, but no one wanted to own it.  For the second one, I went even further Out There–Ashcan School?:

Municipal Parking

Municipal Parking

This painting quite simply failed to be beautiful for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on.  (If I could have identified the failing, I would have fixed it.)

Winding up the week, yesterday I did a figure in the morning and a landscape in the afternoon.  Both will be getting more attention–we will repeat the Monday pose next week.  Same is true of Deirdre’s class from last Tuesday.   And the landscape, well, you’ll just have to wait for that report because, with luck, I shall have time during the week to bring it to a new level of Van Gogh-ness.

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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Matters of Life and Death

“Life”, in that painting from life is one matter;  “Death” in that painting in a cemetery is another matter.  A good balance.  First, the studies of a living person:  Becky again.  Three of them.  Done at the class I have been taking Tuesday nights at the Institute.  Deirdre Riley is the instructor.

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

The first week our longest pose was a comparatively short one–perhaps 40 minutes.  At the beginning of the course, one or two of the other students thought they preferred short poses, but now I think everyone is into the idea of the long pose and the possibility of achieving a polished drawing or painting.  This coming Tuesday, with luck, we may get the first of a carryover pose, repeating a second Tuesday–upon which event my product will no longer be half-done.  It’ll be seven-eighths done.  (The reason I am not finishing even a sketch in the three hours is because I am using 20×16 pieces of canvas, instead of the usual 9×12 or 11×14.)

The second two poses were each for the entire duration of one class, or three hours less break times.

Pose No. 2

Pose No. 2

Almost Standing

Almost Standing

I seem to be having trouble getting the length of Becky’s torso right.  The first one, it looks too short; the second one, too long.  But “Almost Standing” had potential, I thought.

Saturday was a beautiful, if chilly day to work outside.  I packed up my new Soltek easel for its first trip out into the field.  Flo Parlangeli and I launched ourselves southward toward Lowell, Massachusetts in response to an invitation to paint in a garden cemetery there.  The Lowell Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It was modeled after another famous cemetery, the Mt. Auburn, in Cambridge, Mass.  The two of us were, apparently, the only New Hampshire artists there on Saturday.  In fact, when we got there we were entirely alone and thought perhaps the event had been cancelled.  But others showed up later, and I had two of them competing with me for the best take on the Ayer Lion.  I fell in love with the Lion the minute I laid eyes on it.  Hey, it’s a large putty-cat and you know how much I loves me my putty cats!  The sad and dreamy expression on his face spoke to me.  I hope I captured it in my painting.

The Sad Lion of Lowell

The Sad Lion of Lowell

My second cemetery painting was inspired by the sight of profuse white flowers emerging from the shadows around a dark and mysterious crypt-structure.  From my web search for May-blooming shrubs with white flowers, I have concluded that the genus of the plant is Spirea.

Spirea Waterfall

Spirea Fall  (as in “water fall”)

In exactly one week, Sunday June 8, I will be finished cleaning up after the reception for my and Larry Donovan’s Featured Artists show at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  The reception starts at two o’clock and ends at four or whenever people drift off.  My paintings look better in person, so I hope lots of my followers will be able to view the exhibit and come to the party.  If I have any scrap of presence of mind left, I will take photos and post them next week.

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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Hung!

image

Frontispiece

Frontispiece

I should have posted as soon as I got the pictures uploaded, but I wanted to expound on the process a little.  Unfortunately, life, or more accurately, death, got in the way.  Not a member of my family, rather the man who rented the room upstairs from me.  I had to find the body, which was an unsettling experience.  He will be missed around here for sure.

Meanwhile, my show is up.  My colleague, Larry Donovan, and I had to agree on the arrangement on our shared wall, the wall that you see as you walk in the door.  That is the photo I called “Frontispiece”.  You can tell which are mine.

The longest wall is next to the entry, and I managed to hang 13 of my paintings on it, allowing Larry the remaining three, smaller walls.  I had prepped 21 paintings with about five that I considered “must see”, but one of them didn’t make the cut.  Freckles, my cat portrait, just didn’t look like it belonged with all those nudes and faces.  In the end, what looked best on the wall determined which paintings won a place on the wall.

One of my new jobs for East Colony, which as a collaborative does require each member to take charge of one or more tasks needed to run a gallery, is as the keeper of the customer database.  So as that person, I had to print out our postcard labels; then as the Featured Artist I applied half of the labels to postcards (Larry did the other half), bought my postcard stamps and applied those to my postcards, and put them in the mail, all of which I accomplished Tuesday.  Now all I have to do get ready for the day itself: bring in a flower arrangement (one of the other artists volunteered to bring another one in), make sure I have enough wine at the ready (Larry’s goddaughter, a baker, is preparing eating treasures), figure out what to wear, and get there early enough to set up.  I think I can handle it.  Whew!

Next week my blog will include the half-done paintings from a workshop I have been taking with Deirdre Riley and possibly a plein air painting from Saturday, but the forecast is rain, so no promises.

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: alotter@mac.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!

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Artists’ Getaway Spring 2014

As promised, I have returned from our semiannual getaway to Mount Washington Valley with landscapes of the North Country.  Despite still feeling out of sorts, I pulled myself together enough to produce five small paintings.  I felt inadequate, so I took only 8×10 panels and a packet of 9×12 carton papers.  This morning I took the photographs, and I guess they aren’t so bad.  All were dry, already!  I use a lot of Michael Harding paints, which are slower drying than some for some artists, but for me, they dry fast.

Starting from the beginning, Friday morning, we gathered at “Fourth Iron”, a railroad bridge over the Saco River, near the highway (Route 302), with a parking lot made to order for painters and fishermen.  We had four new painters with us:  Bea Bearden, Kitty Clark, Jeri Bothamley, and Michele Fennel.  The “seasoned” painters were Byron Carr (the organizer of the weekend), Sharon Allen (the keeper of NHPleinAir artists), and Jim O’Donnell.  We were later joined by Morgan, a regular whose last name has not made it into my memory bank, and newbie Ruth Sears and her guy friend Joe.  Add to that mix the innkeepers Miriam and Nick Jacques, and you’ve got quite a lively group, ready to paint and party.

Back to the Fourth Iron.  Some of us, including me, painted the bridge; others painted the mountains; still others split off to paint nearby at the Notchland Inn, which, I learned for the first time, has a parlor designed by Gustav Stickley.  I have a painting of the Notchland Inn somewhere in my piles of landscapes, and an earlier one of Fourth Iron.  Before Hurricane Irene washed out the original road and trees, we had to hike in a little bit to get a good view of the bridge, or scramble down the riverbank to get this view we now get from the parking lot, which was created from the remains of the original road:

Fourth Iron

Fourth Iron

After lunch, we headed south to North Conway, to an area called Flat Rocks Conservation area, and found a spot on the shoulder of the road where we had nice, unobstructed views of the rocky stream flowing by.  We were interrupted by a serious rainstorm, so I never “finished” the painting.

Discovered Bridge

Discovered Bridge

After coming in for the evening, it is our custom to take in what we have been working on and lean them against whatever we can find back at the Inn, mantels, window sills, floors.  Luckily, the dog Noodles pays no attention to the wet paintings (mostly oils, a few watercolors) on the floor, and he is not a shedder (“cockapoo”–I painted his portrait as a puppy years ago).   A few artists told me they liked my “stone bridge”.  They were not, I later learned, referring to the iron bridge built on the stony embankment.  So a lousy rendition of a big rock is now officially transformed into the shadowed tunnel under an imaginary but charming stone bridge.

Saturday, Sharon and I went exploring for potential new painting spots in the valley.  We stopped at two farmhouses to interview the farmers (of alpacas and strawberries, respectively) about a mysterious road that showed up on Sharon’s GPS.  When that investigation bore no fruit, we returned to North Conway to paint behind the restaurant where we ate Thursday night.  Mary, the proprietress had told us we were welcome to paint there anytime, and it was a fantastic view across the valley with the Saco River cutting through.  I, however, turned my back on that view and took on the fantastical restaurant itself.  Ambitious.

In Back of May Kelly's

In Back of May Kelly’s

Mary brought us coffee and two huge slices of gluten-free chocolate cake, so that was lunch and so much for sticking to my diet.  We finished up about two thirty and went back to the Inn (Bartlett Inn).  A very tall, very old white birch was still standing on the grounds in front of the cabins, and it was slated for removal, so Sharon and I each painted a portrait of it, dead but still beautiful.

Last Hurrah

Last Hurrah

 

That evening, as is our custom, all of the artworks were produced for comment.  This is when I learned of the Stone Bridge.  When asked which of my paintings was my favorite, I said the birch.  Either the company disagreed with me, or they were anxious to help me make it better–whatever, it elicited several points of criticism:  the foreground rock was too prominent and should probably be removed totally; the background green was . . . too strong?; the tree on the left was too distracting–it should be de-emphasized by bringing in branches crossing in front, or perhaps (my own suggestion) soften its edges (that is magenta on its right edge!).  What do you think?

Sundays we usually pack up, check out of the Inn, and look for one last painting location before wending our ways home.  Thanks to Sharon the explorer, this year we collected near a marshy area south of Conway, at Dollof Pond, with a view of Mount Washington.  I looked it up on Google maps and found another pond nearby that I wish we could paint just for its name:  Pea Porridge Pond.  Oh, well, cheating not allowed.

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Thus ended the tenth annual Spring Getaway.  I felt strangely unfulfilled.  The next morning, Monday Life Group got me out of bed and into the studio.  I brought a used panel, not even sanded down, not even toned over.  To reduce distractions from the old painting, I applied a layer of burnt sienna, then added Gamblin’s Fast Matte ultramarine blue.  Of course, these underlayers would not dry in time for me to paint over them, so I was asking for trouble, double trouble.  The photo below isn’t good either, because light catches the wet paint on all those little protrusions.  I dialed the exposure down to minimize the light bumps for  you.

Nude with Texture

Nude with Texture

Something about this painting really appeals to me.  The flesh may be a little “muddy” but color is all relative anyway, so I’m not bothered by that.  What thrills me is that her right leg looks so real, so fleshy!  Her face isn’t bad either.  If only I had just a little more time to bring all of it up to that level of accomplishment.

Now I am moving into Panic Mode over the imminence of my Featured Artist stint at East Colony.  I have to “hang” this coming Saturday!!  OMG.  But then it will be done and all I have to do is enjoy.  I am paired with Larry Donovan, an artist whose works I noticed long ago at East Colony, so I feel quite honored to be in this position.  Who’d a thunk a few years ago, when I hardly knew what was up?  We are looking forward to seeing all our friends and collectors at the reception on Sunday, June 8th, from two to four.  He wanted two to five, but I am just not up to three hours on my feet, making nice.

I am looking forward to seeing YOU if you are at all able to come, if not to the reception, then at some point between May 24 and June 28.  Let me know when you are in town and I will try to be at the Gallery.

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: alotter@mac.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!

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Two Sittings

Last week our regular figure study group met as usual, but at the end of our session, we all agreed to try to duplicate the post at the next session.  I had been happy enough with what I had after one session, except for one problem hand, so I planned today to fix the hand and start on a portrait, yet another of Becky.  Instead, I spent almost the entire second session “dithering” (some would say) with what I had.  I’m wondering if I have overworked and ruined what had been a decent painting.  Fortunately, I photographed the earlier version so we may compare the two:

Small work in progress

Small work in progress

 

After second sitting

After second sitting

I am inclined to favor the second version now that I see them together.  Certainly a lot of the elements that I worked on called for help.  The model stand has a life, yet stays back where it belongs.  Her right hand looks more like a hand.  The face is more delicately portrayed.  The dark background works better to show off her skin tones.  Does anyone have a strong opinion either way?  And what do you think of the lavender shadows?  It’s what I saw today, and I have never seen them before.  My eyes may be changing, or perhaps the way we set up the spotlights did it.  I had trouble seeing what I was doing until I brought a spotlight to aim at my painting and my palette, but then I had the bright light in my eyes, and my gaze was shifting between the model  and the painting.  Terrible conditions, really, so the lavender may have been a trick of the light.  My brain misperceived.

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: alotter@mac.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!

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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: alotter@mac.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!

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It’s About the Paint

Don’t be confused about contemporary art dialogue. Yes, concepts are important. The concept behind your art, Aline, is painting itself. Don’t forget that. Your art is about painting. If some frou-frou contemporary artist asks you what your art is about, just say: it’s about painting, and all that painting does: it’s about being flat, it’s about creating depth, too, it’s about the illusion that paint does so well, and it’s also about representing the integrity and presence of the paint itself. The content of your paintings is not just the landscape or the figure, it’s also the paint. But, tell that person you paint the figure because you are a humanist, and you are out to preserve humanity in your art. Tell him your art is a process of preservation. Explain all the ways that painting is a human process, and that that is ultimately what you are doing with your art: representing and preserving humanity in your art, through the process and medium of painting.

Cameron Bennett, April 21, 2014

Two weeks ago, my blog described the confusion and frustration I had experienced when a nonrepresentational artist challenged my mostly representational approach to painting.  One of my favorite teachers galloped to the rescue with the above advice.  In effect,  he says, there’s no quandary; I am not “just practicing”–I am “just painting”!  He explains that the whole spectrum of artistic styles, approaches and genres, representational and nonrepresentational, boils down to the handling of paint.  And when I choose to paint a figure with my paint, I do so to “preserve humanity.”  Wow.  That makes me feel important!  I’ve never been good at memorization, but that’s one phrase I am committing to memory.

Thus reinforced, I have decided that my figurative works shall be the subject of my month as Featured Artist at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  They constitute the most of, hopefully my best, recent works.  I have been checking them out and filling in backgrounds and fixing flaws.  Risky business, that.  But if I spoil a painting by fixing its flaws, it just goes on the discard pile.  I will have more than enough to pick from.  The two that I did last week are candidates:

Easy Chair

Easy Chair

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

I filled in background for these two:

Say, What?

Say, What?

Warmth in the Shadows

Warmth in the Shadows

I considered the painting below as a candidate, if I could get rid of the “snarky” expression I objected to when I first blogged about it (here).

still a WIP

still a WIP

But to do so, I had to open her eyes, I felt.  That’s a tricky proposition since I don’t have the model to look at.  It’s hard to get the whites of the eyes in shadow without it looking weird.  So I’m not sure I will ever get the eyes right.  Maybe you don’t like it anyway.  I am going to include as many clothed figures as I can come up with, so as not to overwhelm a public more accustomed to landscapes and still lifes.

Last week, East Colony celebrated the advent of Spring in New England with its annual “Petals 2 Paint” show.  28 floral designers each chose a painting or artwork to serve as inspiration for a floral display.  It was the best year ever.  Here are a few of the most original, which includes my designer:

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Grace in Profile

Grace in Profile, Abstracted in Flowers

Sally's Chinese

Sally’s Chinese

Underwater Moonshine

Underwater Moonshine

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 French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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!

