Still trying to find . . . ?

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

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

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Tamworth Waterfall

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

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

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Farm in North Conway

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

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In Franconia Notch

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

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House at the Curve in the Road

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

 

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

Thanks for staying with me.

A Splurge of Cats

It so happens that I undertook an obligation to fill a small table with salable artwork (by me) in the NH Institute of Art holiday sale.  Mostly I paint large, unsalable items.  As a result, I had a stack of small canvases and panel just awaiting to discover their purpose for being.

Meanwhile I have been in another slump.  I knew I needed to do some painting, if only for this sale, but Inspiration was hiding somewhere over the hill and far away.  The only solution was to paint cats.  I live with five cats, and with their help, I have amassed a number of interesting feline images.  For cats, one needs no Inspiration.  Cats are per se Inspiring.

So last Friday and Saturday I painted six little cat portraits.  They will be dry for the sale, which occurs on Sunday December 3.  (Ugh!  I can’t stand it–winter already!  Christmas shopping already!–if only all my friends and family members were as nuts about cats as I am.  But then I’d have to find something else to sell next Sunday.)

In addition to the six new cat portraits, I’ll offer a portrait that I painted as a demonstration last summer at the Art Jam on the Bridge in Manchester.  I used as reference a photo of my cat Isis, who is not what you’d call “sociable”, although she feels entitled to most of my attention.  She really wants to live in an one-cat household, and after eight years she still makes up to new people coming into the house as if hoping for a rescuer.  Because of her imperious attitude with me, I have dubbed her “My Diva”:

My Little Diva

My Diva, 12×9, $400 oil on treated carton paper; unframed; $450 framed

I love My Diva (the painting, not so much the model) so much that I paid $35 for a new iPhone cover with this image on it from Fine Art America.  So worth it.

The six new cat portraits range in size from 3.5 x 2.5–(calling card size)  magnetized for sticking to refrigerators and the like, to 6×8.

Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb, 2.5×3, $45, on magnetized canvas panel.

Worried Kitten

Worried Kitten, 6×6, $75; oil on gessoed panel hangable without frame

Ninja Cat

Ninja Cat, 6×6, $75, oil on gessoed panel hangable without frame

Playing "Gotcha"

Playing “Gotcha”, 8×6, oil on stretched canvas; $175 unframed

Clowning Around

Clowning Around, 7.7×6, oil on gessoed panel, $150 unframed

Somethin's Moving Over There

Somethin’s Moving Over There, 7.7×6, oil on gessoed panel, $150 unframed

I’ll be adding the series of flopped cat based on my Milo, and a 6×6 portrait closeup of Milo.  I discussed the series here, and I guess the price will be $250 each or $200 if multiples are purchased.  The higher price I am asking for the 9×12 of My Diva represents the degree of my unwillingness to part with it.

In addition to all available feline paintings, I’ll select the best landscapes that are 9×12 or smaller, and offer them at rock bottom prices.

It would be really nice if  you could come check out my wares.  Here are the specifics:

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And the day after, in virtually the same space, I will be officiating at the Manchester Artists’ Association monthly meeting, which is another interesting event that is open to the public:

Rhonda McCune Poster December 2017

After that, I will retreat back into my hermit hole with my 5 cats.

Acadia: 14 paintings in 6 days

On October 6, I drove to Acadia National Park in Maine to take part in “Fall Color Week” (third annual) promoted by the publisher of Plein Air Magazine, Eric Rhoades.   I’d been feeling a little down, not wanting to get outside and paint, so when the invitation came, I decided it would be a Good Thing to Do.  Expensive,  but worth it in terms of the facilities.  At least I could drive my own car to get there.  Most of the 60 participants flew into Portland or Bangor airports from the West Coast, the South, the Midwest.  To those participants, the fall color foliage was particularly alluring.  For all of us, the idea of Acadia conjured up visions of Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, Thunder Hole, and other visions of Mt. Desert Island memorialized by master artists.

Alas, I discovered when I got there that the section of Acadia National Park where we were was entirely separate from the section to be found on Mt. Desert Island.  We were on Schoodic Peninsula, housed in the Schoodic Research and Educational Institute.  Bar Harbor was an hour’s drive away, taking the short cut–more of which later.  Besides, Mt. Desert Island was overrun with tourists.  Big cruise ships were making calls there.  Busloads of visitors.   Schoodic was a much more desirable place to be, with easy access to fishing villages and other vistas, but  before reaching that conclusion, I would have to try to paint on Mt. Desert.

We arrived at the beginning of Columbus Day Weekends, the traditional peak of foliage season, planning to explore Schoodic for a few days waiting for the tourists to leave Mt. Desert.  The Peninsula offers a lot of rock, both along the road and extending out to sea.  Fir trees dominated all tree lines so there was less “foliage” there than back home.  My first stop was Blueberry Hill.  (Blueberry bushes do provide a large proportion of the red foliage  up there.)  At Blueberry Hill, I chose to look outward, at a fir-covered island while the sun struggled to break through a very clouded over sky.

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I spent a long time on this, my first painting of the week.  So often my first painting of a series turns out to be the best, and I gave it my all, dabbing away at the clouds and rippling waves until I was sure I had captured their variety within what was a relatively sedate range of colors.  As it now turns out, Blueberry Hill was indeed one of my more successful efforts.

After lunch (a bag lunch that I made up from stuff laid out for us at the dining hall), I went looking for some color along the Schoodic Loop Road.  I found a roadside brimming over with reds and yellows and greens, near the bike trail called Bunker Harbor.  Feeling inspired to make a masterpiece, I got out one of the bigger panels, 12×16.

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To top off the day, I set up on Schoodic Point, where roseate rocks spread way out into the sea.  Artists were sprinkled all over the landscape.  I had to set up at the edge of the road because my balance is not good enough to get me and my gear across such uneven surfaces.  I did not give this second effort as much attention.  Sketchy.  But I think you get the idea.

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I was proud that I had produced three paintings on the first day.  Better than most (only in terms of numbers–there were some very accomplished painters there).

The next day, Sunday, was extremely foggy.  Eric had suggested that we drive over to a fishing village called Corea.  About 45 minutes to drive there:  20 minutes to get off the Peninsula, turn right (North), then East again down another long arm into the ocean.  I got there early and could not find other artists, or any parking spots.  We had been warned about respecting “Private Property” and “No Trespassing” signs.  I drove around and around until finally I made a desperate move:  I turned into a dirt road that led to the harbor, despite the sign that said “Ivy’s Way Private Way”.  There were two wooden walkways into the water (docks?), surrounded by boats and fishing gear (lobster cages, in particular)–and a small cottage.  I knocked on the door with some trepidation.  The door was answered by a couple from Missouri (!) who have rented the cottage every summer for the past ten years.  The owner lives in a building across the main road, and quite the building that was.  Modern, large, industrial, Bauhaus in flavor.  The owners rent the water access to the fishermen and  “wouldn’t mind at all” if I set up to paint there.  The fog had lifted slightly and I was able to spot a white house way up on a hill that was solid rock, with a lobster boat moored below.  I had my composition.  The fog continued to lift until it was all gone by the time I was finished painting.  I left the background trees in the fog.

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I believe the next “assignment” was to be a lighthouse that was near Corea.  I went there and waited for some other artists to show up, but none did, and the wind was too fierce for me get out of my car.  I took a nap.  Then I returned to Schoodic, Frazer Point, and painted this little quickie.

