Pussycats and Ignudi

Fur. Final

Fur. Final  20×16

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

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

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

After Michelangelo Ignudi

After Michelangelo Ignudi

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Sublime to . . . .

Rebecca in Silhouette

Rebecca in Silhouette

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

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

Fur (wip)

Fur (wip)

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  for one more week at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

A Step Backward

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

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

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

Red version

Red version

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20x16

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20×16

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

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

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

Pensive Nancy

Pensive Nancy

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

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

On Yellow Drape

On Yellow Drape

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Duality Continues

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

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013 (12×9)

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

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

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 2

Mike No. 2

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

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

DSC_0005

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

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

Love and Fur wii (20x16)

Love and Fur WIP (20×16)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Up and Down, Back and Forth

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

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

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

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

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

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

Final--Margaret and her Nook

Final–Margaret and her Nook

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

WIP No. 1

WIP No. 1

WIP NO. 2

WIP NO. 2

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Just One Thing

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

Toughie

Toughie

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

Margaret and her Nook

Margaret and her Nook

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

The Ghost of Steven Assael

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

Margaret and her Nook WIP

Margaret and her Nook WIP

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

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

Imaginary Elements WIP

Imaginary Elements WIP

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

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

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

The Start of Something

The Start of Something

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

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Only People

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

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

Map of the Back

Map of the Back

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

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

Grumpy takes a cup of tea

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

Dennis in his clothes

Dennis in his clothes

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

Map of a different back

Map of a different back

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

Portrait of Mike D.

Portrait of Mike D.

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

Leaning against the wall

Leaning against the wall

Challenging circulation

Challenging circulation

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; in the Community Gallery at the Currier Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Two Projects Are Resolved, and a Theme Continues

Bear Notch sunset

Bear Notch sunset 24×36

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

Design inspired by nature

Design Inspired by Nature 11×14

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

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

In the Shadow

In the Shadow

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

Fixing up and the Start of a Bushwhack

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

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

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

DSC_0003

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

DSC_0001

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Franconia Notch, May 2013

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

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

DSC_0001

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

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

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

West Wind by T. Thomson

Sunset by T. Thomson

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

Bear Notch WIP

Bear Notch WIP

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Epsom Library in Epsom, NH; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  starting Nov. 9, at the Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester NH, as part of the annual 6×6 show of the Womens Caucus for Art; and at her studio by appointment.

Back to the Drawing Board–Literally

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

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

TLG 10/22/13

TLG 10/22/13

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

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

FLG 10/25/13

FLG 10/25/13

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

Dennis' Hands

Dennis’ Hands

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

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

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

1-3 of the 1-minute poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

4-5 of the 1-minutes poses

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

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

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

Reclining portrait

Reclining portrait

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

Recumbent

Recumbent

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

Dennis in pencil

Dennis in pencil

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Smorgasbord of Art

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

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

I had two interesting compositions from a side angle:

Foot First

Foot First

Girl Talk

Girl Talk

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

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

Two Profiles

Two Profiles

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

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 1

EEE No. 2

EEE No. 2

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

Saco Riverbed

Saco Riverbed

The Davis Farm

The Davis Farm

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Thorn Hill Road View of Ledges

Mount Washington

Mount Washington

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

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

left center

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Health Matters, yes it does!

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

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

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

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

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

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

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

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

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

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

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

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

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

Margaret

Margaret

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

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

My Daughter Nancy

My Daughter Nancy

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Have Brush, Will Paint

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

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

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

Back Channel in Wolfeboro

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

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

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

Beech Hill Farm near Hopkinton, NH

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

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

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

Wagon Hill Farm in Durham NH

I like it.

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

Isabelle's Rock, Acton Massachusetts

Isabelle’s Rock, Acton Massachusetts

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

Isabelle's yellow-orange kayak

Isabelle’s yellow-orange kayak

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

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

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

Griffin Mill Dam 2

Griffin Mill Dam 2 (12×16)

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

Griffin Park dam

Griffin Park dam (8×10)

Isn’t it lovely?

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

Griffin Mill Dam 3

Griffin Mill Dam 3

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

The Heck with Nudes!

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

Nancy C's

Nancy C’s

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

Jan's

Jan’s

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

Nancy H's

Nancy H’s

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

My own

My own

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

Invitations:

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

The Rest of the Story

Seated Nude A

Seated Nude A

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

Seated Nude B

Seated Nude B

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

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

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

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

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

Becky Portrait v.2

Becky Portrait v.2

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  at the Boston Arboretum Visitor Center, 25 Arborway, Boston; and at her studio by appointment.

Making do

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

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

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

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

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

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

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

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

unfinished portrait of Becky

unfinished portrait of Becky

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu, an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  the East End Art Gallery in Riverhead, Long Island; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;  and at her studio by appointment.

Mixing it Up

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

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

Profile in Red Shirt--Grace

Profile in Red Sweater–Grace

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

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

Garden in Prescott Park

Garden in Prescott Park

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

Day One

Day One

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

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

Fletch under the Assael Influence

Fletch under the Assael Influence

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

Four little piggies napping

Four little piggies napping

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Kimball-Jenkins Gallery in Concord, NH; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester;  and at her studio by appointment.  Two paintings hang in the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter and a poster reproduction hangs in the Currier Museum of Art, also in Manchester.  Reception September 5, 5 to 6 (blessedly short) with the Congresswoman and the artists.

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

Prescott Park in Portsmouth

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

In Prescott Park

In Prescott Park

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

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

Waiting for the Show to Start

Waiting for the Show to Start

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

Backstage at Prescott Park

Backstage at Prescott Park

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Inspired by Cornwall

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

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

Image

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

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Dennis, bridge in Pine Grove Cemetery

Margaret in Pretty Park

Margaret in Pretty Park

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

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

Grace at Odiorne, with Big Hat

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

Grace, standing at edge

Grace, standing at edge

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

Grace, another profile--red shirt

Grace, another profile–red shirt

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

A Cloudy Day on Top of Cannon Mountain

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

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

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

Cannon skilift

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

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

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

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

Portrait of Dennis in charcoal

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Thumbs down and thumbs up

The poster competition deadline was today.  I submitted last week, after much fruitless agonizing.  I’d been obsessing over the lettering issue.  I was seesawing between disliking formal lettering and being horrified by small misalignments of hand lettering.  Here is where I got to toward the end.

poster, next to last version

poster, next to last version

As you might notice, the word “and” leaves a lot to be desired.  I just couldn’t leave it like that, which meant I had to paint it out yet again.  In desperation, I went out and bought multiple sets of stencils and stickers, hoping one of them would solve my problem, but none did.   Without really knowing where I was going, I started to paint out the latest version of “and” when I realized that you can still read the letters when they are partially obscured.  Clouds, I thought.  One of my followers had actully suggested that, and now I was ready for that solution.  Which resulted in this:

poster--final version

poster–final version

Am I happy?  No, I realized I was never going to please myself, and I had just better stop messing with it.  So in it went.  I cringe when I focus on the lettering at the top, and just hope I don’t get laughed out of a competition where most of the entrants know exactly what to do with lettering.

On a more upbeat note, the painting (or study) that I created Tuesday  turned out  really well.  I think so, and Peter Clive, our mentor, said about it something to the effect that it was one of my best, and in addition, it showed feeling.

Fletch, in profile

Fletch, in profile

Every day this week I am immersed in a workshop with Steven Assael at the NH Institute of Art.  If I can ever get the photos from my phone onto my computer, I will post the progress pictures from his demo.  All I can say for now–amazing.  I think I have found a kindred spirit.  Stay tuned for a shift in my style.

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.

Review of June’s Poses

On the theory that you can never have too  much of beautiful nudes, here is my entire collection of the Tuesday June poses, two of which you have already seen but through the glare of wet paint.  Margaret times 4:

Margaret-June 2013-#1

Margaret-June 2013-#1

Margaret--June 2013--#2

Margaret–June 2013–#2

Margaret--June 2013--#3

Margaret–June 2013–#3

I still need to finish the background for No. 3, and perhaps bring up her left knee, which for most of the time I could not see at all.  That stool swivels, and it was very difficult to get her back into the exact same position after each break.  In fact, every time she took a deep breath, the stool swiveled a little.

Margaret--June 2013--#4

Margaret–June 2013–#4

No. 4 is obviously unfinished.  We all wanted another session on this pose, but since it was the last one with Margaret for a while, we will all have to wait until the fall to finish it up.  The pose was one inspired by another painting, one that Tony spotted on a magazine.  There’s usually one element of a pose or scene that attracts the eye, and in this case, it’s the curve of the hip.  I spent most of my time working on the hip and legs.  You can tell.  You may also recognize the brown leather sofa.  I should start including “brown leather” as a tag to facilitate a search for all of them.  Will start with this one, but can’t promise to edit all previous ones.

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 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.

Do overs and lupines

A couple of months ago I posted a rave on Anders Zorn, and I think I may have found him a few new fans.  Today, I have another, similar artist for  you to sample, through a click back to Robert Genn’s site here.  The artist is Joachim Sorolla (WA keem SarOYah), a Spanish contemporary of both Sargent and Zorn.  He was a master of all the same skills that I admire in Sargent and Zorn, plus he was a magician with white.  Not actual white, but that hue as changed by light and shadows.

