“Fabulous” was David Curtis’ word for this painting, completed in his Gloucester garden as the last figure-in-the-landscape event. As if to prove he was not using the word casually, he added that it was a “prize-winner” (or “award-winner”–same thing except some awards don’t come with any prize other than the glory). I took that pronouncement as a challenge–I went home and entered it in the Artist Magazine competition for Artists Over Sixty. Doesn’t that narrow the pool so as to benefit my odds? On the other hand, artists who have been painting all their lives are pretty darn good by the time they attain the age of sixty, which hurts my chances. If/when I get passed over, I get to tell David Curtis he has been overruled.
The title, “Duveneck Reader”, arises from the fact that the book her right hand is resting on is titled “Duveneck”. It is an art book about the painter Duveneck, who was affiliated with the Boston Painters. As such, he occupied a middle ground between academic painting and impressionistic painting–pretty much what I do too. Anyway, David was so pleased that I included the book and actually thought he could read the word “Duveneck” on the spine of the book in my painting, that he might have been biased in his assessment of the overall quality of the painting. Hence, I felt I had to include the name in the title of the painting. (There’s not much logic involved in titling paintings. Numbering them seems like a cop out to me, so if something just pops into my head, I accept that as a valid title.)
For the competition, I didn’t rely solely on the one painting. As long as I am entering, I might as well include two more of my recent figures (at the cost of $20 per image). I chose the Bridal Gown as one, and a nude that I have just completed after three Monday sessions. The nude furnishes a good example of how very tiny adjustments can improve (I hope!) the overall effect of a painting. First, here is the painting after the end of the first session:
I knew I was going to have two more sessions (each is three hours) with the model in this pose, so I concentrated on getting the proportions and angles correct, in other words, the drawing of the figure. I could afford to leave the skin tones, facial features, hands, and drapes for another session.
After two sessions, the painting seemed almost complete. Thinking back onto Steven Assael’s demonstration, however, I knew I could improve on the skin tones.
At the end of the third and final session, I had this.
My artist companions thought the hands were too small. The size of the hands had been on my mind throughout as problem areas, and I had measured them against her face, taking into consideration the fact that she does have small hands, and at least one of them was extremely foreshortened in my eyes. But I accepted the verdict of Laura and Nancy, so after they left the studio, I opened my palette back up and got to work enlarging the hands.
Nancy had suggested I just make the foreshortened hand wider. I did so, and also blurred the left edge. The other hand, which had been so difficult to render in the first place, now had to be re-rendered without help from the model’s presence. Insane. But the very fact that I had painted it dozens of times with her present enabled me to recreate a slightly larger version without her present. I think it actually turned out better.
You might have noticed that I hardly touched the red drape after roughing it in the first week. The shapes of the drapes changed drastically not only between weeks but also between poses–even during poses at one point. During the second session, one of my cats became enamored of my model and the drapes. He explored the possibilities and ended up carving out a napping spot behind her hip. Wiser the following week, I locked all four cats up in my bedroom.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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