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Seeing Red

The cover story this week is my Friday painting of Becky, wherein I decided to create a bright red background to set off her figure.  Backgrounds are so often a pain in the neck.  Are there rules?  I don’t know, but I suspect there are some, and I’m pretty sure one of them is, no bright red backgrounds.  I always think of Rembrandt, who knew a thing or two about painting portraits.  All his backgrounds are dark and subdued.  You don’t notice them because you aren’t supposed to notice them.  Sargent, too.  But what about Cezanne?  He did at least one self-portrait in which the background was a quirky yellow and orange pattern of expressive shapes.

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

I decided to go with Cezanne on Friday, and express myself in red.

DSC_0001

I started this painting still puzzling over the “practice or paint?” conundrum, so I gave myself permission to play around.  But this is what happens:– pretty accurate portrait, rendered about as tightly as I ever get in a three-hour session.  Perhaps the red background is my inner abstract artist expressing frustration!

Saturday we had our last Saturday Life Group meeting until next Fall.  Becky was again the model.  After the quick one-minute poses, the five-minute pose and the ten-minute pose, I got a back view for the 20-minute pose.  That was OK, because it meant my side of the room would get a frontal view for the next, longer pose.

DSC_0004 DSC_0003

However, we paid dearly for that privilege with the last long pose (“long” in this group means between 40-60 minutes).  I could have moved to a different part of the room in order to get more of her body in view, but all of us in my corner went with what we got:  Half a back, a head of hair, and a draped cube.  All three of us deployed color to add interest.  I brought out the compressed charcoal to better make an impression of expression.  Compress expressive impression?  Whatever.  It’s the liveliest of the three:

Stripes with Hair

Stripes with Hair

Change of Subject:  What is majorly on my mind these days is my upcoming stint as the Featured Artist at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  Larry Donovan and I are sharing the spotlight for the month of June.  We have talked a little about serving up a coordinated theme, and we have picked a title that will permit just about anything from either of us: Through the Artist’s. . . [Window/Eyes/Viewpoint]–one of those words.  My dilemma is what to showcase:  portraits, nudes, landscapes, or those few abstract-y paintings I have produced.  I am so conflicted that I am ready to trash all the good advice about picking one style or facet and just put up my favorite works whether they look like they came from a single artist or not.  For example, I’d like to show this little half-hour plein-air sketch as well as the six-hour “Margaret and Her Nook“:

Water's Edge

Water’s Edge

Sometimes I discover value in a pile of forgotten panels.  I never photographed Water’s Edge before, but I did frame it and hang it on my wall, where I grew ever fonder of it.  Such a slow-growing affection is a stark contrast to Margaret and Her Nook, which I knew was going to be a successful painting before I had even finished it.

I am planning to construct a floating type frame for “Darkly” as advised by my mentors [see wailing a week ago here, and the painting here], and I am wondering–if I made similar frames for all the paintings I want to feature in June, would that unify them sufficiently to allow my public to appreciate the disparate styles?  Each painting would be mounted on a larger backboard painted black, which backboard will be framed in a simple box, also painted black.  Water’s Edge might call for a narrow gold fillet around the painting itself.  I’m thinking that is the only way I could get away with showing my crazy quilt of art.  But will Margaret shine from such a frame?

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 French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

 

Just Practicing

I got my head spun around this week by a glimpse into the perspective of another kind of artist, the kind that has found a home in the world of “contemporary” art.  I am using the word “contemporary” here in the sense that has come to be associated with it in the art world, namely, nonrepresentional art.  Plenty of contemporary (in the original meaning of the word) are painting representational pictures, elegantly and successfully, but it seems like few of them are represented by tony NYC galleries or being acquired by museums.   There’s a bias in favor of abstract.  All the buzz goes to the unconventional.  Something called a “concept” has become more important (perhaps) than the skillful execution.   What I have been working on these past nine years is skillful execution, and I’m not even there yet.  But if only I could reorient my brain in the direction of coming up with concepts, I might not need to get any better with the representational skills.

This particular angst is nothing new for me.  What is new is the spin, the perspective, the insight.  I was at a gathering of students celebrating the last class with a party.  At Bea’s, of course.  I had taken the same class last semester.  It was the Explore, Express, Exploit class, triple E we call it–the class in which I tried very hard to do something different.  See, e.g., prior blogs here and here.  The party included a critique, not just by the class instructor (Patrick McCay), but by all present, students and professors.  Tongues had been loosened by copious supply of wine, and the critiques soon dissolved into many conversations occurring simultaneously and uproariously.  Being on a diet, my wine intake was limited to one glass, so I was able to observe and be entertained by the chaos.   It was such good sport that, when they ran out of paintings to critique, demand was made for me to submit two of my paintings from last semester to the withering analyses.  (I had the two outside in my car because they were on their way in the a.m. to the Institute for hanging in an exhibit.)  So, yes, they were framed, and clearly “finished”.  Nevertheless, many potential improvements were found by half the crowd and denigrated by the other half, all good fun and maybe a little educational, and the party was about to come to an end, its ostensible purpose having been fulfilled, when a visiting dignitary, the dean of something and second in command at the Institute, demanded to know what direction I was going, given that one of my paintings had ended up representational and the other did not.  (That may be the longest sentence I have ever written!)  I tried to dodge the question, which was not difficult since everyone else in the room was still talking all at once, but he silenced the room and insisted that I provide an answer.  Ahhhgh!  I confessed that I had no idea where I might be headed, that in fact my usual MO was plein air painting and working from the live figure.  Both, I didn’t have to say, being totally representation.  So he said, and I quote, “That’s just practice.”

I don’t really disagree–what I have been doing is a lot of practicing, but toward what?  For the first time, I wondered if there is a chance for me to see over the fence into that field of unconventionality, that field seeded with new concepts.  One needs a goal, and I guess the one I had set for myself was to become a portraitist.   But I haven’t been working very hard toward that goal lately, and maybe that is the fault of my goal, not of me.  If  portraiture is not the right goal for me, then I can’t stay excited about it.  It may be time for me to Explore more deliberately an Expression that is beyond representational.  Exploitation, what’s that?

Meanwhile, I am still practicing.  Last Tuesday’s figure session produced this one:

Beard with Hands

Beard with Hands

His forehead is too high, but I can fix that.

Friday I had a simultaneous committee meeting and the need to drop off those two paintings competing for my attention, so I took in my charcoals.  In the first 20 minutes I produced a drawing that I liked so much that I could not bring myself to touch it after the break.

Ghost Face

Ghost Face

My start-over produced this drawing.

Becky, A Head Shot

Becky, A Head Shot

Her nose is too long.  Damn!  Too-long nose cannot be fixed without resizing the whole bottom half of the face.  [I fixed a problem with the shape of her left eye–on our right–that I only noticed after posting the image to my blog.]

Today, I decided at the outset not to obsess over any details, to try to be conceptual instead of representational–just as I have decided at many outsets before this.  Today, however, I have the added consideration of last Thursday’s critique.  Sure, I had that Friday as well, but it was too new then.  Hadn’t sunk in.

Sweet Thinking

Sweet Thinking

Is it, in terms of direction, an inch or two away from my usual?  I kind of think so.

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 French Hall (the main building) of the New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester, NH; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Back to Figure School

A major disappointment to me was the cancellation of a workshop with Dan Thompson at the Institute.   It was to be on the subject of painting the portrait from observation.  I took an earlier portrait class with Dan Thompson and I wrote about it in this blog.  (here)  So instead of advancing my practice of portraiture, I was dealing with a broken furnace that week.  It was a cold week, too.  I may have mentioned being too cold to sit very long in my computer room.  Lots of stuff got wait-listed that week, a fact whose relevance is hinted at below.  (Ending a sentence with two prepositions!  Exciting times!)

Our weather has shown dramatic improvement lately.  For instance, I haven’t been wearing a coat.  What have I been doing with my time?  Not painting.  Paperwork.  Meetings.  Reports.  Nothing you would want to hear about assuming I were free to tell.  I found only two recent paintings that you have not yet seen, and one of them I never intended anyone to see.  I dislike it for being too dark and sultry.  But in my desperation I have reconsidered, and hope it looks no worse than work that I have seen better artists display proudly.  To some, dark and sultry is a virtue.

Dark and Sultry

Dark and Sultry

No, it’s no good.  I still don’t like it.  Ironically, this is the same model whose face I tormented in the Dan Thompson workshop mentioned above.

My other painting I like quite a lot, just not sure why.  It’s accurate, it has good lights and darks I think, proportions good, skin tones good, composition good, etc.  But what’s it about?  Can I show it?  What the heck do I title it?  As you can see, for now the title refers to the light source.

Overhead Lighting

Overhead Lighting

The painterly quality may be what I like most about this painting.

The overhead light source is thanks to Jack, our newest member.  Jack retired from a career as a filmmaker and photographer, so he has some great equipment that he shares with us.  If I recall correctly, the overhead light is composed of 400 watts of illumination, covered by a diffuser so it doesn’t blind the artists

Well, tomorrow is another day, isn’t it? Scarlett was right.  But literally, tomorrow is Tuesday, another life group day, and I might, I just might do something worthwhile.  It keeps me going back.

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 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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/art/all/nude/canvas+prints&#8221; style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>nude canvas prints</a>

Changing it Up

I’ve been dragging my butt lately and seven days ago I caught a cold, which gave me a terrific excuse to stay in bed for a few days.  But at the end of the week, I heroically dragged said butt up to Bartlett, equipped with plentiful supply of tissues and cold meds, for a two-day workshop on . . . wait for it. . . Watercolor Painting with Byron Carr!  Or as he ‘splains it, he’ll “show you how to slop, splash, splatter, scrub and spray your way to a finished painting.”

If anything can shake me out of my slump, will it be messing around in a medium that I cannot get the hang of anyway?  What’s to lose?

Byron at work

Byron at work on his demo

The class was full at six students, all experienced painters, some actually quite proficient in watercolor but with something to learn about the Byron Carr approach to watercolor.  And Byron entertains as well as teaches; he keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously.

Students Melissa, Marion, Jim, Nick

Students Melissa, Marion, Jim, Nick

Sharon at work

Sharon at work

Me at work

Me at work

Nevertheless, all the photos of me seem to catch the serious side, or maybe that is just the struggle of adapting to the watery medium.  Come to think of it, we all look very intense and serious.

The Byron Carr process starts out simply enough:  pick a photo; crop and apply paint to the photo to create a thumbnail sketch of your planned painting; tape dental floss in an “X” across said photo to create quadrants that help in the transfer of the image; pencil in the big shapes on your 23×30 sheet of heavy-duty watercolor paper (140# Arches for those of you in the know).  So far, so good.  Then:  apply paint.  That’s when it gets interesting and frustrating.  Byron applies paint, loosely mixed (No homogeneous puddles), then toys with it using sprays and scrubbers.  The trick seems to be using just the right amount of water with the paint, either on the paper or thinning the paint on the brush.

Byron's Demo

Byron’s Demo

Byron paints fast, like a demon possessed, and splashes liberally.  Note the plastic sheets covering the walls in the photos above.  (The workshop took place in one of the large, handicapped accessible guest rooms of the Bartlett Inn.  The innkeepers moved all the bedroom furniture out to make room for our tables, and draped the walls with plastic because they know Byron very well from years of past demonstrations.)

I don’t know enough about WC to distinguish one approach from another, but I knew what we were learning was different from what, for example,  Dustan Knight does (she is the only other WC  instructor I have been exposed to).  Byron told me one of my paintings employed a technique that he does not use, to wit, layering.  This one:

My No. 2 in progress

My No. 2 in progress

I think I was just trying to deploy techniques that work for me as an oil painter.   Oil as a medium fits with my talents and intuition, and perhaps WC never will.

At the end, Byron had each painting up to display in his black mat so we could all appreciate what we had accomplished.  Here are a few:

Melissa's No. 1

Melissa’s No. 1

Jim's No. 1

Jim’s No. 1

Sharon's, I think

Nick’s no. 2

Byron with Melissa's No. 2

Byron with Melissa’s No. 2

Here are photos of both of Sharon’s paintings.  She took the pictures as they lay on the floor so I can’t square them up, but you get the idea:

Image Image 1

You may have noticed that many of my fellow students obediently followed the master’s footsteps by painting rocks and waterfall, Byron’s specialty.

Proud Nick

Proud Nick

I took better photos of mine when I got home:

My No. 1

My No. 1

My No. 2

My No. 2

I get to show mine off bigger and in higher resolution because after all, it is my blog!  I’m really sorry that I did not have any photos of Marion’s two paintings to display, but here is a photo of Marion herself and I must say, she looks the happiest of the group:

Marion

Marion

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 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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

3 drawings and a painting

I confess–I haven’t done much art in the past month, since my return from Florida.  I might be suffering a little bit of burnout.  Or discouragement:  I received yet another rejection from the Oil Painters of America.  Will I ever paint a picture good enough to win OPA’s seal of approval?  If I live long enough, and then only maybe.  Perhaps I should switch to painting still lifes.  I met an artist older than I who entered the field later than I, taught himself from materials found on the internet, and concentrates on paintings of one kind of object in still life paintings.  Not a beautiful object per se, but so lovingly and beautifully rendered by this artist that he wins prizes, and gets into OPA exhibits.  I long ago resolved to stick to the one medium so as not to spread myself too thin, but perhaps I should also have chosen to stick to one, still, subject matter. I’ve always had a serious tendency to bite off more than I could chew.

Then there was the weather:  My answer to the cold and snowy conditions was to favor drawing to painting–lugging around the oil paints and easel is that much greater a burden when you are slipping on ice or slogging through snowdrifts.  In a related story, not at all helping to get me out of this funk, was the loss of heat for a week, last week.  Oh, the irony!  I had an automatic generator installed after the freak October blizzard shut everything down in 2011, yet lost heat earlier this year due to an electrical problem.  This second loss of heat was due to a malfunction in the furnace, but we screwed around for days trying to solve the issue without going to the pro.  Lesson learned.  Go to the pro immediately, damn the expense.

On a more upbeat note, recently I was in the news!  In a good way.  The Bernerhof exhibit got some publicity, and the reporter used the material that I had written up for my contributions very carefully and accurately.  Stellar job!  Here is a link to the article.   Bernerhof article  The stuff about me appears on the third page.  I’m confident there will never be a better article written about my painting.

Between the Tuesday Life Group, the Friday Life Group and the Saturday Life Group, I did get in some art making.   I have picked out my favorites over the last month to show you.  I believe, despite the judgment of the odious OPA, they are, you know, kind of, like, OK.

Margaret in B&W

Margaret in B&W

Dennis, Shirtless

Dennis, Shirtless

I managed to rein in all urges to polish his face, humming a mantra in my head “Carolyn Anderson”.  (She who can suggest all with a single stroke.)

Georgia, Reclining

Georgia, Reclining

Shelley's Back

Shelley’s Back

On the last two, because they presented a simplified view of the figure (no breasts!), I was able to spend time on representing the quality of the flesh and drapes more accurately.  Each of those two poses lasted about 50 minutes.  In 50 minutes,  you are lucky to just get the drawing close to accurate.  In hindsight, I particularly appreciate how I rendered that draped pillow under Georgia’s head, and particularly regret leaving that clump of hair looking so stiff.