And now for a commercial:  please visit this address for a view of all the artworks accepted into an online exhibit called “Women’s Rights, An Artist’s Perspective”.  My painting  “Grandma’s Jewels” was juried into this exhibit.  All of the artwork in this and similar exhibits is something called “conceptual”, that is, a message is conveyed, to the most intense degree of drama possible.  Picasso’s “Guernica”, for example.  I think it would be hard to be a conceptual artist all the time, but some artists thrive on it.  Personally, I just like to find something beautiful and paint that.  Beauty does not convey message, at least not any message that packs a punch.

OK, with all that out of the way, on to this week’s topic:  Do-overs.  Lupines.  In the past few weeks, I have been outside doing a lot of plein air painting.  My best paintings have a way of being alla prima, without any going back to correct or improve.  In fact, I cannot think of one that I was able to turn from mediocre into superlative.   Yet I keep trying!  Of my two from the Forbes House (discussed last week here), I did produce one winner, the little one of the “coverlet”.  The other one was a bit messy, and I took a knife (palette knife) to it, thinking to reclaim the panel for another project.  But that damned Urge to Fix overcame me, and I repainted the bloody thing, using the ghost images as my guide to the placement and shape of the boats.

Milton Landing, before scraping

                    Milton Landing, before scraping

 

Marina, repainted

Marina, repainted

I’m afraid the result may not have been worth the effort, but no effort is really wasted in this learning process.  Or is it?

Then last Thursday, I took the day off to go lupine painting with the lupine experts of the NH Plein Air group.  Lupines are a flower that blooms in June rather extravagantly in some  places.  The town of Sugar Hill has so many lupine fields that it holds a “lupine festival” every year to encourage visitors to the area.  Lupines come in shades of blue, pink and white, sometimes within one plant, but mostly blues and purples.  They look a lot like the Texas bluebonnet.  I have had trouble painting lupines in the past, but I wasn’t giving up on them.  Yet.

I produced three lupine paintings.  Not happy with any of them.  The first was the obligatory field of lupines against the backdrop of receding mountains featuring Mount Washington on the misty horizon.  The second was lupines by the lake.  In both of these, I was really more interested in the receding mountains and the lake, respectively, than I was in the lupines.  The lupines seemed kind of stuck on.  An accidental presence.  So I painted a quick lupine closeup as my third and last opportunity to conquer the lupine hazard.

When I got home, with the advantage of distance from the actual scene, I decided the problem was my schizo approach to the lupines.  To make the first two paintings better, I had to downplay the lupines, stop treating them as pimples on an otherwise idyllic landscape.  And for the third study, I just needed a few more strokes to define the nature of the lupine and its leaves.  Not so much of a do-over, more of a touch up.

I hope you have not been holding your breath!  Here they are, the befores and the afters:

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, BEFORE

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Field of Lupines, AFTER

Pearl Lake BEFORE

Pearl Lake BEFORE

 

Pearl Lake, AFTER

Pearl Lake, AFTER

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines close, BEFORE

Lupines, AFTER

Lupines, AFTER

Not only am I cursed by this compulsion to fix mediocre paintings, I am cursed by the compulsion to write about it, doubling the time and effort expended.  Should I make this my last lupine festival, or is there hope for me?

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 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 hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.

She’s Back (More Margaret)

Margaret in a Twist

Margaret in a Twist

June is the month of Margaret, but since we are not meeting on Fridays, we’ll have only the four Tuesday sessions to try to capture her elusive likeness.  (Prior agonies were explored in this blog.) This profile isn’t too bad, but what I was concentrating on was the body–the subtle swellings and shadows that reveal bones and muscle and fat.  Not much fat on Margaret, but that just makes what is there all the more fascinating.  As usual, I enjoyed playing with the colors, exaggerating the warmth that I was seeing in the shadow side.  I see a few things (e.g., the way the chair back comes forward) that I would fix if I thought I’d be showing this anyone, but that’s unlikely to happen.  (I mean in person, not online.)

Saturday, a welcome change of pace:  I took the opportunity to join the NH Plein Air artists in the second annual paint out at the Forbes House Museum in Milton, Massachusetts.  Last year we had lots of sales (commission to benefit the Forbes  House), so we had some hopes for a repeat.  But this year, no bustling crowds.  My theory–everyone had graduations to attend.  Never mind–the weather was outstanding and we were doing what we love to do.  For painting subjects, with the Museum’s encouragement, we left the grounds of the Museum to seek out local water scenes.  My driving companion, Flo Parlangeli, has a connection to water that sets her heart to pounding.  I’m  sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of her painting and her two paintings.  She was painting them both at the same time–one on her easel and one in her lap.  Pretty peculiar, but it was all because she was working in acrylic paint, which dries fast.  The fast drying quality was something Flo was using to her advantage.  She’d let one dry and work on the other, then pick up the first and paint over the previous layer, then repeat with the second one.

Milton Landing

Milton Landing

This was my first one, which I spent about three hours on.  I placed it in an Art Cocoon and to make sure it didn’t flop out, I taped the corners.  But I was careless, and turned it upside down, and the panel did flop out of its bed.  As a result, I lost some of my crisp dark edges at the bottoms of the boats.  I had thick, white paint in those areas that just flattened and spread out over the edges.  I like to paint thick, wet into wet, although there is a limit to how much paint you can pile without losing control of the situation.  I was too close to losing control here even before the accident with the Cocoon.  This also illustrates why Flo was using the fast-drying acrylics.

So Flo was not going anywhere and I was finished with the boats.  I could have taken her car and driven to  another location.  Instead, I set up in a new spot nearby, in the lee of the boat ramp, where I was visited by a family of ducks.   Such as the joys of plein air painting, offsetting the distress caused by wind gusts that try to make off with  umbrella and anything attached to it (like your easel).

Covelet at Milton Landing

Covelet at Milton Landing

I thank you all for your feedback on last week’s project, the lettering for my Live Free poster.  I am still mulling over all the suggestions.   In the meantime, I have covered up “. . . and”.  Some objected to the ellipsis, but it was part of the original challenge–just in reverse order.  I decided to conform to the challenge more literally–when the paint dries, I will paint in letters for “and . . .”  When I complete the project, I will post the final version.  And if I have nothing more interesting to talk about, I will describe all the suggestions I received and reasons why I did or did not take them.

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 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 hung somewhere in an office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter, probably the Manchester one.  Currently, the only location for viewing the nudes is at her studio.

Living Free in New Hampshire

This week’s obsession is a poster contest announced by our gem of a museum, the Currier Museum of Art, in Manchester.  First,  if you are not already familiar with New Hampshire’s notorious motto, here’s a little background.

State Emblem

“Live Free or Die.”  The motto achieved its national notoriety after the NH legislature determined that it must  be written on our license plates.  Some uppity commie liberal type objected to having such an inflammatory statement attached to his personal motor vehicle, and sued all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to get it removed.  Well, that’s the story my memory came up with, but I know better than to trust my memory anymore, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it seems the offended motorist was a Jehovah’s Witness, who reacted not by suing but by covering up the “or Die” portion of the motto because death for a political cause was unacceptable in his religion, and the Supreme Court got involved because he was prosecuted under a criminal statute for defacing the license plate.   His conviction was overturned under the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution–the State could not force him to express a sentiment with which he did not agree.

Although that was something of a slap down, the motto remains on the license plate.  I had to look to be sure.  NH licenseNew Hampshire does live by the motto:  seat belts are not mandated for adults; helmets are not required of motorcyclists; soda cans do not come with a refundable deposit; and taxes, at least those that would reach a broad segment of the population, are abhorrent.  Cigarettes, fireworks, gambling and liquor are encouraged.  They generate revenue.  When we say “free”, we don’t mean “tax-free”.  For a comedic take on New  Hampshire’s philosophy,  see Juston McKinney’s YouTube analysis.

In defense of free living, New Hampshire was an early adopter of same-sex marriage, thereby proving it is an independent thinker.  I believe there is also a law on the books to the effect that gun-toters must be allowed to enter courtrooms and legislative chambers with their guns on board.   In that last case, the death resulting from living free may not be that of the free liver lover.  So you see we have a lot of scope for comedy here.

Anyhoo, the Currier  has a contest going for the best poster on the theme of “live free AND _______”—you fill in the blank.   The idea is to describe or celebrate something wonderful about New Hampshire, where you may live free and also do some constructive things, things other than killing yourself on the highway.

I had an immediate super-brilliant idea and decided to compete, ignoring the fact that I have zero experience or training as a graphic artist.  I ordered ten poster boards from Dick Blick, mostly because you can’t order just one.  Extras would be good because I would surely mess up the first few attempts.  Then I explored the internet for some  hints on how to go about painting on poster board.   There wasn’t much out there to help me, but I did learn that applying oil paints directly to the board would not be advisable.

Luckily, I keep some acrylic paints on hand, so I planned to paint a base of acrylic, which would seal the surface and prepare it for the eventual painting in oil.  The base would coordinate with my background colors.  Once I got going, very confidently since I thought I was still just painting the base, the whole thing just sprang to life.  My first acrylic painting.  I was stunned.  And happy.

