On Photographing Oil Paintings

I have, from time to time, complained about fog or glare appearing in my photographs of artwork.  I tried to eliminate glare by cutting down on lighting, but it didn’t always work.  The larger the painting, the harder it was to eliminate glare.  When I started, I didn’t have a lot to photograph so I would take the artwork outdoors to a spot where the lighting was indirect.  As I accumulated piles of panels to photograph, I wanted to be able to run through them relatively quickly–indoors and at night.  I would flood the studio with full-spectrum artificial light.  Instead of aiming lights at the artwork, I would bounce light off the ceiling, through a mirror, etc.  I thought the only solution was to avoid the light that rakes across the surface of a painting.  Yet my research on the internet kept producing advice to set up lamps aimed at 90 degrees from the artwork.

The result of my low lighting solution to glare was unsatisfactory color capture.  I started using my iPhone instead of my once expensive, leading edge digital SLR Nikon D70.  But all that is in the process of changing, since I attended a short workshop at the NH Institute of Art, conducted by the chairman of its Photograpy Department, Gary Samson.  I learned a new concept:  polarization.  I’m no scientist, as Republican climate-change skeptics are so fond of saying, so the explanation that follows may read like a Mother Goose tale to someone who actually understands the physics of light.

Rays of light have direction, and bounce off surfaces like oil paintings.  To polarize these bounces is to neutralize them, or counteract them, with filters that somehow deflect the bounces before they reach the camera.  You need a filter for the camera lens.   You also need filters between the light source and the art object.

I started by acquiring a filtering lens for the Nikon, and rephotographing some recent works that had troubled me.  Despite the fact that I could not figure out exactly what I was supposed to see through my new circular filter, the photographs did improve.  Compare the original hazy image with the new polarized image.

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer (FOG FROM REFLECTED LIGHT)

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John the Gardener  (NO MORE FOG; COLOR ALSO MORE ACCURATE)

But then I tried to rephotograph a painting that I had varnished with a high gloss varnish.  I could not get rid of the glare.  So I rummaged around Amazon and then eBay until I found affordable gizmos to hang filters from the spotlights, and a large sheet of polarizing film from which to cut out sheets to hang from the gizmos.  I don’t think it mattered whether the film’s polarity was circular, as with the camera lens, or parallel.  Circularity was necessary for the camera so that the camera could still autofocus.  I take that on faith since I don’t understand it.

Alas, the filters for the spotlights did not solve the varnish issue.  I am so sad.

Two other advances in my photo technique have resulted from that workshop:  I set the Nikon to take the photos in RAW format.  That’s super-large format to accommodate enormous amounts of data for the purpose of manipulating the data in the finished version (jpeg) of the photo; and I bought a photo manipulating program better than “Photos”, which comes free with all my Apple devices.  Adobe Lightroom, about $145 from Amazon, compatible with Macs and IOS.  Headache!  Powerful software equals massive learning curve, and hey,  I hated learning how to operate the remote control on my DVR.

As a result of all this upheaval, my diligence with blogging faltered over the past couple of months.  I’m hoping that by the end of January, I’ll have all the bugs worked out.  Meanwhile, here is a decent photo of a 16×20 painting that I did over the summer–from a reference photo I took in my neighborhood.

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Russell Street Roofs

Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.   The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run  through January 29.

Other places where you might catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH  (in January 2017)
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleault Law Firm in Manchester NH

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

New Crop of “Figure in the Landscape”

For a third Summer in a row, I participated in the David Curtis offer of a model in his garden garnished with the light touches of his guidance and that of my fellow artists.  This year, we had July Sundays in addition to the August Sundays, plus an errant June Sunday to get us in the proper mindset.  We got rained out only once, giving me a total of eight Sundays, eight figures, eight paintings.   David’s home and garden is in Gloucester, an hour and a quarter drive from my home.  This year I had company on the trip.  I persuaded Cynthia Arieta to try it out; she prefers figurative painting too, and we met during Cameron Bennett’s Cornwall workshop a few summers ago.  She’s now as hooked as I am.

For models, we started with David’s wife Judy, dressed up as a Guitar-playing Gypsy.  This was the June Sunday.  The Rhododendrons were no longer in bloom, but David suggested I add blooms to the painting anyway, so of course, I did.