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That night, after dinner, someone got one of the artists to volunteer to model for portrait.   I watched for a while, then realized my gear was just outside in the car and I should have brought it in to paint the portrait.  After all, I’d rather paint a figure than rocks any day.  I would be ready the next day.

Monday, Day Three, the day we hoped to paint on Mt. Desert Island.  I got set, started out early.  The shortcut required finding Mud Creek Road, which I had no trouble with.  But Mud Creek Road ended in a “T” intersection and, not knowing which way was correct, I chose left.  (No reception for cell phone meant my GPS was no help at all.)  I ended up on Marlboro Beach Road in or near a town named Lemoine, staring at a very special view of Mt. Desert Island.  I pulled over to get a good look, and was also able to get GPS there.   I was not on the correct route to Mt. Desert, so I backtracked and got to Thunder Hole, where we were supposed to gather, about 11 o’clock.  Almost the whole morning was spent driving around.

At Thunder Hole, I doped out a spot where I could set up to paint without getting out on the rocks, but to what end?  I could not see the Hole from there.  In fact, the Hole was pretty darned dry in not-high-tide.  So I went to the next recommended spot, Otter Point.  Parked and got my gear out of the car with a determination that, after all this driving around, I was going to produce a painting here no matter what.  I stopped on the side of the road looking down.  I painted until the rain started.  Something to do with hurricane Nate?

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I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area by car, and drove back to Schoodic in time for dinner.  After dinner, our portrait model was Rick Wilson, a painter that Eric had recruited to keep us entertained by playing guitar and singing.  As a model, he was not trying to keep still for the portrait painters, but I didn’t mind.

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Tuesday, Day Four, another Mt. Desert attempt.  We were supposed to all be on top of Mt. Cadillac by three in order to be photographed en masse.  Meanwhile, I wanted to paint that scene I discovered on Marlboro Beach Road.  I invited others to join me, but there was a spot on Mud Creek Road that was pretty attractive, and nobody got past that.  (Nobody seemed anxious to go all the way to Mt. Desert.)  Anyway, I easily re-found Marlboro Beach Road and got permission from homeowner to set up and paint his view.  It went quickly, despite the fact that I used 12×16 panel.

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After Marlboro Beach, I headed for Jordan Pond on Mt. Desert.  Again, it was the suggested site for painting prior to Mt. Cadillac.  The Pond was downhill from the parking lot.  It took a lot of patience to snag a parking spot.  I had to lurk.  (There was no way I was leaving without getting a crack at the restroom!)

It was going to be hard to get my gear back up that hill but I was determined to paint there.  To reduce my burden, I left my chair in the car, hoping to find a suitable rock to sit on.  (My back does not allow me to stand long enough to complete a painting.)  Down by Pond’s edge, I found the perfect sitting rock, but I had to face up the hill, not at the pond.  Well, it was only water and rocks and trees anyway.  Uphill I had trees and shadows.  Another artist from the group, with his wife, showed up, but not painting.  Still it was nice to see a familiar face.  When I went to leave, I got halfway up the hill before a kind couple took pity on me and dragged my cart up to the top.

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At that point, I was looking forward to the top of Mt. Cadillac, but I never got there.  The Park Rangers had barricaded it because the parking lot at the top was full, and the line waiting to get into the parking lot had filled the road.  No room for anyone else.  Wow.  I headed back to Schoodic, glad I had at least got one painting done on the Island.

After dinner, I painted another portrait–this one of Vicki.  Vicki kept very still.

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Wednesday, Day Five:  Beautiful day.  Two of us shared a pullout in the Schoodic Loop Road–my companion looked out upon the water and a tiny fir-covered island; I was taken by the combination of rocks and shadows over the rocks and road.  This is probably my favorite painting from the week, 12×16, unretouched.  My experience was marred by voracious flies that bit right through my clothes.  (I added two more layers the next day.)

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After lunch, I went exploring the little fishing towns between us and Corea:  Prospect Harbor had a big regional lobster pound, very industrial-looking building.  I drove in and around and behind it where I had a view of a funny little lighthouse.  Remembering how awful the conditions were for that other lighthouse, I figured why not, it’s a lighthouse.  Why not is not a good reason.  It was my worst painting, even after I retouched it.  I’ll show you After.

After

After

Thursday morning, six a.m.:  Sunrise scheduled to be 6:45 so I figured I had plenty of time to get out for a sunrise painting.  There was a good spot right at the entrance to our Institute buildings.  Eric was already there, said the best light had already gone by.  I didn’t believe him.  About six more artists were also clustered around easels.  Eric was using a little easel light.  I had not thought to bring one with me.  Didn’t matter, by the time I was set up. there was enough light to see sort of what I was doing.  Couldn’t really see it until I got indoors.

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Thursday was our sixth and last painting day.  I decided I needed more boats.  On the Loop Road, there was a restaurant called Bunkers Wharf, and it looked down on Bunkers Harbor.  There were already a few artists painting there and I had heard talk of some painting inside on one of those really bad days.  I joined the group outside–there were four of us.  Of course I had my usual bag lunch, but the others were ordering food and I could never resist steamed mussels.  Lunch was a lovely experience.  I went inside to order the mussels, but the young man  brought them out to me when they were ready, and later came back for the empties.  He told us of his plan to buy some real estate and put up condos to lease out to Acadia visitors.

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After Bunkers Wharf, I wandered around Winter Harbor but never felt the urge to set up and paint.  After dinner that night, we set all of our paintings out for everyone to view.   It was too much to absorb.  Incredible works of art all around me.  I felt exhausted.  And I feel exhausted all over again now.  Hope you enjoy!

The Duke of Manchester

Milo at Home

So, what are we going to do now?

This is Milo.  He has been living with me ever since my granddaughter brought him home about three years ago.  He is one of five cats living with me.  I have the Diva aka Isis The White Goddess, Blue the Fearless Scientist who is also King of his domain, a timid little bit of fluff called Grace who modeled for my gigantic portrait of her (Nap, Interrupted), and the Elder Stateman called Freckles, now 13  years old.  Milo has lately inspired more paintings that the rest of them altogether.

The first painting of Milo shows him with his pal Blue the Explorer, in a piece I call “Partners in Crime”.  Blue is on top; Milo, on bottom.

2. Partners in Crime

The next Milo picture is this full head shot, which I later had  transferred by Fine Art America to a pillow for said Granddaughter, who left it behind when she moved out.  Granddaughters of a certain age care only about their social network and their appearance.

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Milo picture no. 3 is the regal pose I opened with.  Milo is a cool cat, alert but relaxed.  He is always looking at me, checking out my reaction, hoping for a lap to snuggle in.  When he finds such a lap, he purrs and becomes very hard to dislodge.  Milo does have a flaw, however.  He likes to chase the girls (Diva and Grace) and make them cry.  Well, Isis caterwauls and Grace hides.

Finally, I made up a series featuring Milo.  The idea (not mine actually but my teacher Peter Dixon’s) was to use the same reference photo for 3 to 5 different paintings, forcing myself to employ different techniques for each one.  All were to be Oil paintings sized 9×12, but the treatments were to be unusual, new and untried by me.  The first three are complete:

I started two more, but I’m not ready to let you judge them.