Then began the process of lettering.  OMG.  I proceeded with great care (and concern).  Again I conceived a plan:  The letters are to consist of their outlines only, because I wanted the background painting to show through.  I drew the my letters freehand.  I did not want mechanical-looking letters but I did some measuring.  I cut them out with an Exacto knife.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Hard, in fact.  I stuck them  onto my poster with museum putty to see how they looked.  I repositioned them.  I redid  “. . . and” to make that piece smaller than the “Live Free“.  I outlined them using a pen.  I painted around the outlines.  The unevenness bothered me.  I didn’t want it to look professional but I wasn’t going for sloppy either.   I tried blurring/bleeding edges with my medium (I was using oil paints at this point).  Kind of liked that.  Wiped out the word “Free” because letters were too crowded together.  Painted with acrylic paint over the wipe-out to create fresh, clean surface for next go ’round.

And that’s where I am.  Today I am researching the kinds and uses of stencils, vinyl lettering etc.  Should I give up on the outline plan?  Guess I am going to have to show you in order to get any feedback.

Image 3

The above is a close up or detail of the painting, showing paper letters positioned where I planned to outline them.  I wished I knew how to make the letters look as if they were actually hanging in front of the poster.

Image 4

Above is the whole thing, with all of the letters positioned; I must have corrected “HIKE”‘s position  before penning its outline in red ink.

Image 2

Above is the state of the poster before I darkened the upper outlines and before I whitened the “HIKE” outline, and yes, before I got up in the middle of the night to remove the crowded letters forming “Free”.  I like “HIKE” now, but am worried about “Live Free”.  All of my options for stenciling or applying letters involve letting go of the open outline design.  What do you think I should do?

As for the subject image, if you have been reading for a while (over a year). you will recognize it from a 9×12 study that I did for a Patrick McCay course at the Institute called “Explore, Express, Exploit”.  I published it in this blog from October 2011.  Here is the original inspiration:

The Lone Looker

The Lone Looker (photo)

I am well and truly exploiting that image of the guy on the rock outcrop that I photographed at 2011’s bike race up Mount Washington, thus fulfilling the promise of that course.

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 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.

A Month of Beckys

My life is just a little bit crazy right now, what with retirement deadline looming and two major art events coming up next week.  Yet here I am, whiling away the national holiday making good on my promise to post weekly.  It’s a Good Thing though, this weekly blog, perhaps as important as all those other important things.  For however long the internet lasts, it will remind me of where I was on Memorial Day of 2013, just before those three major milestones.

(I’m glad at my age to still be counting milestones other than birthdays!)

So, to get to the point:  Major Art Event No. 1 is taking place this coming Sunday, June 2, in Boston.  From noon until 6 p.m., I with 71 other artists will be participating in the Beacon Hill Art Walk.  It’s not your typical urban art show in that many of the artists will be set up in gardens and on firescapes.  Bruce and I, however, are setting up a conventional tent right at the S(tart) point on Cambridge Street shown on the map here.  I introduced you to Bruce Jones last week as my partner in this Beacon Hill venture.  It’s the first of its kind for both of us, possibly the first of many partnerships if this experience is a happy one.   I’ve decided to go eclectic with my display, meaning a couple of landscapes, a couple of figurative works, and my steam locomotive.

Maine Central No. 501
Side-lined

Engine 501, depicting the real life orphan at the North Conway train station, has been looking for a forever home via the Bartlett Inn for at least a year now.  Maybe Boston will be the place where it comes together with the right guardian.  (For those of you in the dark, “forever home” and “guardian” is animal rescue speak, dear to my heart.)

Major Art Event No. 2:   I am opening at the East Colony Fine Art Gallery.  Some weeks ago I was juried into this artists’ cooperative gallery, located in the Langer Place Building, the very same building where I conduct my figure drawing sessions, and where the Hatfield Gallery is located, where I also exhibit.  Friday I hung six pieces, all of them plein air landscapes.  All are, of course, my favorites.  (But I have more favorites left, to take to Boston.)  My first reception as a member of this gallery takes place on Friday, June 7, from 5 to 7 p.m.  I would love to see all my friends there, cheering me on, especially those (you know who you are) who have complained I don’t do enough to market myself.

Back to the business of Becky:  I have three new paintings to show you, none of them exactly “finished”, but I may not ever touch them again since I got what I needed from my efforts.

In the red sweater

In the red sweater

I love the texture of the bare, clear-primed canvas and so my leaving the background unfinished was a choice.  Nevertheless, it will probably be classified as a work in progress if it survives a few hundred years.  Painting a clothed model was a change of pace, one that I enjoyed very much, but I guess I was in the minority because the following week when Becky asked if we wanted her clothed, the response “No!” rang out.  So I painted this:

The Faraway Gaze

The Faraway Gaze

I couldn’t finish this one simply because of the size of the canvas:  I chose to bring in a 20×16 canvas on stretchers, which I would never use for plein air so why not?   I knew I had better concentrate on the face, then the chest since I could leave the background and the hair to memory or invention or both.  Everyone, including myself, thought my lips (the ones I painted) were great.  What makes them work, though,  is how well I painted the chin and philtrum–lips don’t exist in isolation.  OK, check off lips;  next up is noses.  Her nose here is pretty good, which gives me hope.  Becky’s ear is amazingly simple–most people have complex ears, lots of folds and dips and valleys.  I think I will make Becky’s ear my template for ears so I don’t use up so much time on them.  Nobody really cares what happens inside the ear as long as its placement is correct,  the shape is correct, and the tilt is correct.

DSC_0002

From the large to the small:  this painting is only 10×8 and it felt even smaller to me because I was trying to get the whole figure in.  It’s hard to paint small, I discovered–that little stroke that does the job on a bigger canvas makes a blob on the small canvas, and sometimes wipes out a nuance I had been counting on.  I thought if I went small I would end up with a small, completed jewel of a painting.  Ha!  But this one could be a jewel with just a few corrections here and there, and maybe tomorrow I will get a chance to make those corrections.  That depends on the other members of the gang.  Most will probably prefer to move on to a different pose.  I must say, it was nice to paint the other side of Becky’s face for a change!

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 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.  Through May 31, nine of her Boston Arboretum paintings are on display at the Leach Library in Londonderry, NH.  On Sunday, June 2, she will be participating in the Beacon Hill Art Walk, in Boston.

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.

Race up Mount Washington

I’m sharing with you this week a magnum opus WIP (work in progress) that has been in progress for over a year now.  It’s not that I’m lazy, at least I don’t think so.  Or that I have too many other projects going.    I just stopped working on it for many months, waiting for my desire to finish it to return.  I explained this in my blog of a few weeks ago, here if you want to read it.

Usually, I am fast to paint and perhaps too fast to declare my painting done.  I don’t have time to get bored or the scope to get intimidated.  But I almost always have one big painting in the works, and it usually takes me a month or two to work out the problems and declare it finished.  This one has been a totally different experience.  It has intimidated me with its scope, size and complexity.  I now have barely got all the canvas covered, and am only beginning to try to pull it all together as a whole.

Mt. Washington Phase 4

Mt. Washington Phase 4

No smart aleck mountaineer (my son) has yet asked, but perhaps I should make it clear that I am not going for accuracy in the configuration of the mountain ranges depicted.  The people are, however, based on real people whom I observed at the 2011 Race to the top of Mount Washington.  From the hundreds of photos that I took while waiting for my son to finish (33d–that’s really good!), I picked out some vignettes to incorporate in this panoramic scene.  I have drawn and/or painted most of them before I started on the present mammoth.  (OK, it’s 30×40, not really mammoth, but quite big for me.)  Here are my studies, in no particular order:

Fans

Fans

Awaiting the Stragglers

Awaiting the Stragglers (3-legged dog)

View of race with vista

View of race with vista

Whew!

Whew! (a top female finisher)

Andy with bike

A Very Special Guy

Bike Race spectator on Mt. Washington

Bike Race spectator on Mt. Washington (Find him in the magnum opus)

These small paintings are more faithful portraits of the mountains and the infrastructure at the finish line.  The two portraits are of my favorite cyclists, the ones I was there to cheer on.

Mount Washington is often referred to, fondly and respectfully, as “the Rockpile”;  if nothing else, my painting does give the viewer a sense of why that is.   Despite all my practice paintings, I’m still not satisfied with my technique for depicting rock piles.   I also intend to enliven my landscape with many more spectators and cyclists.  If you examine the distant road, you will see, you might see–some indistinct blobs of color;  they are supposed to suggest more cyclists on their way up with spectators along the route.

I would not want to leave you without a nude this week. For the past month or so, I had been sticking to 8×10 and 9×12 canvases for the Tuesday and Friday sessions with live models.  Last Tuesday, counting on having my model in her pose for two straight weeks, I brought a larger canvas to work on–16×20.   I was using a piece of oil-primed linen from a Centurion pad.  If I don’t like all of it when I am finished, I can always cut it down.  So I started large.

Figure in Turban and red drape WIP

Figure in Turban and red drape WIP

So far, so good.  I have high hopes for this one, but am a bit perplexed by the color of the background.  I think I would prefer something that more closely echoed the colors in the turban.  Or perhaps a much darker background to set off the figure and the turban.  Stay tuned!

