Still trying to find . . . ?

I have taken the equivalent of a sabbatical, I guess.  The beauty of being one’s own boss, one can do that sort of thing on a whim, with only your friends and followers to answer to.  I went on that wild weekend to Acadia last fall, wherein I diligently painted at least two paintings every single day, and then I just lost interest.  Except for a few pet portrait commissions, I did not pick up a paintbrush all winter.  I did draw diligently, every Saturday at our life group sessions.  And last weekend I made the annual pilgrimage to Bartlett so as to make the end of winter, forcing myself out in the open to paint en plein air.

Today, therefore, I am here to report on a few of the drawings and all four of the Bartlett paintings.  Which first?  I just now photographed the four paintings so I’ll start with them.  Only the last one was actually painted in the Town of Bartlett, near the Inn where we have always stayed.  The first one is from our way up.  I went up with Sharon Allen, and she needed to make a few stops in Tamworth, where she had doped out some good views during a week-long event just finished.  I decided on a close-up view of a small waterfall, thinking to explore shapes and colors–something out of the box since I should have grown less prone to habits.  I tried, I really did, but if there’s anything outside the box here, I don’t see it manifested.

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Tamworth Waterfall

I worked and reworked the colors found in and under the water until I just about drove myself crazy.  Why, if I apply the matching color in the correct spot, doesn’t the water resemble nature?  I concluded that it has to be done in layers–simply not possible with oils en plein air.  So when I got home after the weekend, I tried again to duplicate what I remembered.  No, a layering technique can’t be superimposed.  Pause for reflection:  Do I really want to be a super realistic painter?  My forte, if I have one, had been speed and spontaneity.

Onward and northward:  The next day after our hearty breakfast at the Bartlett Inn, we debated where to go to paint.  There were seven of us, and although we never all of us agree on location, we like to keep tabs on where we are all heading–except for Byron Carr, who still goes for obscure, hard to navigate spots that none of the rest of us can access.  First stop for four of us was the alpaca farm in North Conway.  The owner suggested that we set up behind the house and barn, which was downhill and away from the livestock.  That was OK with me as I had no idea what kind of subject would snap me out of my lethargy.  It turned out that a building was a good choice.  We had good light when we started and I tried to keep it in mind as I filled in the shadows.  The part that pleases me the most, however, is the accumulation of stuff piled in front of the barn.  I decided I would depict the piles as piles, with just enough articulation to suggest the nature of the stuff comprising the piles.  I hope you get that.

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Farm in North Conway

In the afternoon, we headed West to the Franconia Notch–I don’t remember what the reasoning was.  It is a far way to go since Bartlett is South of the Crawford Notch, and you can’t get to Franconia Notch from there without first driving North.  In between is national forest timber and trees and maybe a few logging roads, and somehow when you get to Franconia Notch, there are mountains all around, extending back to Crawford Notch.  Hmm.  That does seem to compute.  Anyway, we finally settled on a spot on Profile Lake, near the area where our iconic mountain man profile once lived.  (It crumbled quite a few years ago but we still pay homage.)  Like I did in Tamworth, I decided to focus in on a small patch of stream and shadows and reflections and, most importantly, sunlight glinting off the water and trees.  Water layers again, but I was more worried this time about the drama of shadow and light.  A passerby complimented me on the expressiveness of the painting, and I thought, yes!  I’m getting it.  When I got it home, however, I decided to simplify the composition by bringing the water down to the bottom of the painting, wiping out the sandy shore.  I did a great job on the sand, but it was “de trop”, as a Frenchman might say.

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In Franconia Notch

Rain was forecast for the next two days of our weekend.  When the sun was nevertheless visible in the morning, we hurried to the most local of possibilities, a road that runs along Saco River in the Town.  But there is no river in my painting.  A rivulet feeder into the Saco is implied by the presence of rails on a road, which takes a sharp curve to avoid running into a white house.  Not exactly a view that dreams are made of.  But I thought I had a good composition and hoped I could present the elements–road, trees, railing and house–in such a way as to draw the eye.   It was a good exercise but did not result in a painting that anyone is going to want to put on their wall.  (If I’m wrong about that, it’s yours!)

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House at the Curve in the Road

I promised some kind of narration about the drawings.  I wouldn’t have thought to mention them at all but for a Call for Art coming from Exeter for representations of nudity.  I spread a bunch before me and selected five to photograph and three to submit to the Call.  All three were accepted, so then I had to get them framed.  Shot myself in the foot there.  The exhibit was very nice, very short and open only on Saturdays for the duration.  Now I have three framed nudes (beautifully framed, thank you Grace of Creative Framing Solutions) looking for homes.  The price for each is $150, or best offer.  Each is roughly 11×17 not including mat and frame.

 

. . . Myself.  Still trying to find Myself, meaning what kind of art is in me?  I have been struggling with this polyglot art for many years now.  What are the common strands?  Representational in subject matter.  Impressionistic in style.  I feel urges, to break free of representational, to jump into a bath of expressionistic paint.  Yet when I am confronted with the specific task, I revert to representational impressionistic images.  Stay tuned.  Something might change.

Thanks for staying with me.

Back to Making and Sharing Art

It has been so long–months– that I have allowed myself to get sucked into the vortex of earning money on a timed and output basis.  I had intended to work a part-time job preparing tax returns for the clients of H&R Block, but part-time became full-time (even some overtime) and the clients became mine.  I hardly had time to do laundry and cook.  Recorded TV programs mounted up.  I would try to watch TV when I got home after 9 o’clock, but I kept falling asleep.  But now I am free again and so grateful for the privilege.

The only art I kept up with during this period was the Saturday life sessions, so I have photographed my favorites for discussion purposes.  First, I’ll show you the ones that could not be finished because they were only 5 or 10 minutes poses.  Works in progress  help illustrate my approach to drawing the figure.

The first thing I try to capture is the “gesture”.  The gesture will underlie the finished drawing and is therefore critical to a good result.  I make a lot of errant lines as I splash around trying to fit the pieces together in correct proportions–all without losing the movement of the gesture.

All Photos - 11 of 15

With a little more time, I can eliminate some of the errant lines and start noting where the shadows fall.  The shapes begin to acquire depth.

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The next stage contains most of the notes that I would need to bring the drawing to a finished state, but without the model in pose, I don’t usually get care enough to finish the piece.

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Despite the time constraints, occasionally I do finish a piece.  Such a piece will be one that contains fewer details or complexities–for example, the back of the figure instead of the front.  The pillows and fabric must be dealt with also.  The white pencil is a favorite tool of mine at this stage.

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Color is sometimes added to enhance the drawing when I have a lot of extra time.

Filling out the shape

I prize this last one highly for the sense of volume, of flesh, but regret the horizontal lines that have permanent ruined the piece as a whole.  They happened when I was preparing the paper with hard charcoal with flat sweeps that etched those dark lines.  How could I not have noticed before it was too late?  Oh well.

I have scaled way back on the number of places to exhibit my paintings.  I did that partly because of the time constraints and the “day job”, but also partly because I felt a little glum and pessimistic about the effort turning in sales.  Nevertheless, two paintings sold from the McGowan Gallery in February, and my contribution to the Currier Museum staff and volunteer exhibit has found a home with one of my fellow docents.  Opening next week is a 3-person exhibit at the Massabesic Audubon Center.  The emphasis will be on NH landscapes but I might sneak in an animal or two.  The Opening Reception is scheduled for Friday May 5, 5 to 7.  I probably won’t get there until 6 o’clock because that Friday is one of my Symphony dates–Trip to Boston for Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony Orchestra matinee.

I have not advertised my participation in the Audubon exhibit much, due of course to the “day job”.  But I still hope to see some familiar faces at the reception when I get there.

Other places where you can still catch a few examples of my works:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like at my Fine Art America pages, which are, like this blog, way overdue for updating. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Who Am I?

I’m still in a funk.  Not depressed–I am very active, working 20+ hours each week in gainful employment (preparing tax returns); going to classes, art receptions, movies; picking up and delivering artworks for exhibiting; playing bridge one afternoon of each week; cooking and cleaning (as minimally as possible); watching way too much TV.  But I haven’t picked up a paint brush for weeks.  Months.

Nevertheless, every waking moment not required by the above-mentioned activities I ponder, to paraphrase Gauguin: Who Am I, Where Am I Going?

This concern over direction started long ago but I have suppressed it, hoping I suppose that the answer would eventually reveal itself without any extra effort by me.  In December I took a 2-day workshop on how to behave as a successful professional artist, and the difficulty I had in composing an Artist’s Statement brought home to me the quandary in which I find myself.  I paint landscapes en plein air.  I paint figures and portraits from live models.  I paint animals from photographs.  I paint impressionistically.  I paint realistically.  I paint post-impressionistically.  Every now and then I even try to paint abstractly.  I struggled to find a common theme that doesn’t fall back on metaphysical or philosophical musings.  There isn’t one.

At this point, after some months into aforesaid hard pondering, I see myself with one toe in the Realistic Realm and a whole foot in the Van Gogh Wannabe Realm.  Is it time to lift that foot with the toe in Realistic Realm and swing it around to plant it perhaps beyond Van Gogh–perhaps as far beyond Van Gogh as . . . Tommy Thompson?  Eric Aho?  Just as soon as I try to imagine that happening, I start to regret my animal portraits, my nude figures, my painted portraits, all that I love about capturing a real life moment.

Clearly, nothing can happen until I pick up a paint brush again.

Meanwhile, I am keeping fit by continuing the class with Deidre on Advanced Figure Drawing.  Three hours a night, once a week on Tuesdays.  Here is my output since the last blog:

The Guard Unclothed

The Guard, Unclothed

The Guard Unclothed was  a 2-week pose, and I used the extra time to perfect the modeling of his body and to describe the background.  Standing poses are the most challenging to me, perhaps because I would prefer a pose that no model could hold for more than ten minutes.  Standing poses are academic and boring, which may be why I worked so hard on the background.

Two Views — of another pose that spanned two weeks.   Two Views are not a matched pair.  The paper is different, true, but they differ mostly in my handling of the modeling and background.  One has background but little modeling.  I have no title for it yet.  The other, which I am calling “The High Priestess”, has no background and a lot of modeling.  I think I prefer the first, rougher version, but that might be my preference for a back view.  Breasts are so complicated.  I love the head and shoulders in Priestess.

Next time, there will be another pairing of two views of one pose, as I finished this week’s drawing (below) and next week will move to the other side of the podium, whence I might avoid the breasts by doing a head and shoulders portrait.  At least it’s not a standing pose:

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Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Twiggs Gallery in Boscawen;  at the Audubon Massabesic Center in Auburn, as part of an exhibit of Manchester Artists Association paintings and photographs;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, phone cases, pillows and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Ups and Downs

Yes, it has been a few weeks since I last posted.  No, I have not got sick again.  But I have been floundering a wee bit.  It almost seems that as I practiced my landscapes and learned my florals, I forgot how to paint a portrait.  That disappointment cast a pall over all my work.  But I’m following my own advice, the second major rule of art-making:  Don’t Give Up.  (I guess the first rule would have to be:  So Try Already.)

It helps that I have a second successful floral painting to show off–what a high it is, to create something that surprises you with its beauty:

Floral Painting No. 2--Roses

Floral Painting No. 2–Roses

This floral is the second of three projects that will eventually emanate from the Floral Painting course I am taking at the NH Institute of Art with Deirdre Riley.  I missed three classes because of the Florida sojourn, but I needed only the two weeks remaining to me for this painting.  Two weeks equals six hours of painting.  I could actually paint a living floral arrangement and get it done before the flowers started to wilt.  But I’m not that energized anymore.  My batteries only last three hours.

Coincidentally, the annual Petals to Paint event comes this week–TOMORROW actually, to East Colony Fine Art.  About 20 floral designers are designing and putting together a (live) flower-based sculpture inspired by the painting that each chose a month ago.  One of the designers chose my “Nap, Interrupted” (the very large cat portrait) as her inspiration.  If I had a six-hour battery, I’d be able to go in after hours at the Gallery and make a painting of her creation.

The reception for Petals to Paint is Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m., but the exhibit will remain up for the next two days.  The address is 55 South Commercial Street in Manchester, NH.   I’m very sorry to report that this will be the last P2P at this location, and one of the last receptions for East Colony at this location.  We decided not to renew our lease because not enough of our artists were willing to commit to the continuance of the Gallery.  On May 14, we will host our last reception, a kind of farewell party. Our last day will be May 30.

The portraits that I have been wrestling with are mostly of Margaret, although I have to confess my last portrait of Aubrey was no keeper either.  I was trying so very hard to get a likeness of Margaret in two 3-hour sessions, that I lost my perspective over the works as entire pieces.  I was going to post pictures of these failures but I lost my nerve.  Just trust me–you don’t need to see them.