Thinking outside the box when  you don’t have a clue what exists outside that box — is hard!  The last one, the abstract one, was fun to do, but I had no idea whether it was going to be good once it was finished.  Turns out–I like it a lot.  But I don’t know that I can ever do it again.  I will try.  Is this how the great abstract artists of the mid 20th century started out?  Almost all of them first learned how to draw and paint realistically, traditionally.  Probably most tried to jump on the abstraction wagon but many just couldn’t stomach it.  The latter are the artists who kept traditional, realistic painting respectable for folks like me.

Figure, Garden, 2017, Part 1

This is the fourth summer in which I have had the privilege of painting in the Gloucester garden of David Curtis. [For a taste of 2014 click this; 2015, here; and 2016, here.]  I was worried for a while–David was quite sick with an infection that landed him in the hospital for weeks and he is still recuperating.  Is it selfish to be concerned about one’s own personal loss when a friend or colleague is undergoing a crisis?  How can you not think about that!  But I feel guilty.  I’m so relieved that he has survived, for his sake and mine.

So in May when I heard that David was running a 3-day Figure in the Garden workshop at St. Gaudens National Park in New Hampshire, I couldn’t sign up fast enough!  The famous sculptor, Augustus St. Gardens, had his home and studio in Cornish,   It’s now the only National Park in New Hampshire unless you count the Appalachian Trail.  Cornish is northwest of me, close to Vermont, just South of Hanover, about an hour and a half’s drive, a doable commute.  And I got lucky and interested local artist Rollande Rouselle in also attending the workshop, so we drove up together.

In the mornings of the workshop, we did landscapes with some input from David’s assistant, Connie Nagle.    In the afternoon, Connie was our model, taking the same pose for all three afternoons.  The third afternoon, Friday, got scratched for Rollande and me due to rain in the forecast.  (David offered and we accepted the substitute of three Sundays in Gloucester.)  So the painting below represents the two afternoons plus some perfecting touches in the home studio.

At St Gaudens' Studio

At St. Gaudens’ Studio

The next three Sundays we painted in David’s Gloucester garden.  Connie was back as the model for the first two Sundays, and held the same pose both days.  I chose to try a portrait of Connie on the second Sunday instead of working on the garden painting.  That portrait is still not fit for public viewing, but the Garden one is, I believe, successful.  In my studio, I added a few objects to the painting that weren’t there in fact:  frog in the foreground and child in the background.

Connie behind the Giant Tree

Hide ‘n Seek

The third Sunday was this past Sunday.  Our model was Maryanne Thompson, another artist.  She wore the same dress that she posed in last season in the painting I called “Diamond Bracelet”–see it here.

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Maryanne in Blue

All three paintings are 16 by 20.  All are for sale.

Tomorrow I will be down to Gloucester again.  The weather promises the best.  If I do nothing all summer other than these Sunday paintings, it would be enough.  (However, I am doing other stuff–landscapes and cats, grist for another blog.)

EVENT:  July 23-30 only!  “Beyond the Visible”, an art exhibit expressing our concerns about the environment.  I have two pieces in the show:  Enchanted; and Hammock in Winter (renamed for the show as “Extreme Seasons”).  The location is Azure Rising Gallery, 628 So. Main Street in Wolfeboro, NH.  Because Wolfeboro is pretty far for me to drive, and because I have to sit the gallery on Friday the 28th (1 pm to 3), that day will be the only day I’ll be up there, but here are the other hours:  Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 11-3.   Reception and Art Walk, Saturday, July 29th 5:00-7:30.  Catch it if you can.

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.

Freckles_Cat - Version 2

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:

IMG_0002

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!

July in New England–outdoors in the heat of the sun

I feel a little as if I have been running around without purpose, just answering one call after another to paint outdoors.  But now, looking over my output, I see  there must have been other things absorbing my  time and attention.  Nevertheless, you are not likely to want to see the entire three weeks’ of artworks, and I am in the happy position of picking my favorites to talk about.  I have painted in Manchester, Goffstown, Newport, Portsmouth, Rye, and Newington, all of New Hampshire, plus Gloucester, Massachusetts.  Here are the best of the lot:

Uncanoonuc Garden

Uncanoonuc Garden

This location is on the side of a hill called Uncanoonuc.  Actually, there are two hills by that name, next to each other, and even Wikipedia avers that they are “mountains” with impressive views of Manchester to the east, the Wapack range to the west, and on a good day, Boston to the south. From Manchester, the Uncanoonucs resemble the mounds of a woman’s breasts, and Uncanoonuc is a native American word meaning just that.  One Uncanoonuc boasts a road upwards.  Along the way is a retail plant nursery that has installed groupings of shrubs and flowers to show its customers how lovely is a good landscaping plan.  The blue spruce caught my eye, in part because much earlier in my painting career, I had recreated another Little Blue Spruce.

Little Blue Spruce

Little Blue Spruce–Putney VT 2008

Well, I don’t think I can say my blue spruce technique has improved at all since 2008!  The earlier blue spruce was growing at the studio of the “Putney Painters”, where I was taking a workshop with Albert Handell.  Albert liked my spruce but thought I had crowded it too much with the other trees.  I usually take the advice of masters to heart, but maybe 20 percent of the time, I stay true to my own original intent.  I see his point, but I also admire the pluckiness of the baby spruce staking its own territorial claim under less than ideal circumstances.  I’ll bet today it is crowding that building in the background.

In Newport, in the course of delivering and picking up a painting for the regional show at the Library Arts Center, I got myself invited to participate in the Garden Tour, as a painter.  They had about ten different gardens open for tour, each with different attributes.  I told them I cared only about the flowers, not interested in mountain vistas or water features, so they sent me to the site of an abandoned gravel pit.  The homeowners have been reclaiming the land patch by patch.  As each load of topsoil was dumped into a pile, stuff got planted . I chose to paint the pile devoted to the memory of a beloved dog who had passed the year before.

A Boy and His Dog . . .

A Boy and His Dog . . .

The message set forth on the rustic sign reads “A boy and his dog are joined at the hip and heart forever.”  So instead of flowers, I found myself focusing on hardscape elements of rocks and sculpture, so easily is the artist’s intention waylaid.  When I had finished A Boy, I made another stab at featuring flowers.  I went in search of a floral closeup.

Flower Box

Flower Box

I knew I was doomed to fail at the task of matching the glowing fuchsia reds of the petunias, but set out to try anyway.  The next day, after the paint had set up a little, I was able to add cleaner, brighter color here and there so as to convey the sense of color, even if the exact color remained elusive.  The  straw strands in the basket came mostly out of my head, or rather, out of my memory of my favorite painting by Jamie Wyeth–Hay Bale.

haybalejwyeth352-300x214

Isn’t that the most lovingly portrayed hay bale ever?  A living, almost breathing, hay bale.  Don’t you feel like you could stab it with a pitchfork right on your computer screen?  Just imagine how it looks in person, as I saw it on the wall of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last year.

I have one more Exeter painting to show–it was painted “live” just before a lawn party at the Exeter Inn.  I painted another during the lawn party, but I don’t love it so much.

Exeter Inn

Exeter Inn

I was pleased with the flowers in this painting, and I hoped my handling of flowers in the landscape might be improving.

Portsmouth and its environs saw a lot of me the past few weeks.  And I saw just the tiniest fraction of paintable spots, so rich is Portsmouth in architecture and marine attractions.  I accumulated three favorites:

Inlet

Inlet, Boat ramp

Entering Prescott Park

Entering Prescott Park

The Zinnias are perhaps too carefully depicted.  Reality is my downfall.