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.

A Milestone Reached

Last week, without really thinking about it yet fully conscious of it, I produced something, finally, that I have been aspiring to for many years now.  Here it is:

Jon, supine pose

Jon, supine pose

This aspiration started with a class that I took with Patrick McCay at the Institute–a course called Explore, Express, Exploit.  At that time, what I had in mind was achieving a style that was loose as opposed to tight.  Following Patrick’s course, I took Painting the Contemporary Portrait with Cameron Bennett.  Cameron gave us a list of portrait artists, “portrait” being loosely defined and the artists being avant garde, and suggested we look them all up to find one who could inspire our own modern and unique take on portraiture (again, loosely defined).  I glomed onto Carolyn Anderson, American artist living in Montana, somewhat obscurely.  She seems to be an artists’ artist–known to and collected by fellow artists but not yet collected by museums.

Since then, her work has always been in the back of my mind, even when I am producing the hard-edged, detailed works that seem to come out of me unbidden.

You’ve seen a few nudes from me.  Here is the only one I found on Anderson’s website:

Anderson nude

Anderson nude

And here is one of her portraits, lovely beyond words to describe:

Anderson portrait

Anderson portrait

By comparison, I know, my big breakthrough seems heavy-handed. But it occurred–bloomed– quite naturally that Tuesday morning, without a trace of the manipulation that I felt I was guilty of when painting loosely for effect.  “Loosely” implies something casual, effortless, airy–not something forced or faked.  Here is one of my earliest efforts, and it’s not horrible, but still you can feel the strain it put on me:

Translation into Oil

Translation of life drawing into Oil

I know from past experience that this reaching a new level, slightly closer to the high level occupied by my hero, does not mean I am permanently raised on that new level.  On Friday I tried not to slip back too far.  I worry about being too self conscious about it.  A Catch-22.  You can only succeed by not trying so damn hard.

So here is Margaret, the model with whose limbs I have recently struggled in vain to organize*.  I got a break when we posed her with her hair covering up one of her shoulders.

M on brown recliner, WIP

M on brown recliner, WIP

*”organize” is the word used by Robert Liberace to describe the first stages of a drawing or painting, which the parts are sized and fitted together–the jigsaw puzzle stage.  It’s so the right word that I am adopting it.

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.

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.

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.

Marco Island Paintings Part Two

Each painting has a story, but 14 stories is a bit much to ask my followers to, um, follow, so I am just adding a few comments underneath, same as I did for Mary’s paintings in my prior post.  Super-short stories, in effect.  Unlike the spread of Mary’s paintings, I organized mine in chronological order to the best of my memory.

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We were huddled behind some shrubbery seeking shelter from stiff winds on a relatively chilly day (for the tropics), so the subject was not selected by inspiration but forced by necessity.   Usually my first painting turns out to be the best, or at least one of the best, in a series of outdoor paintings.  As I was working on this one, I thought it was going to be an exception to that “rule”, but now I am liking it better. . .probably because I am far enough away from the scene to be able to forget reality.

Island Woman

Island Woman.  It becomes a scene of intense frolicness (frolicity?) on the weekends, but we wouldn’t have been able to park anywhere close then, much less find a place to set up easels.

Lanai Sunset

Lanai Sunset.  Strictly speaking, not plein air, but inspired by sight, memory and assisted by iPad photo.  Perhaps still a work in progress.

Waterfront Home

Waterfront Home.  The boats are up in the air on hoists, and I worried about how it would read.  But not important now, I think.  The water looks liquid, don’t you agree?

Frangepani Tree

Frangepani Tree.  Economy of effort:–beautiful bark, few leaves, and blossoms rationed to bloom at the ends of branches for short time.  This one had buds but no blooms yet.

Farmers Market Musician

Farmers Market Musician.  We were chased out of the grounds proper and forced to set up behind the “band”.  Lucky for us!

Octagonal house

Octagonal house.  Occasionally, we can’t resist recording the unusual.

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo

MarGood Park View from the Gazebo.  Our 2d visit to this spot.  Behind me was the skiff that I painted two days before.  It was while I was working on this scene that I got skiff-owner’s request to purchase my painting of his boat and his dog.  I posted that news here.  Pelican landed just in time to get included in the painting.

Dinner!

Dinner!  These are six of the 2 dozen blue crabs that I received in partial payment for the skiff-dog painting.  Don’t they look delicious?  (I think they were blue before being steamed.)

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge

Fishing under the Jolley Bridge.  Had highest hopes for this one, but now worry it has missed the mark.  There is a slight curve in the bridge, so don’t get on my case about perspective!

Waterfront Dining

Waterside Dining.  That’s how they characterize it.  I left out the blue dolphin that Mary chose to feature.  Dolphins all over the city, like moose sculptures in NH.  Cows in Chicago.  Gnus in New London.  (look it up)

Two Visitors to Residents Beach

Two Tiny Visitors to Residents Beach.  What?  You don’t see them?  I thought they were warblers, but the bird book suggests they are more likely wrens.  Also met my first Red Knots and Brewer’s Blackbirds in the course of making this painting.  (Beach is to the right, past the vegetation barrier.)

Plein Air Still Life

Plein Air Still Life?  I’m  always saying:  I don’t “do” still lifes.  This not really “still” because the light keeps moving!

Last Day: San Marco Church

Morning of my Travel Day: San Marco R.C. Church.  Foreground, what foreground?  What can you do with a parking lot? Had to pack up and catch plane in afternoon, so I forgot to get photo of Mary’s version, which was excellent.

I hope that adds up to fourteen.  I wish I had a better photo of number 15, which I had to leave in Florida with its happy new owner.  I took a photo of Stephen holding his painting, but it turned out horrible.  Here instead is a photo of my collector, which I lifted from the Naples Daily News, online edition.

Crabby Stephen

He may look like he only knows about collecting (and cooking) crabs, but he is also experienced in matting and framing, so the painting is in the best of hands.  I asked him to send photo of painting when and as framed.

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.

If you happen to be near Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

Your Last Nudes for a While–A collection from the Circle

Still a work in progress

Still a work in progress


That photo is a product of my cell phone. While in the throes of packing my gear for Florida last night (I’m writing this from Cleveland airport during a long layover), just for the sake of comparison, I snapped this image of the same painting with my Nikon.
DSC_0021
Yes, my hand shook a little ( couldn’t afford the time to set up properly with tripod), but the colors are truer. Bearing that in mind, here are the cell-phone-pix of my fellow artists:
The Front by Nancy H.

The Front by Nancy H.

The Back by Nancy C

The Back by Nancy C


 
Nita's Portrait

Nita’s Portrait


In the course of packing for Florida, I came across a forgotten painting, forgotten only a matter of weeks, perhaps. It’s interesting for the uncharacteristic brownish flesh tone. It reminds me of Rembrandt’s palette.
brownie

brownie

I recognize that beach chair, but can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it. So this painting may be months older than I originally thought. I found it in the framing studio so it seems likely that it predates that great framing effort for the Londonderry show in September.

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.

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

If you happen to be near Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

 

Potpourri–Nudes, Landscapes, Almost Abstract

Sideways

Sideways (12×9)

Once again I lead off with a nude.  I love my nudes.  This was today’s.  You probably recognize the model.  Our Saturday group got cancelled by the snowstorm and my painting from Tuesday is not finished, so it’s the only nude I have for you today.  (We have Tuesday’s model again this week, so I will finish that one up and post it before I leave for Florida for two weeks.)  I am not sure that I will be able to keep to my Monday blogging schedule while I am down in Florida, but I should be able to post photos of the paintings from time to time.

Today I finally noticed why I sometimes see shadows as orange.  When it’s cold in the studio, we used a space heater to keep our model comfortable.  The heater glows orange.  Her breast looked as if it were on fire yesterday.  That was the clue.  But it doesn’t explain other orange shadows, the ones on the other side from the heater.  Maybe it’s simply what I see, after having one cataract removed.  Can’t wait for the other one to go.

I also loves me some landscapes.  Without a Saturday Life Group session, I was unleashed to paint a landscape.  Ever since the Eric Aho exhibit, I’ve had this notion that I too could paint an abstract landscape if I simply gave myself permission .  Turns out, it’s not that easy.  I have, in the past, made paintings that look abstract–well, only two, to be exact.   One happened in a magical state of unconscious creativity (as seen in hindsight, of course), and the other’s subject matter was inherently abstract.  “Spirit Lake” is the former; the name I gave it may be a subconscious bow to the process that created it.  Click here to go to my web page showing Spirit Lake.

The inherently abstract one was a close up view of the mangrove swamp in the Ding Darling National Wildlife Preserve.

Mangroves, Ding Darling

Mangroves, Ding Darling

So Saturday I taped up a 16×20 piece of oil primed linen on a drawing board, and got out a volume of spectacular photographs by Tim Palmer, of some of the most spectacular scenery in existence.  I met Tim some years ago at a Sierra Club meeting, and told him I wanted to use his photographs as inspiration for paintings, and he gladly gave me permission to do so.  His book, titled “Luminous Mountains: The Sierra Nevada of California”, had been waiting patiently in my studio all these  years to be put into service.  I opened the book and did not get further than the frontispiece, a magical scene titled “Volunteer Mountain, Yosemite, at Sunset.”  I tried valiantly not to paint the photograph, but I’m sorry to report, my product is not very abstract.  Not abstract at all.