Judy with Guitar and Rhododendrons

Judy Curtis, wife of David Curtis, posing in their Gloucester garden

The order in which I painted the middle ones might not be accurate, but who cares about that, right?  I believe the second one was the Basketful of Flowers, featuring artist Marianne as our model.  For both of these first two paintings I used a 20×16 Raymar panel.  In the previous two summers, I had painted smaller, on 12×16 panels.  I had been easily able to complete those 12×16 paintings in the three hours allotted, so this year I thought I would challenge myself by going bigger.  As a result, the background of Basketful of Flowers was unfinished when I left that Sunday.  I worked on it at home and brought it back the next week for comments from the others.

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Basketful of Flowers

Not particularly happy with my first two paintings, I concluded that 20×16 was perhaps too large for me to complete in three hours, and I switched back to 12×16 for number three.  I call this one  Diamond Bracelet.  My titles are mostly hooks to remind me which painting I am talking about.  I could not use the dress color to identify this painting because, as you will see, another blue-green dress is coming up.

Diamond Bracelet

Diamond Bracelet

David objected to the downsizing idea:  As long as I was getting enough information on the larger canvas to finish at home, I should keep working in the 20×16 format.  Subsequently I also took pains to prepare the panels that I used with a dark ground.  Dark brown or rusty red were my usual choices for the ground color.  Without the pressure to cover up white grounds, I could get closer to completion each Sunday.  If I remember correctly, the ground for White Wicker Settee (number four) was close to black.

Reader on White Settee

White Wicker Settee

Our model, another artist,  for White Wicker furnished the settee herself and of course chose her costume.  David declares repeatedly, “Artists make the best models”, and surely their choices of accessories is a big component in their success.  He tried to recruit me to model next year, but I am reluctant to sacrifice my painting time.

Number five.  The next model is the daughter of one of us artists.  I had to fake the rhododendrons again.  From Gloucester to Manchester, we have been suffering from an extreme drought, and Judy Curtis, who is in charge of the garden, stands on principle in refusing to water her garden–ever.  So the rhododendron blooms would not be the only flowers we had to invent or exaggerate as the drought worsened over the summer.  Tablecloth and vase is the one of the eight that I am least satisfied with.

Reader at table with vase of flowers

Tablecloth and Vase

After the fact, I decided I should have filled the canvas with the figure instead of letting “figure in the landscape” govern my composition choices.  For future sessions, I resolved to get closer to the model and even, gasp, allow body parts to get cut off by the edge of the panel if necessary.  Meanwhile, David encouraged me to paint in the pattern on the tablecloth in order to create something interesting going on.  One of the most common praises he heaps upon me is that I “tell a story”.  I don’t really understand what he is talking about, but hope I can keep on doing it.

The next two paintings did not require me to cut off any limbs, but I did allow  major accessories to get cut off.  The first, George Martin, Painting (number six), started on a blackish ground.  Notice how his easel slides out of frame on the right?  The part I had the most trouble with was his eyeglasses.  The lenses caught quite a glare from the bright sun and sky above, but when I painted them like I saw them, it was too startling and distracting.

George Martin painting

George Martin, posing with his brush and easel

John Brown is a regular on Sundays and has posed in the past on Sundays when I could not be there.  I had envied the results I had seen, so was looking forward to his portrayal of Farmer John (number seven).  (Or should it be Gardener John?  Doesn’t have the right ring.)  I believe I can detect a red ground for this one.  His wheelbarrow leaves the frame on the right.  This painting was my favorite (and David’s favorite) up to that point, but there was one more week to go.  Could I top Farmer John?

John Brown as gardener

John Brown, posing as gardener or farmer

In this number eight, the last painting of the summer, the red adirondack chair makes its third appearance over the last two summers.  The model is engaged to marry David and Judy’s son.   Her names escapes me right now–so sorry.  But she also modeled for us last summer in a navy blue dress holding a red parasol–my least favorite painting from any of the summers.  So when she appeared again in navy blue, my heart sank.  I prepared myself for a disaster of a painting.  But surprise, Navy Blue with Red and White proved to be a winning combination!  And to celebrate, I cut off her feet!

Combining red chair with white parasol

Navy Blue, Red and White

A major contribution to the success of this painting is the shadow pattern on the parasol.  The sun and the tree gave me what I needed to tell that story, whereas the shadow pattern in Diamond Bracelet was, well, no pattern at all.  I may have to go back and fix that.