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 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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Oscar Night

Finishing my Oscar Night painting was a top priority when I got home after my Florida trip, along with tax returns and a report that I have to make annually to the Sierra Club regarding my NH chapter’s activities.  (I mention that nonart stuff as an excuse for not posting a blog last week, as if anyone noticed.)  The title of my Oscar painting is “Going for Gold”, and there is no longer any reason to conceal the title of the movie it represents–our Oscar Night party took place Saturday.  Nobody had much difficulty matching my painting up with “Chariots of Fire.”  Some other artists made it very hard to discern their movie, but not my favorites: Bruce Jones’ circus scene (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) and Rick Dickenson’s portrait of the ship that played the Bounty in “Mutiny on the Bounty”.  I wish I had thought to snap a picture of each of them, but I found them on our Facebook page:

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You can figure out which is which, can’t you?  And that is a wonderful photo of Elaine Farmer laughing in front of the Bounty.  For more pictures of the event:  Facebook page for East Colony Fine Art, with photos of the shindig.    Here is a snapshot of our group, those of us who stuck it out to the end, anyway.  (I was not the only one feeling the pain.)

East Colony Artists on Oscar Night

You’d never know that we usually have a hard time finding anything to wear that is not spotted with paint, much less something fancy to wear on the Red Carpet.  We had an actual Red Carpet laid down as you approached the entrance to our Gallery, and other trappings, including champagne, of an extravagant star-studded celebration.  Popcorn too, for the unstar-studded populace.  A large, flat screen TV was playing snippets from our Oscar-winning movies, with music, but the crowds precluded us from taking it in–but crowds are a good thing.  The game of matching paintings with Oscar titles was taken very seriously by everyone, even though nobody was sure of what the prize was going to be.

And here, at long last, is the absolute final version of Going for Gold.

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I took it in to hang last Monday, but then realized that I did not like the frame.  More precisely, I loved the frame by itself, which was a match to the one on “Margaret and her Nook” (see next photo), but not on this particular painting.  So I took it home again, and rooted around in my frame inventory to  come up with a modest, thin frame.  I wanted black, but could only find gold.  So I added the vertical black strips on each side to simulate a black border.  (I’m sure my faulty photography is responsible for the left border  above looking slanted.)  The new borders were barely dry when I hung the painting Friday afternoon.  Here is how it looked on my wall:

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See, straight borders on both sides.  Above the Oscar painting is one I call “Athabasca Falls” because, you guessed it, it is a painting of Athabasca Falls in Alberta, Canada, as night was falling.  Long story, that.  And on the right you see Margaret and her Nook.  On the pedestal is a giclee of Freckles, a cat I used to know–and love.  That’s my browse bin with other giclees on offer.  I’m not sure who the gentleman is–he was sitting with his wife on a big ottoman and I could not ask them to move.  Behind him is a short bio and photo of me hanging in a frame.  This is my “half space” for two months.  Some “half spaces” are a little larger than this one; usually I can hang about six paintings, but then, all three of these were larger than my usual.

I have been bad at getting the word out about these events.  In June I will be sharing the Featured Artist spot with Lawrence Donovan.  He’s the guy in the front, on the right, in the tuxedo.  We are trying to work out a theme that we can both live with.  And I have resolved to beat the drum very loudly to get everyone I know out for my opening reception.  So get ready, y’all!

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 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; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Final and Complete Report of Marco Island Painting Binge

After a snow-impeded itinerary, I finally returned to the winter wonderland that is New Hampshire.  Another snow storm yesterday has locked me at home.  The city didn’t bother to plow my little stub of a street until it was sure it could build a barricade at the bottom of my driveway worthy of good ol’ New England complaining.  Still, I don’t mind . . . didn’t want to go anywhere today anyway, not when I have the lovely task of reliving my adventures in Marco Island, through this retelling.

All thirteen of my Marco 2014 paintings are painted on 9 x 12 carton paper, acquired from Judson’s Guerrilla Painter art supplies.  Two paintings are candidates for cropping, as you will see.  The first 8 were posted last week, using photos taken with my phone or my iPad.  Now that I have new versions taken with my Nikon Digital SLR, I will include them again.  A few have endured improvements since last week.

I would love to hear from my followers which painting(s) are their favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 1

Marco 2014 No. 1

This first painting is still one of my own favorites.

Marco 2014 No. 2

Marco 2014 No. 2

I added the sky and make other changes as planned.  I can see room for more improvement–punchier lights on the foreground objects.

Marco 2014 No. 3

Marco 2014 No. 3 – The Beach

The quickest, simplest is the favorite of many people.  I touched up the bird spots.  Several had suggested making the spots into kites (the toy, not the bird), but I was concerned about bringing in that level of detail.

Marco 2014 No. 4

Marco 2014 No. 4 – Sea Grapes

Although I wanted to improve on the definition between light and shadow, I lacked the confidence to do anything about it.

Marco 2014 No. 5

Marco 2014 No. 5

The only improvement I made to No. 5 is the color of the shadows on the building.  Less green, more blue.

Marco 2014 No. 6

Marco 2014 No. 6–Calusa Boat Yard

No changes to this one.  But when I posted it last week, I didn’t include any narrative, and it deserves a narrative.  On my right, over the railing, is a roof covering a shelf-like area where successful fishermen (women don’t seem to be into that kind of thing) can clean their fish.  There’s a water spigot and a tube into which the waste is shoved, which apparently drops the waste somewhere in the water underneath, where the waiting pelicans cannot access it.  There is a prominently posted sign forbidding the feeding of the pelicans.  But they hover nevertheless.    Because mistakes are made.  Sometimes a particularly motivated fish escapes the grasp of the fisherman and dives in the waiting maw of a pelican.

I was in that spot because of the shadow afforded by the roof.  So I was kind of in the way, but not so much as would require me to move.  One of the fisherman wanted this painting, but he was willing to pay only $100 for it.  I felt it was worth at least $200.  I hope he’s sorry now!

Marco 2014 No. 7

Marco 2014 No. 7–Pond with girl and goose

I defined the figure of the little girl to show her posture better.  She was a real little girl, but she never sat for me on the bank like that.  The Canadian goose was one of a pair cruising around with a pair of Muscovy ducks.  The walkway pavement really was a purply black.

Marco 2014 No. 8

Marco 2014 No. 8–dog walkers’ park

I reworked this painting a lot.  The bridge alone got about four repaintings.  A figure went in, came out; the original dog came out, a new one came in.  I was looking for something expressive, trying to channel Van Gogh.  Here was the previous version.

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Marco 2014 No. 9

Marco 2014 No. 9

Mary lives on a golf course, of course.  If you don’t live on either water or a golf course on Marco, you  are doing something wrong.  We reconnoitered the course but found nothing to inspire us to paint, but on our way back to her house, we both fell in love with this huge palm, catching light here and there, so that’s where I set up.  It was close to the back door to her lanai (screened in terrace containing swimming pool–standard equipment in Florida).  In the lanai, watching me closely, was her black cat, Tara.  So I popped her in the painting.  Jungle cat with green eyes.

Marco 2014 No. 10

Marco 2014 No. 10

Yet another park–the same where we had painted our picnic in the rain last year.  Both Mary and I decided to paint the reflections in the lake.  She draws in pencil, then paints in watercolor.  (I had intended to take pictures of her paintings too, and share with you.  But forgot until this minute.  The fog of age.)  Anyway, she takes a lot longer to complete a painting, what with all that drawing first.  I was finished with mine, grousing about the difficulties (I have a list of them with respect to reflections), and was just diddling around with it when a huge flock of ducks swooped down and started swimming furiously around in circles.  Whassup?  I thought.  A few of them climbed the bank over on the right, out of my frame, investigated, and returned to swimming in circles.  Then arrived a man and woman laden with buckets.  They dumped the contents of the buckets under the tree lately investigated by the scouter ducks, and a parade ensued.  This was what the ducks were waiting for!  Since I wasn’t doing anything important anyway, I stopped fussing over the ever-changing tree, grass and house reflections and changed up my pond to accommodate a representative grouping of circling ducks.  Are the ducks too black?  That’s how they appeared to me in that low light, silhouetted against the bright water.

Marco 2014 No. 11

Marco 2014 No. 11

Flo joined us, down from Cape Coral, and the three of us caught up with that same group of outdoor painters who go out each Wednesday to paint together at specific locations.  This week’s location, the Esplanade, includes fountains, retail establishments, boats (moored to the right in this view), and lots of people.  Rich people.  We spread out.  I chose to paint the bar because I thought it was time that I tried something really difficult.  I had my eye on the bank of liquor bottles in the background.  I spent all day on this one painting, and much of that time was spent repainting the elements, trying to get them to work together.  Perhaps I overdid it.  Does it look stilted?

Marco 2014 No. 12

Marco 2014 No. 12 – Vanda orchid

Although our weather was warm and sunny all the time I was there, one day was extremely windy.  The three of us decided the better part of valor was staying in the shelter of the lanai and painting Mary’s Vanda orchid.  I tried to mix up the color of the orchid from my various reds and blues, but it just wasn’t working–not even close–, so I borrowed some Magenta from Flo and voila!  That made me curious about magenta–why wouldn’t it mix from blue and red?  Turns out it is special; because blue and red don’t mix past purple on the spectrum of color–they don’t meet on the color spectrum.  A synthetic red called quinacridone makes possible the purply red known as magenta or fuchsia.  I am adding Magenta back to my palette and bowing respectfully to all quinacridones.

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Marco 2014 No. 12 detail of orchid

Flo’s version of the orchid was more of a closeup, and just like a kid, when I saw her treatment, I decided I wanted that too, so here is my cropped version.  Is it better than the one with roots in the foreground and swimming pool and palm tree in the background?  By the way, I need to thank Deirdre Riley, who paints flowers awesomely; she advises what I call the big blob attack method of painting flowers, whereby you paint in the general shape of the entire arrangement, then pick out lights and darks to form the shapes of individual flowers.  That approach stood me in good stead with this extraordinary plant with a single stem smothered with individual flowers.

Last, but certainly not least, here is the cut-down version that I prefer:

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 v.2 (6×12)

Before cropping, this is the painting:

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9x12)

Marco 2014 No. 13 (9×12)

I haven’t actually cut it up yet, so if you think I am wrong to do so, please tell me now.  Not later!

The location is the Rose Marina, where I have painted before, but this time we explored our way around the water to a residential neighborhood that has this view of the action.  Notice there is a major bow sticking its nose in at the right.  While I was painting, this ship, the Marco Island Princess, got underway with its passengers for a sunset cruise in the Gulf . . . analogous to a Mount Washington dinner cruise on Lake Winnepesaukee, but much smaller.  The foreground is a grassy knoll that drops down to the water out of your view (and mine), which complicates your understanding of what is happening.  That’s why I prefer the cropped version.  Yes, there are a couple of pelicans in the painting.

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: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Reporting from Marco Island

I’ve been here since Tuesday, getting out of the snowpath in the nick of time. Lucky, lucky me! We’ve been painting every day, 4or 5 hours each day. I have 8 nearly finished paintings, 9 by 12.

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For our first outing we joined a group of outdoor painters who get together Wednesdays, and this Wednesday we were invited into and around the “Gingerbread Cottage”, a private residence owned by a couple of gardeners and dog lovers. They had won a prize for their landscaping, and they locked the dogs up for the day. About 20 artists were tucked away in nooks and crannies on the property, for it was not a large lot. Tiny pathways separated beds of stuff that I got to know as house plants. We got there late, having been delayed by a visit to the farmers market. Most of the nooks and crannies were already either occupied or being painted. I settled in a shady spot where I was assured I was not blocking anybody’s view of her subject. Then I surveyed the scene to divine a subject of my own. I thought, well ok, for the first time my first painting will not be the best one. So what! But maybe it will be the best.

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This view is from almost the same spot. Some of the artists who had arrived before us were leaving or relocating, so I got a spot with a view of our hosts’ dock and next door neighbors. Maybe “next door” isn’t quite the correct term if you need a boat to go borrow a cup of sugar. You’ll notice I haven’t put in a sky yet. Among other improvements I plan are sun-lighting the plant and post at right, about half, at an angle pointing in and down; darkening the shadow behind the boat; and inserting a bit of white reflection in the water below the boat.

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Mary likes to paint beaches, so the next day we spent in the sand. We had not only fog but heavy cloud cover. I was drawn to the shiny white line of sunlight breaking through the clouds way in the distance. Of course that condition could not last long, so I painted very fast. I had finished by the time the sun reached me. A few repairs are needed–those brown dots in the sky are unwelcome volunteers. The black streak can stay–it makes a good swooping bird of prey. I used up some old clotted paint to mix my gray sand, and made a virtue of its texture.

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The arrival of hot sunlight chased me under a tiki hut, where I found this sea grape plant arranging itself in a pleasing composition.

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Yes, this is painting no. 1, enlarged. Working on the iPad is awkward, and things don’t always go where I intended them to go. In fact, this reporting is exhausting me. I’m going to try to upload the next 4 all at once, omitting comments.

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Heady Stuff

I’ve been saving up my heads, maybe subconsciously in order to use some cute/puny title such as the title above.  Good heads, bad heads.  The  bad heads are, it should go without saying, on me, not the model.  My progress on head-making is not as fast as I feel it should be, so I am more often than not disappointed in my output.  On the other hand, when a head turns out good, I’m taken by surprise. You could say my life is a constant trip from disappointment to surprised delight, and back again.   Its’s a trip with no Arrival.  What I ought to do is just shut up about it.  So I will.  I present these heads in no particular order, sans judgement.  Maybe you will like one or two of them.

Serious Rebecca

Serious Rebecca

I wasted a bit of time trying to convey the way her earring looked both metallic and dull.  Sigh!  What’s with me and the accessories?

Serious Margaret

Serious Margaret

My art buddy Tony would call this “trois couleurs” because he likes to throw around his French.  It started life as black and white on toned paper, but after I added white for the highlights, I thought she looked too pallid–hence the pink.  For the pink I used a piece of pastel.  My drawing box contains various types of charcoal and charcoal pencils, white pencils and white “charcoal” (who do they think they are kidding?), and stubs of pastel-like sticks in several shades of pink and one blue.  Don’t ask me why.  It just happens.

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This is Margaret again.  I tried to tease a little “Mona Lisa” smile out of her, so this one is captioned “Not so serious Margaret”.  Many models have a hard time keeping their eyes open.  That doesn’t matter so much when you are concentrating on painting or drawing a figure, but it becomes mighty exasperating if you are doing a portrait.

Oh, the Hair

Oh, the Hair

You are supposed to hear the title of this drawing with the same inflection as the newsman lamenting the Hindenburg disaster.  (Oh, the humanity!)  Not implying the hair is a disaster.  Au contraire (Tony, I like to do the French thing too), the hair is wonderful but daunting.  of course, in 20 minutes I could only suggest the presence of masses of hair and perhaps that is just as well.

Daydreamer

Daydreamer

Ok, this is cheating a little.  But there is more head there than body.