California Landscape

California Landscape

It’s also earthier, less magical, than the photograph.  Isn’t that strange?  I may try again, next time limiting my palette–no blues or greens allowed.

I also took the Saturday opportunity to modify, perhaps improve,  the frigid plein air paintings of a few weeks ago.  I actually made something of that first effort in the windy, subzero meadow off Route 302.

Mt. Washington from 302, No. 4

Mt. Washington from 302, No. 4

The scene of the Jackson church needed some cleaning up, and fresh whites (actually not pure white, but white with a tiny bit of yellow).  Compare:

Jackson Community Church, looking west, BEFORE

Jackson Community Church, looking west, BEFORE

Jackson, AFTER

Jackson, AFTER

The differences are perhaps too subtle to show up in this medium, same as a photograph can never do justice to a painting, unless it is printed as a giclee and there is nothing between you and the giclee print.  (No digital interface, e.g.)

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.

In February, you can also view (and purchase–of course!) some of my paintings and drawings at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH, (“Love, Lust and Desire” is the theme) and my 6×6’s at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.

If you happen to be near Orlando, Florida on February 14, 15 or 16, or Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at these locations, respectively: 639 W. Church St. (blue freestanding warehouse just East of I-4) in Orlando; and 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

Welcome, Groundhogs*

Skin Colors

Skin Colors

Yesterday’s quasi portrait is my pick of this week.  It could be improved, for sure.  But overall I am pleased–with the gesture, the drawing, the colors, the modeling.  I wanted to leave the background unpainted,  to show off the fact that I made no changes in the outside contour of the figure.  But now I do need to make some changes, so I will try to match the color of the paper I was painting on to eliminate that dark edge atop her left arm, and to carve away at the neck and jaw on her left side.  I would also like to point that I snuck in a tiny glimmer of teeth showing between her open lips.  Even more so than hands and feet, teeth are the painter’s nemesis.

This brown card stock, which I have been using a lot lately, is called “carton board” and is made by Judson’s (Guerrilla Painter).  It looks like stiffened brown Kraft paper but is  sized to accept oil paints without absorbing them.  It does kind of absorb the Gamsol, but dries out quickly.  It leaves a spot.  You can see a spot near her left jaw, where I was trying to carve away at it without deploying paint.

Other things I want to change about this piece: the eyes–too heavy with the dark line, I think; the transitions between colors in skin tones–too abrupt in certain places;  the hair:  too restrained–she has quite a mop, and showing that would add interest to the painting.

In my stories about the Circle of Six (or Seven), I showed you several examples of what my colleagues were doing with the same poses, but somehow I missed capturing this one by Steve:

Steve's Best

Steve’s Best

Steven thinks this is his best drawing of Becky.  For the blog that showed more takes on this pose, go here.

I have heart-warming news in abundance today.  One of my little 6×6 paintings was selected by one of the sponsors for the Notecard project of the Women’s Caucus for Art.  OK, that requires an awful lot of explanation.  The WCA pulls together an annual exhibit to showcase members’ 6×6 pieces, which are sold for $66.  Artists purchase the 6×6 blank panels  from WCA and the money we raise from these sales of blank panels to artists goes into the scholarship fund.  (We award a $1,000 each year to a NH woman attending art school in NH.)  The sale of the finished panels generates revenue for the artists and the gallery, not the WCA.  So this year, for the first time, our beloved leader (Suzanne Whittaker) developed the Notecard Project:  ten sponsors donate a largish sum of money in exchange for the credit that goes with the publication of sets of ten note cards, each set containing reproductions of all  ten 6x6s chosen by  sponsors for such honor, to be sold throughout the year in various retail locations.  The money raised from the sales of the notecards goes to the scholarship fund.  The money raised from the sponsorships pays for the printing of the notecards, and a little bit goes back to the artists chosen to be in the notecard pack.

That takes so long to explain because there are so many interlocking elements.  I was intending to show you my oown 6×6’s eventually, but had so much content on other subjects that I never got around to it.  Here they are:

A Walk in the Woods, 1

A Walk in the Woods, 1

A Walk in the Woods, 2

A Walk in the Woods, 2

A View of the Bay

A View of the Bay

A View of the Forest

A View of the Forest

Barrington Editions, a business that creates giclee reproductions of artists’ paintings, is the sponsor who chose one of mine for the notecards.  They chose the one I call A Walk in the Woods 1.  To create these pieces, I cut up old watercolors to the correct size and mounted them onto the 6×6 panels.  I enhanced them with black and brown ink,  then I covered them with an acrylic gel, which protects the watercolor paper and adds a nice shine.  Inspired by the shine, I decided to construct wires simulating windows.  This turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined, and I became worried that the wires were too fussy, especially for the first two, which seemed to stand well on their own.  So in the end, I added the window wires only to the last two above, then forgot to photograph them in their little cages.

Other big news, which cannot wait:  Nude Nite Tampa invited BOTH of my pieces.  These two.

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Artists and Model

Artists and Model

I’m not quite ready to part with Artists and Models, but now I have to.  Am wondering if it will be any cheaper to ship two smaller pieces than the one large one that went down to Orlando last week, at a cost of $122.  (I do hope it sells, but in case it doesn’t, the trip back home is already paid for.)

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.

In February, you can also view (and purchase–of course!) some of my paintings and drawings at the McGowan Gallery in Concord, NH, (“Love, Lust and Desire” is the theme) and my 6×6’s at the Artstream Gallery in Rochester, NH.

If you happen to be near Orlando, Florida on February 14, 15 or 16, or Tampa, Florida on March 7, 8, and 9, you could (and should) catch Nude Nite, happening with music and other entertainment at these locations, respectively: 639 W. Church St. (blue freestanding warehouse just East of I-4) in Orlando; and 3606 E. 4th Ave., in Tampa.  Hours are 6 pm to midnight.  (Nude NITE, after all)

*I really have nothing to say to groundhogs, but am so grateful that Phil has ordained an early spring for us that I just had to call out.

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.

This week’s nudes

I’m risking a “same old, same old” reaction from my followers, but I really have no choice.  Nudes are what I did this week, so we are stuck with it.  I regret not getting photos of the others’ paintings as well, but that’s not what I’m thinking about at the close of a session when we are cleaning up, packing up, making arrangements for our next meeting.  On Friday, our model continued the pose that you have already seen two weeks of, from every possible perspective.  But  today you get one of those perspectives from me.

a different perspective

a different perspective

As chance would have it, I grabbed a sheet of 16×20 canvas simply because it was handy, and I had only one session to produce something on it, so I knew I could not finish anything.  But I should at least have got the proportions correct, and I see problems with that aspect.  Nothing prevents me from working more on this painting at home (=studio) and bringing it closer to a state of completion/satisfaction.  Whether I will feel like doing that is the question.

Our Sunday sessions are back.  I took in a smaller canvas this time–12×16, same size as the successful one from the last two weeks, “Artists and Model“.  12×16 is a good size to work with, because I don’t have to use it all.  I can carve an 11×14 painting out of a sheet that is 12×16.  This time, however, I wanted all of the sixteen inches of available length and less of the width.  So I carved away (not literally–I just drew a line) about 2 inches from one side.   My composition was improved, but maybe I was just too lazy to contemplate filling the space behind the model.  There were no artists on the other side for me to inspire me.

Leaning pose

Leaning pose

Because of my pruning, if this painting turns out to be a keeper, I will have to order a custom-sized frame for it.  Pondering that result as I was painting away Sunday, I suddenly understood why so many of the masters’ paintings were odd-sized–not just 22 x 31, say, but 22 and 3/8 by 31 and 1/2.  They must have cropped their paintings to achieve the optimum composition for each.   For the Old Old Masters, the frame sizes were not standardized anyway.

Upon further reflection today, I realize what a handicap we modern, thrifty painters  accept, those of us who strive to paint to a standard size frame.  My very best frames come from a company that sells only standard sizes, and you have to buy of lot of them at one time.  Their frames have “closed corners”, which means the frames are put together before the finish (gold leaf, e.g.) is applied.  You won’t see a seam in the corners.  The other kind of frame is “chop” or something like that, and on those frames  the seams are discernible.  When a painter reaches the level of selling for $50,000 a painting , he or she will order a custom, closed-corner frame and pay thousands of dollars per frame.  I’m not there yet.

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.

Slacker!

I only painted thrice last week, and it’s  thanks to my Tuesday and Friday morning life drawing sessions and the Saturday Life Group that I accomplished that much.  It made me realize how little time I have been putting in on studio projects, and on painting in the great outdoors.  I used to be a pretty decent, very enthusiastic plein air painter.  Without actually counting, I would bet I produced over 50 plein air paintings in 2011, compared to 25 this year.   I miss it.  But so much of my artistic energy has been absorbed by the figurative and portrait sessions that I haven’t been carving out time for plein air outings.  Now the weather is getting nasty outside.  My New Year’s resolution, adopted early, is to find more opportunities to get outside to paint–starting with our first ever Bartlett Artists Winter Getaway in January, followed by a visit to Mary on Marco Island, probably in February.