Wentworth by the Sea

Wentworth by the Sea

The biggest challenge here was the shoreline–how to show the transparency of the water’s edge lapping on the rocky beach.

Again this year, David Curtis is giving his workshops on painting the figure in the landscape, in his garden.  Our model was dressed as a bride:

Bridal Portrait

Bridal Portrait

I’m growing weary of green!  Note that the landscape portion of this figure in the landscape is not much more than fuzzy suggestions of landscape.  I felt it had to be thus.

But not all work was done outdoors.  Our Monday life group met twice:

Natalie 2

Natalie 2

Sheridan

Sheridan

All in all, the lesson I have taken away from these three weeks of fairly intense painting is renewed awareness that I still suffer from a deficiency that has plagued me all along.  I’m not “loose” (messy) enough.  Is it that I’m so fast a painter that I end up wasting my time on “cleaning” and straightening and perfecting?  For example, the windows behind the window box were never “finished” because, thank the lord, I realized I could not improve on their rough state.  But examples of overpainting are too abundant.  When will I ever learn?

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of July at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, 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 (reception August 3); and at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester.  Also, on July 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., the doors to all art galleries in Manchester are open and served by a old-time trolley.  I am participating as a member of the Manchester Artists Association in a one-day exhibit at the Rines Center, on the Trolley route.  It’s all free!  See the Open Doors Trolley Night website for more information and a list of venues that have a show going on that night.

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!

Ah, Youth!

There must be a trick to it, one as yet still being kept secret from me:  How to portray youthfulness?  I have hear it posited that the facial features of children fit into a smaller area of the head.  As we age, the features enlarge and spread out.  But what about a teenager?  When do their features settle down in the spots preordained for their adult selves?  Why is it so hard to portray rosy young woman without making her look like a made-up hussy?  I guess it’s really the same old issue, that of getting a likeness, just with the added complexity of pinpointing an age range.

Monday’s model was my nineteen-year-old granddaughter.  This is how the camera renders her.

Natalie in pose

Natalie in pose

For most of Natalie’s life, and certainly all of my [ten-year-old] life as an artist, I have been trying to capture her on paper.  Every time I try, I fail.  She always comes out looking older, more sophisticated than her much-older sister.   Monday was my first opportunity to paint her from life and I sure hoped that would make a difference.  One issue seemed to be the length of her nose (as I was presenting it), so I shortened it by bringing down the level of her eyes.  That did help.  Note that this adjustment is consistent with the theory that  children’s features are closer together.

As I griped throughout the session, Laura opined that youthful features are best barely suggested as opposed to carefully implanted.  It certainly did work for her painting.  And now, in hindsight, I can think of some great paintings of children where that is certainly true–e.g., virtually all of Sargent’s paintings of children.   Sigh.  Sometimes it is harder to do less.  No, it is always harder to do less!

Towards the end of our session, she asked me for a photo of her posing next to my painting, for her to send to her social networking sites:

Natalie as model

Natalie as model

And here is the final.  I would not dare to try to correct anything at this point, so glad I am to have got this close to the goal.

Study for Portrait of Natalie

Study for Portrait of Natalie

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for the rest of June at 163 (167) Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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!

Monadnock

“Monadnock”– a word applied to a lone mountain rising from the land.  Wikipedia claims it comes from a native American word, but I have my doubts.  Maybe the “nock” portion, but come on, “mona” must be from “monos”, the Greek word that we combine to signify singularity–monopod, monocle, monotony.  Mount Monadnock in western New Hampshire is, they say, one of the most climbed mountains in the world–second only perhaps to Fujiyama in Japan.  It provides a fairly easy day hike with a lot of bare rock face from which to admire the views.  I used to do it once a year.  My husband, in the sixties when we visited his aunt on Snow Hill, would run it in the morning from Snow Hill and back again.  Before breakfast.  Looking back, I wish I had gone with him, but I didn’t get into mountain hiking until decades later.

These days, I paint Mt. Monadnock, usually from ground level.  Last Friday, however, Cindy, Fran and I drove to the top of Pack Monadnock to paint one of the many vistas presented there.  All three of us chose Mt. Monadnock as our subject matter.  Pack Monadnock and its neighbor North Pack Monadnock are East of Mt. Monadnock, and there is yet a third, Little Monadnock, to be found in southwest NH.  We like our Monadnocks, but here’s the only one that has achieved star status:

Wapack Trail (Southward)

Wapack Trail (Southward)

The black flies were unmerciful, but an occasional breeze and generous slathering of bug repellant helped to keep us focussed on our painting.  The Wapack Trail is well-used, so we had lots of company complaining about the black flies.  The State maintains the road and the vistas here, and charges each visitor by car $4 each–except “seniors”; I get a free ride.  Thus is the manned fire tower cost offset, partially anyway.  By the way, that yellow triangle painted on the rock in the right foreground is the trail marker for the Wapack Trail, which runs along the ridges of the Wapack Range, from Massachusetts to Greenfield, NH.

I could go on and on about my connections to Monadnock and the reasons I am drawn to paint it, but that would bore the heck out of most people.  So here is a successful figure painting from Monday’s life group session:

Bridal Gown

Bridal Gown

Our model was Tam, who comes here from Vietnam.  She posed for us in her wedding dress.  She was exquisite.

Coming up in Exeter are two events worth noting:  Bruce Jones has arranged for East Colony artists to exhibit their paintings at a storefront on Water Street, for one month, while the owner looks for a buyer for the space.  Our exhibit will coincide with the first Friday Art Walk on June 5, and the American Independence Museum paint out on Saturday June 6.  I’ll be participating in both.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

with the East Colony  artists for one month at 163 Water Street, Exeter, NH; at the Bedford Public Library; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Library Arts Center in Newport, NH; at the Sharon Arts Center in Peterborough, NH; at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA; 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!

Ups and Downs

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

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

Floral Painting No. 2--Roses

Floral Painting No. 2–Roses

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

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

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

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

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

The Back of Andrew

The Back of Andrew

The last pose gave me the opportunity I sought.

Generic Head

Generic Head

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

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

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Girl in Yellow (WIP)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Encore Performance

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

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

Fletch Goes Big

Fletch Goes Big

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

Jan Fills the Canvas

Jan Fills the Canvas

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

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

Nancy C Tiptoes into Color

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

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

Portrait in Pastel by Nancy H

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

Marathon Report

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

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

DSC_0006

The afternoon went better for me:

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

Afternoon Pose from the Marathon

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

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

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

Portrait by M. Siner

Portrait by M. Siner

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

DSC_0009

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

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

IMG_0247IMG_0246IMG_0249

 

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

Fun and Struggles; Struggles are Fun?

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

Paint, not charcoal

Paint, not charcoal

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

Jan's version

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

Waiting Nymph

Waiting Nymph

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

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

Pesky foot

Pesky foot

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

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

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

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

Beginning Anew

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

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

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

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

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

The Charcoalist

The Charcoalist

The Pastellist

The Pastellist

The other oil painter

The other oil painter

My painting

My painting

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

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

Bursting with Life

Bursting with Life

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

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

IMG_0541

My own painting was this head and shoulders version:

2015-01-02 15.47.54

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers).  Very, very soon, the Love, Lust and Desire show at the McGowan Gallery in Concord is coming!  January 29 is the reception.

