Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Arrival, 15 x 11, acrylic on BFK
Although I have stopped working on it for now, I am not certain that this piece is finished. It started as a figure sketch from life and then continued to change and shift. Today it reminds me that May is around the corner and the arrival of warmer weather in the Pacific Northwest. Warmer does not necessarily mean sunnier, however, and people joke that "real summer" starts after July 4th. For now I can celebrate the sun, the blooms, and the arrival of longer days and warmer weather.

Sarah McLachlan "Good Enough."

Friday, April 26, 2013

figures and Matisse

I am experimenting with figure painting and how I might turn a sketch from life drawing into a painting. This is a new piece and as I painted it, I was thinking of Matisse and his wild use of color and curved lines for figures.

22 x 30 acrylic on BFK
Here is an inspiring video showing many paintings of Henri Matisse. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have!

Friday, April 19, 2013

steps toward amazing

90 second gestures
90 second gestures
Gesture drawings are fast impressions of a pose or a mood, a quick map of the twist and weight of the pose. I think that these drawings are fun. Whimsical. Charming. Gesture drawings are my favorite kind of figure drawings.

15 minute drawing
20 minute drawing
When drawing the longer poses, I still want to capture the energy of the gesture drawing and then correct the shapes and angles of the drawing to match the model's pose. It's hard to know when enough is enough. In the 20 minute drawing, I was especially concerned to get the right alignment of the head to the shoulders and knees. Somehow, that made the model look more like an old fashioned television antenna! I wonder if she gets good reception...

25 minute drawing
I continue to look at ways to vary my mark making. All of these are done with the same piece of charcoal, the trick is to vary the pressure, to use both the side of the stick and the point to get a different character in the line. In the 25 minute drawing above, the model moved her head as I drew so that it sank lower to her chest. I smudged the old position out and drew in the new position as I saw it. These corrections make this one of my favorite drawings.

Figure drawing feels like jazz to me. It's all about improvising and responding to what's going on in the room and in me.

Chick Corea and Gary Burton "Eleanor Rigby."  The melody is well known (especially to Beatles' fans), but when these two musicians wrap themselves around it, amazing!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

doing differently

"Automatic marks are deadly to a painting or a drawing." Bill Park, 2013

These words continue to bounce around in my mind, days after the workshop. They stick with me because they apply so directly and uncomfortably to my work. Both with painting and with drawing, there are times when I stop observing and let my know-it-all rational brain take control. Instead of looking with fresh eyes, concentrating as if I'm completely unfamiliar with the subject, I start thinking things like, "the hip juts out here like this, the calf curves out like so" and my marks look different. Unconsidered. Boring. Deadly.

To hold the focus of mindfulness takes a lot of concentration and determination. And self-awareness.

From start to its current state, this painting has been an exercise in doing differently. I began with an intention to create texture within a blue/green/gold color field. My first orange figure marks started with a monoprint from another painting. I followed what interested me, and kept things moving with energy and excitement. No automatic marks.

One of the most exciting benefits of taking a good workshop is coming away with new ideas. The challenge is to not slip back to old habits and automatic ways of doing things.

Doing differently. I like it!

Melody Gardot does it with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." That's what I'm talking about. I have never seen a cello played like a guitar before this!

Monday, April 8, 2013

that's how the light gets in

acylic on canvas, 28 x 22
During the course of a great workshop, I am so busy and electric with new ideas and wild energy, I do not stop and really take in what I have done. It makes the post-workshop days feel luxuriously lazy and contemplative.

I just completed "Painting the Figure," a five day workshop with Bill Park. Into the studio, I unloaded my trunk full of art stuff and hundreds of drawings and spread out my 15 paintings. I am excited by what I see. A new notch up in my understanding of the figure and a freer approach to painting.

acylic on BFK, 30 x 22
I enjoy the complexity of the paintings and the layers of exploration and play. I even like the drips! The painting (above) was an exercise in messing up a piece by painting gestures over the top of the subject.

acrylic on canvas, 28 x 22
As I look around at the work I just finished, I feel a sense of new light on a darkly shrouded subject.

Leonard Cohen "Anthem."

Monday, April 1, 2013

discovery means you don't know ... yet

acrylic and ink on paper

Sometimes I can create a space in my studio where everything vibrates with playful experimentation and discovery. What you see is a portion of a larger piece that is a work in progress. It feels like much more will happen. But I don't what. Yet.

Reminds me of these guys:

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones "Blu-Bop."