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Here is another example of the three colors, and another, real cheat–this is a zoom in on the head to make it fit within the topic.  Here is the whole drawing:

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Can you tell that she is pregnant?

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This is an example of going against the measurements.  Her chin and jaw as observed came across as too manly.  I think it was an effect of the angle.  I shaved it back to make her look more like herself.

While these heads are not all pleasing me, at least I have learned to get matching eyes.  Mostly.  Eyes are difficult because there are two of them.  Both should be about the same distance from the nose and on the same horizontal level.  Both should be the same shape.  But usually you are observing them from a 3/4 perspective. One eye is farther away and on the other side of the nose.  Its size,  shape and position is greatly affected that that.  Cookie cutter eyes don’t work.  Picasso was on to something when he painted eyes from two entirely different perspectives.

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Picasso’s “Woman Seated in a Chair” is in the collection of the Currier Museum of Art, here in Manchester.  Since becoming a docent there, I have come to appreciate this piece more than before.

I am 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; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord–the all-too-short exhibit of “Love, Lust and Desire” in which both sizes and prices are severely limited; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Two Works Progressing

I painted a second layer on my Oscar Night piece entitled “Illustrating Heroic Effort”.  I tackled it intending only to tinker with the background, but the figure jumped under my brush.  Also, I thought I should let you know a little secret:   that painting does not come in the horizontal shape that I shared with you last week.  My composition required that horizontal format, but I didn’t want to use a large, expensive, stretched canvases for this short-term-gratification project, and I didn’t want to buy a custom frame for it.  My solution was to center the action on a 12×16 canvas and paint black voids at top and bottom so that the illustrated part looks as if it is coming to you via TV, where the wide-screen movies are presented with black bands top and bottom.

Oscar Night phase 2

Oscar Night phase 2

Here, for the sake of comparison, is phase 1:

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Illustrating Heroic Effort

The biggest change that I have made to Version 2 is the darkened background.  Peter Granucci has taught me that every well-designed painting is either mostly light, or mostly dark.  I was having trouble deciding which way I wanted to go with this one.  Version 1 is the mostly light version, with the dark accents (also necessary) being the shadow side of the figure.  This version 2 is a mostly dark version, with the highlights (again necessary) being the lit side of the figure.  However, the sky and ocean are also light.  Too much light perhaps, for a mostly dark painting.  I’m leaning toward returning to mostly light.  I think the black voids on top and bottom go better with the higher key value scheme.

After painting this layer, I received belated but good advice from Cameron Bennett, who, as an illustrator himself (which I had forgotten because all the courses I took with him were for doing portraits), took an interest in my ruminations re illustration vs. Fine Art.

Oops!  That term “Fine Art” beacons me down a detour that I eschewed last week but can no longer suppress (what?  you never mixed a metaphor?):  so many terms used in the field of art are terms that sound generalized  but that have come down to us with meanings very specific.  Fine Art is not art that is lovely or “fine” but something that is created to be sold in an art gallery or be exhibited in an art museum.  A lot of it is not lovely.  “Genre”  usually would mean a “kind” or “category” of painting; instead, it refers to a specific subject matter (ordinary people and places, daily life) for painting.  “Modern Art” doesn’t mean art that is modern, in the sense of being made today–not even in the sense of breaking away from classical traditions; Modern Art refers to a specific collection of nonrepresentational art made between 1900 and 1950, give or take.  (“Nonrepresentational” means, at least as I am using it here, without attempt or desire to accurately represent reality.)  “Contemporary Art” used to mean art that is made by living artists, but now it excludes representational art and includes dead artists, and is working its way toward meaning the nonrepresentational art of the period between 1950 and . . . ?    I wonder if this sort of morphing of general terms into terms of art (pun slightly intended) occurs in other fields as well.  I can’t think of any in the field of law.

Anyway, Cameron gave me some specific suggestions that I hope to implement before my annual Florida trip (next week).  Mainly, the hands are not sufficiently suggestive of motion.  It just looks like I can’t paint hands.  (Maybe I should insert well-painted hands in a box in the corner so as to squelch that impression.)  Version 2 might be a little better in this regard.  The increased blurriness just happened when I painted the new background over the hands.

My other Work in Progress is actually no longer in progress, but I have the in-progress photo to show you where I was with it at midpoint.  This was a  two-session pose, so I chose a larger canvas (20×16) for it.

Soft Treatment wip

Soft Treatment wip

At this point, I was intending to paint the pattern on the coverlet and was also prepared to fuss quite a bit with the yellow drape.

Formalism with Becky

Formalism with Becky

By the following week, I had lost interest in the coverlet and had become more concerned with unifying the color scheme.  So I slashed ruthlessly at the drapings.

I never did get around to painting the left side of the (unstretched) canvas.  I can cut away those two inches, but if I do, I’ll have to saw down a panel to mount it on and order a custom-sized frame for it.  I’m not sure it’s worthy of that much respect.  If only the facial expression hadn’t turned out to be so snarky!

Here’s how it would look as a 12×16:

Cropped Version

Cropped Version

Strangely, I find I miss that slashed coverlet treatment, which probably demonstrates how schizoid I am between classical representation and modernistic suggestion-of-reality representation.

Thank you for listening to me work this all out.  I see now that what I need to do is fix that snarky expression and then reevaluate the amount of respect due this painting.

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: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

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: alotter@mac.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 this feedback form.

Pussycats and Ignudi

Fur. Final

Fur. Final  20×16

I finally “finished” (I had to stop fussing with it because deadline to submit was Friday) Fur.  Note the size of the painting–it is much bigger than life.  I’m pleased with its furriness, and proud of the gold heart locket which I dreamed up without any help from a reference photo.  Now, cross your fingers in the hope that the juror for this exhibit, Eric Aho, isn’t a dogs-only lover, and isn’t allergic to cats (but I am, so that’s not determinative).

I don’t often create something specific in response to a call for art, but in the case of Purr,  oops, I meant Furr,  I like to think the Call for Art got me thinking, which led to the inspiration to paint this particular picture.  The title and theme is “LOVE”, and the juror is an abstract landscape artist whom I greatly admire, which made me stop and consider the possibilities.  The idea of Love led, of course, immediately to the idea of Cats, and thence to the idea of the fur that makes cats so lovable.  To tie more unmistakably into the exhibit theme(as if that mattered!), I included the heart locket.  The claw showing at bottom left is my acknowledgement of the unpredictable and imperious nature of Cat, whose soft furriness conceals a weapon to punish whoever fails to give proper respect.  All that thought, but the result is likely to be yet another canvas stashed away in a portfolio.   That doesn’t matter.  What matters is, I painted.  I submitted.  I tried.

Our model for Tuesday Life Group showed up armed with thumbnail reproductions of Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, from which selection we were to choose a pose.  The pose we chose was one of the  twelve naked, male figures lounging in the corners of each of the three major sections.  Before going any further, I’d better show you the drawing that resulted:

After Michelangelo Ignudi

After Michelangelo Ignudi

We were puzzled by the wreath—an item I associated more with Roman emperors than with Christian iconography.  On a whim,  I included it in my drawing, and was pleased with the effect–it added interest and weight to the top of the page, but I didn’t believe that had been Michelangelo’s purpose in so adorning these particular figures.  So I was off to Wikipedia to find the explanation.  Turns out the wreaths are acorn wreaths, and the figures wearing the wreaths are called “Ignudi”.  And that’s it.  No more knowledge to be had.  There is a suggestion that they could be angels; angels don’t necessarily come equipped with wings.  As for what the Ignudi were doing in the corners, I bet they are purely decorative.  Those corners would have looked “naked” without the Ignudi.  According to Wikipedia, the painting of the Ignudi demonstrates, more than any other figures on the ceiling, Michelangelo’s mastery of anatomy and foreshortening and his enormous powers of invention.  So there you are–he was showing off.  Not so different from the reason I included the wreath in my drawing.

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: alotter@mac.com).

Sublime to . . . .

Rebecca in Silhouette

Rebecca in Silhouette

It probably looks as if I am obsessed with shadows, but there was another reason (excuse?) for me ending back on the shadow side of Rebecca last Friday.  I thought we were going to have seven artists crowded in the East Colony studio, so I set up in the far corner.  It didn’t hurt that I was next to an electrical outlet (hot water teapot and easel light).  And with my recent interest in the abstract, how awful could it be to gaze directly into the light?

The bluish structure in the background is a big ladder on which we clipped the spotlight.  Remembering how Assael dramatized his nudes, with red spotlights, I pretended my spot was orangish.  I give myself a pass on the likeness because of the difficulty in seeing into the shadow against the light.  I like it a lot, so it is Sublime.

Fur (wip)

Fur (wip)

. . . Ridiculous?  This is phase two of the Love project that I described two weeks ago (here).  I don’t really have a plan for finishing it.  I will keep playing with it until I am satisfied or until I have made a mess of it.  Right now we need some whiskers to punctuate the fur, and the heart-shaped locket could be improved.  Maybe a catchlight in the eye that is showing?  It does live up to its title, I hope.

Not much else in the way of art making got accomplished.  Christmas was a wonderful surprise, with all my family together for our big breakfast, an event which not even an abscessed tooth could ruin.  Today the tooth got taken care of, and I am still in recovery from that experience.  Not that bad really, but a shock to the system.  An excuse to goof off.

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; 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;  for one more week at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

A Step Backward

I was shocked to realize that I had regressed last week, after having absorbed, I thought, the teachings of Steven Assael, this thought having been based on the successful portrait of Margaret three weeks ago.  More Blue, more blue, was his mantra.  Instead, last week, I saw red in the shadows of “Shadow Side”.  And painted red.

Here are the Work in Progress from two weeks ago, then the “finished” RedVersion from last Tuesday (camera phone), and finally, the corrected version:

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

Red version

Red version

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20x16

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20×16

Fortunately, I saw my horrific error the same day, last Tuesday, and left the painting out on the cold (brrr!) porch so that the paint would not dry.  Saturday I took it with me to work on while I was sitting gallery at East Colony.  To amend the skin tone, I used Michael Harding’s “Kings Blue” and kind of massaged it into the skin with  sable and fan brushes, little by little.  You can imagine with what trepidation I embarked on this voyage, but I had determined that the painting was a total loss without this correction, so I had to give it a try.

I wonder why it is so hard for me to see the blue in what’s before me.  Before I had my right-eye cataract surgery, I had never seen the blue and purple in shadows.  I had been taking it on faith, assuming it was a convention adopted by artists, that making shadow colors cool was the true path.  Imagine my amazement when I saw my first purple shadow on my street.  Wow!  So maybe the left-eye cataract is hampering my ability to see cool colors in living flesh tones.  Why not in the paintings?  People who are “color-blind” are so both in reality and in illustrations–I assume.

A number of weeks ago, I did a nice portrait of Nancy, my daughter.  It was done practically in the dark.  She was lit, but my easel and palette were not.  Nevertheless, I am pleased with the likeness and the expression.  Nancy has been through a lot of hard stuff, and something of that shows on her face, although it remains as beautiful as ever.

Pensive Nancy

Pensive Nancy

I delayed photographing this painting because it generates impossible glare.  Even as dry as it is now, I cannot find any angles or lighting that eliminate glare.  I used my blemish retouch tool in iPhoto to smear away a lot of it, but the result is disappointing.  Yet another puzzle for me to sort out.  Life is good.

The most recent painting is from our Friday Life Group session.

On Yellow Drape

On Yellow Drape

By this time I had acquired a little clip-on easel light.  For a change, I could see what I was painting in the East Colony studio.  (We have been keeping overhead lights off so as to increase the drama created by our spotlight on the model.)  I had intended to paint another portrait, but was charmed by the pattern of light and shadow on her body.  Full figure on a tiny canvas (10×8).

If you are reading this blog posting in a timely fashion, you are probably like me, a Christmas downplayer.  At this stage of my life, I resent complications that distract me from the art and other appointed tasks.  I will be so glad when it is over, and with two days to go, I am still pondering what I should do for my loved ones.  Their walls must be reaching saturation point with the paintings I shower upon them.  But I do truly wish all of you the best experience possible during these challenging days.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Duality Continues

Before I get into certain issues involving the EEE class, check out these pretty decent likenesses I achieved  using charcoal on Mi-Tientes pastel paper.  First, from the Friday life group, here is Rebecca.

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013 (12×9)

I truly cannot count the number of times I have tried to do a portrait of Rebecca, with varying degrees of success.  I posted a bunch of them in this blog (“A Month of Beckys”) about 7 months ago; over a year ago I included the very first one here in a blog titled simply “Becky”.  Despite the annoying texture of the pastel paper (I chose the more highly textured side by mistake),  the one I just completed is the best.  That’s encouraging since it means I am still improving and have not yet hit my limit, if there is one.

My other likeness attempt came as part of the Saturday Life Group’s meeting.  A popular male model whom we have not seen for many months was back in NH, and one pose gave me the opportunity to try for a likeness of his face.  Looks pretty accurate to me, but I may be biased.  Here are both of the longer poses from Saturday–the first one, as you will see, did not afford any view of the face–and I remembered to use the smoother side of the paper:

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 2

Mike No. 2

Drawing a man who is “ripped”, as they say, is a lot of fun, and just what we needed after so many months of rounded flesh.

Putting all that likeness stuff aside, we can get to the bigger issue: can Aline come up with a paintable abstract concept, and go on to paint it appealingly?  Jury is still out, but hope has not stopped springing.  The two that I am going to show you are both from the EEE class, of course.  Thursday was our last class.  Many of my classmates intend to take it again in the Spring.  I, however, am putting my money on the Master Portrait Workshop with Dan Thompson and don’t feel I can afford the luxury of taking two courses in a single semester.  But I stray from the main story:  the EEE class adjourned halfway through our allotted time at the Institute to regroup at Bea’s place, to eat, drink, be merry, and critique each other’s works.  First up was my now-familiar abstracted landscape evoking stained-glass windows and Monet.  Patrick stood by his initial eval, but my classmates objected strenuously to the light-colored wedge, which they felt was distracting.  Peter Clive was present as well, so I asked for his opinion.  He advised repeating the wedge shape in the lower right corner.  Classmates seemed happy with that solution.  Therefore, on Sunday, after having endured a few restless nights trying to make sense of that advice, I dutifully inserted Wedge Minor into the masterpiece (please hear that with ironic inflection).   This smaller echo remains  as unexplained as the original Wedge Major.  Fortunately, it being abstract, I didn’t have to justify it in terms of a representing a recognizable object.  Most important, the new element has to blend into the scene as if it had always been there.

DSC_0005

This is your first view of this piece as translated through my Nikon SLR, so this version looks better simply because of that.  I had the devil of a time getting an image without glare inasmuch as I had ladled on the paint and parts of the painting will reflect glare no matter where you set up the light sources.  My solution was to go with less light and increase “exposure” in the editing room.  Details got lost, however.  There are more of the red dots in the middle background, for instance.