Of course, my response has been to try harder.  At SLG (Saturday Life Group) we had a new model, a very young tall lanky guy named Andrew.  I had wanted to concentrate on portraiture, but all I got was the back of his head for the first long pose (“long” in this group means 45-50 minutes).

The Back of Andrew

The Back of Andrew

The last pose gave me the opportunity I sought.

Generic Head

Generic Head

The problem with this “portrait” is that it is largely invented.  He held his head in this position for perhaps five minutes, then it started dropping, dropping, until finally his chin was on his chest.  I continued with my original version, filling in what I already knew about faces, treating it as some kind of memory exercise.

This Monday, in order to conquer the whole problem of Margaret, I announced she was in it for a two-week pose.  All I needed was more time, was my reasoning.  But when I saw the pose, I could not resist included her gesture and the yellow dress.  This is my Work in Progress:

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Encore Performance

Another no-show model, after what seems like an eternity without Monday Life Group, so once more into the breach I sprang.  This is great for everyone except me;  last time was very popular with readers of the blog; the artists mostly love me as a model for some inarticulable reasons.

The artists were only four in number this week, but such interesting works!

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch’s forte is the small pencil drawing.  Here he not only deploys oil paint, he does it on a fair-sized canvas!  You need to know that Fletch is bored by clothing and would not have come had he known we would not have the usual nude model.  Plus he volunteered to do the modeling and let me use his equipment (I knew ahead of time that the model wouldn’t be coming so I left my gear at home), but I felt responsible for the glitch and was determined to take my medicine.  I guess my point is, he was probably unhappy with with the situation yet he captured my gesture so well!

Jan Fills the Canvas

Jan Fills the Canvas

I do have a big head, but not sure if it is this big!  But I love her confident brush strokes.  Was it mean of me to make sure there would be a hand for the artists to cope with?  I think Jan did a great job with the shadows, and making that dent in my cheek where I rest it on those fingers!

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Only recently has Nancy C started to bring her paints on Monday morning, in lieu of her charcoals.  Her same blocky approach, emphasizing the shapes and values, is working particularly well in this painting.  Isn’t the hair wonderful?

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be this one–because it looks so much like me!  The right eye and the hand are so beautifully suggested.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Marathon Report

Last Saturday, I participated in a ten-hour marathon of painting (or drawing) one brave model.  The day was broken into three 3-hour segments, with half-hour breaks for nourishment at lunchtime and dinnertime.  The location was the studio of Adrienne Silversmith, the same studio where we meet regularly on Monday mornings.

We started with a few quick poses to enable the artists to get warmed up, so I had less time for the longer morning pose and brought nowhere near a satisfying conclusion.  I like the hands, though.

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The afternoon went better for me:

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

That’s Larry Christian in the background.  He works in compressed charcoal (no wiping out!) and doesn’t do long poses, so he would move around the room to get different angles on our model.  He came around and plopped himself down in the chair I had been painting into my background, so there he is permanently ensconced in my painting.  For many years, Larry taught life drawing at the NH Institute of Art; I took his course twice.  There’s a blog post on that subject here (“Catching the Odd perspective”) and here (“Struggle with Compressed Charcoal”).

While painting away, we got to talking about a certain style of painting that has intrigued me for several years now.  It’s not merely “loose”, it’s destructive!  Adrienne described it more charitably, as construction, then de-construction.  It fascinates me because I like it, and I can’t figure out why I like it.  Here are a few links provided by Adrienne to artists that, to one degree or another, practice this style:
davidshevlino.com
maggiesiner.com

For those of you too lazy to click on a link, here is an example by Maggie Siner:

Portrait by M. Siner

Portrait by M. Siner

Anyway, after six hours of painting, I felt brave enough to try something like it.  I first painted a fairly straightforward figure, and then I started messing with the edges.  Then I messed with the edges of the changes in values.  By the time I quit, I had pretty much had pixelated the entire painting:

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My result is more pointillist than the style I wanted to emulate, but I kind of love it. For the foreseeable future, I plan to run with it.  But I’m still puzzled as to why it works, and my efforts are probably doomed to fail if I cannot figure that out.  Is it the illusion of movement?  Mine looks as if you are looking through glass bathed in water.  So my surface is the moving part, whereas the figure in Maggie Siner’s painting would be the moving part in hers.  Obviously, I am not even close to the ultimate goal, but I’m on my way.  Perhaps.

Here are works from a few of my fellow marathoners, Nancy C and Cindy A, and I’m pretty sure if you’ve been following along, that you’ll have no trouble identifying Nancy’s painting.  Cindy is one of the Cornwall Four, four of us who took Cameron Bennett’s 2013 workshop (inspired by the Cornwall painters of yore) and thereafter painted en plein air together on a regular basis.  Discussed here perhaps.

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Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Very, very soon, the annual Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord opens!  January 30 (Friday) 5-7 p.m. is the reception.  Over 70 artists are participating.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I signed up for another Snow Camp with Stapleton Kearns.  I have ten pieces in the McGowan show, mostly nudes, all 8×11, all priced at $150 each.  Original oil paintings for only $150!  So definitely check it out if you like my nudes.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Fun and Struggles; Struggles are Fun?

Here is this week’s output of my Monday morning life group:

Paint, not charcoal

Paint, not charcoal

Strong shapes have always been Nancy C’s forte, conveyed in charcoal.  The big news here is that Nancy  brought her oil paints for the first time, starting out by doing a grisaille painting of the model, just as Jan did when she first started with us.  (“Grisaille” means painted in monocolor, usually black but it can be any color.)

Jan's version

Well, Jan is certainly into color now!  Bold, vibrant colors, strong shapes and brush strokes.  . . . Interesting foot.  (More on that below.)

Waiting Nymph

Waiting Nymph

Nymph is mine.  I had in mind “sleeping nymph” when we were setting up the pose, but she is clearly not asleep.  The body part that I had the most difficulty with was her left arm.  Getting the width of it just right doesn’t sound like rocket science, but for some reason, my brain does not always perform correctly.  It’s important not to give up when that happens.  Because I spent so much time fussing with the drawing of the shape, the painting of the shape fell a little short.  But I still rate the painting as successful.  Perfection cannot be the goal when you only have three hours minus breaks to complete a figurative painting from life.

Nancy and Jan were having a lot of difficulty getting the figure’s right foot looking like a foot, because it was so foreshortened from their angle that on the canvas it was coming out looking like a club foot.  So we photographed it, and they are supposed to be working hard at home to render a believable foreshortened foot.  Here’s the photo they are working from:

Pesky foot

Pesky foot

I’m not sure, but I believe if you can get the toes to read like toes, the rest of the foot will become viable.  I can’t wait to see if Nancy and Jan succeed, and they better bring in the paintings this Monday to show us!

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 Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

Very, very soon, the annual Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord opens!  January 30 (Friday) 5-7 p.m. is the reception.  Over 70 artists are participating.  Unfortunately, I can’t be there because I signed up for another Snow Camp with Stapleton Kearns.  (Concerned that I may be getting too old and fragile for such shenanigans?  Me too.)  I have ten pieces in the McGowan show, mostly nudes, all 8×11, all priced at $150 each.  These are original oil paintings for only $150!  So check it out if you like my nudes.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Beginning Anew

First of all, it’s hard to get started.   I’ve been dragging my feet for over a week, avoiding my first post of the new year.  Second, it’s hard to be original.  New Year’s Resolutions for artists come in two packages:  Plan A:  Get Better.  Plan B:  Get Better Known.  The “How” of each?  That’s what used to be known, before inflation, as the $64 question.

How to get better for painters:  paint more?  paint different?  read more books?  take more classes and workshops?

How to get better known (“do better marketing”):  write a blog?  send out a newsletter?  join a gallery?

These two big objectives are basically incompatible unless you hire someone else to do the marketing for you.  A spouse comes in handy!  For a colleague’s summary of possible resolutions for an artist’s new year, see the blog of Sharon Allen.  Now I don’t have to think about it anymore!  Instead, I will press the Restart button next month when I have a convenient birthday.  The older, slower, and lazier I get, the harder I must work just to keep up.

This week, I photographed all the works from our Monday life drawing/painting session; everyone seems to enjoy that.  Our model this week was actually one of my patrons, one who buys my nude paintings, prints and drawingsof other people, and wanted one of herself.  She had had a double mastectomy and wanted to record that achievement.  She was a great model, and is pleased with the painting that I did of her, so “Mission Accomplished!”  The following photos were taken with my iPhone, so the quality of reproduction might not be up to what we are used to from my Nikon D70.  (I sure hope so!)  After this array, I am including some stragglers, which should have been included in previous blogs but weren’t.

The Charcoalist

The Charcoalist

The Pastellist

The Pastellist

The other oil painter

The other oil painter

My painting

My painting

We all agreed on the color of her hair.   Only mine has the egregious shine.  The shine may be caused or aggravated by a mixture that I use as my medium, which includes Liquin.  Oil paints lose their natural glossiness when they dry, but the Liquid helps to reduce that effect, but it also makes the paint when wet super glossy.

The stragglers are three from a week when I never got around to posting at all, or I posted on other subjects.

Bursting with Life

Bursting with Life

Isn’t she glorious?  I see at least flaw that I want to correct–wrist of her right hand looks suddenly too narrow because of a stray blob of dark paint.  Gwen has been extremely popular with the artists, but alas, we will not be seeing her for a while, at least for the duration of her pregnancy.

For the Monday between Christmas and the New Year, we painted Aubrey again, also a very popular model who happens to be an artist herself.  I did not photograph the artworks that day, but our Pastellist (Nancy Healy) was good enough to bring her drawing back this week to show off how great it was, so I got the photo then, again with my iPhone.  Nancy had taken a photo of Aubrey and worked on the facial features at home in order to get them just right.

IMG_0541

My own painting was this head and shoulders version:

2015-01-02 15.47.54

I perhaps got too fascinated by the turquoise pendant.  But isn’t it interesting how similar the two faces are.  Almost as if we were both on the same painting spot.  We were pretty close.  I was lower down since I sit to paint, and Nancy stands.

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 New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers).  Very, very soon, the Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord is coming!  January 29 is the reception.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

Follow Up

As a result of my previous blog featuring myself as a model, which everyone seemed to enjoy more than my paintings of other people, I have resolved to try to show more artwork that is not my own, and to do a fresh self-portrait, if only to assure myself that my skills have improved in the last three years.  So this week, I present such a self-portrait, and even more exciting . . . well, truly exciting . . . a video of another artist’s painting of our Monday morning model.  You will see what I painted that day plus what is in effect a demo of what Tony Luongo did that same day.

Starting with the self-portrait, I have to say I am a little surprised that it looks so similar to my 2011 pencil portrait.  That is to say, I haven’t aged a bit in three years.

Self Portrait 2014

Self Portrait 2014

I hope you agree I did a better job on the nose this time.  Comparing a pencil portrait to an oil painted portrait may be unfair to the pencil, so for purposes of evaluating my skills, I will show you another selfie painted in an early portrait class (2008) that I took with Adeline Goldminc-Tronzo.  Bear in mind that the earlier portrait was developed over several sessions and helped by the observations of the teacher.  It was the best thing I did in that class.

Self-portrait_1

Same hair, same eyes, but younger lips and less saggy around the jaw.  Oops, there I go again, concentrating on the wrong thing!  Six years of practice have gone into a more courageous handling of the paint and a more accurate portrait (I think).  And I did the new one in only a few hours.  Credit is owed, however, to my colleague Dee Lessard, with whom I was painting that day, for her observations.

For our Monday painting last week, Aubrey was our model again.  This is what I produced:

DSC_0004

Tony set up his easel on Aubrey’s other side.  I worried that he was not getting a good angle or enough light, but as you will see, he didn’t seem much bothered by such details.  I never noticed that he had set up his smart phone on some kind of rack and set it to record his every move.  After he got home, he sped up the action so that the final video takes only ten minutes or so. http://www.youtube.com/user/luongoart

In an interesting coincidence, it turns out that Tony also modeled for Cameron Bennett’s master’s thesis painting.  Tony shared with me a photo of that painting in progress, and I wish I could share it with you, but since it was a work in progress at that time, I would need the artist’s permission first.  The painting was a crowd scene, with me and other volunteers playing our roles as members of an audience to two mysterious floating figures furnished by paid models.  Either the models or Cameron are magicians.

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 New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). And for the month of December, at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like 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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

New Muse

In Saturday Life Group this morning, we had a new model.  Her name is Gwen.  About halfway through the morning, I realized why she seemed so familiar to me:  She had modeled for the figure painting class I took with Sean Beavers last June.  You can see the results of that class here.  I had recruited her for my Monday group, but, after collecting all her contact information, I forgot her name.  What good is contact information if you can’t remember the name of the person you want to contact?