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

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

Follow Up

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

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

Self Portrait 2014

Self Portrait 2014

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

Self-portrait_1

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

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

DSC_0004

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett;  at the New London Inn in New London; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). And for the month of December, at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester NH.

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

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

Celebrating Humanity?

In the context of the highly publicized current national and international events, humanity may not deserve a ticker-tape parade.  On the macro level, humanity has little to brag about.  But in the micro scale, the artist’s scale, things of beauty can still be found.  Three different nuggets have tumbled together in my brain to form this topic.

Nugget No. 1:  Have you ever stopped to consider what goes into the creation of a magnificent work of music?  I was listening to the broadcast of a Beethoven symphony last week when the enormity of the achievement struck me:  first, humans had to invent and perfect and pass down instruments; then an individual human had to come up with an arrangement of notes to be played on the instruments all together, only to be achieved after many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then humans had to learn how to play the instruments and then how to play the notes as arranged by the composer,  which required many years of practicing and learning and experimenting; then it all had to be pulled together so that the individual musicians played a complex composition as if they were a single organism.  To bring the glorious sound to me, there’s the recording technology, the broadcasting technology . . . .  My mind boggled.  One symphony is an enormous human achievement–but an achievement by individuals working alone and together, all of the pieces contributing to the magnificent end.

Nugget No. 2:  For marketing purposes, I have lately been mulling over and over a catch phrase to use to describe my own artistic output.  Seeker of beauty?  Finder of beauty?  I was looking for some way to express the idea that I paint stuff that exemplifies beauty of everyday life, perhaps small stuff that ordinarily gets overlooked.  No messages, no “concept” other than beauty.  Sure, I’m an environmentalist, a landscape painter, convinced that we are hurtling toward our own doom by destroying our atmosphere, but I have no urge to paint, say, an oil refinery as a villain.  If I were to paint an oil refinery, it would be to discover the beauty of the shapes, lines, and values to be found there.  I went back to the mission statement offered to me by Cameron Bennett where he used the phrase “preserving humanity”.  I think he means preserving a record of humanity, since I do not know of a way for art to actually keep us safe.  Is there a dark thought inherent in the idea that such record might one day be needed?  No, I rejected such a gloomy interpretation.   Perhaps the combination of “preserving humanity” and “discovering/revealing beauty” could be expressed as “celebrating humanity”?

Nugget No. 3:   last night I attended the reception for a show of works by Peter Granucci.  The show is called “Memorial to Lost Species”.

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

Peter Granucci, Alone in Grief

The drama and anguish exhibited in the above image is repeated in perhaps 20 paintings, all with a human figure and many with the skull of a nonhuman creature. Peter created frames for each piece, which extend the grittiness and turbulence of the backgrounds of the paintings.  The captions on the paintings are pointed references to the losses of species, and the grief we, mankind, ought to be experiencing as a result–   humanity grieving for the species destroyed, grieving for the world lost, grieving, ultimately, for its own viability.  Peter certainly had a message, and he wasn’t satisfied with just one painting to convey that message.  Before inspiration took him into this deep dark place, four years ago, he was like me, painting beauty.  He celebrated the beauty of the female form.  His drawings of the female form are simply exquisite.  But when an emotion overtakes an artist, the output has to reflect it.  Think Picasso’s “Guernica”.  Now think Granucci’s “Memorial”.  The show will be up for the rest of December at the Art Gallery in New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire.

So I am a little shaken by Peter’s message.  And the events on the news.  How can I thank about “celebrating” humanity when humanity does so much that is wrong?

Nevertheless, I share with you the last two weeks’ of Monday life painting:

Better than Climbing Trees

Better than Climbing Trees

The title is a reference to the fact that, after modeling for us in the morning, Robbie was off to climb trees in the process of cutting them down.  That was the Monday before Thanksgiving, and that Wednesday we got hit with lots of wet, heavy snow that felled a lot trees over power lines–my family went without a Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Just thinking, a little adumbration perhaps?

A Lovely Nude

A Lovely Nude

We think this new model might be the answer to Rebecca’s “retirement” (have you missed Becky?).  Interesting how she and Robbie are in almost identical poses, leaning against the wall.

If you remember my very large painting of a cat awakening from a nap (“Nap, Interrupted”) that I started last summer but shied away from finishing because I was afraid of the whiskers . . .

Nap, Interrupted

Nap, Interrupted

here she is with whiskers.  I had to finish her because I promised her to the Currier Museum for the month of December.  Here is how she looks on the wall of the Museum’s Community Gallery, on the lower level where the classrooms and auditorium are:

IMG_0153

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

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

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

 

New Muse

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

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

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

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Five Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Ten Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Twenty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

Gwen in Forty Minutes

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

The Ultimate Gwen (50 minutes)

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

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

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

 

Three Pies on One Finger

The three pies are:  Landscape en plein air; animal portraiture from photo; and human portraiture from life.  I am happy with all three.

First, the landscape happened when I went down to Boston to collect the painting that was on exhibit at the Arboretum.  A week ago, Thursday, October 30, was a beautiful day–yet another beautiful autumn day in New England–if this is climate change, it’s hard to root against it!  Not willing to devote the trip solely for pickup, I brought my painting gear.  The Arboretum allows me, because I hold a handicapped designation (walking disability–I can walk, but not real far, and even less far with my painting gear on my back), to drive into the garden and park wherever I need to for the sake of art.  The top of Bussey Hill would have been inaccessible to me if I had to rely on my legs to get me there.

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

On Bussey Hill (in the Boston Arboretum)

From Bussey Hill, the highest point in the Arboretum, you can see the skyline of Boston, and that view was my original target.  But when I got up there, the skyline view was mostly obscured with trees still hanging onto leaves, so I found a better one.  The distant blue mound is probably Blue Hills, to the west of Boston.  Painting foliage in this way is what I consider to be my forte.  So far, the world has not beaten a path to my doorway in response, so maybe I need to find a new forte.

For portraiture, I have two examples since I have had two meetings of the Monday Life Group after my last posting.  The model who posed pregnant and nude for us a few months ago has delivered of her baby, a little fellow named Montain.  That’s a heavy name for such a small scrap of humanity, so I think of him as Monty.  At only a few weeks old, he participated in his mom’s modeling gig.  He was very well-behaved, but he did squirm.  It was an extreme test of the artists’ ability to memorize gestures and get them down so as to create a recognizable babe in arms, not just a blob in swaddling clothes.

Introducing Monty

Introducing Monty

He lost a sock at one point, which delighted me.  He actually sucked on a pacifier most of the time, but I managed to suggest a face without pacifier.  Perhaps I should have gone with the pacifier?  Inasmuch as it felt a little bizarre to have mom nude while the babe was fully clothed, we asked her to return next week prepared to pose for us clothed.  The next image is the result:

Take Two: Mother and Son

Take Two: Mother and Son

Monty’s head is a bit misshapen, so this one must be taken as a work in progress.  Funny how I never noticed that strange shape until I saw this image.

Finally, something different.  I love cats.  I own two female cats, and I live with another two male cats, which one of my granddaughters left behind when she moved out.  The boys are quite young.  Lively.  Pushy.  I have resorted to keeping them separated from the girls, who are exceptionally intimidated by them.  The boys leave no stone unturned in their effort to make sense of the world around them.  Causing stuff to fall to floor is one of their favorite experiments.  But they have stolen my heart.