Meanwhile, the story of this week:  Since our Tuesday model and our Friday model and our next Friday model is the same person, those of us who do both Tuesday and Friday decided to make it a repeating pose, enabling a total of 9 hours on one pose for those who wanted it.  I will probably the only one of us who will use all three sessions on a single painting, although I expect not to use the entire final session on this painting.

"Huis Clos" ("Inside closed doors" or "no exit"?) WIP after 2d of 3-session pose

“Huis Clos” (“Inside closed doors” or “no exit”?) WIP after 2d of 3-session pose

One of the more interesting aspects of this painting is the background architecture.  I had recently watched a video, part 1 of Dan Thompson painting a figure, in which he recommended painting in the background, at least temporarily, in order to use it as a roadmap.  It works.  Before I drew in the Exit door on the left of the painting, I had drawn the figure’s arm too close to his body.  By situating the frame of the door where it intersected the body, I uncovered the drafting error in the arm.  The cubicle on the right (it’s the bathroom) helped me with sizing the figure’s left leg (leg on the viewer’s right).

Because I knew about the extended pose, I started this painting on a 16×20 sheet of primed linen.  I intended it to be a whole body pose, but allowed my impulsive first blocking in to change my mind.  What you see is the product of two sessions, and it is almost finished.    Some tinkering with the facial features and decisions on the background are needed next week.  When it is finished, I will roll it up and stash it away with so many other paintings on which I have lavished hours of time and effort.  And love.  Paintings that, unlike landscapes, no one else is likely to savor.

At  SLG (Saturday Life Group) I continued the experimentation with compressed charcoal that I had started in Larry Christian’s class at the Institute.  Here is the final pose of the session:

40-minute pose, view of the back

40-minute pose, view of the back

Yes, I do like backs.

There is another  drawing, from a 20-minute pose, that I wanted to include today, but for some reason, the photo I thought I took of it did not turn out.  Too bad.  It was a good one, and different from the one above.  I will include it next week if I can work it into next week’s topic, whatever that might be.  I hope next week’s topic will include work in my studio, inspired by the successful completion of my reorganization exertions.  Yes, that’s my excuse for no studio painting:  I have been laboring on moving stuff, and removing stuff, to create more space in my bedroom/studio for the studio portion.  Books, heavy books, had to be carried downstairs to make room for just art books on the studio shelves.  Underbed storage units had to be emptied to make room for  clear bags, saved drawings and such art-related, seldom-accessed items.  Dust bunnies had to be captured and disposed of (sneeze!).  Furniture had to be rearranged and some of it relegated to the guest room.  Today, I ache all over.  Well, that’s nothing new.  Arthritis.  Really slowing me.  Down.

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.

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.

The Week of “Super Storm”

Haven’t  you heard enough about Sandy already?  New Hampshire is one of the suffering states, but I got off pretty easy.  Looks like I’m going to have to pay for a new roof without help from the insurance company.  Being unscathed myself, I insisted on  holding the Tuesday life group.  It was, after all, a pretty nice day, weather-wise, a little rainy but hardly any wind to speak of.  But most of the other artists were dealing with one storm-related problem or another and couldn’t get here for the group.  So it was just the model, another unscathed artist, and me.

We set up in the window side of the studio and had our model lounge on the familiar old brown leather sofa.  We found ourselves looking down on him, which felt strange at first.  The model stand that we usually use puts the model at my eye level or above.  (I sit to paint.)  We also forewent any supplemental lighting inasmuch as the sun was streaming right in at our backs (yes, SUN).  No dramatic shadows to fall back on for creating interest.  But as it turned out, I didn’t need any drama from lighting.  I accepted a full-on frontal foreshortened pose with the model’s feet practically in my face.  (Of course that’s an exaggeration–I did say “practically”.)  I was super pleased with this development because it furnishes a response to a taunt from  one of my colleagues who, upon viewing last week’s blog, complained that I was not giving enough attention to feet.  Since he is also one of our models, I suspect it is HIS feet he want more attention paid to.  Nevertheless, feet are feet:

The Feet Have It

I have to point out that it is not often that you get to depict the wrinkles on the sole of a foot.  Having recently watched a documentary on Lucien Freud, I also felt as if I were channeling him every so slightly, as I tried to paint the effect of hairy legs.

On Friday, four of us  met with Peter Clive for a quasi-workshop session.  Peter had during the summer been attending our Tuesday group whenever he could, but currently his teaching schedule at the NH Institute of Art kept him there on Tuesdays.  So he offered to come instead on Fridays and critique work in progress, when corrections are possible.  In the course of the summer and now the fall, Peter has seen quite a few of my paintings.  He compliments me by saying something like “That’s a nice study,”  or even “That’s a great study.”  He said that about The Feet.  Noting his use of the word “study”, I had reconciled myself to the reality that a serious artist does not go around producing a finished painting in three hours (actually less when you consider setting up time and break times).  The fact that I consider these paintings as complete if not completely wonderful just shows how far I am from being a serious artist.  There is a whole level of professionalism up there that I can only imagine.

However, the work that I did Friday was, at the end of the three hours, pronouced a “painting” by Peter, “not just a good study”.  Yes, he actually said those words.

An Actual Painting

He liked the composition, which I admit, I  had worked out early in the process. before paying much attention to the figure.  So that was unusual.  Perhaps because of that, a certain painterly quality emerged for the whole painting.  But when I got home, I noticed that the right leg was too short, both as measured against her left leg and as measured against her torso.  So I “fixed” it.  I tried to duplicate  the original foot before I covered it up, but the new foot  (FEET again!) doesn’t look right.   I may have botched this painting by correcting one errant part of it that may not have mattered in the big scheme of things.    All is not lost, however–the same model is returning in two weeks for the same pose, and I will get another crack at that foot.  I am also hoping to paint a larger version from the same pose.

Totem, 11×14, $300

Lotus Studies 13×13 $265

High and Dry, 11×14, $300

A plug for the Soo Rye Art Gallery opening on November 10, reception from 5 to 8 p.m.  The address is 11 Sagamore Road, Rye, NH.  All the artworks being exhibited are priced no higher than $300.  I contributed “Totem”, “Lotus Studies”, and “High and Dry”, three of my all-time favorite paintings.  If you can’t get to the opening, the show  continues through the end of December, but I expect that a lot of the art will be sold at the opening.

Here is some history for these three paintings:

Totem was accepted in a regional show juried by Don Stone for the Rockport Art Association (Massachusetts, not Maine).  I painted Totem on the coast of Rhode Island, near Narragransett, with my artist friend, Mary Crawford Reining.  The totem, actually more accurately called a cairn, in the painting really did exist exactly as I painted it.  Other cairns had been built by person or persons unknown, but this one was the most adventurous.  It was more than a cairn–so I titled it Totem.  Earlier in that morning, I had painted another, more complex view of this rocky beach, and had an hour left over.  Only much later did I  realize until later what a successful painting Totem was.

Lotus Studies won Best in Show at a Manchester Artists Association exhibit, about a year ago when the MAA had a gallery of its own, but I created it at least a year before that for the Women’s Caucus for Art annual 6×6 show.    That had been my first year in the WCA, hence my first 6×6 show.  I had easy inspiration from photographs taken at the lotus pond in Wickford, Rhode Island, again visiting Mary.  The next year we tried plein air painting at the pond, but my output was worthless.

High and Dry has no  distinction to report, but it deserves an award, in my humble opinion, for oozing the most charm.  I have Mary Crawford Reining to thank again, for High and Dry:  this time I was a visiting her Marco Island home for perhaps the third year in a row.  None of my Florida paintings had amounted to much until this one, and I still consider it the Prize of my Florida collection.  Funny thing is, Mary had had her eye on this boat for a long time, wanting to paint it but never having got around to it.  So I swoop in and steal her subject as it were, and make it one of my best from Florida.

Only in the writing of these descriptions did I notice the huge debt I owe Mary Crawford Reining for guiding me to these three inspiring subjects.

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.   Also, if you want to plan ahead, on December 1-2, a two-day show  of unframed works at Adrienne’s studio on the 4th floor of  Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH; the artwork will be priced no higher than $150!  At least six artists are participating in this sale.

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.

The Wall of Nudes

I received a request, in response to last week’s blog, for a picture of my Wall of Nudes before I dismantled it all.  I agreed to comply, but before I could photograph it for posterity, I felt obliged to try for some semblance of order.  Not perfect order, as you will see, but a little bit more coherent than the crazy-quilt effect suffered by my bridge players.  I filled all the gaps at least, which produces a display of nudity even more overwhelming than the original.  You are fortunate not to have to experience this in the flesh.  (forgive me, pun intended)

I kept out of photo range all of my paintings by Others.  The effect is chaotic enough without introducing totally dissimilar artworks.  Plus, I would have felt obliged to identify all of them, which would make for a cumbersome blog entry.  However, having decided to devote this blog to the Wall of Nudes, I thought I might as well include other nooks and crannies of that room and an adjoining one, the Yellow Room.  We tend to name rooms by their predominant color, rather than by their purpose.  Purposes of rooms in my house tend to change over time.  The Wall of Nudes is in a room formerly known as the Pink Room, for its carpet.  The carpet is gone, but I still refer to it as the Pink Room.  Others call it the Striped Room (for the stripes painted on the wall).  As far as purpose, the Pink Room currently serves as Gallery, Entertainment Room (TV, etc), Pet Dwelling (one dog and a bunny).   I suppose it is, in modern parlance, a Family Room.  This family, however,  consists of me, the dog and the bunny.  (My granddaughter, who loves upstairs, has her own fancier TV and does not join us in the Pink Room for any purpose other than a meet up with the dog.  (Her dog.)