Anyway, everyone there this morning was just thrilled with her.   “So graceful” was how Nancy put it.  “Beautiful . . . everything about her is beautiful”, observed Steve, “even her pregnancy,”  Gwen’s baby is due in February, so she is not all that large with child yet, but we will see her again in January, I hope.

For my part, I haven’t had this good an SLG session for months.  I usually don’t bother looking at my sketch pad after I get home.  Today I not only looked, I “fixed” (sprayed with fixative to prevent smearing of charcoal dust) them and removed a few from my pad in order to prep them for framing!  Here they are, in order of importance, low to high:

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

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 New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

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 by email to alotter@mac.com.

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!

 

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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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.

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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.

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.

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.

DSC_0603

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.

DSC_0605 - Version 2

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:

DSC_0605

Can you tell that she is pregnant?

DSC_0603

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.

19533_00_picasso_woman

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.

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).

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).

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).

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.

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.

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.

Art in Action

Today, I am still wiped out by the effort of participating in a two-day event called “Art in Action.”  The Londonderry Arts Council puts it on twice a year.  They were also responsible for the Art in t he Common show last fall which bravely welcomed my nude paintings.  They also set up the arrangement with the Leach Library whereby nine of my paintings are displayed there.  The Londonderry Arts Council is quite an admirable organization of many artists.  Since we have nothing comparable in Manchester, I am grateful that they allow all regional artists to benefit.

Participation entails setting up an area to display your artwork — a mobile gallery of sorts– and space where you demonstrate your art-making–a mobile studio.  I kept it simple by displaying only 10 framed paintings, a few giclee prints and two cards.  Cards (note cards) seem to be the one thing everyone else had lots of.  I sold one of my two, which made for a pretty good percentage of cards sold!  For my Day One demonstrating, I continued on my single-minded quest to capture a likeness of Margaret, and once again failed.  Everyone else thought it was a wonderful painting, but they don’t realize how woeful the likeness is.

Image

This is actually Margaret.  After painting her from life last Tuesday, I tried two more times, using the photo in black and white, to draw her features in black and white.

DSC_0003

And here is the painting from the photo:

DSC_0002

Margaret herself has advised me that if I put in the moles, that would make her recognizable, but whether I am drawing her with paint or charcoal, I truthfully do not see the moles at all.

My frustration leads me to understand why many artists resort to the projecting an image onto the canvas, instead of drawing it freehand.  Hmmm.  Should I try that?  To do so would certainly not help me improve my drawing skills, but I suppose if I had a photograph in front of me and a commission to paint from it, the projector would be a valuable shortcut, almost irresistible.    I’ll wait for the day when I have a commissioned portrait to paint and the subject cannot for some reason sit for it, and then decide whether to succumb to the projector.

For Day Two, my daughter graciously agreed to sit for her live portrait, which  included an accessory–her miniature Pomeranian sitting on her lap.  I’m happy with the Pomeranian, less so with my daughter–their portraits, that is.

DSC_0001

The weekend ended on a high note:  I had to part ownership with my Girl in the Red Headdress, as a  young woman fell in love with it on Day One, and even though she felt she could not afford to buy it, came back on Day Two after having dreamt about it.  It reminded me so much of my first big art purchase.  I fell in love on Day One and came back on Day Two to take the plunge.  The artist, Roger Graham, became a client and a friend, and by the time he died, I owned probably ten (whose counting?) of his paintings, some hanging at my law office and some at my home/studio.  I never regretted a single purchase.  If you buy what you love (not what you think will be a good investment), you will never regret it.  I was happy for her and for The Girl, who has found, in animal rescue parlance, her new forever home.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  Beginning May 1 through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.

The Joy of Completion

Detail from Portrait of Grace

Detail from Portrait of Grace

The “Joy of Finishing” was my first thought for the title to this posting, but “Completion” is  better.  And not just because “completion” brings with it  fewer double entendres.   You could “finish” or come to an end of a project without being satisfied with it.  “Completion” connotes a goal achieved.  I could go further in this amusing wordplay by comparing “accomplished” as in “mission accomplished”, but that could get raw.

This week, therefore, I celebrate three completions.  Last week you saw the intermediate stages of two of them, so you have some idea of what to expect.  Above is the detail from the bigger one.  I said I wanted to make the background from the colors of the headscarf and whaddya know–I did!

Portrait of Grace

Portrait of Grace

Grace did not realize we wanted to repeat the pose from last week, so she arrived with a different scarf, wearing different earrings, and carrying a different drape.  Just as well–three elements were thus eliminated that I might have spent valuable time on.

This is a pretty good likeness of Grace, but of course, profiles are so much easier than 3/4 or full facial views.  Have I mentioned that before?  I hate to repeat myself, especially when the point is obvious when you think about it:  matching up eyes, eyebrows, lids, etc., etc., especially in the 3/4 view where the shadows make them look different, is really, really tricky.  Also, faces are not symmetrical, so too much matchy-matchy would be wrong.  Given all that, trying to figure out where the eye on the left should be higher or the one on the right should be lower can give me headache sometimes.  No, all the time.

The other just-short-of-finished figure from last week came out OK.  I think I messed around a little with the face, to no good purpose, but the main focus was the hand.  Now shorter, narrower, and with a hint of finger structure, this hand no longer detracts from the painting as a whole.

Figure Study (M on BLS)

Figure Study (M on BLS)

However, the face is not that of Margaret, so I moved in closer, metaphorically, on a second sheet of canvas:

Portrait of Margaret

Portrait of Margaret

Still not Margaret.  If I had had more time, I would have lengthened the nose perhaps.  Or shortened it.  But it’s hard to say what exactly is wrong.  Peter Clive said, “Margaret is elusive.”  I called her “sneaky”.  (Which I think she appreciated.)  Likeness or not, this painting came out well.  What do you think of the background?  I was thinking of light through thick green glass, but chose not to take that concept all the way–it was just my inspiration.

You might notice that the head is tilted differently in the second attempt.  It’s just impossible to keep a head from moving.  If I were alone, and were painting a portrait, I could keep telling the model how to adjust her attitude, but when painting the entire figure, there is so much to keep aligned that you tend not to trust  your opinion about where the head should be–especially if changing it might decimate a colleague who thought he had it right.  (I apologize for the long sentence but couldn’t find a spot to break it up.)  Still and all, frustrating as it is, I would not trade it for drawing from a plaster cast of a head, illuminated by a steady, never varying spotlight.  The harder it is, the more ways we learn.  I hope.  I sure hope so.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  Beginning May 1 through May 30, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings will be displayed at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Saturday and Sunday May 4-5, she will be exhibiting and demonstrating at the Londonderry annual event “Art in Action”; the location of Art in Action will be the large farmstand operated by Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Road in Londonderry.

Aging

Well, it happened again.  I forgot to post Monday’s blog.  I was so pleased with myself Sunday for taking the photographs and uploading them to WordPress, that I must have subconsicously given myself credit for completing the job.  Or it’s age.  Twice in three weeks–not good!  Good thing I am wrapping up my law practice.

Yes, it’s official.  I will not be renewing my license to practice law in the state of New Hampshire at the end of our fiscal year.  As of July 1, my status will become “inactive”.  Of course it may take weeks after that to tend to my clients and sort through and dispose of the accumulations of 29 years.  Some of my clients I will continue to be able to serve (e.g., by preparing tax returns) but for those requiring the services of a member of the Bar, I will try to place them with new lawyers.  The tax clients will be the hardest to place–not many lawyers want to represent taxpayers in trouble with the IRS.  That’s because usually the trouble originated in some fault of the taxpayer–well, not “fault” exactly, but behavior.  When people get smacked down or just depressed, they can’t cope with taxes, and of course, to the IRS, it’s just another same old story.  Our system of income taxation confers upon the taxpayers great responsibility and great trust.  Alleviating that burden on the taxpayer is, in my opinion, the only decent argument in favor of a sales  or value added tax.  Thank God I won’t have to even think about this stuff in a few months (except, as I said before, a few tax return preparations).

So this week’s original topic was going to WIPs (works in progress),  WIP and RIP (rest in peace) are two possibilities existing simultaneously in a half-finished painting, like alternate universes.  RIP means I never return to finish the painting.  WIP is a hopeful designation.  Two unfinished paintings this week are, I hope, WIP and not RIP.

But let me show you first–three completed charcoal drawings from our Saturday Life Group.  I’m pretty psyched about them.  Our couple was back, and all of us were a little more at ease with each other and the whole concept of two entwined naked bodies.  For one 2-minute gesture pose, they even struck a kissing pose.  It dawned on me that I could not get more appropriate pieces for the McGowan Gallery‘s annual Valentine’s show,  “Love, Lust and Desire“, than these drawings.   And pieces in the show are limited in size to 8.5 by 11,  so when I decided to bring my 9×12 high-quality pastel paper to SLG that morning, Fate was with me.

I don’t quite remember (age again?) which poses were what length, but the range was 20 minutes to 50 minutes.

LL&D No. 1

LL&D No. 1

LL&D No. 2

LL&D No. 2

LL&D No. 3

LL&D No. 3

I started all three by smearing the paper with soft charcoal.  Then I deployed the kneaded eraser to bring out the lights.  The paper was not white, so I could have increased  the contrast by using white pastel, but for some reason, I felt that much contrast would be too intrusive.  Does that make any sense at all?

WIPs I have several, but the most important is my Mt. Washington Oeuvre.  I slapped some more paint on it, and it’s beginning to take shape.  I’m getting excited about it again,  as the background gets covered with paint.

Phase 3--Biking on Mt. Washington

Phase 3–Biking on Mt. Washington

I have to keep reminding myself that I conceptualized the mountains as semi-abstract.  I cannot allow myself to get hung up on painting realistic rocks.  For the figures, I need to resize them–the ones farther from the viewer need to shrink a bit.  I plan to refer to the original photo references for each figure, on my iPad if I can get it to stop  going to sleep.  Consistency in the direction of sunlight also needs some work.

The next work was a WIP yesterday, when I should have posted this entry, but when I got to Tuesday life group this morning, everyone else wanted to move on with a new pose.  So although I may need to tinker with shapes and values here and there, this is essentially a done deal.

Jon seated on stand wip

Jon seated on stand wip

By the way, I made up the background at home, thinking to get a head start on today’s session.  Head start, finish line, same thing almost.  One of my cohorts today commented that I had a nice touch with interiors, suggesting I should consider that as a specialty.  So watch out for that as a new theme, possibly.  I’m pretty opportunistic, like a leaf in a stream of water, just letting it carry me wherever.  So far, no interiors have presented themselves as likely candidates for painting subjects.  George Nick did some interiors that I admired greatly (many shown in his gallery of 2008-2010 paintings here), and Paul Ingbretson, just one floor below our studio, has an interior that would knock your socks off (see it here–called Warm and Cool).  And Van Gogh was very much into interiors.  Can you think of other examples?  Seems to me to be a pretty untapped seam.  Hope I’m not mixing metaphors there.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Hello, Again

To those of you who noticed and cared that I did not post anything last week, I apologize.  To those who never noticed or cared, I don’t know what to say.  Really?  Your lives did not seem emptier?  Mine seemed peculiar.  I am so used to the follow up discussion among my friends that it was as if we had lost a piece of our conversation template.  Perhaps I have gotten spoiled, so it was a good thing to experience a little deprivation for a short time.  I have no excuse for missing a week, if that’s what you are waiting to hear.  I suddenly realized on Tuesday that I had never posted the Monday blog, or indeed even taken the photographs with which to illustrate it.  Instead of bending myself into a pretzel getting a late entry out, I decided to lie back and wait for complaints, if any.  Too few complaints were received.  Oh, well.

The upside is all the extra material I have for this week.  The headline news is progress on the painting that I started a year ago of bikers racing to the top of Mount Washington.  Here is a link to what it looked like last  year.  I brought it out to work on March 23 because of Peter Granucci.  He invited us to his studio in Gilsum (where?–middle of nowhere but close to Vermont) for a workshop on stalled projects.  I had the perfect candidate in the Mt. Washington painting.  He forced me to do exercises of value studies for the painting, six of them, and claimed that each was better than the one before, and only then was I allowed to apply those principles to my big canvas.  So annoying to have to apply real rules when all you want to do is follow your instinct.  But my instinct had dried up, I guess, and that’s why the canvas had seen stashed away for a whole year.  So now Phase 2, which will I hope lead to 3 sooner than a year from now:

Phase 2 of Mt Painting

Phase 2 of Mt Painting

Another feature from Figure Fridays with Peter Clive is this 2-session study of Fletch reclining on the ubiquitous brown leather sofa.   I had two hours remaining when I finished the figure study, so I started a portrait too.