My last EEE project, started Thursday after a lot of planning, is complicated.  Shiao-Ping Wang presented a program at the recent meeting of the Manchester Artists Association, a program that I had, as program director, requested of her.  “How do you translate an abstract concept into a work of art?”  She showed us how she did it, explaining how her love of water became represented by a specific shape that she repeated in many inventive ways.  A few days after that, I saw a call for art for an exhibit on the theme “Love”, to be juried by Eric Aho, an abstract landscape artist whom I admire. Here is a short video with Eric, which gives you an idea of what he does as an abstract landscape painter.  Because of the juror and because of Shaio Ping, I decided to make an abstract painting for the show, based on something I love, namely, cats.  And fur is what I particularly love about cats.  Patrick had shown me years ago his painting of white chickens using a brayer instead of a brush.  The breasts of those chickens looked unbelievably soft and downy.  So what I intend to make is a painting about cats, using furriness as the symbol and perhaps deploying a brayer in my quest for irresistible texture.  But yet another influence out of the Contemporary Gallery of the Currier Museum led me to plan a hidden image of a larger-than-life cat face in the background of my abstract, furry foreground.  So far, I have completed only that background.  I have to let it dry now, before attempting the more difficult task of layering on the furriness without totally obliterating the face.

Love and Fur wii (20x16)

Love and Fur WIP (20×16)

(By the way, as the party was breaking up, Patrick told me that I had all of the other aspects of art making under control–I just needed more help with the conceptual aspects–advice that suggests I should reconsider my decision to take the portrait workshop instead of another dose of EEE. )

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Up and Down, Back and Forth

Well, I committed an unforgivable sin last week.  I forgot to go the EEE class!  Forgot!  Such a quixotic thing the brain is–simply because I had no Docent Training class in the morning (finally graduated), my brain relaxed, dozed off, and failed to remind me that I had the class Thursday evening.  I need a calendar that punches me in the arm a half hour before I’m supposed to be someplace.   But instead of class I had an nice dinner out with my daughter, who really needed to get some food in her system.

I had big plans for that EEE class, the next to last class in the course.  Now I have only one left and no time to make up for the lost Thursday. . . because everything takes longer that it should, and  so many unexpected chores keep popping up with regularity.   Now I am going to have to execute on my big plans without the help of the EEE class.

And by “the class” I  include not only the instructor but also my fellow students.  Here’s why.  A few weeks ago I posted a work in progress along with the finished version and cryptically (some might say “coyly”) asked you to ponder their merits before I commented myself.  Well here is my comment:  I was sitting at my easel trying the wrestle something out of the WIP version–my effort to go abstract with landscape, remember?  Not feeling it, frankly.  In an effort to achieve more drama, I was applying black paint (gasp!  I used to not even own black paint) to the areas that had drawn my mind’s eye, and then kinda went nuts with the black, finding patterns to outline all over the place.  Suddenly, I heard whisperings behind me, classmates talking about something they were admiring.  I ignored, continued my Van Gogh-like thrashing.   The classmates behind me moved in to stop me, called for Patrick to see what I was doing.  The whole class stopped and watched as the piece was placed on an easel for all to consider, and Patrick immediately without much thought at all declared it to be an “award-winner.”  I am virtually certain that now he has had a few minutes to think about it, he would take that pronouncement back.  Anyway, I was not allowed to work on it anymore, and frankly, that was OK with me, because I was sick of it.  It’s still in the classroom, left to dry, then there was Thanksgiving, then the class that I forgot.  So my image is from the phone:

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

My classmates enjoyed the stained glass feeling.  I was enjoying (somewhat) the process of applying thick, dramatic paint, but when it was over, I did not get that singing-heart feeling that some of my paintings give me.  Maybe abstract is not meant for me.  Patrick already told me not to try pure abstract.

Meanwhile, on an entirely different track, I am trying to duplicate the success of last week’s “Margaret with her Nook.”  Here is another look at Nook, with the background cleaned up:

Final--Margaret and her Nook

Final–Margaret and her Nook

Yesterday I started on the Shadow Side of Becky, and remembered to take progress pictures with my phone.  Next Tuesday, I hope to complete this painting, which is a large 20×16 oil on linen:

WIP No. 1

WIP No. 1

WIP NO. 2

WIP NO. 2

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

chose to be in the dark for this painting in part because I have enjoyed chiaroscuro effect that comes with drawing the figure out from darkness.  Also because I have learned that to make a figure rounded, I needed to find a bigger range of light and dark.  So far, I am liking it lot.  I just hope I find it within me to bring it to the same level of finish as I found with Nook.

Reminder to those of you within driving distance of the Currier Museum:  I have a painting hanging in the Community Gallery and you can get into the entire Museum for free if you arrive before noon on a Saturday.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Just One Thing

I went a whole week without painting!  That made me feel disconnected somehow, as if I had landed on some strange, new level of existence.  But I got other stuff done, stuff that needed to get done.  And there was Thanksgiving.  No problem there–went to my son’s house to get stuffed and was not allowed to bring even one dish.  I had to “sit” the gallery for East Colony the day before Thanksgiving, during which I read parts of some art books.  I never get around to finishing books anymore. And I copied some Van Gogh drawings out of one of the books.  On Friday I went to a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert–Brahms and Beethoven, an unbeatably enjoyable combo, enjoyed that day by probably the oldest audience I have ever seen there for the Friday matinee–younger folks were apparently out Black-Friday shopping.  Saturday, East Colony held its annual holiday gift sale, for which I contributed 6×6 panels, and someone finally bought “Toughie”.  (When I created Toughie for the Womens Caucus for Art show a few years ago, I thought Toughie would be gobbled up by the first person to lay eyes on it.) Forgot who Toughie is?  Here’s a reminder:

Toughie

Toughie

But all week I was thinking about finishing the painting of Margaret that I started last week (link here), and yesterday morning I got to do that.  Yesterday morning, the painting already looked so very close to being done  that my fellow artists asked me what I was going to do with the rest of 3 hours.  “Bask”, I replied.  But as it turned out, I had no extra time for basking.  I worked slowly and carefully and painstakingly to reach this conclusion:

Margaret and her Nook

Margaret and her Nook

The background needs cleaning up, especially around the head, where my habit of correcting the drawing by painting the negative space is revealed.  After working on this painting, I understand too well why my  slap-dash works had to be called “studies”.  Should I strive to become a more polished painter, or may I return to striving to become looser?  Can I do both?  Talk about being of two minds!  I am torn in two.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

The Ghost of Steven Assael

Actually, Steven Assael still lives, but his spirit visited me this morning.  You may remember how impressed I was by him in the course of a workshop that I took last summer.  I was impressed and frustrated.  Read all about it here.  This morning, at our regular meeting of the Tuesday Life Group,  I felt as if I had, for the very first time, successfully applied his method for painting a nude, and boy! did it feel good!  Not all of the painting is a success . . . yet.  Our model will be giving us another session next week in the same pose.  But I am so thrilled with this start that I had to share it with you.  While I was still in the act of painting, I wanted to shout out to the room for the other artists to gather around and see what I was accomplishing.  Here is the image:

Margaret and her Nook WIP

Margaret and her Nook WIP

The big deal here is the quality of the skin, especially on her back.  The key technique:  I feathered it with the fan brush that I acquired for the Assael workshop but never got around to using because I never got this close to finishing.  My heretofore preferred way of painting nudes is more impressionistic.   Perhaps the only significant difference is a simple one:  Assael feathers his brushstrokes on the skin; my Impressionistic style favors obvious unmodulated brush strokes.  I guess it has taken me several months to let go of my old conceit and actually try to create the kind of glow achieved by Assael.  To see what he did as a demo for us, click here.  This new painting method may not represent a permanent new me, but it is something that fascinates me, and offers new challenges for painting nudes.  Keeps it interesting!

And on another track, way off to the side of the above:–my exploration of abstract landscapes.  Here is a Work in Progress:

Imaginary Elements WIP

Imaginary Elements WIP

Here is the finished painting:  (I need to know what you think–then next week I will report on the class’s reaction.)

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

Here is another start on something, another abstracted landscape I guess.  I’m thinking it would make interesting wallpaper at this point, so I have to dig down and find a more compelling reason for it to continue in existence.

The Start of Something

The Start of Something

Remember how I bellyached about not have having any photographic record of all my Blackstone Valley paintings?  One of my buyers came through with an image of the Castle Hill painting that they purchased.

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

This is a fairly accurately rendered painting of funky farm buildings located in Whitinsville, Massachusetts.  I think the stone wall stole the show.  The wall was built by hand by men employed by the landowner to keep them busy (and earning money) during the Great Depression.  The funky buildings resulted from the same impulse, I believe.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Only People

I am still trying to paint an abstract landscape in the EEE class, but the current effort is kind of a mess and I left it behind to dry in the classroom.  Fresh eyes this Thursday will, I hope, inspire me with what to do to make it something I can be proud of.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working hard on the figurative side of representational art.  Some nude, some clothed, some full figure, some portrait.  I am happier with the the painted ones, but I’ll start you off with the drawings –selected drawings.  Some of them are disappointing and I don’t want the world to see how uninspired I can be.  Here’s my favorite:

Map of the Back

Map of the Back

Graphite, charcoal pencil and charcoal on drawing paper–not an ideal combination.  I was feeling my way with the media.  But I like the result moderately well.  The next pose was a standing one, with the model’s head silhouetted against the bright window.  Hard to see well enough to represent.  I tried, but am sparing you the result.  We (the Saturday Life Group which meets at the NH Institute of Art) are now drawing in a studio with side windows, instead of the studio with the overhead skylight.  I prefer the side light, but it’s hard to take when it’s in  your face.

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

“Grumpy” because he prefers to pose in the nude plus he can’t really enjoy that tea while posing.  We promise not to make him keep his clothes on again.

Dennis in his clothes

Dennis in his clothes

It was cold in the studio that day, so we had to let Dennis stay dressed.  He was happy about that.

Map of a different back

Map of a different back

Mike is a new to us, relocated here temporarily from California.  He’s a real pro, when it comes to modeling–comfortable and inventive with his props, like the pole and the “stool” he was sitting on.  For the next pose, I chose to draw a portrait of him:

Portrait of Mike D.

Portrait of Mike D.

At last, we’ve reached the paintings!  There are two of them, both painted in the workshop studio behind East Colony Fine Art’s gallery.  The challenge again is the lighting, but not from windows–either there’s too much fluorescent overhead, or you can’t see what you are doing.  We are wising up and bringing task lights that clip on easels, or hang around artists’  necks.

Leaning against the wall

Leaning against the wall

Challenging circulation

Challenging circulation

Well, that’s a stupid name for a painting.  Sigh.  Yes.  Do you know how hard it is to distinguish one nude (painting) from another by its title?  So many nudes, so many standing, so many sitting, so many reclining.  Then you try identifying by the color of the drape.  So many blues, so many reds, so many yellows, etc., etc.  The major distinguishing feature of the last painting was the fact that Margaret’s leg kept falling asleep.   Of course it did–what else could we have expected?  But that became my idea for a title.

The first one is of a new model and I’m not sure she would be comfortable with being identified by name, which makes titling the painting even harder.  The elements of this painting just came together so beautifully, and I quit working on it before I spoiled it.  Always a good thing.

Both paintings were done in oil, on the brown carton paper sold by Judson’s Fine Art Outfitters, with very little medium.  Does it appear to you as if I were working in pastels, not oils?  I think it’s that combination of the dry paper with the unmodified paint.  The paint drags across the surface of the paper.  When you stop to think about it, that’s what pastels are: pigments without the oil binder.  So when the paper soaks up the oil and leaves the pigment sitting on top, you get the pastel effect.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Two Projects Are Resolved, and a Theme Continues

Bear Notch sunset

Bear Notch sunset 24×36

Bear Notch Sunset (named for an overlook on Bear Notch Road in Bartlett, NH) is the piece that I started as an abstract painting inspired by Tom Thompson.  Like all of my previous attempts to paint abstractly,  it morphed into a recognizable landscape.  But this time I collaborated–I gave in to my natural predilection in order to rescue the painting (after all, 24×36 canvases don’t grow on trees), but am still determined to keep working on the abstract angle.  Proof:  here is the one I started immediately after declaring Bear Notch Sunset finished:

Design inspired by nature

Design Inspired by Nature 11×14

I had no photographic reference for Design Inspired.  It grew from a mental image, which I tried to capture in paint, thinking if it’s successful as a design, I might do a larger version.  However, I currently am not inclined to go big with it.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the expressiveness of applying this thick, dark pigment.  (I switched internally for inspiration from Tom Thompson to Vincent Van Gogh.)  But I don’t feel like repeating that design; I’d rather come up with a new idea to use in the same manner.  Maybe not a landscape.

Unfinished business:  I promised images of my four paintings from the Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition at the end of September, but I have only one to show you.  Two of them were purchased, one to persons unknown, and the other to a nonresponsive purchaser for whom I have only an email address.  A third I donated to the sponsoring organization (“Alternatives”).  But the fourth has come home, and, alleluia!  it was my personal favorite:

In the Shadow

In the Shadow

The little community was aswarm with painters (25 but seemed like more), while I was tucked away in this secluded spot that the director had led me to.  I felt very special.  I was on the balcony of one of the red brick mill buildings that Alternatives inhabits.  The roof over the balcony cast a huge shadow over the millstream below.   It may help your orientation if I tell you that the waterway disappears over the edge of a dam on the right.  The play of shadow and light on the water and on the aquatic plants intrigued me, but I worried that you couldn’t tell what was happening.  Others have assured me that they easily “read” it as what it was.  Was the subject matter too abstract for the customers?  Or just not evocative of a landmark?  Doesn’t matter, I’m happy to have it still in my possession.

The Alternatives event was outstanding, as good as Castine except with respect to the number of avid collectors at the finish of Castine.  Both were first-time events, which makes the undertakings even more admirable and their success amazing.  Alternatives treated the artists like kings.  We got box lunches delivered to us in the field on the first day, and a buffet luncheon back at headquarters on the second day, and more food at the auction that night.  High class all the way.  I wish I had made a point of meeting the juror, Charles Movalli, but  at that point I was on the edge of wipeout and still had the drive home ahead of me (2 hours at least).