The Yellow Room is where I do stuff like stretch canvas, mount canvas onto panels, gesso panels, and frame paintings.  Framing oil paintings is a pretty simple affair, and if you stick to certain standard sizes, you can pop a painting in and out of a frame quick as a . . . well, bunny.  When I began this journey, I would search for and order a specific frame for a specific painting.  Somewhere along the line, the possibility of switching frames dawned upon me.  I began to stock up on standard sizes at sales, and fit them to paintings as needed for exhibits.   At one particularly prolific point of time, I managed to frame and display 81 paintings at one time, finding something appropriate for each one of them in my supply.  Nowadays, my paintings are predominantly 11×14, while I have more 10×12 frames than I can use.  Turns out 10×12 is not a standard size, but I didn’t know that when I ordered a supply of 10×12 panels from RayMar back in 2006.  So for a while there, I was glomming onto 10×12 frames wherever I could find them.  Then, of course, wiser, I stopped painting on 10×12 panels.  Ergo, excess 10×12 frames.  Which led to a wall of 10×12 frames right where I can lay my hands on them, if I ever need them.  Why didn’t someone explain the Facts of Frames to me in the beginning?

I explain all of this ahead of time  in part to whet your appetite, but mostly because I have little confidence that you would read it after the slide show.

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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.

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.

Letting down

Thank goodness, it’s all over. The one-day show on Saturday that I was furiously prepping for–it ended without disaster. Sure, two rods holding the tent up broke, but I had whimsically thrown in some duct tape at the last minute, which rescued that situation. And my little crew of two useless females and one strong clever one were assisted by the men on either side of us in getting that “EZ Up” up. E-Z, bah humbug! It is not anything I could have accomplished alone, that’s for sure. My granddaughter (the strong clever member of the crew) was there at beginning and end for the heavy lifting part, and my daughter kept me company during the day with her mini Pomeranian dog. The sun came in and out, a little breeze snaked in every now and then, and the rain didn’t start until we were packing up. Here is what my 10 ft by 10 ft space looked like.

Left corner

Right Corner

I was the only artist there whose entire exhibit (almost) featured paintings of nudes. (28 works framed, of which all but one were paintings; of the paintings, all but three were paintings of nudes) Apparently there was some controversy generated by the decision to show nudes. Two artists (artists!) boycotted the event in protest. But the organizer promised me, when it was all over and we were packing everything up, that they would continue to allow artistic nudes to be exhibited. It grieves me to report that there were at least three other artists present whose nudes were more award-worthy than the one I picked out as my award candidate. I wish I could show you what these winning works looked like, but the Londonderry Art on the Common PR machine has not got as far as issuing press releases or creating a blog.

On a cheerier note, I was a winner in another show. It opened in Plymouth at the Gallery at Red Gate Farm, last Friday. I couldn’t get there because I couldn’t find a ride (granddaughter needed the car more than I did), but I heard it was the best reception ever, and one of my two paintings was honored. Not sure for what, exactly–just a really nice painting. The theme of the show is “Reinventing the Farm. My painting was “Apples Ready to Pick”, and indeed, I painted them at Mack’s Apples, which allows people to come in and pick their own. I guess you could say that is one way of reinventing the farm.

Apples Ready to Pick

Lest you think I was too preoccupied by the above activities to paint, let me reassure you, by no means! I have two new nudes:

Standing Nude

I had to cheat a bit on the length of his legs in order to fit the feet in the picture. I deliberately left the feet kind of unfinished-looking, but notice how well they are planted. I really love this painting just the way it is, dribbles of diluted paint and all. Cameron, if you are reading this, I would love to hear from you whether you think I can “get away” with leaving this painting in this unfinished state.

It was not dry enough for me to mount it for the show, but I stuck it in a frame anyway and displayed it. You can probably pick it out in the photograph of the Right Corner; it is in the middle, on the ground but leaning against the wall. Many of my portly visitors, when they saw it, started considering a new career in modeling.

My second nude of the week is from a 3-hour workshop with Peter Clive, an instructor at the NH Institute of Art. I spent half the time watching him do a demo, and the other half trying to emulate (in small degree) his tighter approach, starting from highlights, then filling in dark accents, and last, working in the midtones. I think I usually start with the midtones. Everybody has their own “attack”, one that works best for them.

Seated Nude (M)

You’ve probably remarked on how restrained this painting is, compared to my usually more bravura approach. The skin tone is totally realistic. I do like it. Although the skin is quite light, the highly lit parts not look chalky. The highlights on my other nudes tend to bleach out. Must have something to do with values, with contrast. One of these days, I will get to the bottom of that.

One last thing of note–only because I have photographs. I will only subject you to one as I know you must be tiring. This is one section of an exhibit of plein air paintings from five or six members of the NH Plein Air group.

NH Plein Air exhibit at Pantano Gallery

One of mine is on the top left. Flo Parlangeli has two–top right and bottom left. Barbara Carr did the one on the bottom right. To see the entire exhibit, go to the Southern NH University in Hooksett, NH, find the library (Shapiro Library, if there are more than one) and then locate the Pantano Gallery within the Library.

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 Gallery at Red Gate Farm in Plymouth; at the Yoga Balance Studio in Manchester; at the Pantano Gallery in the Shapiro Library at Southern NH University; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

No Nudes Week

I mislaid my Tuesday painting of a lovely male nude. That’s the primary reason for depriving you of any paintings or drawing of nude people this week. However, it creates the opportunity to publish the plein air paintings that I left behind in Portsmouth a few weeks ago.

Bridge to Pierce/Peirce Island


This first painting, “The Bridge to Pierce/Peirce Island,” I worked on for about three hours, and brought it pretty much to a point where I felt it was finished. Notice the American flags. They were present, of course, but I could have ignored them. As the result of spending so much time on the bridge painting, I did not have as much time as I needed to finish the second one.

NHAA’s Sheafe Warehouse


I had expected the Warehouse to make for a simpler painting, but I had difficulty with perspective and texture, which took time to work out and so I ran out of time. One day, when I am more experienced, I will know to ignore the deadline and just withhold an unfinished painting from the wet paint sale. I don’t plan to finish this painting. It goes on the discard pile, to be sanded and painted over.

I’ve been wondering why I tend to go in close to buildings instead of situating them in a landscape. I’m beginning to realize that it’s harder to paint a successful landscape painting with so little actual land. Buildings can be beautiful, but they need to be placed in context. In the next painting, I stepped back a little bit–but still I chose to lose the top of the barn.

Swallow Barn


I produced this painting in the course of collecting the above two Portsmouth paintings from my artist friend, Bruce Jones, who had kept them safe. This barn is across the street from his home in Exeter. [Exeter is the home of Don Stone. Bruce paints with Don Stone and has a lovely loose style that you sometimes see in a Don Stone painting. Who influenced whom?] I titled the painting “Swallow Barn” because Bruce’s wife Tracy told me about barn swallows who have made this barn their home. I wish I could have caught them in my painting but I guess they were snoozing. Instead, I put in the shovel, as my quirky substitute for life. Don’t you wonder what use that shovel was being put to, in the middle of August?

Report on exhibits: Two of my plein air paintings were accepted into an exhibit titled “Reinventing the Farm”, opening this Friday in Plymouth NH–the Gallery at Red Gate Farm, 188 Highland Street. The reception is Friday from 6 to 9. I never got around to mailing out the post card invitations to attend the reception. I feel really bad about that, and hope a few of my blog readers will make the effort although I know Plymouth seems a bit out of the way.

Another painting, not plein air but rather a combination of still life and photographic references, that I developed specifically for an exhibit titled “Add Women and Stir”, was rejected. To check out the rejectee, click here. Perhaps not edgy enough, perhaps just not good enough. I look for excuses but “just not good enough” seems most likely reason.

I round out this week of painting-from-life-but-not-nudes with my two paintings of our new Sudanese model, Yannette. These are from our Sunday life group. The first is the one I started last week. I “finished” it this week, which only means I came to a point where the painting seemed uniformly complete and I didn’t feel like taking it any further.

Yanette


Sorry about the glare. The painting is 20×16, which is a very large surface to light without incurring any shine anywhere. I’m going to be doing more paintings of that size now that I possess a 16×20 canvas pad, so I promise to figure out how to photograph paintings of size more competently. Surely there is something on the Web, if only I can find it.

I may have rushed the full length portrait of Yannette to conclusion because my secret desire was to paint a closeup portrait of her.