Reclining Male on Brown Sofa

Reclining Male on Brown Sofa

 Portrait Fletch Mar 2013

Portrait Fletch Mar 2013

Compare the new portrait to this one from last month.  Am I getting better?

Fletch portrait on darker bkgrd

Fletch portrait on darker bkgrd

The Saturday group is back in business after two weeks off.  Here is the pick of that session.

Reading from back

Reading (Nook) from back

Finally perhaps my favorite of the group is this portrait of Grace.  I think I am finally getting the hang of something–the color of the skin, the modeling of the shoulder, and the light touch for the mouth.  I’m really fond of this one!

Portrait Grace Mar 2013

Portrait Grace Mar 2013

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Viewer Discretion Advised

The weather has been crazy up here in New Hampshire.  One day last week everything had to stop for a snow storm, and the next day Spring seemed to arrive.  Because of the snow day, what was supposed to be three successive sessions with Becky as our model were interrupted, and as a result, many fine artworks have gone unfinished.  Quelle tragique!  (Obviously I am referring to the fine artworks in progress by my cohorts, as well as my own.)  Here are my almost-finished works from Friday and Tuesday.

Becky on the Green Chair

Becky on the Green Chair

This one may be finished.  I need a critique from Peter to be sure.  Since I was working on a 9×12 support, the face was quite small, which frustrated me because it was really beautiful.  I decided to quit the one above and start up a portrait, which was going to be finished the next Friday, weather permitting.  Which it didn’t.

Half-finished portrait of Becky

Half-finished portrait of Becky

And no Sunday sessions, possibly due to a mix up involving Daylight Savings Time.  But I still have extra material to show you this week, thanks to the Saturday Life Group.  Two Saturdays’ worth, in fact.  Not only two Saturdays, but two models on one day–a rare event!  But so hard for us as artists to pull off.

I’ll start with the earlier Saturday.  Pretty normal stuff, not shooting for the moon, just charcoal on the Mi Tientes pastel paper.  I don’t care for that exaggerated texture but I have a lot of it to use up, and it might be growing on me.

Becky, left side view

Becky, left side view

Becky, right side view--another imitation of Ingres' Grande Odalisque

Becky, right side view–another imitation of Ingres’ Grande Odalisque (see my prior discussion here)

Becky, front view

Becky, front view

For the second Saturday, we had two models, both new to us, a couple.  We found that posing them in a tableau where they seemed to be interacting with each other made for better results.  Here is our first longish (20 minutes) pose.

Duo Jamie and Catherine, No. 1, 20 minutes

Duo Jamie and Catherine, No. 1, 20 minutes

The second pose was our longest, about 45 minutes I believe, and as you will see, the models were side by side but not really interacting.

Duo Jamie and Catherine--No. 2, 45 minutes

Duo Jamie and Catherine–No. 2, 45 minutes

We had intended that second pose to last the rest of our session, but as a group, we were so disappointed by it, that we abandoned it for another intertwined pose.  However, I did enjoy my drawing, which was basically just of the guy, with the girl in the background.  The light was interesting.  (That studio at the Institute has an overhead skylight, which distinguishes our Saturday drawings from all others in the Langer Place studio.)

Duo Jamie and Catherine--No. 3, 25 minutes

Duo Jamie and Catherine–No. 3, 25 minutes

It was hard to account for all the limbs and still keep their positions believable.  When a body disappears behind something, it has to come out the other side looking as if it belonged there.  If you examine my drawings closely, you can find much fault, but overall, the effect is pleasing, I hope.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Through March 29, you can also view (and purchase–of course!) my 6×6’s at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.

Breaking Bad

My weekend was dominated by my iPad (Christmas gift) and my discovery of the HBO series “Breaking Bad”.  Apparently it’s been around since 2008, but only recently came to my notice.  Convergently, my iPad excels at downstreaming (if that the correct term) episodes of Breaking Bad from Netflix, 46 episodes starting in 2008, each about 48 minutes long.  I made only a small dent.  Needless to say, not much art got created.  So in a way, I acted out in my own very small way the title of the series, which refers to the conduct of a high school chemistry teacher who breaks bad and sets up a secret lab to manufacture crystal meth.

Thank goodness for Nita and Nancy, my fellow Circlers, who have provided images of their creations to flesh out this sorry specimen of a blog entry.  All three of us painted Tuesday morning, and Nita painted Friday as well, while Nancy and I were gallivanting to Boston for the Symphony and the MFA.  Let’s start with Friday and go backwards for a change (it’s good for your mental agility, they say):

Nita's Friday Project

Nita’s Friday Project

I’m so impressed with this portrait.  It is well drawn, and the lips in particular are so delicately painted (and accurate for the likeness, if that matters–it matters in the sense that you score more points for a likeness, but doesn’t matter in terms of quality of painting).  The modeling of the facial structures is also well done.  And the eyes are good.  Skin tone, really good, well I could go on, but you get the idea.

Because we were a smaller than usual group on Tuesday, we gathered around the brown leather sofa, on the sunlit side of Adrienne’s studio.

Nancy's pastel painting

Nancy’s pastel painting

Nita's Painting

Nita’s Oil Painting

My Painting

My Oil Painting

I took this painting to a collegial critique on Wednesday and got some really useful suggestions, which I promptly implemented, all except one which I forgot about until just now (add red reflection of the drape on his thigh).  My handling of the pillows and the sofa itself drew more admiration than the figure.  Here are some–perhaps all, at least all that I could locate–of my prior interpretations of that sofa:

The Feet Have It

The Feet Have It

Owning the Brown Leather Sofa

Owning the Brown Leather Sofa

On the Brown Leather Sofa

On the Brown Leather Sofa

Vote for your favorite brown leather sofa painting by commenting below.  If you want to.  Don’t feel obligated!

I will be participating again this year in the McGowan Gallery’s annual “Love, Lust and Desire” show–it’s a Valentine theme for the month of February.  The reception will be February 1, from 5-7. The show is unique, or at least pretty unusual, for the limitation on the size of the artworks:  2D, no larger than 8×11.  The prices are accordingly affordable.  McGowan is a superb, high-end gallery, worth regular visits any time you might be in the neighborhood.  10 Hills Avenue, Concord, NH.  My contributions to the exhibit are mostly small oil paintings on treated paper.  I included two copies of master’s portraits that I am particularly proud of.  One is a self-portrait by Pietro Annigoni , the other a detail from a painting by Jacob Collins.  I love this black and white closeup of his model’s head almost better than the original half-figure-in-color version.

After Jacob Collins (detail from Carolina)

After Jacob Collins (detail from Carolina)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

More from the Circle of Six

Artists and Model

Artists and Model

I completed this painting last Friday, and there seems to be universal agreement that it is one of my best, knocking last June’s  “In the Artist’s Studio” out of the top spot.  What makes it best is, I believe, the additional interest contributed by the figures in the background, and I surely do hope I did not go overboard in depicting them.  I was acutely aware of the need to not compete with the central figure of the model, and I therefore had intended to be much sketchier with the artist figures.  But, as happens so often to me, the painting wrested control from me.  So far, no one admits to thinking the background figures are too prominent.

As I laid it out for you last week:  Tony is still the one on the far left, and Steve is the one across the room from me.  Both of them started over on new works this week. Here is Steve’s, and after it is Tony’s–in paint this week (hurrah!):

Steve's drawing

Steve’s drawing

Tony's painting

Tony’s painting

Continuing around the room counterclockwise, next is Fletcher’s painting, then Nita’s.

Fletcher's painting

Fletcher’s painting (awesome knee!)

Nita's painting

Nita’s painting

Heather was not with us this week; she was a casualty of the snowstorm we had the day before.  Elizabeth couldn’t make it either, a worrisome thing; I hope you will eventually get to see some of her work.

I’ll keep it short and (hope-you-agree) sweet this last day of the year 2012.  Happy New Year!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Painting Faces

Lately, in a change-up from the nudes, I have been trying to paint faces.  I suppose in the back of my mind I had been harboring some hope of getting good enough at painting faces to paint portraits.  The master of portraits is John Singer Sargent.  I’m beginning to realize that I will never ever be good enough to paint a portrait that I could even show to JSS for a critique.  No, of course I’m not aspiring to paint as expertly as JSS, but there is a continuum, let’s say of 100 points.  JSS is 100.  I had hoped to reach 80.  And for a while, it had seemed doable, as I gradually captured more and more of the likenesses of my subjects.  But OMG, it dawned on me between this and that stray thought, almost casually, that capturing a likeness is simply putting the correct shape in the correct spot, sort of like the police artist who renders the likeness of a suspect from the selections of a witness.   A likeness is only the beginning of a portrait, a toe in the water of portraiture.  I did two likenesses this week.

Close up of Becky's Face

Close up of Becky’s Face

Close up

Close up

Neither of them qualify as portraits.  Let us compare JSS’s portraits.

First, his portraits are full length.  I can’t think of a single JSS painting of a face.  (He did do many smaller charcoal or pencil drawings of facial likenesses, which I love to copy.)  “Portrait” signifies so much more than facial features.  “Portrait” suggests that attributes of the subject’s disposition are revealed.   The posture of the subject, the objects held by the subject, all contribute toward conveying what the subject holds dear and what attitude the subject takes toward life.

Second, consider the monumentality of effort that JSS put into his portraits.  Despite the fact that he was superbly accomplished and experienced, he would not complete a portrait with fewer than eight sittings (according to Wikipedia) and rumor has it that in at least one instance, the unfortunate subject had to submit to something like 80 hours of sitting.  And by the way, again according to Wikipedia’s source, he usually got the likeness right away, in the first sitting.  The rest of the sitting time, the bulk of his efforts, had to do with everything other than the likeness.

So in conclusion, I have not yet completed a real portrait, or even come close.  And if I were good enough to get so far as to complete one in my lifetime, which is alas limited to another 30 years at best, I should have by now received some inkling of the possibility.  I continue to make progress, but I will never arrive.

But hey!  I’m having a wonderful time.  Here is the lovely nude that escaped my camera last week, and a few more from this Saturday’s session:

Attitude in 20 minutes

Attitude for 20 minutes

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

35-minute pose in charcoal

35-minute pose in charcoal

You might like the 5- and 10-minute short poses better than the longer 35-minute pose.  That 5-minute pose is the best pose–wish I could have had an hour with it.  (The 50-minute pose was too horrible–I won’t even look at it, much less photograph it.)  The photos this week were, by the way, brought to you by my phone, pitch-hitting for the digital single lens reflex made by Nikon.  Not too shabby for a camera phone.

After our grueling session in the morning, a few of us SLG-ers got together for a party that night, and someone else’s camera phone caught this totally unposed candid shot of a few luminaries in attendance.  Not.

Members of Saturday Life Group at Xmas party

Members of Saturday Life Group at Xmas party

From left to right:  Marion Hazelton, Joey Pearson, Bea Bearden, Larry Christian (yes, THE Larry Christian), and me.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

The Struggle (with compressed charcoal)

I’m pleased to report that I did not chicken out.  Monday a week ago, I proclaimed my intent to deploy compressed charcoal in Larry Christian’s life drawing class, and on Tuesday I did just that.  I had prepared myself by acquiring a large bag of cots.  What is a cot, you ask?  They are little rubber caps for fingers.  They look like condoms.  Larry said they would fit his dog’s, well, you know.  I thought I would need only one cot, for the third finger, which I favor for smearing soft willow charcoal.   I soon discovered that compressed charcoal attaches itself to fingers that merely touch the stick.  By the end of the class, I had one cot on every finger of my right hand, because all of them were handling the stick.  My thumb is fatter than my other fingers, and all my cots were medium-sized to fit my other four fingers, so my poor thumb suffered mightily from the constriction of blood flow; after all that, my thumb still got covered in dust because of a pinhole leak in the tip of the cot.

Smearing, the technique that I love to use with ordinary, vine charcoal, is not a good technique for compressed charcoal.  You can’t soften a mark left by compressed charcoal–you can only make it look messy.  You’ll see.

I started with a test sheet of mark-making.

A test of handling

My sticks were square, but not precisely square.  One side of a square might produce a perfectly even application of charcoal, while the side next to it will produce streaks of darker lines at the edge.  Unless you were expecting and planning for those streaks, this would be quite upsetting.  Because THERE IS NO CORRECTING OF MARKS MADE BY COMPRESSED CHARCOAL.  You can start light and get darker, but you can’t reverse direction.   If you try to erase, you’ll probably sink the boat.

Gestures, no. 2

Upper left–that’s what happens when you try to smear or spread the mark left on the paper by compressed charcoal.  Yucky!

Gestures, no. 1

gestures, no. 3

Gestures, No. 4

Gestures, No. 5

Gestures, No. 6

You’ll notice that I am not drawing with lines.  Instead, I am trying to create form by darkening the space around it, or by filling in form with a darker value.  Given the size of the charcoal stick, details can’t make it into the picture.  You can probably deduce from a few stray boobs that our model was not a man.