Reminder for folks in the Chesapeake Bay area, if any there are: see two of my animal portraits at the Annmarie Sculpture Gardern and Art Center in Solomons, Maryland.  Opening reception will be October 7, which I cannot attend.  Alas.  Maybe I will make it down there before the exhibit ends in late January.  The exhibit’s theme is “Fur, Feathers, and Fins–Our Faithful Pets”.   It will run from October 7 through January 29.

Other places where you can catch a few of my paintings are:

  • NH Antiques Coop in Milford NH
  • Ellis River Art Gallery in Jackson NH
  • Bartlett Inn in Bartlett NH
  • Red Jacket Resort in North Conway NH
  • Bernerhof Inn in Glen NH
  • Mesmer & Deleaut Law Firm in Manchester NH

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

The Prodigal Cat Returns

In 2004, before I even started painting, I read an article in a cat magazine, while I was waiting in the veterinarian’s office, about what a great cat this newly recognized breed, the Pixie Cat, was.  Smart, friendly and almost dog-like in the way they connect to people, Pixie Bobs look like a small version of a wild bobcat:  short tails, spotted markings, tufted ears.  I was intrigued, and set about looking for a breeder in New Hampshire.  I found just one, and as luck would have it, she had a kitten with a “bad” tail that was in need of a good home.  The tail was bad because it was too long and ended in a crook.  I reimbursed her for her veterinarian fees and took title to the little fellow.  He was about 10 weeks old.  He had been named “Winchester” but we were not about to call him that.  My granddaughter decided his name should be “Freckles”, for the little spots on his muzzle.

Freckles as kitten

He came to me already microchipped.  We had at least two cats already, and there was a cat door available for free travel in and out.  The other cats weren’t much into going outside.  Freckles, however, was an adventurer.  Once, a neighbor, who happened to be a firefighter, had to climb up a tall pine tree to retrieve him.  Another time, he went missing for a whole week, so I posted laminated posters all over the neighborhood with his picture and a description of the crooked tail.  Almost immediately, I got a call from an ex-neighbor who had just come to check out the vacant property she had for sale–he was stuck on her roof! She was ready to take him to her new home when she noticed the poster.

Frequently he could be found chilling’ on the rocker on the porch of a house up the block; they wanted to claim him as theirs too, but fortunately he had already acquired a rep and most neighbors knew where he belonged, even if they didn’t know me.  He enjoyed car rides and would hop right into one without invitation.  But I figured he was safe, because of  his microchip.  Sadly, I now know that for a microchip to work, it has to be looked for.

Freckles was one of my very first attempts at a cat portrait, and that painting is still one of my most successful, if you measure success by how quickly viewers fell in love with the subject.  I had used that portrait as him Missing Cat poster photo.

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Then in December of 2010, when Freckles was six years old, he got caught outside in a snowstorm.  I never saw him again–until last week.  All these years, I had hoped that he simply accepted a car ride with someone who decided not to check him for a microchip.  (Vets do not routinely scan new patients for microchips.  Asked why not, one vet answered that it would appear distrustful of the pet’s guardian.)  But I realized he more likely was dead.  I would look up at that portrait of him and feel my loss every time.  He was my most special cat, the only one I ever sought out to buy from a breeder.

Monday morning I got the news that someone had scanned a stray cat in Nashua (about 20 miles South) and come up with Freckles’ contact information.  None of my phone numbers was still good, but the fax number went to the firm I practiced law with–the firm that had often been visited by Freckles because I liked to take him everywhere with me.  By one p.m. the responsible cat owner who searched for his true owner, she’s my hero, Belinda, met me in a parking lot and turned over to me a somewhat confused Freckles.  He seemed content being with her and not very interested in coming home with me.  But being Freckles, he accepted it.  He did, after all, enjoy car rides.  Here is a photo that Belinda shared with me, of Freckles napping in her daughter’s bed.

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I had to quarantine him away from my other cats until we were sure he wasn’t carrying any contagious disease or parasites, but the vet declared him amazingly healthy for a senior cat on his own.  Actually, amazingly healthy for a cat of any age.  Even his teeth were good.  The cat door has not been openable from the outside ever since he disappeared six years ago, but he is getting enough stimulation from the four younger cats occupying my house.  He does seem to remember the house, not to mention the cat door, and he is warming up to me.  He seems to want to be in the same room with me.  The other four cats are showing him great respect, as is his due.  He has only to look at them, not even a stare, just a look, to claim his lofty position as No. 1.  His favorite perch, when we (my follower cat Milo and I) are in the TV room/art gallery is the top of a leather chair like the one that I sit in, so that we are on the same level.

