Double courses, Double helpings

I’ve been painting so much lately that I have not had time to blog.  Today’s blog, therefore, will cover a lot of activity.  On the menu are three pure landscapes and three figures in the landscape.  You have seen earlier versions of two of the latter, so we’ll start with those even though my changes to the originals represent my most recent activities.

The Black Kimono, Take 2

The Black Kimono, Take 2

I felt I had to fix the arm in Black Kimono.  That is kind of a dangerous thing to do, especially since I had no photo reference, or if maybe I did take one, I forgot to look for it.  I just plunged ahead, building a right arm where I felt it should be, given where the left arm was.  The right arm still disappears behind her thigh, but the angle is more natural, and the plumpness of the forearm conveys the message better.  I am not declaring Black Kimono “done” yet because I am considering whether to add some pale streaks of lights reflecting off the kimono, so as to better delineate the leg underneath.  I hesitate because the result will be gray, and that can just look messy.

I have not had much experience with black.  In fact, I used to not carry a tube of black with me at all.  If I needed black, I would just mix the darkest available colors, usually ultramarine blue and burnt umber.  I learned that in one of the first courses I took at the Institute.  Peter Dixon was teaching color theory and Renaissance painting, and combined both of them in the same room at the same time.  So I picked up basic color theory along with grisaille and glazing.  Black was not used for either course.  Since then, I have encountered many other teachers who make “black” with their own combination of darks.

Yesterday morning we met again in the Lessard garden with our nude model.  You’d think with another three hours to work on something that seemed really close to finished after the first three hours, that it would be perfect now, and I even could have started a second painting.  Alas, not so.  I’m less happy with it now than I was last week.  Maybe happiness is a function of the number of hours expended on something.  Longer generates higher expectations, perhaps higher than achievable.

White Floppy, Take 2

White Floppy, Take 2

Her new face is what bothers me the most, but I also see background “errors”.  And one of the reasons for spending the extra time–improving the patterns of light and shadow on the figure–just don’t dazzle like I hoped.  It seems that just when I feel I am making significant progress of that ladder of artistic proficiency, I come up short and get knocked back a peg or two.  Did I just mix a metaphor?  How embarrassing!  I used to be so good with the English grammar stuff.

While we are looking at figures in the landscape, let’s check out the Last Pose of Summer–the last one in David Curtis’ garden.  Our model Mary Ann brought a costume reminiscent of Gibson Girls–between Victorian and the Roaring Twenties.  On top of her filmy white gown, she wore a dusty pink lace coat.  Dusty pink is close to the color of skin in shade.  How hard will that be to depict!

The Last Pose of Summer

The Last Pose of Summer

I kind of think I nailed it.  I would have liked to capture more definite leg shapes, but it was windy and the fabric kept swirling around her so as to prevent any sort of definitive anything.  Go with the flow, I say.  So I did.

For the pure landscape selections, we have another local back yard, one to dream of, a trip southward to a vista of brackish marshes, and tree portrait from the Boston Arboretum.  However interesting these scenes might be to a viewer, to this artist they felt dreary for the lack of a human presence.  Or even a dog presence.  I have become quickly spoiled by my good fortune in David Curtis’ garden.  Still it is good to be outside painting:

Elaine's Back Yard

Elaine’s Back Yard

This really is in the back yard of a fellow artist, Elaine Farmer, who just moved to Amherst and invited us over to paint on her fabulous garden.  But we can’t resist water.  And there was a little foot bridge over the stream, whence I painted.

Cox Reservation

Cox Reservation

The Cox Reservation is located in Essex, Massachusetts.  David Curtis and a group of his followers meet up there regularly to paint.  I have actually painted this scene before, when Sharon Allen and I were exploring the Essex National Heritage Area.  As I was driving down, I resolved not to get sucked back in with this vista, but rather to find something interesting, preferably with flowers, to paint close up.  So much for resolutions.  I hate vistas.  They are so hard!   When I started on this one, there wasn’t even any water to paint, but as the tide rose, it got better.  But why was I even there?  I don’t know.  Something in my afterlife must have required it.  No, I have it!  I just compared it to the earlier one (linked above), and it seems my vistas have improved somewhat since 2012.  Yea!