The magic of the compressed charcoal comes from its revelation of the grain of the paper.  Almost anything you do can look cool.  To the extent that these gesture drawings are successful, it is probably because I didn’t have time to find ways of spoiling them.  The more time I got with a pose, the harder it became for me to adjust to the unique properties of the compressed charcoal, as these next three poses demonstrate.

Struggle no. 1  Where do you go when you can’t draw the face or fingers?

struggle no. 2 still trying to complicate things

Struggle no. 3 Falling back on lines

Too black, too soon, those last two.  I resolved thereafter to slow down, tread softly.  Restraint is key.

Stuggle no. 4

Finally, I feel I am getting somewhere.  Can you make out the smudges from my fingertips (actually from the cots on my fingertips)?  By this time, my finger cots were layered in thick, greasy, black soot.

Struggle no. 5–close, or there?

Because the back view is my favorite, or maybe because this was our last pose of the night, whatever, I finally produced something of which to be proud.  My light, early marks that were “wrong” (too wide buttocks) did not detract from the beauty of the final drawing.  The paper I was using was low-quality sketch paper.  I can’t wait to see how these marks will look on some decent “laid” charcoal paper.

Isn’t it ironic that a drawing that looks as though it were born of wild abandon is actually born of restraint?

P.S.  Larry was quite pleased with me.

Catching the Odd Perspective

I haven’t mentioned it before, but I have been taking a figure drawing class at the Institute with Larry Christian.  Larry’s approach to drawing the figure is the opposite of academic drawing.  He pushes us to  draw quickly, intuitively, expressively.   The techniques are familiar ones, but to please Larry, we must apply those techniques more fluidly and expressively to create an image that is unique.

I took this course with Larry before, in the spring of 2006, when I was just getting started as an artist.  At that time, I was obsessing on landscapes, particularly plein air painting.   Now that I have done a 180 on that preference, and also come to admire Larry’s drawings, I was motivated to retake the course, hoping to find out how Larry achieves his dramatic effects.  For the only images of his work I could find online, click here.  By way of contrast, look at Anthony Ryder’s drawing, so meticulous, and also lovely, but definitely academic in style.

Most of our work product in Larry’s course is not fit for public view.  We bring nothing  to completion.  We produce pages and pages of gesture drawings, 30 or more of them each week, and then do our exercises on the technique du jour.  One week it was drawing shapes instead of lines.  The next week, drawing negative shapes.  The week after that, creating form with darker values for shadows.  Most recent week, creating form by wiping out darker values to create light.

Last week did produce a few showable drawings.  And one of them contributed to the title of this week’s blog.

Bent

We applied charcoal evenly over the paper in order to create a non-white ground, and then erased that charcoal to bring out the shape of the model.  I got lucky in my angle on the crouching pose–the simplicity of the shape and the shadow distinguish this drawing.  The one before it was a more traditional pose, more complicated, yet less interesting.

Seated

Now that the course is winding to a conclusion, I have a pretty good idea of what I will be practicing in order to emulate Larry Christian:  Use compressed charcoal;  draw negative spaces; and my shadow areas will be all in one value.  That last point was a revelation.

The other example of an odd perspective is my painting from yesterday, Sunday.  I brought a larger canvas (12×16) and had less time (we didn’t get started until 45 minutes into our 3-hour session with the model), so perhaps that inspired me to paint more with the larger, simpler shapes.  Or maybe I was influenced by the success of my crouching pose above.  In any event, here it is:

Pillowed

In evaluating this painting, I remembered one from a month or so ago, which, by consensus of my friends, I had ruined by smoothing out the shapes within shapes.  It’s very hard to restrain oneself.  Right now I’m looking at that light patch on her forehead, thinking it should be smoothed.  But I had a light patch like that on her breast at one point, and it disappeared and I don’t even remember doing it.  That’s how hard it is to restrain oneself.

Following up on the Soo Rye Gallery opening last Saturday, I’m hoping you are dying to see my photos taken at the reception.

Totem displayed in Soo Rye Art Gallery

High and Dry on exhibit at Soo Rye

Lotus Studies, on exhibit at Soo Rye

Bea’s drawing, displayed in Soo Rye Gallery

Bea’s portrait of Becky

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Waiting for the Roof to Blow Off

Hurricane Sandy is on her (his?) way and I need a new roof.  Fingers crossed.

But so far, the wind is not even moderately scary.  People have lost power though.  Peculiar.  I am sitting pretty with my permanent generator, installed last year after the surprise October snowstorm.  After I finish my blog, I get to clean my palette in readiness for the Tuesday life group tomorrow, instead of my usual Monday bridge game.  Bridge is cancelled because of the storm.  Many have advised me to cancel this meeting of the Tuesday life group, but I am waiting to see if it’s going to that bad in the morning.  I’m almost hoping it will be bad–I could use an unplanned for day off.  Almost.  Falling behind doesn’t help in the long run.

Since last week I didn’t post any of my new nudes or portraits, I have twice as much inventory this week.  The choices aren’t easy.  None are perfect, but each has something I am proud of.  So that will be my theme this week:  proud parts.  No, that doesn’t sound right.  Part of which I am Proud.

Sitting Tall

I struggled most with the arms, and finally got one down but ran out of time.  The part I like is the head.  There is a resemblance.  I think the hands could have been better articulated, but I got a good start on them.

Occupier

In this charcoal drawing, I like the different textures I tried out on the chair and the background.  Also, the big toe.  And the resemblence isn’t bad either.

Sitting Solid

The hands are my favorite part of this portrait.  His hands have always been excellent models for me.  I also like the face.

Finding Flight

For a change, I am not pleased with the face because it looks too old for this model.  But I like most of the rest of this painting–I like the quality of the paint, the values, the colors.  This little green chair is showing up more often–it’s a good choice for us because it has no arms to block one’s view of the model from the side.

Cheeky

This is my favorite of the two weeks.  I like to draw profiles.  Her face was so shadowed that after getting the profile itself in,  I had to imagine the rest.  I started it as a charcoal drawing on a dull orange paper, but added a few pastels (yellow, pink and rust) to bring this drawing closer to being a painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  for a few more days only at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University and at the Derry Public Library; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.  And coming soon:  at the Soo Rye Art Gallery in Rye NH; the opening reception is Saturday, November 10, 5-8.  Also, if you want to plan ahead, a 2-day show  of unframed works at Adrienne’s studio in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial Ave., Manchester, NH; the artwork will be priced no higher than $150.

Weary of nudes?

When Londonderry Arts Council decided to take the plunge and allow nude images to be exhibited at their annual “Art on the Common”, an outdoor art show to be visited by regular folk and their innocent, sheltered children, I threw caution to the winds and signed up.  In order to show my nudes, I had to mount and frame them.  Big effort, but more significantly, big expense.  After the one-day show, I had about 25 paintings of nudes, many of them in new frames purchased for the occasion.  What to do with all those riches?  Hang them up, of course.  I have one room in my house pretty much covered from ceiling to floor by artwork, most of it my artwork.  I took down all of my artwork, and replaced those pieces with my nudes.  When you walk into that room now, you are pretty much overwhelmed by the beauty of the naked body.  It’s a bit too much, even for me.  That room is where I host the weekly bridge game, and this week was the first time my bridge players had seen the room in its reborn splendor.  I allowed as how the display was too much, and was rewarded with this telling remark:  “I’d say you got that down — you don’t need to do any more.”

Need vs. want.  I am an addict.  I spend so much time in a week working on my little studies of nudes that I have not made a lot effort to get outside and paint landscapes, or put in some time on my large studio project.  Between my Saturday group, my Tuesday group, my Tuesday night class, my Friday morning workshop, and my Sunday group, I currently probably have more opportunities for life drawing and painting than practically anyone else has ever had since the beginning of modern times (by which I mean the 20th and 21st centuries).  The ability to admit this may be my first step back on the pathway to normalcy.  Or not.

I think I will take down most of the nudes gracing my walls, but I can’t stop myself when it comes to the drawing and painting part.

Sometimes I get distracted by the face.  The ability to paint or draw portraits is important to me.  I keep thinking that if I just keep trying, I will eventually learn how to capture the elusive likeness, and when that happens, only after that happens, I can start to apply some Art to the likeness.  And that thought has led me to another breakthrough insight into modern art, at least the kind of modern art which represents a depiction of something.  The depiction of something with paint or whatever other medium can range from photographic to practically abstract.  The purely photographic requires a great deal of skill and patience.  But it’s doable, given time, talent and determination.  The other end of the spectrum is largely inspirational.  The amazement it engenders in the beholder is something more rarefied than mere appreciation of skill.  That is not to say that both appreciations cannot be embodied in a single work of art.  Sargent, say.  Or my latest hero, Eric Aho, an abstract landscape artist.  Also, see  Antonio Lopez  Garcia , a realist of inspired genius.  Here is one of my favorite works by Garcia:

Sink and Mirror, by Antonio Lopez Garcia

An artist who creates amazing, inspired art is gifted with more than mere talent for drawing and painting.  He (or she) is gifted with genius.  I suppose it is my hope that somewhere hidden inside me is a spark of genius, if only I can find it.  And that’s why I can’t stop drawing and painting nudes.  It’s my pathway.  To destinations unknown.

So, speaking of which, here are SOME of the nudes of the past week, one of which is a portrait:

Figure in Charcoal

This young gentleman is a new, inexperienced model.  I hope we see him again.  In addition to the full figure above, I also drew a pretty accurate portrait, but forgot to photograph it.

Full figure in charcoal

I am starting to misremember when and where I painted what, but I’m pretty sure this charcoal drawing happened in the past week in Adrienne’s studio.  I just can’t figure out how I must have drawn this as well as the portrait below within the same three hours.  I would have skipped over this one but for the breast resting on the ottoman–does it perfectly evoke the soft tissue or could I have done it better?  Doubt is such a demon.

Becky portrait in charcoal

You all know Becky by now.  I thought this was an excellent likeness when I drew it, but now I think I have made her look just a little bit older than she is.

Relaxed

This is a colleague who models for us occasionally so as to defray his cost of participating as an artist.  Artists make the best models.

Long-stemmed rose

Our new long-limbed model.  Drove me crazy as I kept revisiting the question, is her leg (arm, foot, hand) really that long or have I exaggerated it?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the Derry Public Library; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Roaa

Pretty in Pink

Roaa is a young (14 or 15) Sudanese girl now living in Manchester.  She is a Muslim, I am told, but lucky for us, not opposed to being painted or photographed.  We have painted two other Sudanese women, but they were not Muslims.  So we felt very honored that Roaa was allowed to pose for us on the last two Sundays.  On the right is my piece as completed that first Sunday, in about two hours.  I had marked off a 9×12 section of canvas from a pad to use as my surface.   Subsequently, I took it to an informal critique, and made a few improvements.  Here is the new, improved version.

Roaa No. 1, finished

The changes were so subtle that they may get lost in the translation to digital photographs.

Covering 9×12 in two hours is a lot easier than covering 16×12, as I was remindedyesterday at our second Sunday with Roaa.  I decided to paint bigger, intending to go for more of a head portrait.  But when she got situated in the light with her hands again cupping each other, I could not resist another half-figure portrait.  Naturally, with the enlargement came complications, and I could not achieve the likeness that I had captured the week before.  I am going to have to find a way to stand (as opposed to sit, as I usually do) for the painting of larger portraits.  When I stand, I can more readily back away to get a better perspective.  Or I must at least remember to use my reducing glass.  The catch is, while I am working, I’m not thinking about whether I need to check my work.  During the process of painting, I may not be “thinking” at all.  So every now and then, I should stop painting and tell myself to think.  So annoying.

Roaa No. 2, in Peach

The wrap that she wore for this sitting was a peach, almost pink, but at the end I decided to lay over some cadmium yellow, from the tube I got from Michael Harding.  It’s so vivid, I love it.  Why do I still call it “peach”?  It’s the color of the insider of a real peach, isn’t it?  Anyway, this is an unfinished portrait, but I’m not going to develop it any further.  Roaa thought it looked more like her mother than herself, and that may be because I got the nose too long.  Again.

In a parallel theme, I am taking a course with Larry Christian at the NH Institute of Art.  It’s the same course that I took  back in 2006 when I first started on this art track, but today  I’m jumping in at an advanced level.  As luck would have it (good luck), nobody in the class is a beginner.  Larry encourages–no, demands— his students to loosen up.  I like to work fast, so it’s kind of liberating for me.  I dug out my compressed charcoal, ready for anything.  Saturday, at SLG, I tried to apply the new thinking, with three pretty different results.  Bet you can’t tell which one took 20 minutes, which took 40 minutes, and which took 50 minutes.

