Steven Assael workshop, cont.

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

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

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

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

Image 15 Image 14 Image 16 Image 18

The thing to notice about these “progress” pics is that he rather cavalierly blurs previously articulated shapes in the course of finding the hue and value he is looking for.  Also notice how he uses the painting itself as an auxillary palette.  The black and red drapes were added to break up the expanse of blue, but not much attention was given to painting them.  Yet.

The rest of the pictures are from today.  I have captioned each with the time I took the photo to give you some idea of the passage of time between one and another.  You might understand better why it was hard to stay focussed:



The first thing he did was get rid of the blue drape altogether by covering it up with a brownish patterned one.  I’m quite sure that if he had another couple of days to work on  this painting, the pattern would be beautifully represented.



He cleaned up the background–uh, palette–and placed a red crescent about where the red lamp shone.  Take note of that because I like to think something I did on Thursday may have inspired this bit.

See a little bit of patterning in the brownish drape?  And her face is back–sort of.  The black parabola emerging in the background has us all wondering.  The black drape is so subtly beautiful that I’m afraid you can’t see it.  Steve is a wizard with black.



Sunday’s session was supposed to end at one o’clock.  Becky agreed to stay on and, I presume, the Institute agreed to foot the bill.



Not quite sure but I think the reflection of the black drape on her back and continuation of the red drape towards the background are new.

I have a few more images that I would like to show you, but I think I have exceeded some kind of daily limit–Wordpress is not accepting any more uploads.  I will try again tomorrow.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Thumbs down and thumbs up

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

poster, next to last version

poster, next to last version

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

poster--final version

poster–final version

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

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

Fletch, in profile

Fletch, in profile

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Living Free in New Hampshire

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

State Emblem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image 3

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

Image 4

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

Image 2

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

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

The Lone Looker

The Lone Looker (photo)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery and the East Colony Fine Art Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu , an American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at the law offices of Mesmer and Deleault at 41 Brook St in Manchester; at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester (part of the Healing with Art program) and at her studio by appointment.