Tuesday, September 27, 2011

try again

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts."
Winston Churchill

I have to remember that not everything turns out as I envisioned. I threw away two paintings this week when techniques I tried failed. This flower which I drew from life, was one of them. I thought it would be interesting to draw with brush and ink but then I was disappointed  when I applied the washes of color. I rescued it from the trash a day later and did some experimenting and playing with textures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

life from the back

Sometimes the back side of my subject is as fascinating to me as the other views. Here, a life drawing posed from the back.

And another of one of my favorite subjects showing all the intricacy of the back view.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


After the modeling session ended, this gentleman revealed to me that he is 85 years old. I would have thought he was younger, maybe at the end of his 70s. Shows how incredibly different the aging process is for each individual. As it is with the endlessly different life stories written on each face.

Monday, September 19, 2011

old life

(edited life drawing from one of my class sessions)
A thought I have been mulling over is about my attraction to the withered and old in my art. I like to draw a flower that has been around for days or even weeks in my studio. Every day that passes gives me a changing subject to look at, consider from different angles. I sometimes wait until a petal is drooping way over and the edges are curled up before it becomes so interesting that I just have to stop everything and draw it from life.
And the same thing is with people, as I visit the nursing home several times a week, I see people who have, with the passing of time, become so visually interesting. I am constantly looking and thinking, how would I portray that? How do I paint or draw that fascinating withering and drooping to show what I really see and feel.

Friday, September 16, 2011

under the weight of the September sky

That bright and intensely deep blue September sky, so ominous, so heavy with promise.
The brisk tingle of cold weather to come bends the heads of the flowers.

I bought some tiny plants at the hardware store last May. They only had a leaf or two each, but they were labeled "Moulin Rouge Sunflower". That was enough promise for me, I could hardly wait to see what they would look like.

The first blooms took me aback. They were black sunflowers, black center and black petals with just a hint of dark red. Now, at the end of summer, I am finding some blooms with a lot more of the dark red and a tiny gasp of gold.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


The writer should never be afraid of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. 
Flannery O'Connor

My encounter with this old man would have fit right into a Flannery O'Connor story. (well, maybe not the gruesome parts)
I was visiting a friend on a hot August day. We passed the time together with me following her on her various rounds of the day. After we drove to a spot where she had tomatoes and squashes growing, inspected the weeds and picked a few vegetables, and as the day became ever warmer and stickier, we had to visit her old friend. I do not know how she had his acquaintance, but she introduced me as "the artist who is going to draw your portrait. "
He immediately found his antique hat to strike a pose. This hat was really old, like a beaver pelt hat from Abraham Lincoln days. I was more worried about how hot it was on his head as we were all dripping and sweating and he had his long sleeved shirt buttoned up. He sang old songs to me, and generally acted like a charming gentleman with lady visitors to entertain.
I think about the truth of what I see and I stare and I try to convey that moment in my work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

a man

"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do." Bob Dylan

I can't agree with this clever quote. And if a man can get away with doing just that, he would have to be very clever.
I met this man while visiting France. I sketched his interesting face while we were eating a dinner that lasted until late on a moonlit night with lots of long conversations. Every drawing has a history, and can be looked at with the smells, sounds and flavors of that moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

psychological studies and sketches

I am interested in working toward the goal of making these sketches more than an attempt at a likeness. I want to look at this person and try to show what is really there.
An experience that I am thinking of here is one that has happened more than once while visiting at the nursing home. I have found myself in conversation with someone who now looks quite differently from the person that they actually are or have been. Once I am engaged in the conversation, of course, I "see" the older person before me in a completely different light. The wheelchair and the oxygen tubes disappear and I only see the gallant war hero, a perky volunteer, or ultra-competent office manager who now sits in that spot.

I am not satisfied with my approach here, the drawing is not alive. My dear patient subject who sat for me was wearing her "Sunday best", her hair was just "done", and she gave me her nicest face. I did not feel like I got to the"truth" of her yet. There are many layers of faces that everyone wears, (oh, I feel a T.S.Eliot quote coming on.)
"There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;"
T.S.Eliot: The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock

Monday, September 12, 2011

new series of sketches

I I am thinking about a new series, a new subject to explore. Portraits of people. People that are older, maybe, considered elderly and or infirm. I spend a fair bit of time visiting at a nursing "home" for elderly people. Most of the people I see there are not ever going to leave, this is the place where they will spend their last days. Some are worse by the day, some seem to stay about in the same position all the time. The staff at this facility are wonderful, I am so impressed by the love and care they give the patients.

I want to make my artwork about showing the inner person, the original, maybe younger self behind the wrinkles and aged appearance.
I did these drawings this past weekend, starting with a woman that I know very well, my mother-in-law. She has been my greatest, most loyal and supportive fan. I am grateful for her patience in allowing me to begin this drawing series with her.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

sometimes the subject chooses you

When I wander about the world inspecting the visual stimulus surrounding all of us I might find one subject more interesting than another. 
I find myself fascinated with the possibilities,colors, line quality, forms, and pure physical beauty of flower forms. I am not painting them to be "happy". I am painting them to satisfy the desire to record what I am seeing. Sometimes, I am seeing beauty, sometimes it is just a weird strangeness in the angles, the curves, the shapes that say line and paint to me.

Details shown here, "Dead sunflowers". Line art in ink and acrylic washes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My mother doesn't like these flowers

I have placed myself in a position somewhere in-between so that I don't have any appreciators. My mother thinks my flower paintings are too big and not pretty enough. My graduate class thinks they are too small and too pretty. I don't have an audience either way I turn.