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Fixing up and the Start of a Bushwhack

Thanks to everyone who appreciated the drawings last week.  Black and white can be boring, especially when not brought to a polished finish.  It is fun for me to go back through them occasionally, hopefully to discern some progress being made, and drawing is the backbone of (most) painting.  I will show you perhaps an exception at the end of this post.  (latest project being painted mostly from my head without references)

And today’s post is full of color!  I made small refinements to three deserving plein air pieces.  The first goes back to Castine, Maine, on the pier facing the student (Maine Maritime Academy) ship, the U.S.S. Maine with its tug.  I had allowed the lit facet of the yellow tug to brown down, which sacrificed drama, and more importantly the contrast that had attracted me to the scene in the first place.  So here’s the original, and after it, the new and improved version:

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

DSC_0003

My second redo is actually a finishing up.  A Spring painting of the valley behind Franconia Notch in Sugar Hill was interrupted by showers, and the sky was left as blank white canvas.  One of my closest friends and admirer of paintings begged me not to touch it as he thought it perfect as is.  Do I listen to such pleas?  Well, I hung back for yea these many months but decided I had to fill in that emptiness–without violating my friend’s sensibilities.  I concluded that what he liked was the extra crisp edge of the mountain range line, so I made sure to keep that sharp, and the high contrast between sky (light) and mountains (dark), so I maintained that contrast as well.  While there, I punched up some of the other small lit areas–meadow, roof top.  Here’s the before and after:

DSC_0001

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Finally, I applied the advice that I had received at the Manchester Artists Association meeting last month, to my first painting of Clark Pond (link to that post here):

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

DSC_0001

Clark Pond will now be framed and readied for exhibit somewhere.  (Probably East Colony Fine Art Gallery, where I just took down my figurative show and put up landscapes that are dearest to my heart.  Each show lasts for two months.)  I was excited to learn that the Currier Museum is allowing us docents-in-training to exhibit one of our own pieces in the Museum (basement) for the month of December, but I have another project in mind for that particular honor.

And that project is the one I am calling a bushwhack, since I don’t have a trail to follow, and have no clue how to reach my rather amorphous goal–to paint an abstracted landscape inspired by Tom Thomson.

Here’s the scoop:  I am painting in Patrick McCay’s EEE class with a start from the photo of the cloud shadows.  (posted here)  In addition to experimenting with the idea of abstract landscape, I was influenced by a book that Bruce Jones brought to Bartlett for the getaway weekend–a book full of the paintings of Tom Thomson, a Canadian artist working during the earliest decades of the last century.  Thomson painted juicy, blocky abstractions of landscapes and used the complementary colors of dark blue and orange to great effect.  Here is a stunning example:

West Wind by T. Thomson

Sunset by T. Thomson

I wanted to paint something that had that same impact.  My painting looked like this when I left off a week ago Thursday:

Bear Notch WIP

Bear Notch WIP

Something about my painting wasn’t working.  Patrick suggested that it evoked a forest fire with the dark spots represented charred remains of forests.  In theory I didn’t care what it evoked since abstraction was my principal goal.  But it wasn’t working as a whole, so last Thursday, I abandoned the abstraction goal and transformed my painting into an identifiable landscape that I hope will have almost the same impact as the Thomson.  You will have to wait until next week to judge.  (I forgot to photograph it before I left the class studio.)

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  starting Nov. 9, at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment.

Back to the Drawing Board–Literally

Maybe it’s the result of my overbooked life, but I suddenly found myself longing for the simplicity and discipline of the black and white drawing.  Never mind that it turns out not to be  simple after all (a fact I had almost forgotten).  Pencil drawing also turns out to be sloooow!  But drawing has acted like balm for my chapped soul.

It started a week ago Tuesday.  I was running late and really preferred to stay in bed, but I had to show up for Tuesday Life Group because I am the one with the key.  So I unearthed a drawing pad, grabbed my box of charcoals and pencils and charcoal pencils, and rushed to the studio.  My drawing pad, looking back on it, was intended for pencil, not charcoal.  I used the hard and medium charcoals that day, and the image, being mangled in the pad all this time, is greatly degraded, but I think you can tell it was a successful session:

TLG 10/22/13

TLG 10/22/13

You might wonder how I can treat a successful drawing so carelessly.  The process of making a successful drawing is pleasurable, and I have the remains of the image to remind me how pleasurable.  But nudes, especially not painted ones, don’t have any other purpose than to give me the pleasure of creating them.  No one buys them.  And I have so many stored away now that I can’t take the time to enjoy them as past projects.  When this drawing pad is full, it goes under the bed with all the others.

Next was a Friday Life Group session with Dennis again as our model.  I kept trying with the hard charcoal.

FLG 10/25/13

FLG 10/25/13

As you can see, I got enamored of the podium Dennis was sitting on, and the shadow he was casting on the wall.  And his hands, but I had to do those separately:

Dennis' Hands

Dennis’ Hands

Working on interlaced fingers is a little like working on a jigsaw puzzle.  I did them a second time hoping that my understanding would have improved with practice.  Not so much, I’m afraid.

The next day was Saturday Life Group.  We had a new model, one that was obviously a yoga practitioner.  SLG starts with five 1-minute poses, then one 5-minute, then one 10-minute, then one 20-minute.  I sketched all but the 20-minute on sketch paper.  Usually I throw them away afterward, but first made photographs for the blog:

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

In all of these drawings, I was facing the windows (our venue has changed–no more overhead skylight), so the model is backlit.  After the ten-minute pose, I changed paper pads and started using the drawing (as opposed to sketching) paper.  I still hung onto the charcoal.  I first toned the sheet with a film of charcoal powder so as to enhance the play of the backlit around the edges of her body.

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

Reclining portrait

Reclining portrait

A good likeness, this one, except I dropped a few pounds off her tummy.  Finally, I switched to charcoal pencil.

Recumbent

Recumbent

Graphite pencil got the nod for this one; by comparison to paint or charcoal, it takes a much longer time to build up the darker values. Nevertheless, I could not resist depicting the Halloween-themed drape behind her.

Dennis in pencil

Dennis in pencil

I needed a few more hours to work on the values.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Smorgasbord of Art

My artistic output last week hit all the bases:  nudes, portraiture, experimental landscapes, and plein air landscapes.

Skipping over Tuesday primarily because I don’t remember what I did and I do remember being unhappy with it, let’s start with Wednesday.  Wednesday is usually a plein air day, but not last week.  Adrienne held another one of her all-day figure study marathons, from ten a.m. until seven p.m.  I had no pep,  but was determined not to let my health issue stop me.  But I could not keep it from slowing me down.  Larry Christian and I were the only ones to stick it out to the finish, but  I had to stop painting when I ran out of surfaces to paint on.  For the last 45 minutes or so,  I watched Larry working his charcoal magic on 10-minutes poses of the two models together.

I had two interesting compositions from a side angle:

Foot First

Foot First

Girl Talk

Girl Talk

Foot First was a pose of about two hours, I think.  We were late getting up and running, and I had to cut out early to take my daughter to an appointment.  The Girl Talk pose was maybe only 20 minutes.  No, that can’t be right–it must have been at least an hour.

When the Girls next changed positions, they presented me with profiles of each.  After 20 minutes, we found a compromise to keep me happy with long views of the profiles and Larry happy with frequent pose changes.  Even as the models changed their poses frequently , they kept their profiles toward me.  My view or angle would change slightly each time, but I managed to extrapolate from a current profile to the original profile.

Two Profiles

Two Profiles

Thursday was the EEE class, wherein I am trying to discover abstract paintings in my plein air studies.  The studies were 11×14.  The class projects are 16×20.  For both, I used a lot of paint applied with a palette knife.  I love thick, juicily painted paintings, a la Van Gogh.

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 2

EEE No. 2

I was in the Mount Washington Valley and environs all weekend.  The semiannual Artists Getaway Weekend organized by Byron Carr and sustained by Sharon Allen’s cohort of plein air fanatics brought together, in addition to Byron and Sharon, Bruce Jones, Sandra Garrigan, Patricia Sweet MacDonald, Jim O’Donnell, Elaine Farmer, a Gentleman Jim from Georgia whose surname I never got.  I left for Bartlett after class on Thursday, taking only small panels (8×10) with me. I knew by that time that my fatigue will keep me from covering the usual amount of canvas.  Sure enough, I finished only four paintings over Friday and Saturday, despite the fine weather we had.

Saco Riverbed

Saco Riverbed

The Davis Farm

The Davis Farm

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Mount Washington

Mount Washington

The last painting, the one of Mt. Washington, took me only little over an hour, including nodding off time. ( Patricia caught me napping with brush in hand, so there’s no point in covering it up.)  It is a simple composition, straightforward in execution.   No broken color, no short strokes, no uneven thickness of paint.  I was not surprised when many of my colleagues refused to believe it was mine.  But they agreed I didn’t likely find it under the pumpkin truck either.  I really could not have painted such a distant scene any other way on such a small canvas.

I have a new idea for this week’s EEE class:  on my way back from Bartlett, traveling the Bear Notch Road, I took some photographs of the cloud shadows on the mountains up North and am planning to make something abstract out of those images for the class this week.

left center

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Health Matters, yes it does!

You may not have noticed, but I did not publish my usual post the week of September 30, or the week of October 7. Before Friday evening, I had been drafting a post  in my head;  I planned to use it to mull over the phenomenon of retirement generating more “optional” stuff to do and the psychology of slowing down anyway just because the pressure of earning a living has been lifted.  Thinking philosophically or finding excuses, whichever you prefer.

But before I could commit those weak ramblings to the ether, an event occurred that provides a better explanation of my inability to perform at peak levels for the past weeks–perhaps the past few months, even.  Unsurprisingly, I am all over that new, more concrete excuse, like a rat diving on cheese, and say in celebration, hail to the UTI and its curability with antibiotics.

How it all went down:  I had been feeling kinda crummy for a few days, and even had a spell of faintness, but nothing interfered with my performance of essential tasks.  I got to appointments, shopped for pet food, cooked, etc.  Suddenly, late Friday afternoon, in the middle of trying to reconcile a bank deposit for one of my nonprofit organizations, I started to feel really chilly.  I suspended that banking task and went to prepare an early dinner.  I turned on the central heat and plugged in a space heater.  I kept getting colder.  By the time my hamburgers were ready to be served, perhaps only ten minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably–paroxysms might be the right word.  I couldn’t talk, much less drive.  Ambulance was called–by my 17-year-old granddaughter.  Big scare put into family.  Not so  much me– I could not focus on anything except my desire to get warm.  After a few hours of hydrating and testing in the ER, Good News!  I was in terrific health but for this one thing, a UTI (urinary tract infection), curable with the right antibiotic (Cipro).  The doctor said something about the infection being well-established, suggesting it had been present in my system for a while.  That got me thinking of a health event that occurred on my way to Castine, back in July, which I could not explain.  I looked up the symptoms (vomiting with lower back pain), but didn’t follow up with my doctor because  the symptoms evaporated.

This morning I was infused with a microburst of energy, which resulted in the images that I will be sharing with you below.  In the past three weeks, I have been more prolific than would appear from this meager supply of five images.  The weekend of the Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition resulted in four paintings.  I forgot to photograph any of them, and had to leave them there for another month.  One has been sold, and if the other three are too, we shall be at the mercy of the buyers for decent reproductions.  It was a marvelous weekend, and I will go again next year if invited.  I’ll save the details for when I actually have visuals to go along.  Two additional paintings are at the Institute, drying.  They are from my fall semester class with Patrick McCay, called “Explore, Express, Exploit”.  They should be ready for photographing next week.

Here is the painting I made of Dennis on the Tuesday before Blackstone Valley:

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

I complained a lot about the plaid shirt, but I secretly was enjoying the challenge.  Looking at it now, from a new perspective, I admire the casual but effective depiction of his feet.

After Blackstone, I hit the ground running.  Well, painting.  I met up with the Cornwall Four (including me, four of us who took Cameron Bennett’s “Inspired by Cornwall” workshop in August) at a new water location in Auburn.  I identified it today from a map as Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

The scene had everything–almost too much–bridge, the start of fall foliage, water, reflections, lily pads.  Yet I added the rock formations on the left; really, they added themselves.  The lily pads raft together to form little islands, which may confuse the eye.  One of the first lessons that I learned in my first landscape painting experience, from Stanley Moeller in 2005, had to do with water lilies.  He told me to underline them with “black”  (darkest of pigment, which was not necessarily black) to indicate the shadow they cast upon the water.  I couldn’t see but the thinnest of shadows, but he said “Trust me” and I did.  And do.  Still heeding his advice, I added the most delicate and unobtrusive of shadows under my pads.  This painting came under critical review by Peter Clive last Monday at MAA and when I am more of myself, I will be making some perfecting changes–playing down the reflections of tree trunks in the water; playing up the light on the rocks and bridge; settling down the water on the other side of the bridge, which doesn’t recede like it should.

The next day being Tuesday, I did a figurative of new model (to us) Michael, but I don’t like it, so I’m not showing it to you.  Wednesday, I was back to Clark Pond:

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

What a difference two days made!  We have liftoff!   (Fall foliage is a Big Deal here, where tourists flock jus to stare at our trees.  How strange is that?)

Margaret

Margaret

I wasn’t feeling too great last Tuesday, when I painted this new figurative featuring Margaret.  I get a lot of kidding about how fast I paint, so Tuesday, someone commented that I wasn’t going as fast as usual.  I felt that too, and hoped the slowing down was for the better.  I concentrated on the flesh tones, trying to get them just so, a la Steve Assael.  Now I’m wondering if it was just the UTI manifesting itself in sluggish behavior.

Friday morning we got together in the back of East Colony Fine Art Gallery to try it out as a location for figure study.  The podium is quite high since it started life as a work table.  The lighting is abominable since it consists of fluorescents over a worktable.  But there was room enough for my core group of artists, and plenty of easels.  Along with Margaret posing nude, my daughter Nancy posed clothed.  Nancy was “shadowing” Margaret to see if modeling is something she could do.  Naturally, I chose to paint Nancy:

My Daughter Nancy

My Daughter Nancy

Another plaid shirt.  She has my mother’s admirably straight nose.  We had the fluorescents off and a small spotlight on our models.

That night, of course, was the night of the ER, and I have been recovering ever since.  Now that I know what symptoms I should have noticed before, I am noticing them, but my fatigue should never have been overlookable.   I suspect the paroxysms of shivering took a lot out of me.  On the bright side, the back pain I have been putting up with for weeks has subsided–not arthritis after all!

Bottom line, I have been shirking all but the most imperative of duties.  One of those duties: I took upon myself a viewing of “Gravity” 3D on the iMax screen.  I heard it should not be viewed any other way, and I was worried I would miss out if I didn’t act today.  I can now report that the advice was justified, and worth the prioritizing.

The rest of this week will be taken up with Tuesday Life Group, trip to Boston to collect my painting at the Arboretum, and bridge–all on Tuesday, Adrienne’s Fall Figure Marathon all day Wednesday, docent training at the Currier and my Triple E class with Patrick, Thursday, then a drive to Bartlett for the 3-day Fall Artists’ Getaway Weekend.  Glad I found out what ails me before all that went down!

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Have Brush, Will Paint

I haven’t gone far, but I did go, and that’s got to count for something.  Or against something.  Sometimes I worry that I am not painting enough stuff near my home.  If I don’t do that, who will?  I think of Van Gogh, Cezanne, and how they practically documented their surroundings.  Both of them were certainly obsessive and almost manic.  I wonder if that is what it takes.

First up is Wolfeboro.  I participated in the Paint the Town event last year, painted two paintings and sold one.  This year I spent all my time (I think they gave us less time) on a single painting and did a pretty good job on it.

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

But it didn’t sell.  The blue building houses a hardware store.  Even a painting of a hardware store would be desirable if it were painted by Van Gogh.  I am not Van Gogh.  Alas.  When will I learn to paint a desirable subject?