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Note the painting hanging in the background.

Two more photos:  one to compare to his kitten photo and the other to mark his privileged occupation of my otherwise cat-free computer sanctuary.  He has found the printer-scanner-copier combo to be a good place to hang out.

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I’m not sure what all this has to do with my painting.  It’s just a tale I needed to tell.  A love note for my special cat.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

Six Years of Incubation

In order to keep something going on my easel, I am taking a summer class at the Institute with an instructor new to me.  Stuart Ober is leading a course called “Independent Explorations in Oil Painting”,  a scope broad enough to cover just about any subject matter and any style.  If I want to, I can switch between new abstraction experiments and long-shelved  realistic projects.

First up:  a double portrait that I started maybe six years ago, before my first class with Cameron Bennett.  I had been using a photograph as reference, and so lost interest in it after being introduced to the joy  and challenges of painting from life.  But it was a quite large canvas, gallery-wrapped too, so not something to be discarded.  It had haunted my studio from the window sill, and one of the cats had thrown up on the top, so the dried up vomit cascaded down the front of the canvas.  Charming.  My first job was cleaning off the vomit.

I do have photographs of a small study I finished all those years ago, when I was still more of a fumbler, and the start of the larger painting.  You’ll have to imagine the vomit for yourself.

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Study, 9×12, of Two Girls

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Charcoal start to large painting of Two Girls

The girls are my two granddaughters, Tabitha on the left and her younger half-sister Natalie on the right.  At the time of the photograph, Natalie was about 13 years old, yet she looks older than her 22-year old sister.  Photographs do lie.

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Photo of two sisters on Newbury Street

Newbury Street in Boston was the location of the photo.  I had taken the two girls down to Boston for a First Friday tour of the South of Washington art scene (SOWA)*.  To get them to accompany me, I had to promise a nice dinner out on Newbury Street.  The wall between the restaurant and the street had been removed. We were lucky to get a table next to the sidewalk.  Over their shoulders you are seeing the lights of street activity.

At this point, I have spent two classes attempting to bring the large portrait to a conclusion.  It is so much better than it was when I cleaned it off, and even if I never get around to perfecting it, I’m not embarrassed by it.

Two Sisters, on Newbury Street

After photo taken in Newbury street restaurant; Tabitha and Natalie, probably 2009

But I long to “finish” this painting in the academic sense, examining every edge.  Too hard?  Too soft?  There is no deadline.

*Originally I had written (erroneously) “Market” for Washington, lapsing back to the days when I haunted San Francisco, where the Market Street delineated the artsy area from the more commercial areas of the downtown.  SOMA is San Francisco, SOHO is NYC (South of Houston St.) and SOWA is Boston (South of Washington Street).  SOWA is to be distinguished from the higher rent artsy district found on Newbury Street in Boston.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford;  at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; at the Bedford Library; at Bentley Commons in Bedford;  and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

ONLY A WEEK AWAY:   Wednesday, June 22 is the reception at Labelle Winery in Bedford for the Petals 2 Paint show whereat floral designers create live flower arrangements inspired by a painting by participating East Colony artists.  This has been an annual event of the East Colony Fine Art artists for many years.  Since the live flowers last only a few days, you might as well plan to come for the reception (5-8 Wednesday), but the paintings and their floral complements will be on view the next day.

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

Sabbatical?

Bless me Father, it has been three months since my last confession.  Forgive me please?  (My Catholic upbringing surfaces at the weirdest times!)  Or maybe we can just say I was on Sabbatical.  Artists are notoriously moody, say some people.  I’m not sure that’s true–or appropriate under the circumstances.  After all, this was my first Sabbatical in ten years.  Heck, I’m not even sure I can call myself an artist at this point.

However, I am sure of one thing:  when people create something they like to call “art”, they desperately want to share it, unless they fall into a very small category of Hermit Artists (I’ve only known one in person).  Trouble is, in sharing their creations with others, artists become vulnerable to failure of reception, even rejection.  Take me, for instance.  Ten years working hard toward greatness, not there yet, not even close– must be due to a lack of talent.  That no-talent suspicion caught up with me last December.  I didn’t stop all creating.  I slowed down, and I didn’t feel much like sharing any of it online.  It didn’t seem important anymore.  I considered becoming a Hermit Artist. That is still an option.

