Steven Assael workshop, conclusion

This is my third and final installment about the Steven Assael workshop.  The first two installments dealt exclusively with the demo that Steve started as the Monday session, 10 to 5.   I think he liked it so much that he wanted to finish it with the model.  Or perhaps he like US so much he wanted to spend extra days with us.  Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.  He had 16 students in the workshop, two of who are teachers at the Institute.  Most of the rest of the class were young current BFA candidates or youngish BFA graduates from the Institute, but we had one stray up from Delaware (his home base) and Florida (his art college).  Then there were the three of us older figure students, me and my buddies Bea and Elizabeth.  It was a very compatible and committed group of artists.  So maybe he just liked us.

Enough with the progress images of his demo.  Here is the last one that I caught before I had to leave, followed by close ups:

3:50

3:50

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-head

3:50 detail-feet

3:50 detail-feet

He dabbed away at that red fabric (a soft shiny material, perhaps silk) from time to time throughout, and the daubs became more purposeful as the end of time neared.  Suddenly, the fabric on the model stand became the fabric in the painting.  Like a hungry, prowling predator, he circles his subject, getting closer and closer until Wham!  there it is captured to perfection, pinned to his canvas.  (I don’t know what predator behaves like that in reality, but doesn’t it sound right?)

When I left at 4:30, he was scrubbing the background.

I hate to follow that with my own pitiful effort  to emulate him.  But I know  you are curious.  Here’s the disaster I spent two days on:

Becky, last version

Becky, last version

I must have wiped that out nine times, trying to find my way.  I refused to let him paint ON my painting, so he painted this as inspiration to get me over whatever was blocking my creativity:

Becky by Assael

Becky by Assael

But it wasn’t the start that I was having trouble with; it was the finish.

Thursday I changed rooms (we had two rooms going with a model in each) to paint Margaret.  Here is my start, before any input from Steve:

Margaret before

Margaret before

Not enough blue!  This time I allowed him to go at it on my painting:

Margaret After

Margaret After

Notice how he lost all my carefully drawn edges?  As he left, he said “Now you can correct the drawing.”  So I corrected the drawing:

Margaret, drawing corrected

Margaret, drawing corrected

And then I added the red lamp to my painting.  When he saw this version and complimented me, I wasn’t sure whether he liked the lamp specifically, but when he later incorporated the red glow in his own painting, I imagined it might have been inspired by my red lamp:

with the red lamp

with the red lamp

Saturday was a day of Drawing with Steven Assael, 9 to 5.  He did not come around to critique or help us, but we could watch what he was up to and ask him questions.  Margaret was our model.  This is Steve’s drawing of Margaret, executed with Stabilo pencils on silverpoint paper:

Margaret by S. Assael

Margaret by S. Assael

Don’t you love the decision to let her stomach disappear into the paper?  And she wasn’t really sitting on her hand.  So what if the likeness isn’t there!  He couldn’t care less about a likeness, although he  usually does get one, even of Margaret.  I have another image to prove that but too tired to add now, which is technically no longer Monday.

This is my portrait of Margaret, in which I really do get her likeness.  I was able to show it to Steve when nine of us went out to dinner with him, and I ended up in the seat next to him.  He liked it, he really liked it!

Margaret, profile, in graphite

Margaret, profile, in graphite and charcoal pencil

Two criticisms that he shared with me:  I should carry the shadows of her jawline and cheekbone into the hair so that the hair does not look so flat.  I will do so when I have a couple of artmaking minutes to put together.  I expect the improvement to be so subtle that you won’t be able to identify it, but you will think it’s better.  It’s also the way he paints–the subtle attention to nuance that brings living flesh and muscle into his painting.

The other criticism had to do with my composition.  I had included Margaret’s breasts, but when they became too prominent in the composition,  I scribbled them out.  However, the scribbles still appeared to be part of the drawing.  In a related point, the design of the hair masses need to be considered, not blindly rendered.

Exhausting, exhilarating, frustrating, inspiring–all that you might expect in seven days with a Master.

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.

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:

10:30

10:30

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.

11:00

11:00

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.

1:23

1:23

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.

2:23

2:23

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.