For IPAP weekend, (IPAP stands for International Plein Air Painters, I believe), I started out well, subject-wise.  This is the entrance to Beech Hill Farm, a good place to go for ice cream and other neat things tangentially related to farming.  Pigs and sheep are present for the viewing as well.

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

I’m thinking of calling this  “Portrait of the Artist’s Automobile”.  Yes, it kind of ruins the picture for anyone whose car it is not, but I’m perverse that way.  It being my car, I could have moved it, but I deliberately chose to include it.  Please take note of the rain puddles too.  It did rain, and I did persevere without pause.

Day Two of IPAP weekend was Saturday, and I could not give up my attendance at Saturday Life Group, so I arrived quite late at Wagon Hill Farm, in Durham.  This Farm is conservation property, with beautiful rolling hills and a few antique wagons to provide some farming flavor.  I saw no evidence of active farming.  Indeed, I hardly ventured into the property before I unloaded and set up my gear with nothing but a rolling hill to inspire me.

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

I like it.

Day Three we drove out of New Hampshire to Acton, Massachusetts, to the home of one of our members.  “Home” does not quite describe the property.  I did not even see her actual home.  What I saw was old growth woods with one log cabin in decent shape and one tumbledown shack, with chairs sprinkled about, all on a big pond, large enough to be called a lake.  I found a chair in front of the log cabin and painted two paintings from that spot.  Next time I’m going for an area inhabited by lily pads.

Isabelle's Rock, Acton Massachusetts

Isabelle’s Rock, Acton Massachusetts

‘Belle really liked this one because she has herself painted that rock many times (like a mini version of Cezanne’s many paintings of Mont Victoire) and she felt I really captured it.

Isabelle's yellow-orange kayak

Isabelle’s yellow-orange kayak

In the title to this piece, I specified the dual colors of the kayak to make sure the viewer didn’t think I was confused.  Getting that kayak right was challenging.  Trees and rocks are so much more forgiving, but man-made objects have to be spot on.  I am pleased with the shine of sunlight hitting the kayak but unhappy with the shadows cast by the tree branches.  To me, the shadows look built in, part of the kayak’s surface.  Note the lanterns hanging from the tree limbs.  Windsocks and other whimsies decorated the property.  She also served snacks!

In terms of bathroom facilities, always an important factor for us girls, Beech Hill gets the blue ribbon with real rest rooms.  Wagon Hill had a portapotty in the parking lot.  Nyala (that’s what Belle calls her woodland estate) boasted something else, I’m not sure what exactly, but I rank it under the portapotty.  Still, better than going in the woods, which I have, on occasion, been forced to do.

In addition to the above official NH Plein Air events, I have been sneaking around with several of my classmates from the Cameron Bennett workshop.  Four of us have been meeting up to paint on Massabesic Lake and at the Griffin Mill Pond and Dam in Auburn.  One of the best paintings I ever painted was done at Griffin Mill Dam, years ago.  I tried to duplicate that success.

Griffin Mill Dam 2

Griffin Mill Dam 2 (12×16)

It didn’t happen.  In some ways, this is the better painting technically, in that the individual elements are more expertly done; but the whole doesn’t jell for me. I realize now that I was not in the exact same spot, because this time I plunked myself down without a second thought right in the middle of a bridge.  When I painted the earlier painting, I wasn’t so bold.  Ah, age brings with it a certain devil-may-care attitude.  That’s because Life IS Short now.  Here’s the original:

Griffin Park dam

Griffin Park dam (8×10)

Isn’t it lovely?

Here’s another from the Griffin Hill Dam, this time looking straight across to the barn up the hillside.  That’s right, all buildings in New Hampshire are related in some way to farming.

Griffin Mill Dam 3

Griffin Mill Dam 3

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

The Heck with Nudes!

Who would’ve thunk it?  We got bored with nudes!  So last Tuesday, we asked our model to keep his clothes on, and he was very happy to do so, being very new to the experience of modeling in the buff.  We all had a really good time, and we all produced pieces that we are proud of.  So I decided it was time for another sharing of my blog with my fellow artists.

Nancy C's

Nancy C’s

Nancy Crowley works most often in charcoal, and most often will do the whole figure.  We were surprised to see she was focusing so much on the head.  I love the blocking of light and shadow in this one.

Jan's

Jan’s

Jan Wittmer joined us very recently and has become a regular, but I can’t say I know what she usually does.   I thought this was brilliant though.  I learned later that this was her second take on this pose, which may account for the fact that it is not overworked.

Nancy H's

Nancy H’s

Nancy Healy is a pastelist, and probably the one of us with the most experience being an artist.  She always does masterful work.  You can tell she is standing at her easel.

My own

My own

This is the photo that I took with my phone, so I am not giving my image any advantage over the others.  Actually, it is at a disadvantage, being the only one in oils and therefore the only one with light bouncing off the globs of oil paint.  Ah, well.  You can tell I was sitting at my easel.

Invitations:

I had two event postcards to get out before this week, and got around to neither of them.  Coming up on Friday of this week (September 20) is the reception at the Boston Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, of the Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibition of “Artists in the Arboretum”.  The reception is in the Visitors Center and starts at 6 pm and ends at 8.  I will be there, but cannot promise to stay until 8 unless the food and company is particularly good.  The exhibit will continue through October 13, and you should confirm viewing times by calling 617-384-5209.

The second one is a “Call for Collectors and Art Enthusiasts”:  Blackstone Valley Plein Air Competition.  There will be a reception and an auction on Sunday, September 29 at 6 p.m.  The judge for the competition (known as a “juror” in art parlance) is the well known Cape Ann artist, Charles Movalli.  The competing artists are outstanding, and I guess I just feel grateful to be included.  Bev Belanger, of East Colony Fine Art Gallery, is also participating.  I should be scared to death, but I’m too old to get worked up over such things.  I think.  It would be awfully nice to see some familiar faces or names.  The address for the reception and auction:  Alternatives’ Whitin Mill, 50 Douglas Road, Whitinsville, Massachusetts.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

The Rest of the Story

Seated Nude A

Seated Nude A

Seated Nude A is from the Tuesday session of two weeks ago.  Nancy C. urgently requested that I not make another mark on it, with about a half hour to go.  I respect her judgment, so I only clarified the feet after getting her permission.  Ii’m always saying I want to paint more loosely.  The difficulty is knowing when to stop, so I need a Nancy C. around at all times, I guess.  This is the Carolyn Anderson side of me.

Seated Nude B

Seated Nude B

I don’t know where Nancy C. was, but I got a little further into Nude B.  I think the story here is the good contrasting skin values.  I painted in broad shapes again.  Don’t you see a similarity to the figure I had going with Steven Assael’s help here?  I have to give another plug to Michael Harding’s King’s Blue.  It seems to be just the right blue to add into the shadowed skin tones.  Nowhere is it more evident than on the edges of Nude B’s shadows.  I am getting away from the more chromatic shadows that I used to indulge in, e.g., Nude A’s thigh.  One could say I improved a great deal in one week’s time, but one may be saying next week that I am just as fast a backslider.

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

This is the portrait that I was reluctant to show you as a work in progress.  The wayward eye is gone.  You can’t even notice the tiny change I made to the outside face/jaw line.  I think I should bring it in even more.  There is still something about this picture that bothers me.  What is it exactly?  I think it is the modeling of the face.  Kinda crazy, really.  I need the model back!

Here, for sake of comparison, is the version 1 next to version 2:

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

Could it be that it is the tightness that also annoys me?  I must work on loosening up in portraiture now that I am getting a feel for it in figures.

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; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

Making do

This is not the blog I intended.  This is a substitute blog, making do with unused photographs that I happen to have already uploaded to WordPress.  The problem is computers.  I have two computers at home now, resulting from my retirement.  I call one the Office computer, for obvious reasons, so I guess the other one is my Home computer.  Home computer is an iMac that I bought years ago, used, on eBay.  Everyone who spends any time at all in my house has their own account on Home computer.  It had been acting flaky, but only when it refused to connect to the internet did I take action.  Maybe it is a coincidence, but running Disk Repair only made it worse.  The repairs were not completed:  the program stopped in the middle and said it could not repair the disk and that I should back up what files I could and then reformat (erase) the disk.  That’s a scary message.  I never made contact with that disk again.  Well, maybe that is a bit overdramatic.  I can’t get the damn thing to start up.  I sure hope that I will be able to make contact when I get the cable that I need to connect Firewire between these two computers.  I have a drawer full of Firewire cables.  But Office computer is pretty new and has an 800 FW port, while Home computer boasts only a 400 FW port.  So I purchased a $9 400-to-800 cable on eBay and am awaiting its arrival with a heart filled with hope.  (Home computer has so many of my images, irreplaceable images.)

But in the meantime, I thought, I can bring the new images from the camera’s USB compact flash card onto Office computer, and from there to WordPress, using the card reader that used to live with Home computer.  But Office computer refuses to acknowledge the presence of this alien card.  I changed its USB cable just in case the problem lies with the cable.  Yes, I happen to have another drawer full of USB cables with every configuration possible (except the one that would connect my two computers).  Still no action.  I can see a little light blinking in the card reader, but it looks a lot wimpier than the strong light I remember from when it was paired to Home computer.  Another coincidence?  Who knows!  I am reeling.  Almost gave up on blog altogether when I realized that this very situation may be worth blogging about, ’cause everyone relates to computer frustration.

But enough of prologue.  Let’s see what I have in the media library that you haven’t seen yet.

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

This is a fairly large (16×12) study (see, I am learning at least to consider them as studies!) from a recent Tuesday Life Group session.  The Assael workshop had just ended, and I was very attentive to the shadows, making them as dark and as blue as I could.  There is also a “philosophy” that I think I observed in Steven Assael, which now infects my own:  get close, then closer, then closer, then closer, almost to infinity, until you are as close as you believe you can get.  Close to what?  Perfection, I suppose, but to break it down into parts:  value, color, shape.  Remember when he played on my painting, running over the shapes I had drawn, then left, instructing me to fix the drawing?  (Revisit that post here.)

So here’s the Assael process as digested by me:  you sketch in large shapes just to make sure the composition will work, then plug in the values and colors very roughly (as far as the drawing is concerned), then when those values and colors are “perfect”, you perfect the drawing by tightening up the shapes.

In this study of Fletch, I was trying to apply those principles without having first articulated the principles in my head, so it was haphazard.  When I ever get my photos back onto a computer under my control, you will see in my last two figure studies something closer to the Assael process, although they will look rougher.  Rougher yet closer to perfect?  How can that be?  It’s a puzzlement, and a delight, a never-ending search for the Way.

The other image I have been holding back is this work in progress–so much “in progress” that I was embarrassed to show it:

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

One of the images on my compact flash card is the finished–hmm, closer to finished–portrait of Becky.  I corrected the wayward eye and worked on the values and colors.  I carved back on the left side of the face as well.  Dangerous to change drawing without the model as reference, but I felt I was making adjustments on the basis of information already there.  Clearly the eye was too far to the right, so I only had to remember the shape and move it ever so slightly to the left.  (Do wish I could show you now instead of later!)  When I decided the face was too wide on the left side, I kept the same line and just moved it by millimeters (hope “millimeter” is small enough to be my meaning–let’s just say VERY small degrees) by painting the negative space:  more hair, less face. I had to trust that the line itself was accurate.  A leap of faith in myself.  Well, I had no choice, did I?

So that’s it.  I have nothing more held back, you know it all.

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 Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Sidewalk Art Show in Portland, Maine

Bruce Jones and I tried again, this time in Portland.  I had to get up at 4:20 a.m. in order to get myself and my helpers to Portland by 7:30.  This was our second experience with outdoor art shows.  Our first was the Beacon Hill Art Walk.  We enjoyed Portland more.  For one thing, we were not under the noisy, dirty elevated rail line.  For another we were not in a wind tunnel.

Our spot in Monument Square

Our spot in Monument Square

As you can see, we had an end location, thus enabling us to extend our real estate.  We spread our paintings over three extra panel surfaces, and set up our table display out of the way of browsers.  I stacked about 12 unframed panels on the table for bargain hunters.  Bargain-hunting art collectors may be an oxymoron:  People enjoyed looking but no one asked for the price.

Bruce and me waiting for business

Bruce and me waiting for business

The day was gorgeous–so crisp in the morning that my daughter brought two sweatshirts with her.  But the temperature heated up as the day weathered on, and by the end of the day, I was sunburned.   I carry sunscreen and insect repellant in my plein air pack, but never thought to bring those things to an art show.  Another thing we didn’t think to bring was bags to put the art in if we sold something.  Whew!  Good thing we didn’t sell anything!  I am now pricing clear bags with die-cut handles and wondering if they will be strong enough for a large painting in a heavy frame.  I’d have to buy a box of at least 250 of them to find out.

I brought 20 paintings to hang on what turned out to be six display panels, and this time out, most of them were figurative.  Half of the figures were nudes.  Cameron will perhaps be pleased to learn that I hung 4 out of the 5 paintings I completed in his “Inspired by Cornwall” course.  You wouldn’t think anyone would care about paintings of people whom they don’t even know, but my paintings and drawing of black women attracted the most attention.   Also, consider that fact that someone bought my portrait of the black African girl (“Red Headdress”) at the Londonderry Art in Action.   Pretty interesting phenomenon.  My landscapes were almost totally ignored.

Side A: My Figures

Side A: My Figures

Side B, my mixed; Side C, Bruce's

Side B, my mixed side; Side C, Bruce’s landscapes

But in the end, the results were the same as Beacon Hill–no sales.  We watched as the guy across the square from us sold his giclee prints like hotcakes; we had to admire his organization and salesmanship.  We didn’t bring any giclee prints.  But we handed out cards and may hear from those interested art lovers as a result of meeting them there.   Probably not this one:

Image 56

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 Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Mixing it Up

I don’t have any major project under construction (like the poster competition), but I am keeping busy with the paint.  Having lots of smaller projects of different kinds makes me happy.  In fact, it dawned on me quite recently that I don’t even know how to finish a big project–I seem to specialize in plein air paintings and portraits and nudes from 3-hour sessions–all of which are by some artists considered good only as studies for something bigger.  I’m taking a portrait drawing class with Deirdre Riley at the Institute, and we are working on one charcoal portrait for the last three weeks of 3-hour sessions.  Deirdre asked me last Friday if I wanted to start a new one or try to bring what I already had to a more polished conclusion.  I answered, polished conclusion, because that’s exactly what I don’t know how to do.  The demo by Stephen Assael drove that point  home.  Now there’s a man who knows how to bring a painting to a polished finish!  Every molecule of paint must be in the right spot before he is satisfied.

Next week, I hope to be proudly displaying a charcoal portrait finished to the nth degree of development.  Unfortunately, the usual quickies are all I have to show for this week. I will start with the most polished, which you have seen before, because it deserves a second look without all those annoying light reflections.  This is my third attempt at getting a good photo of it, and I think third time was the charm.

Profile in Red Shirt--Grace

Profile in Red Sweater–Grace

Red Sweater is from the Cameron Bennett workshop, the last one, the interior one.  I’m really liking how the red sweater came out–such a simple thing compared to facial features or even the head wrap, but at least I got it right.