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Smoke Bush at Arboretum

Finally, the Smoke Tree.  I had to deliver a painting to the Arboretum anyway, so I decided to make a day of it and paint something.  No vistas this time.  I went looking for flowers, and found mostly flowering trees, which is not something very common at the end of summer.  This bush (“tree” is reserved for bushes that grow a lot higher) was located at the top of Bussey Hill.  Luckily, there was a road to get me there.  (They let me have a driving permit because I couldn’t carry my gear all that way, and I do have handicapped privileges due to the arthritis in my back.)  I labored over the Smoke Bush so much harder than I should have had to, and I suspect that is because I had the time to do so.  Had a model been present to paint, the tree gets abstracted in the background.

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: 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!


Garden Magic

I get so caught up in my narrative blog content that I always forget the marketing bits, where I would be announcing I got into this show or that, and sold this painting or that.  Such a waste of those small, ephemeral moments of triumph!  Meanwhile I’ve been moaning about failures.  Wallowing in failures.  I hereby resolve hereafter to “accentuate the  positive,” starting right now:

  • My painting of “Margaret and her Nook” has been published in an online mag called “Art and Beyond”; here is the link to the magazine; you will need to click forward to find my page.
  • 5 of my paintings were accepted in the “Healing with Art” exhibit at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Manchester.  (reception Tuesday Sept 9, 5:30-7:00)
  • My painting of “Fur” has found its forever home, after being on exhibit for only a few hours at the Bedford Library.
  • My painting of “Willow Path in Winter” has been accepted in the annual JPOS (Jamaica Pond Open Studios) exhibit at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston.   Reception Thursday Sept 18, 6-8.
  • My application to apply to the Copley Society in Boston has been accepted–allowing me to apply for Professional Artist Membership, which requires a long checklist of images and written materials that I need to produce before a January deadline.  Checklists?  No problem for a former tax lawyer.

Listing the good things maybe once a month will at least boost my spirits, even if it doesn’t have any noticeable effect on sales.  Sales are the ultimate boost in spirits.  Nothing says “I love your painting” quite like the handing over of real money in exchange for the painting.  One of my teachers had a standard reply to anyone who said “I love your painting”: . . . “It’s for sale.”  But we can’t all buy all the paintings we love.  I know that all too well.  So it’s OK to keep telling me when  you love my painting even if you can’t buy it.

So, down to the real business, that of creating beautiful paintings, maybe to sell.  I spent two afternoons last week in a garden full of little nooks and pathways and whimsey.  This garden is hidden behind an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood.  It was created by colleagues of mine, a photographer/painter-husband/wife combo–although credit for the garden has to go principally to the husband.  The wife, Dee Lessard, paints beautiful still lifes but has little experience with plein air painting (or gardening).  Her husband, Guy Lessard, was pretty pleased to find Dee and me at our easels in his garden, immortalizing  the beauty he had built.

Magic Garden No. 1

Magic Garden No. 1

If you follow the path marked by the stepping stones, into the darkness beyond,  you come upon a pool full of dappled sunlight and brilliant koi.  I longed to see (and paint) a figure leaning into her reflection here.  But saving that one for when I have a model, I chose this simple scene that melds so delightfully a  half dozen different plant varieties.  I completed this one in a two-hour afternoon, just before the skies opened up in buckets of water.

A few days later, we went back out, Dee to continue working on the one she had started and me to find another magical place.  No. 2 is to the right and down a slight slope from No. 1, looking back at another path to get to the koi pond.

Magic Garden No. 2

Magic Garden No. 2 (before adjustments)

The Fairy Chapel

The Fairy Chapel  (Magic Garden No. 2, after adjustments in color and value)

Guy rescued the little church birdhouse in an antique store with steeple intact.  But adverse elements had obliterated the steeple over time, so I was painting what could have been a New England meeting house when Guy came over and requested that I add the steeple.  I was only too happy to oblige.

For both garden paintings, I had started with a surface toned dark, mostly with burnt umber.  Very little of the toned surface still shows, but where it does, it enhances the contrast that makes a painting interesting.

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: 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!