Partners in Crime (WIP)

Partners in Crime (WIP) 16×12

Blue, the one on top, is just turning one year old this month.  Milo is probably one and a half.  Milo is more respectful of my space.  Blue respects no one’s space, but he does not aggravate the girls as much as Milo does.  Blue will leap on me without warning and just cling onto me until I cradle him.  Bad habit acquired when he was more of a kitten.

I only have a little bit of work left to complete this painting, after which I will have giclees made of it since I have heard that animals sell.  Whether the granddaughter gets the original or a giclee for Christmas remains to be decided.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the New London Inn in New London, NH; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings  are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts.

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

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

Dazed and confused

I’m finding it harder and harder to keep all my balls in the air.  The blog ball is usually the first to hit the floor.  As my years pile up, I seem to slow down.  All too often, I tell myself, “You deserve a break.”  “Deserve” maybe, but “can afford”, not so much.   Could the train of artistic success be slowing down to the point where it may become sidelined altogether?  (I can’t resist mixing up a few metaphors.  Trains, jugglers, they seem to go together OK, as in a circus somehow.)

Maybe it’s time to focus on the good stuff that has happened.  Thinking . . .  Well, I got into a regional juried exhibit at the Center for the Arts (CFA) in New London.   To be more accurate, one of my paintings got into the exhibit (as an exhibitionist, I was always a nonstarter).  The chosen painting is “Enchanted”, a 4-foot tall gallery-wrap.  [You can see it on my page titled “Studio Landscapes.]  I painted Enchanted quite a while ago, and it has hung at Hatfields, and at Kimball Jenkins, then briefly at East Colony, where I noticed how warped it had become.  I knew I had to do something to correct that issue before taking it up to New London, so I decided to mount it on a larger, stiff board, like plywood.  But plywood that large would be quite heavy.  So I am using instead a large piece of foam insulation board, which I painted dark brown.

Enchanted, on foam board

Enchanted, on foam board

The board, for all its stiffness and success in correcting the warp, is kind of a fragile surface. That’s worrisome, and I am now debating whether to glue on some thin slats as to mimic a frame, which would protect the edges.  Such a project it has become!

frame added

 

The reception for the CFA exhibit is this coming Friday, November 7, 5-7 p.m. at the New London Inn, 353 Main Street, New London, NH.  Unfortunately, there’s little chance I will get there.  That Friday is one of my Boston Symphony Orchestra Fridays, and we rarely get back to Manchester before six p.m., and New London is another 45 minutes North.  But if you are in the vicinity of New London next Friday night, do check it out and let me know what I missed.

Another upcoming date to be hyper-aware of:  Saturday and Sunday, November 8 and 9, are NH Open Doors.  My personal studio is not participating, but I will be at East Colony Fine Art Gallery on Sunday, demonstrating my painting.  The hours for East Colony are 10 to 4, both Saturday and Sunday.  The address is 55 South Commercial Street, Manchester NH.

I have two new figure studies to show you.  One is Margaret, clothed in a striped shirt.  The second is Nancy, clothed in a different striped shirt.  Nancy is one of us artists, but graciously filled in when our scheduled model couldn’t get there on Monday.  Nancy usually sets up the pose and lighting for us, so when it came to setting up herself and lighting herself, she was handicapped by not being able to judge how it looked.  Looked pretty good, I guess.  I’m happy with my result.  I do love stripes! Why to people assume I’m being sarcastic when I say that?)

Margaret Sept 2014  16x12

Margaret Sept 2014 16×12

Nancy as Substitute Mode

Nancy as Substitute Model

Although it looks as if I had more time with Nancy, and therefore she must be on a smaller canvas, both paintings are on 12×16 panels.  I was forced to paint in a background around Nancy because I was painting over an earlier painting, and I hadn’t covered it up with a neutral ground the way I had done for the Margaret panel.  When forced, I can stretch.

But the Margaret was a struggle, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to show it on the blog.  It does look better “in person”.  (Note to self, must come up with better term to express personhood of a painting.)  But today I couldn’t resist juxtaposing the two poses and their stripes.

Here is a Mark Your Calendar alert:  The NH Institute of Art is holding “Art and Soul“, its 4th Annual Auction in Portsmouth this year.  Thursday, November 13, 6-8:30, at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH.  I have donated my Lotus Studies to the cause  (see it on Studio Landscapes page), and the family of my recently deceased friend and law partner, Hilda Fleisher, has donated something from her large collection of contemporary NH art.  I can’t wait to see what it is, out of all the pieces with which I became familiar during her life.  This event is always fun, with great music and food, and artwork.  Tickets cost $45–worth it!–and all proceeds go to fund student scholarships.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers). Two Lowell Cemetery paintings  are on view at the Arts League of Lowell, 307 Market Street, Lowell, Massachusetts. In a few days, Enchanted can be see at the New London Inn (address above).  And in Portsmouth’s Levy Gallery, you can find 8 of my newest 6×6’s as part of the annual Women’s Caucus for Art 6×6 show.

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

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

Aftermath. What is the value of a painting that you love?

So, last Saturday was Art in the Park, which I was anticipating in my previous post.  The weather “cooperated” beautifully.  I chose this unfinished oil painting on paper (9×12) to offer for my (free) raffle.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

You might remember Grey-eyed cat as one I painted during the Art in Action event last April.  The raffle rules were, to be eligible to enter, you had to answer this question, “What medium did I say in my blog I tried last week for the first time?”  The answer was on my website,  so anybody could look it up on their smart phone.  A few did.  A few guessed (wrong).  A few didn’t bother with that detail.  One little girl was so determined to win the painting that she got her mom to take her home to look it up on their computer.  I’m happy to report that her extra effort was rewarded!  Congrats to Rebecca; I know my Grey-eyed Cat will have a loving forever home.

My tent was situated across the path from the Entertainment:  three musicians playing folk songs together and performing solo.  I had brought my plein air painting gear, so I set up and painted a scene of the musicians.  Mind you, the only one who stayed in one position for any length of time was the middle one, Michelle.  It was a test of my memory and experience.

The AITP Musicians

The AITP Musicians

The aftermath of this painting was a little weird.  The next day, or maybe it was later Saturday night, Michelle posted on Facebook that she wanted to buy the painting and asked the price.  I replied, on Facebook, that I wanted her to have it, but we should discuss it privately, via email.  Unbeknownst to me, she jumped to the conclusion that I was going to give her the painting and spread that all over Facebook.  Meanwhile I tried to find out what she would be comfortable paying, and I thought we had reached a resolution (half the usual price, payable over five months), but she later backed out, saying she couldn’t afford it.  No counter, no hint as to what she could afford, so I guess her original offer to buy was impulsive.  It just makes me sad –after being so happy.  I don’t mind giving a painting away to a friend who appreciates it, but I feel that a stranger who is not  willing to put up some bucks does not really value it.

What is the value of a painting anyway?   To the artist, a painting’s value has little to do with “market” value.   [I’m not talking about “investment” grade paintings here–a subject absurdly foreign to the experience of most living artists.]  The paltry few hundreds of dollars on a painting’s price tag doesn’t go far toward covering an artist’s costs when you take into account the years of learning and practicing.  A painting is created with joy, and you could say once created, it has no further value to the artist.  It becomes the remembrance of joy.  Sure, it could be exhibited, perhaps win an award, enhancing the artist’s reputation, etc.  None of this has anything to do with a “market” value for a painting.