Two other changes have impacted my ability to blog:  First, I’m working the tax season at H&R Block, preparing tax returns.  When I was still practicing law, preparing tax returns was what I did to relax–it was nice to have a moderately challenging puzzle to put together and call it complete.  But the hours working are hours I can’t create either art or blog entries.

Second, I’m obsessed with solving a problem faced by all artists–display opportunities.  East Colony Fine Art is virtually kaput, although we will go out with gusto, putting on a final Petals to Paint at LaBelle Winery in Bedford, sometime in April.  We (East Colony) couldn’t keep our gallery open because the artists had to cover expenses such as rent and utilities, but, after nine years of experience, it became clear that the sales were not sufficient to justify the expense for artists, not all of whom had trust funds to support them.   Something was fundamentally wrong with that whole model.  Artists should not have to pay to display their works, however much they crave to do so.  The display of artworks–not only those by famous artists in museums but also those by the local artists–benefits the community.   Such public benefits should be supported by public means.  I am working on a model (working on it only in my head so far), and am investigating grant possibilities.  Just don’t have enough time right now to formulate a concrete proposal.

Meanwhile, to pick up where we left off in December, perhaps you would like to see what became of the Work in Progress I was calling “After the Wedding”.  It is currently to be known as “Two Takes.”

Two Takes

Weeks had gone by without an opportunity to complete “After the Wedding”, so when we went to paint Natalie in a new pose in the same chair, I decided to place her in the foreground of “After the Wedding”.  I kept my strokes quick and intuitive so as not spoil the spontaneity that I had enjoyed in “After the Wedding.”  I now have an unusual product for me, one trending toward the loose, barely suggested, portraits of Caroline Anderson, which I admire so much.   (Mine leaves a lot less to the imagination than hers does.)  It has been suggested that I darken the hand and chair on the right side of the picture, to keep eyes focussed on the actions in the center.  What do you think?

Here’s a charcoal drawing I did last night in Deidre Rilely’s class at the Institute (NH Institute of Art), Advanced Figure Drawing:

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New model (Jon), new paper (Niddegen), and dramatic lighting combined to inspire a pretty good job of it.  So that kind of brings you up to date.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

The In-House Model

When, a few months ago, I faced the fact that not enough artists were coming to my Monday morning life sessions to cover the cost of the model, I struck a deal with the model who lives behind my garage:  my 19-year-old granddaughter Natalie.  She now sits for me for free in exchange for her room behind the garage, and still gets cash when other artists join me for a particular session.  She does not pose nude, but frankly, I was getting weary of painting the nude body anyway.  Moreover, as I never tire of pointing out, paintings of nude bodies are difficult to exhibit.  Americans are such Puritans!  Except for museums, which unfortunately do not have room for a learner such as I, people running exhibit spaces are paranoid about the possibility that children might clap their wide eyes on a picture of a nude human being.

So you will see Natalie more often now.  For the first pose pursuant to this arrangement, I had her dress up in her mother’s wedding gown.  The gown had been hanging (literally) around since we cleared out attic and closets for a big garage sale that I had in early October.  I retrieved it from the sale items along with some vintage items of clothing that deserved to be memorialized in paint.

Natalie was at first resistant.  The gown was old-fashioned with lace and puffy sleeves, and covered her up to the neck–definitely not something that a modern girl like her would choose to wear anywhere, much less to her wedding.  But the gown fit her like a glove, and after a while she got into the costume spirit of the enterprise. She has now spent a total of four Monday mornings in the thing.

The first week was just me and one other artist, so access to a good perspective on the model was not an issue.  I chose a 18×24 panel and took my time, expecting to get a few more sessions with this pose.  But more artists showed up the next week, so we had to move her out of the corner to get more good vantage points.   But I have not given up on the first pose.  I like the concept of the bride with her bare feet up, hair all frowsy, head thrown back in exhaustion:

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The Wedding is Over (WIP)

The second pose is more formal.  Natalie applauded the change because it got her closer to the fireplace and was more comfortable than the first pose. We all five started on portraits that were, at most, 3/4 length, so what she did with her feet was immaterial.  (The feet were clad in slippers and resting on a toolbox stepstool.)  I took photos at the end of the second and third weeks, then took a photo of her so that I could finish the piece using that as my reference.  Today, I fixed some details and took another photo, its status today, which might be final.  All four stages are shared with you below:

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The bridal portrait (WIP)

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The bridal portrait (almost done)

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Bridal portrait–the real thing

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The bridal portrait–finished, maybe?