Tale of Woe

. . . Snow woe?  Weather woe?  Maybe lack-of-power woe.  “Power.”  Have you ever thought about the usages of the word “power”.  We use it to describe an attribute of people who attain positions where they can control the lives of others.  Power is also an attribute of an individual who can control his/her own life.  So why does  “Power” also refer to  electrical current to run lights, furnace, phone, internet, microwave, TV, DVD, and radio, to charge cell phones and Palm Pilots?  Because without all those abilities, one is powerless.

Without power (in the technological sense) One is also cold, hungry, and sleepless.  So I write this tale of powerlessness–obviously not from home–in a state of grogginess.  For the first time in my life, I slept with a Great Dane.   I invited her into bed with me when her “mom”, my granddaughter, bailed on us to go spend the night with a friend with “power”.  Honey, the Great Dane, usually sleeps with Tabitha, my granddaughter.  Tabitha thoughtfully lent us her comforter and Honey was dressed in a woolly sweater.  I wore my thermally correct underwear and a snuggly fleece robe-type thing over that.  We were warm enough.  Well, I was warm enough.  Honey was shivering and twitching all night, while I concentrated on hanging on to my share of the bed and waiting for the sun to rise.

Actually, I wasn’t all that hungry because I got to spend a wonderful 4 to 5 hours at a party with artists earlier in the day.  Mill Brook Gallery in Concord held an opening for an exhibit that was enchanting in its originality and breadth.  I had been invited by Patrick McCay, one of the featured artists, who is my EEE teacher.  (EEE stands for Explore, Exploit, Express–in whatever medium, whatever style.)  Two of his paintings already had red dots on them when we got there.  “We” because I did not have the use of my car yesterday but got a ride with two other artists, Bea Bearden and David Wells.  Through Bea and David I also found myself welcomed to a pot luck supper after the reception.  What a pot luck supper it was!  It deserves commemoration by publication of the entire amazing menu, but I cannot do it justice on the wing with descriptions like “quiche-type thing” and “rice and beans”.  I didn’t go near the pies–no room for dessert.

So in truth I was warm enough and not hungry at all, and only sleepless now.  Yesterday, before going off and partying, I used a few daylight hours to tinker with three paintings that I had started in EEE.  The third one is my newest one, which you have not yet seen.  In order to get enough light in which to photograph it, I brought it to the office with my camera.  No tripod though, so it looks a little fuzzy.

Taking a Bow

As the cyclists arrive at the top, someone throws a gray blanket over their shoulders, which keeps them from getting too chilled after their sweaty exertion.  The top of Mt. Washington is, even in August, likely to be a chilly place.  Andy, who happens to be my son, appears to be wearing a ribbon of some sort, which I only noticed in the course of working on this painting.  Will have to find out the significance of that.

The train car in the background is part of the  Cog Railway.

In this painting, I believe I have become more of an impressionist, which is kind of  what I have set out to do in the EEE class.  My highest goal is to emulate  Sargent and Sorolla, which to me means using the brush strokes expressively.  I really enjoyed working on this painting.  It is another of the studies for the larger work I am hoping to get to, the one of the whole top of the mountain with the crowds, the cyclists, and the mountain vistas.

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth; at the Sage Gallery in Manchester; at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery in Manchester; at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway; at the Rockport Art Association Gallery in Rockport, Massachusetts.

Link to website:

A 6×6 painting for $66

6 inches by 6 inches has recently become a popular size for two-dimensional art pieces because they are affordable and are highly collectible. But for the past ten years, every year, the New Hampshire chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art has been organizing a member exhibit consisting only of 6×6 plaques prepared specifically for that purpose, and for that year. The price for each plaque is $66. Every media imaginable is represented. The plaques can even be used to create 3-D artworks as long as they can still be hung vertically.

My Lotus Studies series of four were created for the WCA event in 2009, and when none of them were sold, I combined them into this piece:

Lotus Studies

As this unit, Lotus Studies has been exhibited three times–once at the 2010 WCA “Flowers Interpreted” exhibit (another annual event), then at the Gallery at 100 Market Street in Portsmouth, and finally this spring at the Manchester Artists Association Gallery, where it won the Best in Show award. Though much admired in all these locations, it is unaccountably still available for purchase.