Yanette Profile

Finally, a fuller explanation of why I mislaid my lovely Tuesday nude. I have been readying my nudes for display at the Londonderry Art in the Park on September 8 (Saturday). As I mentioned in an earlier post, Londonderry is not only permitting the display of pre-approved nudes, it is encouraging it by making the theme of the show “Bare Essentials” and awarding a prize for the best nude in the show.

I probably have twenty or so nudes painted in oils, and hundreds of nude drawings that I could mat and frame. To keep effort and costs down, I have decided to concentrate on the oil paintings. I ordered six new, distinctive frames, which arrived Thursday, two days early. I selected my ten favorite nudes–almost all of them had been painted on 12×16 unmounted, unstretched canvas. I had to choose whether to crop to 11×14 or to add paint to the edges where my support had covered up the surface. This choice resulted in a lot of agony. Even the painting to the edge distorts the composition of the original painting. If only I could wave a wand and produce odd-sized panels to mount them on, and odd-sized frames to put them in. Then, picture this: I go to insert my cropped-down treasures in the new 11×14 frames and they won’t fit! Five of my hardboard supports had been cut slightly too large. Price being no object when it comes to presenting my paintings, I got on the phone today and ordered five more frames cut slightly larger than 11×14. Meanwhile, I had put aside my last nude because it was not quite dry enough for the mounting thing, and it disappeared in the midst of the chaos. I’m not worried. It will turn up, and it will be on display in my tent at the Londonderry Art in the Park on September 8. Be There!

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 Gallery at Red Gate Farm in Plymouth; at the Yoga Balance Studio in Manchester; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

Deception

Yesterday’s painting, part still life, part breathing life, represents a bit of a change of pace.  I requested a view of the model’s back because I wanted to concentrate on larger shapes, more subtle changes in value.  I didn’t really intend to get hung up on the decorative pillows and drapes, but I can’t help myself.  To my eye, those pillows now look exactly like the real thing, even though I suggested only their basic characteristics.  It doesn’t take much information from the eye to translate a form into something the brain recognizes.  That ability of the brain to glom onto something and make sense of it is what enables a certain colleague of mine to see elves and monkeys in just about any painting of shrubbery or clouds.  That ability might also be the thing that gets in the way of accuracy when you really need it, as when you are painting a portrait.  “That’s it, you got that!”  the brain exclaims, but it’s just not trustworthy.

The comparison  of my reclining nude to the Ingres “Odalisque” is inevitable–well, I like to think it’s inevitable.  Comparing my work to Ingres’ is a little bit of . . . is “hubris” the correct word?  What the hell, let’s do it anyway:

La Grande Odalisque by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Much has been made of the anatomical distortions in Ingres’ figure.  Ingres is one of the foremost figure artists of all time, so he didn’t make anatomical mistakes.  He exaggerated, on purpose, the length of her torso and right arm.   And it works, if  you don’t think about it too hard.

My model’s back was almost as smooth as Odalisque’s, but I took pains to include as much nuance as was available.  I’m now thinking some of it is overstated.  I have to keep reminding myself, it doesn’t take much of a change in value or color to get the point across, not with the brain of my viewer zeroing in on the point with great efficiency.

In my Tuesday Life Group, the pose was a carryover from the week before. (One of our artists needed two sessions to work on her painting.)  So I moved to a different part of the room, one I usually avoid.  As a result I suffered from glare from  the sunlit windows  combined with insufficient light on my canvas.  Add to that the fact that my new lens in my right eye does not focus as well as the old one, cloudy though the old one was.  With so many visual handicaps, you’d expect me to strike out on this one altogether.

African Queen

Apart from one yellow breast and one red one, there’s not much I want to change.  Is good vision overrated?  No.  I worked hard to compensate for the poor conditions:  I wore a hat with a brim that I could pull down to shield my eyes from the glare from the windows, and I would bring the painting in close to my eye when I needed to be able to see what I was doing (putting the lights in her eyes, for example. or the highlights on the earrings).  [Footnote: My left is the distance eye, which I use to see the model, whereas the right eye, is the near eye, which I use to see what I am painting.  It was the right eye that got a new lens.]

Seeing what you are doing in fine detail is not important most of the time, unless you are a classical artist.  (Like Ingres).  By the way, this is a pretty good likeness, my untrustworthy brain thinks.  And how about those earrings!  I so loved painting the earrings, which required a bit of skill, and the headband, which required no skill at all.   I love being able to put a stroke of paint on a spot and having it pop right in place and speak its nature.  Obedient.

I want to record herewith an “improvement” made to another painting.  I was bothered by the highlights on her eyelids, and when a friend confessed that the highlights bothered her too, I fixed them.  Here is the before and after.

On the brown leather sofa (BEFORE)

AFTER

Less is more when it comes to values.  I tend to overdo the highlights, because that’s what I see–the highlight on dark skin is almost blindingly white, like light bouncing off a glass.  In a painting, however, such bright highlights look strange.  Or, perhaps, this exemplifies another deception, eye-brain-wise:  those highlights were never as bright as I think I see them, they just looked bright by contrast with the surrounding color.  And it illustrates another truth–sometimes you need to separate the painting from the live subject of a painting in order to see and correct the values.

So to sum up this week’s theme:  Beware of  deceiving yourself, but take advantage of your viewers’ willingness to see what you want them to see.

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 Epsom Public Library in Epsom; at the Bedford Public Library, in Bedford; at the law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; 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

A Best Week

Some weeks are so full of reportable stuff that I have trouble choosing my topic.  Other weeks, I have trouble scaring up a single decent topic.  I could save up half of the good-week stuff for a dull week, but who wants to plan for dull weeks?  Not me.  On the other hand, I don’t want to bore you either, and really now, wouldn’t  you rather hear about struggles?  This week I can report on a bit of a struggle and its accompanying triumph so that’s what I lead with.

Part I.  Alpaca Love.  You remember the alpaca farm/ranch from last month?

Alpaca Farm v.1

Alpaca Farm in North Conway

This was the plein air painting from the Bartlett weekend, to which, I announced, I would be adding an alpaca closeup.  I had one good alpaca closeup, so I went with that, even though I’d have preferred the animal to be facing more towards the viewer.  My closeup did not include the legs either, so I was winging it with regard to the posture and thickness and general shape of the legs.

Alpaca Farm v.2

Alpaca Farm v.2

Pretty awful, right?.  I wouldn’t even show it to you before–I couldn’t let it sit out there as if finished when I was going to have to repaint the red alpaca closeup.  First, I had to find a better reference photograph.

As it turned out, when I got around to searching my own photographs, I had plenty of good alpaca poses.   Thanks to my powerful Nikon SLR camera, alpacas photographed in the way distance still gave me enough enlarged detail to paint a loveable blond alpaca in just the right pose, in just the right spot.

Alpaca Farm, v.3 (Final)

Part II:  Supercyclists. Earlier this evening, I delivered two paintings to my son in celebration of his birthday.  One of them  you have seen already.

Andy as Supercyclist

It depicts him right after finishing the race up to the top of the Rockpile (Mt. Washington).  Paint still wet on the second one delivered, is my painting of his friend Kori, from the same time, same place.

Whew!

I love the foreground in Kori’s painting.  Strange that where the focus of the painting is the figure of the cyclist, what I love most is how I painted the ground.  I would have liked to paint the face more expressively, but I didn’t really have room for that.  The two paintings are each 12×9, so the faces are quite small.  I wanted to get the likenesses as close as possible, so I had to be careful.  Andy’s worked out better because I had only light and shadow anyway, but Kori’s nose, mouth, eyebrows had to fall in the exact correct places, and no smearing please.

My major painting plan, for which these two 12x9s have served as studies, is still on, but the faces in the big one are not going to get any bigger since the plan is to encompass the entire rockpile.  I think I need to reuse this scene in a longer painting so as to include more of the shadow, and larger overall, so as to allow more of a slapdash face.

Part II:  Lovely Nudes.  Finally, for a change of pace, how about a collection of lovely nudes from Saturday Life Group?  My best from two weeks ago, and all three from this week:

Arrangement of elbow and knee   

Leg on Blue Draped Pillow

Right Side with bent elbow

The back from a left angle

I am wondering if I am getting too heavy-handed with the charcoal.  The “Leg on Blue Draped Pillow” has more charm to it, I think, because I had the pose for only 20 minutes and had to keep a light touch.  I would like to know if you agree.  Or disagree.  Either way, it was a good week.  Here’s hoping for another one coming up!

Tomorrow (Monday) I pick up my painting from The Rockport (Mass.) Art Association.  Unsold.  They invited me to apply for membership, and I thought I would if my painting sold, but it didn’t, so I didn’t.  A bit far to go for the sheer joy of exhibiting.  Although I do hope to get in a plein air painting day tomorrow, which makes a trip worthwhile.  Also tomorrow, paintings are being changed out at the Sage Gallery in Manchester, 70 Lowell Street.   Please visit this new gallery.

My old website, with multiple painting galleries yet to be transferred to this WordPress location, can be accessed at this address:  www.paintingsbyaline.com.  Also there are  all the images attached to earlier blog entries.  Eventually I will move everything here, but it takes a lot of time.