Next is a pair of 6x6s; yes, it’s already time to start on the 6x6s.  Our (Womens Caucus for Art) 6×6 show was held in February, but that show was a postponed version of the November exhibit.  So now we have one again in November and time is running short.

Garden in Prescott Park

Garden in Prescott Park

The Garden is painted from a photo that I took last week at the Prescott Park Arts Festival.  There was no vantage point from which to paint this scene, but I can remember, with the help of my photo, the light that made it so enchanting.

Day One

Day One

The line of children is from a fairly old photograph taken of a granddaughter entering first grade, on that first day.  It caught my fancy one day and I decided it was worth at least a 6×6 format.  I might try to do more with the faces.  I kind of gave up, maybe too soon.  I’m proud of the gestures.

Overlooked in previous weeks–no, not overlooked because I consciously set it aside, let’s say postponed–is another portrait of Fletch.  It may not capture his likeness as well as some others of mine, but I wasn’t focussing on likeness.  I was fresh from the Steve Assael workshop, and my attack on this painting very much reflects the Assael influence.

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Last, and least (as far as size is concerned) is this portrayal of four little piglets taking a nap at Phoenix Farm when I visited it with Sharon Allen a few months ago.  I was charmed by how they lined up, alternating heads and tails.  These adorable little piggies are probably big porkers by now, being readied for someone’s dinner table.  No Charlotte to save them.

Four little piggies napping

Four little piggies napping

Piggies was painted on a tiny 2-inch by 2-inch canvas.  The painting is destined to be a favor for one guest at a charity event called the Storybook Ball.  East Colony has volunteered to decorate a table for the event, and we chose as our theme the storybook “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.  (It was my idea.)  Each guest at our table will take away an original 2×2 painting, but that’s only a small piece of the project.  Our table is going to be spectacular rendition of barn and web and spider and all the other characters from the book.  The charity benefiting from all this activity is “CHAD”, or Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.

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 Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings hang in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and a poster reproduction hangs in the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester.  Reception September 5, 5 to 6 (blessedly short) with the Congresswoman and the artists.

Inadvertently omitted from the above line-up in weeks past was the painting I shipped down to the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island.  And coming up in September is the Boston Arboretum exhibit, which chose one of my paintings for its annual Jamaica Plain Open Studio exhibit, which you would know all about if you were one of my Facebook friends.

Prescott Park in Portsmouth

Saturday I had a grand day, painting with an old pal, Flo Parlangeli, in the urban seacoast setting of Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We were taking part in an event organized by the New Hampshire Art Association.  There were flower gardens and bridges and boats to see, with families, boaters, tourists seeing them.  Later there was music to hear.  Many also stopped to investigate what the artists were up to.  I believe there were even a few sales.  I thought the quality of all the artwork was pretty high.  My first painting was a view out of a densely shaded part of Prospect Park towards the brightly lit homes across the street.

In Prescott Park

In Prescott Park

Some of the figures were suggested by the appearance of actual people, others I just made up.  I am trying to develop a skill for making a few strokes of color suggest people.

After getting one serious painting under my belt, so to speak, I experimented with the next two paintings.  I deployed my largest brush with my medium mix of Gamsol, stand oil and Liquin, and first covered my panel with creamy yellow paint, thereby creating a wet surface to paint into.   Continuing with that big brush, I blocked in big shapes, working very fast.  As long as feasible, I kept using the big brush.  I never did move to anything smaller than a medium brush.  It was fun and energizing.  I don’t know if the results are anything to write home about, but these two paintings have a different feel to them.

Waiting for the Show to Start

Waiting for the Show to Start

People had reserved their spots by setting up lawn chairs and blankets along the front,  but those chairs and blankets were empty because no one wanted to wait in the sun.  There were plenty of people in the shady background, but I wanted to populate my sunlit chairs, and so I continued  my experiment with slashes of color.  Enough to suggest people?  The water in the background is the Piscataquog River that separates Maine from New Hampshire.  The Portsmouth Naval Station is represented by the buildings on the right, across the river.

Backstage at Prescott Park

Backstage at Prescott Park

Actually, this is behind the back of the stage–trailers, chain link fence, tent, stacks of wooden fencing (I guess–I didn’t really analyze what exactly I was observing here).  I see a flaw that I would like to correct now–those dark “holes” in the staging should feel more like gaps through which you can just make out some trees on the other side.  Yes, those multicolored blotches are trees.  I was listening to my inner child.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings hang in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and a poster reproduction hangs in the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester.

Inspired by Cornwall

All last week I was preoccupied with my participation in the workshop with Cameron Bennett, which he titled “Inspired by Cornwall” because it was. . . inspired by his time living in Cornwall and becoming familiar with such artists as Alfred Munnings and Laura Knight–the Newlyn School.  We were to paint the figure in landscape, en plein air, because that is what the Newlyn painters did.  Their history has been made into a movie, “Summer in February”, which is being described with such terms as “complex”, “wild”, “incendiary”;  our assignment, to re-create the that atmosphere, was a departure from the usual workshop fare.  Every day was threatened with rain, but we must have had the luck of the Irish with us because the sun shone for us each day.  Until Friday.

Monday, Cameron handed out an essay written by him on the Cornish painters, treated us to a slide show of representative paintings, and demonstrated his own approach to the subject at the location–Pretty Park– and with the model that we would use the next day–Margaret.

Image

Tuesday and Wednesday, we painted at a local cemetery with Dennis (he of the portrait that I did a few weeks ago) in the morning, and with Margaret at Pretty Park in the afternoon.

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Margaret in Pretty Park

Margaret in Pretty Park

Thursday we went to the Seacoast and spent most of the day on this pose.

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

When the sun seemed about to leave us, and the wind picked up, Cameron set us up on the edge of the beach with only 40 minutes to paint, and like a drill sergeant, prodded us on to finish a gestural study.

Grace, standing at edge

Grace, standing at edge

Friday, we were all but comatose and welcomed the excuse of potential rain to retreat into the Institute to paint a figure in an interior setting.  I never quite got around to the setting.

Grace, another profile--red shirt

Grace, another profile–red shirt

It’s not good as a portrait, but  I like it as a figure study.

Cameron showed more slides to remind us of what we were supposed to be learning.  I hope I absorbed the learning by osmosis because my brain was pretty drowsy by that time.  At the end of Friday, we staggered out of the building into a gorgeous late afternoon, too tired to notice.

About the Currier Museum poster competition that I may have mentioned once or twice in the past:  I made it into the semifinals, and as a result, I have a piece of my artwork hanging in the Museum.  Yea!  ( I didn’t win.)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.  And a poster at the Currier Museum!

A Cloudy Day on Top of Cannon Mountain

Cannon Mountain is a ski mountain, owned and operated by the State of New Hampshire as a State Park.  During the summer, one of the ski lifts, a tramway, takes tourists up to the top–and down again–to enjoy the view from the top and the sights along the way.  Today I was lucky to be on the tram that passed over mama bear, grazing in the path of the tram.  Ordinarily the views both from the tram and the top are of distant mountains in Maine, Vermont, Northern New Hampshire, and Canada.  Today, those views were momentarily available on my ride down.  Down, after enduring the wind and chill of the summit, trying to make a painting.  Good thing I don’t really like to paint long-view vistas, because the only objects visible were those located within 100 yards.

For photos of what it could look like from the top of Cannon Mountain, check out the website here.

For how it looked today before the clouds completely enveloped the summit:

Cannon skilift

Housing for a Cannon ski lift (or, what I could see before clouds completely socked in)

I tried another painting when I got back down to parking lot level, but really dark and threatening clouds came rolling in our direction and we hied it out of there.  We drove over to Crawford Notch prospecting for sunlight, stopped by the Bartlett Inn to make sure our October Artists Weekend reservations were in, and, failing to discover any better weather, ate our way home.  (Stopped for supper at the Yankee Smokehouse in Ossipee and for ice cream at Morrisey’s in Wolfsboro.)

Most of last week I spent laboring, still laboring, in the effort to whip my files at the law office into submission.  On Friday, however, I took a break to attend my portrait class with Dee Riley, and produced this drawing of new model, Dennis.

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

I did not think (and neither did Deirdre)  until today that his ear looks awfully small.  Maybe he has small ears.  The class will be spending two more sessions on this pose.  I will miss the next two classes because this Friday I will be in Maine for the Castine Plein Air Festival, and next Friday I will be at a plein air with figure workshop with Cameron Bennett.

Cameron taught portrait drawing and painting at the NH Institute of Art before moving to England  last year.  He is offering this workshop at short notice to coincide with his visit back  home to New Hampshire.  Most of his old (previous, some also like me, old) students are excitedly looking forward to seeing him again, getting the scoop on practicing art in England, and sopping up all the learning he acquired in the byways of Cornwall, because the title of the workshop is “Inspired by Cornwall”.

As we are already nearing the end of July, let me alert you to Trolley Night coming up on August 1.  Trolley Night, a/k/a Open Doors, consists of trolleys providing free transport between the art venues of Manchester, starting with Langer Place, where East Colony Fine Art Gallery is located.  Trolley Night in Manchester  used to happen four times a year, then it was three times a year.  Now, only twice.  So don’t pass this one up.  The East Colony Gallery puts on a special show just for Trolley Night, in addition to the regular exhibit:  Picnic! is the theme of the special show.  So come Thursday, August 1, between 5 and 8.  The food is great, the people welcoming, and the art fantastic.

If you have voted in the Currier poster contest at my behest, thank you (whether you voted “correctly” or not).  If you have not done that yet, here is the link to the Museum’s home page: Currier.  Look there for the link to the poster contest.  This may work better for those of you who had trouble with my link to the contest site.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bedford Library in Bedford; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.

Steven Assael workshop, conclusion

This is my third and final installment about the Steven Assael workshop.  The first two installments dealt exclusively with the demo that Steve started as the Monday session, 10 to 5.   I think he liked it so much that he wanted to finish it with the model.  Or perhaps he like US so much he wanted to spend extra days with us.  Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.  He had 16 students in the workshop, two of who are teachers at the Institute.  Most of the rest of the class were young current BFA candidates or youngish BFA graduates from the Institute, but we had one stray up from Delaware (his home base) and Florida (his art college).  Then there were the three of us older figure students, me and my buddies Bea and Elizabeth.  It was a very compatible and committed group of artists.  So maybe he just liked us.

Enough with the progress images of his demo.  Here is the last one that I caught before I had to leave, followed by close ups:

3:50

3:50

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-feet

3:50 detail-feet

He dabbed away at that red fabric (a soft shiny material, perhaps silk) from time to time throughout, and the daubs became more purposeful as the end of time neared.  Suddenly, the fabric on the model stand became the fabric in the painting.  Like a hungry, prowling predator, he circles his subject, getting closer and closer until Wham!  there it is captured to perfection, pinned to his canvas.  (I don’t know what predator behaves like that in reality, but doesn’t it sound right?)

When I left at 4:30, he was scrubbing the background.

I hate to follow that with my own pitiful effort  to emulate him.  But I know  you are curious.  Here’s the disaster I spent two days on:

Becky, last version

Becky, last version

I must have wiped that out nine times, trying to find my way.  I refused to let him paint ON my painting, so he painted this as inspiration to get me over whatever was blocking my creativity:

Becky by Assael

Becky by Assael

But it wasn’t the start that I was having trouble with; it was the finish.

Thursday I changed rooms (we had two rooms going with a model in each) to paint Margaret.  Here is my start, before any input from Steve:

Margaret before

Margaret before

Not enough blue!  This time I allowed him to go at it on my painting:

Margaret After

Margaret After

Notice how he lost all my carefully drawn edges?  As he left, he said “Now you can correct the drawing.”  So I corrected the drawing:

Margaret, drawing corrected

Margaret, drawing corrected

And then I added the red lamp to my painting.  When he saw this version and complimented me, I wasn’t sure whether he liked the lamp specifically, but when he later incorporated the red glow in his own painting, I imagined it might have been inspired by my red lamp:

with the red lamp

with the red lamp

Saturday was a day of Drawing with Steven Assael, 9 to 5.  He did not come around to critique or help us, but we could watch what he was up to and ask him questions.  Margaret was our model.  This is Steve’s drawing of Margaret, executed with Stabilo pencils on silverpoint paper:

Margaret by S. Assael

Margaret by S. Assael

Don’t you love the decision to let her stomach disappear into the paper?  And she wasn’t really sitting on her hand.  So what if the likeness isn’t there!  He couldn’t care less about a likeness, although he  usually does get one, even of Margaret.  I have another image to prove that but too tired to add now, which is technically no longer Monday.

This is my portrait of Margaret, in which I really do get her likeness.  I was able to show it to Steve when nine of us went out to dinner with him, and I ended up in the seat next to him.  He liked it, he really liked it!

Margaret, profile, in graphite

Margaret, profile, in graphite and charcoal pencil

Two criticisms that he shared with me:  I should carry the shadows of her jawline and cheekbone into the hair so that the hair does not look so flat.  I will do so when I have a couple of artmaking minutes to put together.  I expect the improvement to be so subtle that you won’t be able to identify it, but you will think it’s better.  It’s also the way he paints–the subtle attention to nuance that brings living flesh and muscle into his painting.

The other criticism had to do with my composition.  I had included Margaret’s breasts, but when they became too prominent in the composition,  I scribbled them out.  However, the scribbles still appeared to be part of the drawing.  In a related point, the design of the hair masses need to be considered, not blindly rendered.

Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring–all that you might expect in seven days with a Master.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bedford Library in Bedford; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program); and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings are also hanging in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter.

Steven Assael workshop, cont.

I posted a mid-week report on this figure painting workshop, which you should check out before reading this post.  The workshop was supposed to be five days, from ten a.m. to five p.m.  That schedule was amended at the end of the first day, Monday, because Steve’s demo was turning out so good that he wanted to finish it before he left New Hampshire.  Well, that’s my educated guess as to his motivations, which were really pretty transparent.  First he determined that his model for the demo, Becky, was not available Saturday, so arrangements were made for her to come in Sunday!  Saturday was therefore to be a group drawing day, with Margaret as our model.  Margaret also modeled for the class Tuesday through Thursday.  Monday and Friday and Sunday were given over to the “demo”.  Plus we started at nine a.m. instead of ten, every day after Monday.  I am wiped out and all I had to do was stay awake and focussed.  (If I let my focus wander, I started to nod off.)  Steve seemed to be running low on steam towards the end, but would not stop painting.  Becky was released at 4:00 and I had to leave at 4:30, while Steve was putting finishing touches on the background.  I hope they were the finishing touches.

As a result, I have so much material to show you and discuss that I could probably fill a week of posts.  I will leave my own work out of the discussion for now.

Before the pictures, a commercial:  please go here to vote for my poster if you can.  The top 30 or something vote getters (that actually might be all) go on to another round of voting.  It’s all too complex for my poor tired brain tonight.  Just go there and vote!  (Please)

The following four pictures were taken during the Friday “demo”.