For this year’s 6×6 exhibit, I have decided to feature critters. I led off my blog (up above) with a half-finished study of that most endearing of critters, a sleeping cat. I’m going to call it “At Home”. Ironically, my model is Sundance, a rough, tough rescued cat who ultimately chose to rough it in the neighborhood. He relies on other suckers in the neighborhood to feed him regularly and suns himself on my deck occasionally. So although he looks really “at home” in this painting, he is dreaming anarchy (on my bed, by the way).

I have two other of my critter plaques started:

I need help with the Snowy Egret. There is a lot of empty space on the left of the plaque, which I intend to fill with written words. Poetic words. I am not a reader of poetry, so I don’t have any useful couplets filed away in my brain, but maybe one of my readers does.

This one I propose to title “Red Breasted Plover”. There is of course no such thing as a red breasted plover (this one is, I think, a black breasted plover in winter plumage). The red breast here is a reflection of the red canopy. Is that obvious enough to explain the title? Or will people think “red breasted plover” is a real species?

If you have been with me for a while, you might remember the Egret and the Plover from my trip to Florida in 2010, the year I deployed the zoom lens to such good effect. If not, you can see them here. Nineteen months later I finally got around to painting these birds!

The WCA 6×6 exhibit this tenth anniversary year will include the 6×6’s from prior years, so I guess my lotuses get out and about for the fifth time. The place of the exhibit will be in Nashua, and the length of the exhibit will be only 2, perhaps 3, days in November. A short, almost “pop up” type exhibit may generate more concentrated interest, and exhibit spaces that we couldn’t consider for a month-long exhibit become feasible. I will post more information about the exhibit when the date draws near.

Since this year we are including past works (retrospective), I will probably offer two that I recently painted on 2010 plaques, covering up what I did last year. (I hated what I painted on last year’s plaques so I didn’t submit them to the exhibit. Lack of inspiration results in worthless artwork.) You may remember these recent portraits from a previous blog entry:

A Blond Akita A Snaggle-tooth Cat
For more about the cat, search “Grace”. I adopted her last year.

I was going to post some pictures of drawings from our Saturday Life Group, but I think this is enough for now. Next week I am sure to have lots to talk about, because I will be attending a workshop with Stan Moeller, the guy who opened up the door to landscape painting for me back in the Fall of 2005. The subject of this workshop is near and dear to my heart:–how to paint people into your plein air landscapes. I have been practicing that very thing in anticipation of this workshop, and now I will learn the real scoop. . . . fingers crossed, that there is a real scoop to be had!

Details (Death to)

“It’s all in the details” — a statement considered wise when the subject matter is policy. What about when the subject is art? Recently, I visited an exhibit of Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th-18th century, wherein the details were really important. Before photography, paintings were valued as records; the tiniest of details were appreciated. But in this day and age, details can be a hindrance to artistic expression. Representation, as opposed to abstraction, is even looked down upon in some quarters. Abstraction is the ultimate in detail-elimination.

Only last week one of my followers commented, “Your drawings are magnificent.  Great attention to detail.  Superb!”  Alas, his approval, to the extent based on my attention to detail, may be misplaced. I have to acknowledge a contrary judgment–that in general, attention to detail is not a good thing, and that in particular, my attention to detail is more of a handicap than an ornament to the quality of my output.

Which is just a long way of saying, I expend too much energy on details.  At one point during the Red Chalk workshop, Rob Liberace asked me to dial back on the details–I was making a virtual skeleton out of our lean model.  Referring to the portrait above, “Kitsch,”  Cameron Bennett suggested last Thursday.  Ouch!

Two experts within a short time identifying the same weakness–there must be something to it.  How did I get to this pass?  Certainly my plein air painting never permitted excessive detail.  One theory–my speed in getting to a near-finished state leaves me all too ready to look for areas to refine.  Instead of reexamining the broadest strokes to make sure those are as perfect as I can get them, I start on what I used to consider the next step–developing the details.  Another theory–I am just not that good an artist.,

Take this week’s portrait from a live model, posted as the cover image for this blog.  As soon as I caught Rebecca’s likeness and properly placed and sized all her features, I spent considerable time working on the details, or what I was then considering the nuances of her features–especially her mouth and eyes.  It was at the end of that session that I got the “kitsch” remark. Ouch–that still hurts!
Here is the current portrait next to the earlier one done in black and white. Big improvement anyway. (But we had less time to work on the black and white, I think.)