I had a similar inquiry recently from the exhibit of my paintings at the Cancer Center–a patient would have bought a particular painting if the price I quoted was within his/her expectations.  I guess it wasn’t, even though I knocked a hundred off the usual price.  I can imagine the patient’s disappointment to learn that the painting was not “affordable”.  But why not?  Why not negotiate with the artist, try an installment plan?  What is it about paintings that they are so little valued, even when loved passionately?

Before I started making my own paintings, I bought other people’s paintings.  I remember how hard it was, especially in the beginning, to screw up the courage to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting that I fell in love with.  When you consider how much can be spent on a restaurant dinner these days, isn’t it ridiculous to expect a painting, which lasts forever, to be cheaper than a gourmet meal for two couples?  I never regretted what I paid for paintings, or for the cost of framing them (usually more than the painting!).  But that is hindsight.  How to convey this perspective of value to someone who has never before thought about paying for a painting?  I have no clue.

To offset that glum discussion, I want you to see two paintings from the Monday group, last week and this week.  Last week, we asked my daughter to pose clothed in Dee’s garden, and we enjoyed the experience of working from the clothed model so much that we had Robbie keep his clothes on yesterday:

Poolside

Poolside

 

Sneaker

Sneaker

This weekend I am off to Vermont for a weekend of plein air painting in the Upper Valley, with Sharon Allen and others.  The result should be a bunch of new paintings to love.  And value, perhaps.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).  One painting still at the Boston Arboretum.

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Art in the Park

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

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

New model, Robbie

New model, Robbie

Robbie, 2

Robbie, 2

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

5-minute pose

5-minute pose

10-minute pose

10-minute pose

20-minute pose

20-minute pose

40-minute pose

40-minute pose  (my favorite)

40-minute pose

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

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

Gracie Portrait, WIP

Nap, Interrupted  (WIP)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (but access is limited to patients and health care workers); and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Continuing the Garden Binge

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

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

The Reflecting Ball

The Reflecting Ball

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

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

The Black Kimono

The Black Kimono

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

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

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

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

The White Floppy Hat

The White Floppy Hat

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter;   a single painting is on view for one more week at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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New (to me) Teacher: David Curtis

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

Here are my two favorite insights:

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

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

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

Did you speak?

Did you speak?

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

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

Nancy wearing a kimono

Nancy wearing a kimono

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

Nancy in the blue kimono

Nancy in the blue kimono

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

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

Nancy wearing a tan

Nancy wearing a tan

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Fast or Slow, Which Works Better for Me?

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

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

Arthur

Arthur

Margaret July 2014

Margaret July 2014

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

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

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

Frantzen book cover

Frantzen book cover

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett and the Bernerhof Inn in Glen; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; two paintings are hanging at the Bedford Library as part of the Womens Caucus For Art exhibit “Summer Bounty”;  a single painting is on view at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester for the summer; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com). You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Afterglow; Exhaustion

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

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

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

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

Figure and Detail

Figure and Detail

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

Competing Lights

Competing Lights

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

Portrait version

Portrait version

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

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

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

Exeter River with Japanese Maple

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

Municipal Parking

Municipal Parking

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply“, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Matters of Life and Death

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

Large quickie of a pose

Large quickie of a pose

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

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

Pose No. 2

Pose No. 2

Almost Standing

Almost Standing

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

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

The Sad Lion of Lowell

The Sad Lion of Lowell

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

Spirea Waterfall

Spirea Fall  (as in “water fall”)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Hung!

image

Frontispiece

Frontispiece

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

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Artists’ Getaway Spring 2014

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

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

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

Fourth Iron

Fourth Iron

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

Discovered Bridge

Discovered Bridge

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

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

In Back of May Kelly's

In Back of May Kelly’s

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

Last Hurrah

Last Hurrah

 

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

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

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

Blue View (off Dollof Hill Road)

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

Nude with Texture

Nude with Texture

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Two Sittings

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

Small work in progress

Small work in progress

 

After second sitting

After second sitting

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Art under Stress

I’ve had a bad week.  It started a week ago Friday night when I downloaded my bank statement and discovered all my money had vanished.  Someone had been systematically withdrawing a few hundred here, a few hundred there, using apparently a clone of my debit card.  I managed to freeze the card and send off agitated messages to the bank, but that was going to have to “it”  until Monday because I was committed for the entire weekend to “Art in Action”–a semi-annual event in Londonderry that combines display and demonstration.  The bad stuff continued the next morning–Saturday–when I was packing up my car with all the gear required for Art in Action:    My backpack could not be found.  This Creativo ArtPak backpack contained all of the supplies I was going to be using for the demonstrations:  Soltek easel, Rosemary brushes, Michael Harding oil paints, palette knives, brush holder, brush washer with Gamsol, brush tube, little container of Liquin–all inexplicably gone.  And I could not do a damn thing about it until Monday.   Fortunately, I’m big into redundancy, so had no problem gathering up a backup easel, paints, brushes.  I even had a second brush washer.  Off I went to Londonderry, with my little Prius loaded down with display panels and 8 paintings (the display), and my two helpers sharing the front passenger’s seat.  The helpers were my daughter, who would also serve as my model, and my boarder, who performed as the muscle.

Whereupon an interesting phenomenon revealed itself:  despite, or because of, the stress I must have been suffering  subconsciously, I was easily able to zone in on my painting.  Maybe I zoned too much, to the point of ignoring the small streams of people flowing past me, instead of engaging them like I was supposed to.  Some kind of compulsion held sway over me; perhaps I just needed the escape from daily woes that always comes from surrendering to the art.  Whatever, I turned out some good stuff to show you and was looking forward to getting them published last Monday . . . when the knockout blow came.  I found out that the perpetrator of my losses was someone whom I had loved and trusted.  There would be no more escape into painting for the rest of the week as I juggled that mess alongside urgent tasks and important meetings related to my many volunteer activities.

The crisis is over.  The bank has restored the funds to me and the perp found another patsy to cover the theft so as to avoid prosecution from the bank; and my homeowners insurance is covering the loss of the backpack.  I am starting to sleep better.  The hole in my life that represented a certain loved one is still empty and most likely will stay that way permanently.  But I am moving on.  So here, a week late, are the three paintings I was working on during the Art in Action show.

For the first one, I asked my daughter to sit for her portrait again (she did this for me at last Spring’s Art in Action ).  I didn’t want to include her dog this  year as I wanted to complete a more serious oeuvre.  I had a spotlight lighting up her right side and a black drape behind her.  We started about 10:30 and I declared it finished about 2:30.  Nancy looks sad and tired, and that was her on that day. But she loves the painting and my portrayal of her.  Can’t ask much more from a portrait.

Portrait of my daughter

Portrait of my daughter

The next day, Sunday, I worked from a  photo that another artist, Rollande Rouselle, had emailed to me with assurances that copying rights belonged to her.  She wanted to see what I could do with it.

Haitian boy, photo

Haitian boy, photo

I had it on my iPad and was able to set up the iPad practically next to my easel.  I cropped the photo in order to enlarge the facial features.

Haitian laborer

Working Boy

The hardest element was the bundle of sticks, but I worked at it until the blobs of paint conveyed the idea, and then I quit.

I still had about an hour left so then I picked out a photo of a cat from a book of cat photos, and got this far on it.

