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.

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.

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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).

Fixing up and the Start of a Bushwhack

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

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

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

The State of Maine (with tugboat)

DSC_0003

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

DSC_0001

Franconia Notch, May 2013

Franconia Notch, May 2013

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

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

Clark Pond in Auburn WIP

DSC_0001

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

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

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

West Wind by T. Thomson

Sunset by T. Thomson

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

Bear Notch WIP

Bear Notch WIP

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Health Matters, yes it does!

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

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

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

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

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

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

Dennis in Plaid Shirt

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

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

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

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

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

Clark Pond in Auburn

Clark Pond in Auburn

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

Margaret

Margaret

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

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

My Daughter Nancy

My Daughter Nancy

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

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

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

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

Living Free in New Hampshire

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

State Emblem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image 3

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

Image 4

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

Image 2

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

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

The Lone Looker

The Lone Looker (photo)

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

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

A Milestone Reached

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

Jon, supine pose

Jon, supine pose

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

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

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

Anderson nude

Anderson nude

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

Anderson portrait

Anderson portrait

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

Translation into Oil

Translation of life drawing into Oil

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

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

M on brown recliner, WIP

M on brown recliner, WIP

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

Aline Lotter is currently exhibiting:

at the Hatfield Gallery in Manchester (Langer Place, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester, NH); at the Bartlett Inn in Bartlett; at the Red Jacket Inn in North Conway;  at Stella Blu American Tapas restaurant in Nashua; at her law offices at 41 Brook St in Manchester; and at her studio by appointment.

A Best Week

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

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

Alpaca Farm v.1

Alpaca Farm in North Conway

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

Alpaca Farm v.2

Alpaca Farm v.2

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

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

Alpaca Farm, v.3 (Final)

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

Andy as Supercyclist

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

Whew!

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

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

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

Arrangement of elbow and knee   

Leg on Blue Draped Pillow

Right Side with bent elbow

The back from a left angle

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

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

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