At least when copying a work done by a master, I cannot be criticized for the sin of detail. The detail, or lack of it, comes already supplied. Here is this week’s homework assignment, from a self-portrait by 20th century Italian artist, Pietro Annigoni.

The whole point of copying, may I remind those of you who abhor the slavishness of copying, is to train the copyist’s eye. If I cannot see how my ear is different from the original’s ear, how can I expect to paint a good representation of a real, live ear? So there is the original, on the right, with my copy on the left. Sitting on my easel, my copy looked virtually perfect to me–I fantasized Cameron accusing me of tracing the image.

Here, not so perfect. A decent copy, but far from perfect. I gnash my teeth in frustration! How did the bloody head get so elongated in the original, with me not noticing? This is why artists resort to projecting drawings onto their canvases from photographs, a practice frowned on by purists, and one that certainly does nothing to train the eye. Fury it is that motivates them!

I hereby resign myself to getting beat up upon by Cameron this Thursday because there is no way I am repainting that ear. (In order to narrow the head, I would have to move the ear.)

But back to the topic–Death to Details. With this new anti-detail directive freshly absorbed, giving a nod to Peter Granucci here as well since he also has tried to wean me away from focusing on details when drawing from a live model, I took out a painting that had never satisfied me.  This was a painting based on a drawing made with a live model.  I had no details to refer to –the painting itself was several references removed from the original drawing since I had painted over it several times trying to find a version that pleased me. Could I solve this painting by eliminating even more details?

The only part of this painting that I liked was the hand and the drape at the bottom, so I felt free to mess with the rest of it.  I tried muting the background.  I changed the hairdo.  I refreshed the skin tones and created large splashes of light. Finally, taking a cue from the hand that I did like, I outlined the figure in black.  Suddenly, it looked interesting.  I never use black ordinarily, so this was definitely weird.  I scumbled (a technique for applying a glaze but with a dry brush) more black into the background and it got even better.

Ultimately the color, and maybe the contrast may save this painting.  But my curiosity to obliterate detail is what motivated me to revisit this painting.  Maybe that makes no logical sense, but hey, that’s left brain for you!

Meanwhile, and D, I’m talking to you, don’t praise my attention to detail.  It’ll just make me squirm uncomfortably.

This blog started out over two years ago (!) with no particular angle on my painting adventures, but has begun to develop as a chronicle of my efforts to grow as an artist. So I have come up, finally, with a name for it: Painter’s Progress–playing on the phrase “Pilgrim’s Progress”, a religious tome from a time period when details in paintings were expected and desired.

Red Chalk Drawings

I lead off today with my last red chalk drawing done in the course of last week’s workshop with Rob Liberace, “Drawing the Figure in Red Chalk”. He thought this drawing was my best from the three days, and who am I to argue with the Master. The workshop was a fabulous experience. The “students” included Sean Beavers, who was my instructor just a few weeks ago, and Larry Christian, who was my first figure drawing instructor at the Institute in 2006. I suspect that many of the faces who were unknown to me belonged to other long-established professionals as well.

The red chalk is not actually red chalk, but rather any soft red drawing material that simulates the red chalk used by the old masters. We deployed pencils and pastels of various properties, but the principal difference was softness. The harder pencil drawings work better on a smaller scale; detail is easier with a pencil while covering a large sheet with pencil is not fun. So conversely the larger the sheet you want to use, the softer is the material you choose. Obvious that should have been, yet a revelation to me.

I started with the harder stuff:

Young Woman in Red Chalk, about 18×18

With a few leftover minutes on that pose, I drew her whole figure in miniature, showing her slump so much better:


My output for Day 1 was perhaps suppressed due to my confusion about the paper. Based on information received with our materials list, I had pretreated sheets of paper with dilute amber shellac–on the wrong side. Drawing paper comes with two different surfaces–one side is rough, the other is smooth. I should have used the smooth side, not the rough side. No way to know. Then it turned out that when using the softer materials, you don’t need to treat the surface of the paper after all. Fortunately, I had some extra paper at home, and I came back on Day 2 armed with every possible configuration of treated and untreated sides.

For both Day 2 and Day 3 we had the same model, an 80-year-old guy whose body was so lean that he was practically a textbook on anatomy.