Getting the Angles Right

Out of the Fog and Mist

Blackest Black

But I know you can tell where I used the compressed charcoal!  It’s a bit like finger painting, and it took two days of scrubbing to get the stuff completely off my fingers.  Badge of honor.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the Derry Public Library; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Confessions of a TV Addict

Conventional Wisdom would have it that no artist should be wasting her time watching TV.   TV can be a terrible time-waster for anybody, not just for artists.  Not watching TV has become, however, an article of faith for those artists who are into preaching to other artists.  Most of the articles of faith are true enough, and it’s good to be reminded from time to time to find your own style, treat  your collectors well, and always be working on improving your art.  But I can’t give up TV (or the movies that I use a TV set to view).  I just don’t understand those people who complain there is nothing worth watching on TV.  (For those people, not watching TV is no sacrifice on the altar of Art anyway, so they have no business preaching to people like me who enjoy the dramas and documentaries available on television.)  I enjoy a whole host of programs, mostly dramas and documentaries.  I even get into some of the “reality” shows -for example, “Too Cute” on Animal Planet is not to be missed!  I also believe an artist should not cloister herself from what is going on the the Real World but has a duty to keep informed on current events.  The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert are “must” viewing for me.

As much as I disagree with those sermons about demon TV,  I do feel guilt over my addiction, and I confess as often as possible, hoping to purge the guilt. One, maybe even two, earlier blogs make the same confession, and I still have not repented.

Thanks to my DVR, however, I have found a better method to assuage my guilt.  I keep a sketchpad, pencils and eraser nearby. It adds about an hour to my viewing time, but on a good night I will have two well-developed drawings at the end. I wait until something on the screen catches my artist’s eye, pause the program, work on my drawing as long as necessary, and then resume the program or go to bed, depending on the hour.  (Obviously, I watch TV alone.  Couldn’t do this otherwise.)  None of these drawings will end up in a museum, but it’s great practice that I would not be getting if I were reading a book.  (Books are apparently approved time-wasters, regardless of the subject matter.)

Here are 52 images, some containing more than one drawing, dating from about mid March to last night.  I hope they demonstrate progressively better drawing.  I have numbered them in roughly chronological order, and intend this slide show to set them before your eyes in that same order, but who knows?

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I think –I hope–you might notice that I am getting more nuance into facial muscles, and am developing the drawings to a finer conclusion.  I am also getting more stubborn about the likeness, not giving up until it looks right.

Now when I sit down to watch TV, I am looking forward more to the drawing activity than to the TV watching non activity.  I notice a dearth of children’s faces, so I will be concentrating on them in the future.  And more animals.  Love animals, but it’s hard to demonstrate rigorous likenesses with animals, so not so much of a challenge.  I hope you responded to  the eyes of the lion, though.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Epsom Public Library in Epsom; at the Bedford Public Library, in Bedford; and at her studio by appointment.

Drawing to Perfection

. . . by which I mean, drawing TOWARD perfection.   It may be that technical skill in drawing is not so important in today’s art world, but I believe that it is something every true artist has to work at, at least until she gets inspired to do something so out of the box that drawing skill becomes irrelevant.  (I’m thinking Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, for example.  Jeff Katz?)   I figure that if I work at getting my drawings both beautiful and accurate for another, say, five years, I might then be in a position to move on.  That leaves me plenty of time to be great, provided I live as long as my mother did.  So that’s the Plan.  First:  perfection.  Second, greatness.

This week was a week without painting.  So I plan to unveil a bunch of new TV heads and two drawings from life, all with my stated goal of perfection in mind.  I’ll start with the TV heads.

David Cook, My Favorite American Idol

If you were not watching American Idol four years ago, or the 11th season program last week, you don’t even know who David Cook is, much less what he looks like.  He’s pretty.  But what inspired me to make these two drawing was the interesting attitudes and facial expressions.  (He was singing.  I hope that’s obvious.)

One of my favorite series is The Mentalist, and I think I’m not alone in that.  So you might recognize this portrait:

The Mentalist’s partner

Teresa Lisbon.  I’m sorry, I never learned the name of the actress who plays Lisbon.  This is her expression upon witnessing Patrick Jane’s declaration that he is quitting his job as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation.  She’s worried about his mental health.  Does it show?

Heroic Journalist

Heroic Journalist in “The Girl who. . . ” series (Swedish movies)

Character from “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”

These are two characters from the movie, “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”, third in the trilogy that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo”.  One is the star (Swedish version) Michael Nyquist, and the other is a supporting role.  I had earlier drawn a portrait of our American version of Mikael Blomquist, Daniel Craig:

I think it is not as good as my more recent (by a few weeks) ones, which, if true, would be such an excellent indicator that I might reach my 5-year plan goal.

Last night I added  to my collection of heads–Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as currently depicted on PBS.

Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman)

Holmes is played by a guy whose name is Benedict Cumberbatch.  I have been noticing him for some time now, bemused at how the Brits can allow a  comedic name like that out there, attached a guy looking so incredibly nerdy, and make a hero out of him.  So refreshing!

So those were practice.  The real test comes with the life drawing.  Last Tuesday I had three hours to create this drawing of a lovely nude back.  I could have used the same three hours to make an oil painting, and it might have come out well and been quite charming, but I’ve done a lot of painting lately, and I felt the need to hunker down and strive for the pure perfection of form and value as expressed with the lowly pencil.

The Perfect Back

The Perfect Back

To bring you up to date, hot off the press, as it were–just a few hours ago, I parted company with Dee.  Dee is a fellow artist whom I got to know from the Saturday Life group, before he moved to the Midwest.  Back in New Hampshire for a few days, he give me the gift of posing for me today.  I chose do a  portrait in pencil.  Before he left, I grabbed this photo to use later in perfecting my drawing:

Dee, for real

And here what I accomplished after two hours–a good start on the trickiest parts.

Portrait of Dee

The other news of the week is very disappointing.  The Sage Gallery, which I have been touting since it opened last September, suddenly called it quits.  As far as I know, not a single painting was sold (other items did attract buyers–stained glass, sculpture, photographs, etc.).   She (Janice Donnelly) got lots of media exposure, but somehow could not connect with the  serious art collectors.  Are there any serious art collectors in the area?  Maybe not.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Library Arts Center in Newport; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

On My Own . . . Sort of

No more class on painting the contemporary portrait.  No more Saturday life group.   Both are victim to the school calendar and to the need of the graduating Bachelor of Arts students at the NH Institute of Art for space to exhibit their senior projects.  (This is a wonderful exhibit, by the way; if you can get there during the run, you really should go.)  Even my Sunday morning ad hoc group was cancelled.  I had no organized artist activities for a whole week, and I had two whole weekend days with no workshops.  In short, I was on my own.

First I chose to clean up some paintings in waiting.  I went all the way back to my Florida trip in March for this one:

Marco Island Medical Center

The main focus of this plein air painting was the reflections in the big picture windows, and I was happy enough with how I portrayed them.  But the painting was unremarkable, dull, boring.  I thought I could jazz it up with new treatments for the tree and the grass.  Better now, right?

Next I turned to last week’s painting of our model in the brown recliner–painting No. 4 of her in that thing.  I did a little bit of this, a little bit of that, refining some areas, blurring others.

The Pose, Take No. 4

This might be Stage 2 in a multi-stage painting.  I’m thinking I would like the arm on the left more in the shadow, and perhaps all of her shadows should be darker.  I don’t care for the Barbie doll look of her features, but I’m not quite sure what to do about that.  What I do like is the new treatment of the aqua drape and  the background.

Another past painting touch up victim was last week’s “Iris Interpreted”.  I hope you like what I did to her face and the lower right corner.

Iris Interpreted

Finally, I struck out for new territory.  But it was territory based on last week’s drawing of the black and white couple.   Here is a glimpse of my set up as I copied the drawing into paint:

High Contrast in the making

Try as I might, I could not make his skin less white and her skin more black. That happens sometimes–the painting refuses to be what I want it to be.

I discovered the magic of a brayer on this painting.  The brayer is a roller of soft rubbery material.  It picks up and removes paint.   If you don’t clean it constantly, it also lays that paint down again somewhere else.  (I think it was actually meant to be a printing tool–and not one that comes in direct contact with the ink.)  You can see the effect in the background.  As I become bolder, I might even obliterate my carefully drawn figures in this way.

High Contrast

For the figures, I tried to keep the paint thick.  I was working on a slippery panel, so that was difficult.  Maybe that’s why I couldn’t get the effect I wanted.  Is this a good painting?  Good enough to forgive the flaws that I find so frustrating?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Library Arts Center in Newport; at the NH Institute of Art in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

P.S.  Honey is recuperating from her surgery, and is getting back her spunk.

Speaking figuratively . . .

is a lot easier than drawing figuratively.  And painting figuratively, especially without the coverup advantage that clothing provides, is hardest of all.  I admit that I am torturing that adverb “figuratively” –pretending that it can be substituted for the phrase “about the figure” in one sense and for the phrase “of the figure” in the other two examples.  I don’t make a lot of use of puns,so I figure (there’s that word again0–definitely no pun intended), I’m entitled to a little wordplay.  In face, half the fun of blogging is finding ways to make plays on works.

But figurativity is relevant.  This week, the subject is figures.  Beautiful figures in reality.  And paintings and drawings  that aspire to be beautiful in their own right.

My experimental palette knife work carried over into this palette-knifed figure study:

Girl in Brown Recliner

This painting is the output from one of our Sunday morning sessions.  Don’t you love the chair?  I do, but have to admit it looks better in person (in the painting itself).  I will get another crack at this model and pose, but instead of trying to correct errors in this one, I will start over with a new painting or drawing.  Paint that has been ladled onto the canvas with a palette knife just is not conducive to being overpainted.  Case in point: last week’s portrait, which I declared cooked after that session ended.  I would never try to add another layer of paint to that.  My first palette knifed portrait was not as heavily impasto’d, so I was able to rework  most areas.  (Both of those portraits can be seen in last week’s blog.)

Here’s another palette knifed portrait, but it’s also a little riské, so it fits in my theme for this week:

How Demure is She?

“Demure” is another one of my contest entries on Fine Art America, wherein I am given a photo of which to make a painting.  Because of the restrictions placed upon my use of the photo, I can’t reproduce it for you.  You will just have to trust me when I say that you would recognize this woman as the same one in the photograph, despite the radical colors and rough knife strokes I have adopted.  Or you can go online to Fine Art America and check out the current contest for “painting from photographs”.

I am kind of pleased with the ways I am finding to depart from the literalness of the subject matter without sacrificing the rigor of getting the essential elements right.

Not that I always get them right.  Au contraire.  Last Saturday I came away from our Saturday life drawing sessions with a couple of drawings that I felt good about.  This one, however, no longer looks good to me:

Reclining Woman

Through the fresh eye of the camera, I can now see that her head is way too big for her body.  I think of some deKoonings, Picassos etc. and ponder, so what?  They drew people with diminished bodies, and no one claims that they didn’t know how to draw.  Hmm.  Well, let’s move on:

Crouching

The arms on this figure got crumpled up somehow, but I still like the overall look of the thing.  It’s so . . . Degas.  Mind you, I am not all that admiring of Degas’ drawings, so this is not necessarily a self pat on my back.

Faring a lot better is this multi-colored drawing, which some of my fellow artists begged me not to touch after the first model break (20 minutes into the pose).  I continued working on it anyway, but not in any significant way.  I worked on the drape, clarified some values, things like that:

Seated Woman in Color

With an extra five minutes left for the pose, I sketched this head of the model:

Five-Minute Head

As you might have deduced, had you thought about it, our Saturday models come top-lit.  The light streams down from an overhead skylight, at least when the sun is shining.

OK, here are some guy drawings that I saved up from last month:

Seated Man

Contemplative

The composition of this one is interesting, and if his hand is a little too big, that’s better than being too small.  Our guy models use those poles a lot–not only do they give the model something to handle but they also give the model a place to rest his/her hand/arm, so as to provide more variety in the pose.  I also use the pole as a check of my  placement of limbs; if the angle of the pole is correct, the body parts have to come together with the pole in the correct way or I have got something wrong.  (Same model, same pole were featured in my mid-January blog titled “Why is this Man Digging a Hole in the Nude?”  Still a good question but now you know the answer.)

I suspect that I have written way too much tonight, but can’t trust my judgment.  It is  late, and I am  tired.  My usually upbeat Monday was discombobulated by the discovery that we had been burglarized; my desk, in particular, had been “tossed”.  My losses were not catastrophic, but still, it put me off my stride.   And Monday being Bridge Night, contains no slack.  (The cards were kind to me, which certainly helped put me in a better frame of mind.)

One last item of interest:

POP UP!