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

Grey-eyed cat (wip)

My efforts to paint the perfect “Fur” a few months ago stood me in good stead.  Should I finish?  Once  you get the eyes of a cat, the rest is window-dressing.

 

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below. If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply”, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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It’s About the Paint

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

Cameron Bennett, April 21, 2014

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

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

Easy Chair

Easy Chair

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

Girl in a Newsboy Cap

I filled in background for these two:

Say, What?

Say, What?

Warmth in the Shadows

Warmth in the Shadows

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

still a WIP

still a WIP

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

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

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Cauliflower and Granny Smith

Grace in Profile

Grace in Profile, Abstracted in Flowers

Sally's Chinese

Sally’s Chinese

Underwater Moonshine

Underwater Moonshine

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using the private feedback form below.  If you want to add a public comment to this blog, go to the bottom of this page where it says “Leave a Reply“, and enter your comment in that box. I love to get public comments, so don’t be shy!

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Seeing Red

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

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

Cezanne, Self-Portrait

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

DSC_0001

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

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

DSC_0004 DSC_0003

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

Stripes with Hair

Stripes with Hair

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

Water's Edge

Water’s Edge

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

 

Just Practicing

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

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

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

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

Beard with Hands

Beard with Hands

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

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

Ghost Face

Ghost Face

My start-over produced this drawing.

Becky, A Head Shot

Becky, A Head Shot

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

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

Sweet Thinking

Sweet Thinking

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Back to Figure School

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

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

Dark and Sultry

Dark and Sultry

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

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

Overhead Lighting

Overhead Lighting

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page. If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

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

3 drawings and a painting

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

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

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

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

Margaret in B&W

Margaret in B&W

Dennis, Shirtless

Dennis, Shirtless

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

Georgia, Reclining

Georgia, Reclining

Shelley's Back

Shelley’s Back

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Heady Stuff

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

Serious Rebecca

Serious Rebecca

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

Serious Margaret

Serious Margaret

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

DSC_0603

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

Oh, the Hair

Oh, the Hair

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

Daydreamer

Daydreamer

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

DSC_0605 - Version 2

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

DSC_0605

Can you tell that she is pregnant?

DSC_0603

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

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

19533_00_picasso_woman

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

I am currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (both are in Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH);  at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth;  at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Manchester office of Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter; at the McGowan Gallery in Concord–the all-too-short exhibit of “Love, Lust and Desire” in which both sizes and prices are severely limited; and at her studio by appointment (email: alotter@mac.com).

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Getting Ready for Oscar Night

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Illustrating Heroic Effort

Like Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront,” I “coulda been . . .”– not a contender but an illustrator.  A life drawing professor  (in my senior year at Cornell I lightened up with some “gut” art courses) encouraged me to go for graduate study in illustration.  I brushed it off as totally inconceivable.  Thinking back, I’m not sure why it was so inconceivable.  Probably because my expectations of myself were so grandiose.  I intended to accomplish something globally meaningful–foreign service and diplomacy appealed to me then.  If only I had pursued illustration as a career, I would now be so much further along the road to artistic distinction.

My respect for illustrators has ballooned since I got into the art biz myself–their skills  underpin both Illustration and Fine Art.  [Aside:  one of the pointless debates prevalent in the art community is how to distinguish Fine Art from (a) Illustration and (b) from Craft.]  Many illustrators are also fine artists [i. e., makers of Fine Art].  Many of them stop pursuing commercial work altogether in order to concentrate on making Fine Art.   They have to be among the best, or slightly nuts, or both.  (I also suspect a highly compensated spouse factors into those decisions.)   Illustrators tell a story?  Illustrators paint by commission?  That’s exactly how fine artists  operated in the past. Monumental paintings depicting events and telling stories were always painted to satisfy a patron.  Like the Sistine Chapel.  Like Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”:

The Nightwatch by Rembrandt

The Nightwatch by Rembrandt

Like DeBray’s “Antony and Cleopatra”:

Jan de Bray - The Banquet of Antony and Cleopatra

Jan de Bray – The Banquet of Antony and Cleopatra

Commissioned or not, telling a story is illustration.  Why is there even an effort to distinguish illustration from fine art?  Photography–invention of–accounts for a lot of new issues besetting artists.  Photographers can tell stories, produce portraits with a lot less effort and expense.  Artists have had to find new ways, different markets, in order to survive as a full-time artist.  Hence:  abstract art.  To sum up, the existence of abstract art is a reflection of the artist’s need to find a meaning in her art that is distinct from story-telling or portrait-making, now the role of photography.  That’s how I see it, but bear in mind I have never taken a single course in art appreciation or art history.  I have no business pontificating on matters of which I am uninstructed!

But I have wandered far from my main topic.  My painting above results from an order to produce a painting that illustrates an Oscar-winning motion picture.  Oscar Night at East Colony is March 1, the day before the actual 2013 Oscar awards ceremony.  Each of the 30 East Colony artists is choosing a movie, and our patrons and followers will be invited to guess what movie is being  illustrated by each of us.  Winners will receive a cute little Oscar replica.  Oscar Night:  Saturday March 1, 4-7 p.m., at 55 So. Commercial Street, Manchester, NH.

Because of the contest, I can’t tell you what movie I am illustrating, but isn’t it all too obvious?  I feel it is obvious because the movie was one of my favorites (along with “On the Waterfront”).   Hint:  this movie would have been nothing without its music .

To create my illustration, I looked for images on the internet that matched up with the figure I envisaged as my central figure.  The blurring motion of the hands was suggested by one of those images.  It’s not a slam dunk to suggest hands without actually painting hands.  I think I got it.  Even more important to the illustration was need the feel the runner’s huge gasps for breath, and his straining to keep his speed up.  The shapes and value changes in his chest and neck achieve that, I hope.  This painting is, however, not completely done.  The background that I invented to stay in the background is nevertheless too dull– appropriately so in the story-telling sense, but a cop-out in the painterly sense.  The background should be able to stand on its own as a painting, don’t you think? I have a week to get it right.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

You may also view paintings with prices and order prints at my Fine Art America page.  If the painting you are interested in is not there, or if you prefer to bypass that experience, you may contact me using this feedback form.

Pussycats and Ignudi

Fur. Final

Fur. Final  20×16

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

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

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

After Michelangelo Ignudi

After Michelangelo Ignudi

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Sublime to . . . .

Rebecca in Silhouette

Rebecca in Silhouette

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

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

Fur (wip)

Fur (wip)

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

A Step Backward

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

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

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

Red version

Red version

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20x16

The Shadow Side of Rebecca 20×16

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

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

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

Pensive Nancy

Pensive Nancy

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

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

On Yellow Drape

On Yellow Drape

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Duality Continues

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

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013

Portrait, Rebecca December 2013 (12×9)

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

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

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 1

Mike No. 2

Mike No. 2

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

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

DSC_0005

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

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

Love and Fur wii (20x16)

Love and Fur WIP (20×16)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Up and Down, Back and Forth

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

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

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

Imaginary Elements

Imaginary Elements

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

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

Final--Margaret and her Nook

Final–Margaret and her Nook

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

WIP No. 1

WIP No. 1

WIP NO. 2

WIP NO. 2

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 3

WIP No. 5 with camera

WIP No. 5 with camera

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Just One Thing

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

Toughie

Toughie

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

Margaret and her Nook

Margaret and her Nook

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

The Ghost of Steven Assael

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