This was my best likeness of our model. Here I was using the softer pencils and little bit of the pastel stick. The duration of this pose was only an hour.

The next one was for the entire afternoon of Day 2:

When I was only halfway through,m Rob Liberace sat down and made almost imperceptible improvements to the face. Far be it from me to cover up Rob’s marks with my own improvements, hence the slightly kooky face.

Day 3 we had the same pose all day, but I was finished with my particular angle by lunchtime:

In the afternoon, I was able to move to a spot on the other side of the room. I went back to using the harder pencils:

Why was this one the favorite of Rob Liberace? He advocates using what I can only call “squirrely” lines, and in this drawing, I tried extra hard to make sure I had no straight lines. He also particularly loved the foot.

Here is a copy of one of his drawings, which shows pretty clearly what he was looking for.

The link I gave you at the top of this page should lead you to this image, and from there you can find others of his figure drawings.

It’s pretty humbling for me to see his and mine next to each other.


Surprise! Monday blog is a day early because tomorrow I am over my head with exciting engagements that leave me no time to blog: First, workshop with Robert Liberace learning how to draw figures in red chalk as was done by the Old Masters, and we’re talking OLD old masters–Da Vinci, for example. Then Monday afternoon and evening my bridge group–our three Manchester members anyway–is heading out to Baboosic Lake for an unusually festive visit with Jackie, our Merrimack player–she’s making chili for us and taking us for a boat ride on the Lake in addition to our usually austere bridge playing.

The theme today is “profiles” because yesterday Peter Granucci had us anatomizing waves, which I am stretching to mean profiling waves, while earlier in the week, and the week before, in my Portraits class with Cameron Bennett, we started out with profiles. Cameron seems to think profiles are easier than other angles of the head. For him, maybe.

Profile #1 is a grisaille (black and white) copy of a Jacob Collins head, which we started in class and are supposed to be finishing up as homework over a two-week period.

I trust that by combining the photo original with my copy, I will meet the “fair use” exception to the copyright rules. Sorry about the glare on the wet paint. I had to blast the light from the front in order to keep the sunlit background from shining through and obliterating what I am trying to show you. Both this project and the next one are taped high up in my window where I can stare at them from time to time and where neither cat can rub up against them. Fur on a painting is not, I have found, a desirable quality.

As additional homework over the same two weeks, we had to find ourselves a profile by a master to paint, again in grisaille. I made the immediately obvious choice of Madame X, by John Singer Sargent, which in the original is pretty darn close to black and white anyway.

I can see that neither copy is perfect yet, but pinpointing the reason becomes harder and harder as I eliminate the more obvious defects. Every day, I notice something to fix. Madame X’s nose has been a nightmare. Such a unique nose but so very subtly unique that it cannot be captured casually. I knew it would be hard when I chose it.

Last Thursday, we painted, still in grisaille, from a live model:

I believe I caught a likeness, albeit not a perfect one. It is a challenge when you have only two hours minus breaks to work with the model. Mine was one of the more complete-looking efforts in the class, but a likeness must come before completeness.

At least I’m fast, which gives me more time to capture the likeness–more time to make mistakes and correct them. I am thinking that all the mistakes are necessary markers, milestones to progression. I SHALL get that nose on Madame X right by the end of the week!

Meanwhile, waves. Waves are not easy by any means, but let’s face it–you get a lot of latitude on the details as long as you get the elements right. So practicing how to paint waves Saturday with Peter Granucci and my plein air painter friends was a joyful experience. I learned the terms to apply to a wave: “base” “ridge” “eye” and, most interesting, the “dump”. The dump is the part of the wave that is crashing over. The eye is the thinnest part, illuminated by light, which I find the most magical element. The rock doesn’t really fit the theme, but Peter gave us a rock to work on at the end–dessert.

I taped all of my Saturday paintings to a hardboard to see how I might be able to fit all four into one frame. All of these were painted on canvas pads; to get three of them home, I simply closed the cover on them, which is why the thickest paint has that funny texture. (The fourth one fit into one of my “Art Cocoons”.)

I don’t quite know what to do with these four paintings of nonuniform sizes and needing mounting on something harder than air. The hardboard is one possibility. Maybe I shouldn’t try to get all four into one frame. I’m open to ideas–and offers.