A pop up art exhibit will appear at the White Birch Brewing Company in  Hooksett NH Friday (5 to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (noon to 5 p.m.) this week.  April 13-14.  Food for the Friday night reception will be provided by cooking students from nearby Southern NH University.  Don’t sit this Friday the Thirteenth out, huddled in  your closet.  I believe a tour of the brewery with beer tastings can also be expected.  Whoo’ee!

Oh, yes,  I am participating.   I haven’t picked all the pieces that I will be exhibiting (and selling) yet, so if you have one you’d like to see there, let me know.  The theme is “New Hampshire Proud” but only one piece is required to represent that theme.  If you Google the theme, you will find elegantly composed publicity for this event. Support your local artist and your local brewery at the same time as enjoying food from your local  univeraity.  Doesn’t get much better, right?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  AND, for two days only, April 13-14, at the White Birch Brewery in Hooksett, NH.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Mary Crawford Reining

Continuing my report on my 2-week vacation on Marco Island as the guest of Mary Crawford Reining, here I present for your awe and delight a slideshow of 11 of Mary’s paintings, 10 of which were painted during my stay. Mary is, as I mentioned two weeks ago, really into painting sunsets.  Me, not so much.  While she was working on the sun, sky, clouds, etc., I would be faced in a different direction, painting the effect the light of the setting sun on various objects, like her cat, her mahogany tree, and so on.

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I guess there is one that doesn’t fit into the colorist label, but for the most part, Mary revels in colors of the highest chroma.  She does not gray anything down!

Just to be fair, I added comments to her paintings too, which you can access by clicking on the image.

Mary's Sunset No 1

Mary's Sunset No. 2

 

 

 

 

 

Mary's Sunset no. 3

Mary's Twilight Palms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary's Esplanade Fountain

 

Mary's Palms through the Lanai

I included her painting of the Esplanade fountain just because it was there, and why not?  I should have photographed some of her larger opuses as well, but I wasn’t thinking straight.  It was really, really HOT down there, and humid too!  No, one does not retreat into air conditioned interiors.  Especially if one is a painter.  What good is a lanai open to nature if you are going to hunker down in a closed-in building?

Mary's Farmers Market No. 1

Mary's Farmer's Market no. 2

Mary's Corkscrew Swamp

Mary's "Mangos"

Mary's Bridge (Work in Progress)

Two years ago, I posted a lot of bird photos that I captured in SW Florida.  I have a few more of those plus alligators, but another day.  I might have to supplement this post, already in two parts, with a third part, sublime wildlife photos from Marco Island.  But I have that time problem, so don’t hold your breath!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

14 Days, 13 Paintings

Actually, there was briefly an additional painting, the first one, which would have made the total 14, but I wasn’t loving it, so I painted over it. Usually my first painting in a series turns out to be the best, but I’m glad when a pattern stops repeating.  I would like to think that at any point in the timeline I might be creating a masterpiece.  On the past two Mondays, as blog substitutes I posted snapshots of 9 paintings, taken on my cell phone.  I did not have the patience to work out how to add text to the pictures, although obviously I managed to do just that for a few pictures the first week.   (I should have taken notes.)

Now that I am home, I can upload photographs taken with my Nikon SLR.  (Until I got back to my computer, I had no way to move photos from my Nikon to WordPress.)  Because there are so many, I decided to put the entire array in a slideshow.  If you are very observant, you will notice that some of the nine paintings received improvements after the posting of the cell phone photos.

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One painting, you might have noticed, was not a plein air landscape of Marco Island; it was a portrait from a photograph for another Fine Art America contest.  But I did it on Marco Island, so it gets included in the slideshow.

To save me time, which I am desperate to stretch right now, I am also posting the individual images in order to give  you access to my comments for each one.  Just click on the image that interests  you, and a pithy remark may or may not appear.  The paintings below are presented roughly in the order in which I painted them.

Cleo, Watching the Sunset

Mary's Mahogany Tree

Papaya Tree and other tropical delights

Waterway

Corkscrew Swamp -- the Anhinga airing his/her wings

Lanai in Shadow at Sunset

Strong winds

Marco Island Farmer's Market

Corner Cafe (Mango's, in the Esplanade)

Bridge over Canal

Picture windows, reflecting neigborhood across the canal behind me

Missy, the 3-month old "teacup pot belly pig" who accompanies one of the vendors at the Farmer's Market.

My hostess, Mary Crawford Reining, is an accomplished artist in just about any medium you can name.  Unlike me, after we parted ways after our high school graduation, she never stopped making art, even though she mothered four children and is still married to their father.  (Domesticity may present the biggest obstacle to creative endeavor.)  Mostly, however, she seems to prefer watercolor and pastels.  I don’t know of a term to affix to her style, but I do believe she is what you would call a “colorist”.  You will see what I mean when you proceed to the next blog entry.  (I could not separate my photos into two different slide shows within the same blog entry.)  So continue on, please, for an entirely different art experience!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

A Splurge of Portraits

“Splurge” seemed the right word, so I looked it up, and indeed, there is a secondary meaning that covers what I feel I have today:  an extravagant display.  Beginning with the figure workshop with Peter Granucci last Tuesday, through the class with Cameron Bennett, and and ending today with my last–no, my most recent–edits of the Sami and Noodles portrait, my week was full of figures and faces, most of them falling squarely under the category of portraiture.  Oddly enough, my favorite of the week is the most unlikely candidate.  I entered a contest to paint a portrait from a supplied photograph by Shan Peck–he is the photographer and the contest administrator and the juror.  It’s not a big deal, just a fun thing to do, and it became a project to do in my class with Cameron.  I can’t reproduce Shan’s photo here–he made a point of forbidding any use of it other than to paint the portrait–but you can link to it here.

Since we were encouraged to upload our works in progress, I snapped a few of those on my cell phone (had to figure that out first–what a banner week!).

WIP for contest

Contest Portrait, Final

Our Sunday model, Sabrin, was slated to keep the same post and dress as she had last week, so I went prepared to draw a charcoal portrait of her.  She was very late in arriving, however, so another artist volunteered to sit for us.  As a result, I came away with two charcoal portraits, one better than the other.  The first did not capture a good likeness.  If I had had the time, I hope I would have achieved a likeness.  As it stands, I believe I exaggerated the size of her nose.

HH Profile

The profile of Sabrin came out well, I think, likeness or not.  Her mouth was very interesting and challenging to capture.

Sabrin, in charcoal and profile

While we are on the subject of portraits, I took another crack at the portrait of Sami and Noodles.  It’s harder to capture children, I think, because you have to keep a light touch.   Their features are so delicate.   For that very reason, though, painting portraits of children makes for terrific practice in making marks at the precisely correct spot to provoke a translation in the viewer’s brain that matches reality.  Our eye/brain supplies so much of the information that an artist who tried to lay out all the information before you, especially in a child’s face, comes across as heavy-handed and awkward.  As a result of trying to avoid heavy-handedness, I spent most of my time today painting out the details that I had so carefully laid in earlier.  I may not be there yet, but at least I know where I want to be.

Sami and Noodles

I’m not done yet.  Remember, I promised a “splurge”.  Tuesday, Peter suggested that my last drawing was worthy of working up to a finished piece.  I had that drawing pad with me Saturday when my car broke down, so I was able to pass the time waiting for the tow truck by working on that drawing.  Never has such a usually tedious wait passed so delightfully.

G, in pencil

Nude woman in chair

Wait, there’s more.  Saturday morning (the regular Saturday life group) I completed two charcoal drawings with which I was happy.  One of my favorite models–it’s remarkable how much difference a good model can make to the drawing.  Last week’s was uninspiring.  This week’s–well, it’s what keeps me going back.

R, reclining

R, seated, in blue and yellow

I think that’s it.  Seven days, seven happy figure/portrait projects.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Two Steps Forward, One Back

Adrienne in her tough guy outfit

It was a great week in terms of activity.  Wednesday the Granucci workshop group met for 4 hours of live nude drawing.  Thursday the Bennett class met for painting the contemporary portrait.  Saturday the Saturday Life Group met for its usual three hours of live nude drawing.  And Sunday I joined a new group that meets for three hours to paint or draw from a clothed model, who keeps one pose for the entire time.

Peter (Granucci) started us on shadows, and I am happy enough with my results to share with  you for the first time some of my drawings from that workshop.

Two quick poses from Granucci workshop

Exercise in Shadowing

Thursday night, I took in my drawings from Saturday and Wednesday in order to choose one to use as a basis for painting.  I narrowed it down to two:  the more developed one above, and one from last week, the reclining figure.  I was happy with both of the faces on these two, until I asked Cameron (Bennett) for advice on which to choose for my painting.  He didn’t like the faces.  I was so taken aback that I forgot to ask why.  Anyway, together we chose the reclining figure to paint:

Translation into Oil

Our model on Saturday was the same person who was modeling for SLG the first time I joined.  That was perhaps 4 years ago, and she hasn’t changed a bit.  I have mentioned before how I just accept a bad angle and try to make the best of it.   This week I tried, but I did not make the best of it.

Rear View

Extreme Foreshortening

In fact, I may have done better with the shorter poses, which were in pencil:

Series of poses from SLG:--5, 10, 20 minutes

Sunday morning I  joined up with my friend Bea to go paint at Adrienne’s studio, the same studio where we meet for the Granucci workshop.  Adrienne had arranged for a Sudanese model dressed in her native regalia, and Bea in particular was looking forward to painting the dark skin tones–she even prepared a special palette.  But the Sudanese model never showed up–signals got crossed or were not even received, apparently.  So Adrienne herself modeled for us, too upset to paint anyway, she said.  She held the same pose for the entire three hours, with generous breaks every 20 minutes or so.  I finished a small painting of her entire figure (the painting that leads off this post) and had a half hour to spare, so I started on a painting of her  head.  I was hoping that the limited time would push me to capture the essence with minimal strokes, a la Caroline Anderson (whom I have adopted as my muse, as recounted in earlier posts).

Alas, on my way home, the tape I had used to keep the full body portrait secured to its support came loose, and smeared the head portrait.  In the course of repairing the head, I lost the freshness and simplicity of the original.

How to Sport a Fedora

The full body one was easy to repair, and I don’t think I lost anything essential to it.

So I am kind of down in the dumps at the end of a relatively productive week, which is probably why I couldn’t bring myself around to getting this post out on time.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the McGowan Fine Art Gallery in Concord; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Concentrating on Portraits: Faces with no Features?

Of all the works I labored over this week, the above detail from a charcoal drawing comes the closest to being an actual “portrait”.  It looks like the model.  In fact, the entire drawing could be called a portrait in that it not only looks like the model, but it conveys the model’s attitude, which I have called “Proud”:

Proud

If you are a regular reader of this blog,  you already know that I am taking a course in contemporary portraiting at the NH Institute of Art, with Cameron Bennett.  One of the points that he made in our first class was that anything representing the subject can qualify as a “portrait”–if that is what the artist intends.  (One out-there example brought up by one of my smartypants classmates was Andy Warhol’s tomato soup cans.  She/he said he practically lived on tomato soup; therefore the soup-can paintings could be considered self-portraits.)

So suddenly I feel free to call my anonymous figure paintings “portraits” too.  I’m thinking of the studies I painted from the photos I took at the  Mount Washington Bike Race, discussed and reproduced in several of my posts from last fall.  As you will see below, I’m still working from those photographs, and I’m still trying to work more loosely.  To that end, I have stuck printouts of Carolyn Anderson paintings all over my easel to help me remember how little I need in order to convey eyes, nose, etc.  (Forget the mouth altogether.)  All this fits splendidly into another theme or goal, which was urged upon me by various art teachers to whom I have paid good money to criticize and guide me.  And that goal is to eliminate the detail.  I was never quite sure which details I should eliminate, so now I am on track to eliminate all of them, so that should produce something like progress, eh?

Last week I was struggling with a portrait of Sammi and Noodles, which got way too detailed.  (To see it, go back to last week’s post.)  Thursday night, I went to class bearing that sorry effort, along with my photograph of Sammi, and my drawing from the week before.  (All in last week’s blog.)  But I (wisely, I think) decided to make a fresh start on a new painting of the same subject.   Again I was seduced by the dog Noodles.  (Maybe I should just give up and do nothing but pet portraits.)   The depiction of Sammi was horrible.  I can’t show you how horrible because I smeared it out even while Cameron and I were shaking our heads over it.  He got into the spirit and started moving paint around with his fingers too, in random and varied directions, to show me how Carolyn Anderson would probably have attacked the painting.  (I use the word “attacked” to convey both possible meanings.)  Then at home yesterday I practiced on both versions of Sammi and Noodles, and here they are as they exist today, side by side:

No. 1, version 2

Sammi 2

xxxxxx

xxxxxxx

I’m not satisfied with either one, but don’t you agree that version 2 shows me moving in the desired direction?  I decided it was time to move on and apply whatever I learned to another project.  Here is the result:

Fans

I’m feeling good about this one.  The paint is very thick and still very wet, which is why I could not get a decent photograph of it . .  .  also why the colors may be a little too muddy, but I’m not going to worry about that right now.  The important thing is, I conveyed the gestures and attitudes of these three people without painting distinct features on them.  My previous Mt. Washington studies (yes, this too is from that race) had started to become that kind of thing, what with the loosely painted crowds.   Notice the crowd depictions above!    Maybe too abstract?  Hey, I’m feeling my way here.