Two days ago, we started on the third pose.  Two other artists were with me, and we agreed to go at it again next Monday, but I think I’m finished with the face and hair at this point.

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Snuggled up by the fire (WIP)

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The snuggle for real–photo of the model in her pose

Natalie is all wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire, the best pose ever, according to her.  Next Monday I need to rearrange the folds of the blanket for the sake of the composition, bringing the back folds across her body instead of running down into the corner.  Also, I feel that the blanket should be more in the shadow, competing less with the light on her face.  I don’t want to bring the face into a more “finished” state.  In fact, I’m afraid I have already lost a certain fresh quality.  Here’s an earlier state of the painting:

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snuggled early version

Another part of the scene that bothers me is the chair.  I’m thinking maybe I should get rid of it.  Or change the color.  To what?  I hate it when I find myself in a color quandary.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Center for the Arts in the New London Inn; at Apotheca, in Goffstown, NH; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester, part of the Healing with Art program; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  My painting “Darkly” (link to it here) has  finally donned a frame and can be viewed at E.W. Poore Framing Studio in Manchester, as part of the Manchester Artists Association “Artist of the Month” program.

Continuing through December 24 is another popup from East Colony Fine Art:  at Salzburg Square on Route 101 in Amherst, NH, open Thursdays through Sundays, 11-5.

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

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

 

 

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This week I have hardly painted at all.  I’ve had three doctor appointments, several projects left over from when I was a tax lawyer (translation:  I’m still preparing tax returns for old clients), and various minor household emergencies to deal with.  Nevertheless, I do have something to put out there for your consideration.

I have been messing around with older paintings that never made the grade.  On two of them, I painted an abstract landscape over, and inspired by, the painting underneath.

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Red Leaves against Early Snow

Purple Mountain Majesty

Purple Mountain Majesty

On yet another, which had failed to excite because it was a party scene with no people in it, I set about inventing people.  Seems to me that I should be able to come up with a method for faking believable people in a loosely painted scene. I have looked at some of Sargent’s paintings of his friends logging about on picnics and such, and I observe that there are many spots in his paintings that are totally undefined.  Sargent could paint loosely with confidence.  I am thinking that if I start by just getting figures in the frame, I can worry about developing a confident style later, after I have the general technique down.  This attempt is actually my third; several years ago when I was on my-bike-race-up-Mt-Washington kick, I included crowds of people in the backgrounds of two paintings.  Both attempts were highly successful.  Both were largely abstract.  It should also be noted that I had photographic references for both.  I am pleased to show you:

Andy with bike

My son, the biker.

Fans

Fans

This, my third attempt, could not be abstract because the people are the foreground and the building in the background is pretty sharply delineated.  The buildings started out as the focal point, and now I’m trying to plop these figures in front of it and have it come out looking kind of reasonable. I made up my mind that this exercise did not have to result in a successful painting.

I started with an ocherish color on my brush, and painted in silhouettes of plausible figures.  I found it hard to invent animated gestures.  Maybe that will get easier with practice.  Then I painted other colors, representing clothes and hair, on the silhouettes.  I threw in a few floppy hats and one striped striped.  Here is the result:

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

Lawn Party at Exeter Inn

I hate to admit this, but I also tinkered with a couple of paintings that I had deemed presentable enough to post on this blog as decent achievements.  With the tinkering I have spoiled them.  I would go back and restore what was obliterated, but I am afraid the paintings will never get back the freshness that made them so pleasing to begin with.  What can I say?  Lesson learned.  Oh, you want to see?  Here is the saddest one–I did have to fill in the background, which is what got me started with the tinkering.  First the original posted version, then today’s:

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Natalie after Retouches

Natalie after Retouches

All I can say is, thank God I didn’t touch the hair.  But isn’t it curious that by toning down the natural redness of her cheek, chest and arms, I drained the life from her.  Surely that is another important lesson:  let the color chips fall where they will.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

At the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Firefly American Bistro on 22 Concord Street, Manchester; and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.

As usual, you may view paintings with prices and order prints, iPhone cases and the like at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me by email to alotter@mac.com.

If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!