But back to the portrait, the real thing, that I started you with today, the charcoal of “Proud”.   My favorite thing from this week.  I believe–I could be wrong, but I do believe–that there is no offending detail in that portrait.  I am going to take it in to class this Thursday and see what Cameron has to say.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

Why is this man digging a hole, in the nude?

J's back, three-quarter.

"This should have been easy"

Portrait of a young man resting on the handle of the shovel, contemplating the hole he has dug for himself.  Why is he digging a hole for himself?  Unimportant.  Why is he nude?  Hmmm.  He’s in a nudist colony?

I struggle with the titles of my nudes.  The models must adopt a pose that they can keep for 20 minute stretches (sometimes longer), so the figure is contemplative, dreaming, sleeping, reposing. . . well, you get the idea.   One could simply title this one “Nude Male”, but that would not distinguish it from all the other nude males in the portfolio.  One could number one’s nude males.  Or one could come up with some witty thought superimposed on the model, which is what I attempted to do today.  I was inspired by the captions attached to the animals photos that circulate the internet, which captions awe me with their inventiveness.  I think, however, that it works better for cats and dogs than it does for  a naked human being.  The caption needs to acknowledge the nudity somehow, to make it work better for the nudes.  Something like, “Only five more minutes and I can put on my pants.”

On this point Degas’s bathers had the advantage–their natural nudity, nakedness, did not have to be explained away.  (By the way, that exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts will be closing February 2.)

Today’s nude was the pick of last Saturday’s life drawing session.  Sunday I finished the reverse-painting-on-glass and delivered it to the owner, who was pleased.  I also finished the Covered Bridge.  In response to an excellent observation from one of my followers, I removed some offending slashes of white, which I guess I had intended to symbolize water laps.  When you paint loose, the results can be brilliant,  or when not so brilliant, just careless.  An artist needs another, more objective eye to catch those things, and it  doesn’t have to be another artist’s eye either.  I always listen to a criticism and act on it, unless I am very sure of my own contrary view.  (Many times, the stated objection does not actually identify the real problem–it could be something nearby that throws the viewer off.)  In addition to making that and other various improvements to the body of the Covered Bridge painting, I painted the sides of the canvas in colors approximating the action going on the main canvas.  The painting can now be hung without a frame, as a “gallery wrapped” painting.  That is important to me, as the artist, because otherwise I would have to invest in a frame in order to exhibit the painting.

The rest of Sunday was devoted to another project:  homework for my fifth (at least) course at the Institute with Cameron Bennett on portraits.  But this time, something different–for him and us.  We are trying to BE different, paint somehow “out of the box”, using as possible inspiration other contemporary portraitists who are painting in styles newly invented or at least newly applied.  The only artist on the list supplied by Cameron whose name I even recognized was Chuck Close.  I am not drawn to emulate his monumental portraits.  The artist I am drawn to is Carolyn Anderson.  Her portraits are so loose as to be almost not even there.

Detail from portrait by Carolyn Anderson

In class I tried to emulate Anderson in pencil, drawing a portrait from a photograph:

Drawing from photo of Sammi and Noodles

After drawing my careful image, I erased a lot of it so as to leave ghosts of the image.  This exercise was the starting point of my painting effort yesterday, but yesterday I tried to be looser right from the get go.  Nevertheless, when I reach the point where I thought everything was correctly placed, there was a lot of smudging and subtracting.  Not enough!  This is still a work in progress–don’t judge it too harshly, and remember what I am going for:

Sammi + Noodles portrait

This isn’t going to be easy!  Especially for me, who has been accused of getting too hung up on the details.  I love the details.  It’s a mystery then, why I am so beguiled by Carolyn Anderson’s way of painting.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

From My Sketchbook: TV Heads. PART TWO

So that (Part One) was last year.  This year (meaning 2011 even though we are technically no longer in 2011), images were not  as dutifully labeled.  Where I can put a name to an image, either through recollection or recognition, I have done so.

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You may have noticed that I stopped using a charcoal pencil midway through 2011, as an element in my effort to back off, go  soft, go slow, and lighten up.  Those seductive, dramatic darks in my earlier drawings probably gives them an unfair advantage in any comparison to graphite drawings.

I have a sketch of Harry Pearce from MI-5 in both collections.  I think the likeness is better in the earlier one, but the craftsmanship may be better in the later one–?

MI-5's Harry Pearce

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On the other hand, I really admire the curve of his lips in the 2010 version.

I’m pretty happy with this group of four (wish I could have got Brandeis on the same sheet of paper):

Prohibition players (from Ken Burns' "Prohibition" part 2)

But are they really any better than, say, my Art Garfunkel?

Art Garfunkel

I wish I knew enough to be able to say for sure, one way or another.  Truth is, I haven’t a clue.  If doing it today I would have darkened the pupils of his eyes, but is that a significant difference?  Well, even if it is not all that significant, I guess I will take it.  If every year I find a better way to represent one face part, eventually I will get it all together.  Just have to live long enough!

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

From My Sketchbook: TV heads. PART ONE

I hereby confess that I am a TV junkie.  I know, I know–so lowbrow, so wasteful of time.  I really love movies too.  But every second while I am just sitting on the couch watching the TV screen, I feel guilty.  Sure, I could watch TV from the treadmill or the exercycle, but most of the time, upon pondering that option, I’ll agree that it’s something I really should  consider seriously . . . tomorrow.  Instead of watching TV at all, I could be, I should be painting or drawing or at least updating the records I used to keep of my paintings.

So, to assuage my guilt,  I keep sketchbook and pencils handy to the TV, in order to sketch from the TV screen.  In order to capture an image , I have to pause the program.  It does kind of interrupt the flow– so not something I can do when sharing the TV viewing with another human, but the dogs are perfectly OK with it.

I have collected some drawings from last year and this year, and boy, do I hope to discover that this year’s are better than last year’s!  Some nights (I mostly watch TV after sundown) I am on, others I am off; some nights nothing inspires me, other nights I am pausing the screen every five minutes.  As you will see, “Prohibition, Part 2” holds the record for number of images captured during a single program.  MI-5 is probably in second place.  But I started with ads.  My first screen captures were from an ad for an antidepressant.   They get right in your face, and the expressions are so mournful.  This one shows a blocking style that I was working on for a class at the time:

Face of a depressed man

For the rest of the year, I had permission to use shading.  Can you identify these faces without looking at the caption?

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Depressed Man was not supposed to show up in that presentation, but I don’t know how to delete him without deleting  him from the library altogether.  I think the only way to do it is to start a new blog entry.

So I am going to divide this week’s blog into two parts, just to make viewing the images more palatable (using a slide show).  I am ending this half here.  For the second half, move on  to part  two.

Comments Off on From My Sketchbook: TV heads. PART ONE Posted in Drawings, Portraits

Three Hours of Life Drawing

I hesitated to expose an unedited display of everything I did in the course of a life drawing session–not all of it is worth going down in history–but I’ve got this blog to feed and I have done so little art this week that I am desperate.  First you have to agree not to sneer.  If you can’t promise that, you should refrain from going any further.

Our Saturday Life Group seldom varies from the following regimen:  five quick poses of one minute each, then a five-minute pose, then a ten-minute pose.  These total 20 minutes and earn a 5-minute break for the model.  Then a 20-minute pose.  In theory, at this point we have used up only 45 minutes of our three hours.  Over the next two hours and  15 minutes, we will typically ask for two different poses, broken up by breaks every twenty minutes.  The length of each “long” pose is usually between 40 and 50 minutes.  Once, maybe twice, since I have been a member, we got one longer pose over that two-hour period.  At that duration, I can start thinking about drapery and background, because I generally work  fast.   My Tuesday workshops with Peter Granucci are, more and more, informing my choices on Saturday morning, and one of things I am working on is speed.  Slowing down.  Getting it right in the beginning.

But one-minute poses don’t allow for getting much of anything right.  What you must do for a one-minute pose is quickly decide what you want to capture–the gesture, for example, is a good choice.  I had been using newsprint paper, both purchased and saved from packaging (one of my art suppliers uses crushed paper as packing material).  Peter frowns on using inferior paper for even the quick sketches–you should be practicing on the same quality of paper that you intend to use for your masterpiece.

So (coincidentally) this week, I decided to obey Peter, and left the newsprint at home.  Here are my five one-minute poses:

The first one, the one on the left, is my favorite.  I went for the delightful posture, and attacked it by first marking a few key points, then connecting them.  You can pretty much see those marks, which are slightly darker than the other marks.  After that pose, I pretty much fell apart and struggled to find my way.  But it doesn’t really matter–whatever comes of these exercises, they do warm you up, get you moving your arm and thinking in the  right mode.

Here is how far I got on the five-minute pose:

Getting it right entails measuring and lining up.  I do a  lot of that by eye, but sometimes I need to do some actual measuring and lining up using a straightedge.  For this one, I don’t remember using a tool.  I think I placed the forward foot in relation to the calf of the closer leg, but it doesn’t look correct now.  Instead of making sure that I got that relationship absolutely correct, I was busying myself with the more interesting light and shadows.  Aside from the mistake in foot placement, this drawing is not bad for five minutes, but it illustrates how haste makes waste, and why I must slow myself down even when I have only five minutes to complete the drawing.

Next up is a ten-minute pose, which seems wonderfully luxurious at this point in our sessions.  Usually I switch to charcoal at this point, but Saturday I decided to stick with the pencil because I must use it in Peter’s workshop.  Using a pencil forces me to slow down.  Because the pencil is so confining, I also chose to draw smaller, which led to two drawings on the same page–the ten and the twenty-minute poses:

With both of these, I tried really hard to slow down and get all the parts in the absolutely correct places.  These are OK, I think.

For the last two “long” poses, I gave myself permission to do my drawings in charcoal.  It seems weird to me now, but I used to be afraid of charcoal.  I can remember asking permission to start my first charcoals drawings with a pencil sketch.  Probably I was worried about being unable to erase, which is really silly because nothing could be easier than to obliterate a charcoal mark with a swipe of a finger.  But the best thing about charcoal is your ability to create shadows with a smear of a finger.  So much quicker than hatching with a pencil.

I like this one best.  We got two 20-minute poses and I was finished with the pose then, but some people wanted more, so she went back into it for another 7 minutes, and I used that time to create another version of her head.  She has a wonderful face to draw.

The final long pose was one I struggled with, which is a little strange because you would think this pose is easy:

I got hung up on her hand, and redrew it multiple times, and am still not happy with it.  But the bigger problem lies most likely in my beginning — too fast perhaps.  Looking at the pose now, I think she looks too uncomfortable.  Yes, she was leaning on her far-side arm, but her legs should look more relaxed.  I’m pretty sure I did the requisite measuring and checking, but something is not quite right.

After our session concluded, we went over to Joey’s house for the most wonderful party, to celebrate a great season of drawing.  We will start up again in January.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; and at her studio by appointment.  And if you happen to eat at the Bedford Village Inn, check out the painting in the foyer.

Link to website: www.paintingsbyaline.com

“I See Naked People”

“I see naked people” was adopted last year by my life drawing group (SLG, or Saturday Life Group) as its motto on the occasion of its 20th anniversary.  I didn’t get it at first.  It’s supposed to evoke the little boy’s shocking statement in the movie ” The Sixth Sense “:  “I see dead people”.   We had t-shirts made up with the slogan on the front and an outline of a nude figure on the back.  I wore mine fearlessly to Home Depot and the like, oblivious to the curious stares until someone would ask me about it.

Recently, as a result of several visits to an exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, I came to realize that what we see in SLG isn’t naked people at all–we see nudes.  The MFA exhibit was the Nudes of Edgar Degas.  The best of his nudes are pastels of  nude women engaged in some kind of bathing activity with their backs turned to the viewer/artist.   One of the many innovations credited to Degas was this rendering of a person unclothed on purpose, that is, for a purpose of her own, rather than a person unclothed and posing for the benefit of an artist who wishes to draw or paint a nude figure.  The naked women by Degas were disturbing, therefore, stripped as they are of an artistic rationale.  Nakedness is shocking, nudity is art.  (If you think this is odd and hard to grasp in this day and age, consider the outrage that greeted Manet’s “Olympia”–she was depicted as a