Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Dog Stare

Painting at home all afternoon is a rewarding experience, but at the same time, there's always a feeling of guilt. Here's why:
It's that constant look the dogs give me of "What are we gonna do now?" I have no idea what they're actually thinking, but I do get the sense that it's along the lines of "I'm bored, and you're just standing there."

Jamie Wyeth captured the look perfectly. I can only imagine that his dog was thinking the same thing.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oil sketches say a lot with a little.

I was painting this image of Betty as a demo. I only had minutes, but I liked how it started and kept it, intending to take it further at a later date.
Kimberly convinced me to let it stand as is, and I have to say I like it. Sometimes the best paintings are the quick impressions. The paint has captured Betty's stance and expression with a minimum of rendering.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud, the painter's painter, is dead at 88

Lucian Freud, a grandson of Sigmund Freud, died last Wednesday at his London home following a brief illness. Viewed by many (including myself) as the world's greatest living painter, he worked until the very end, almost completing a portrait of his assistant David Dawson a few days prior to his death.

His focus was painting what was before him, and in painting from life, Freud was apt to spend a great deal of time with one subject, and demanded the model's presence even while working on subsidiary elements. A nude completed in 2007 required sixteen months of work, with the model posing all but four evenings during that time; with each session averaging five hours, the painting took approximately 2,400 hours to complete. A rapport with his models was necessary, and while at work, Freud was characterised as "an outstanding raconteur and mimic".Regarding the difficulty in deciding when a painting is completed, Freud said that "he feels he's finished when he gets the impression he's working on somebody else's painting".

It was Freud's practice to begin a painting by first drawing in charcoal on the canvas. He then applied paint to a small area of the canvas, and gradually worked outward from that point. For a new sitter, he often started with the head as a means of "getting to know" the person, then painted the rest of the figure, eventually returning to the head as his comprehension of the model deepens. A section of canvas was intentionally left bare until the painting is finished, as a reminder that the work was in progress. The finished painting is an accumulation of richly worked layers of pigment, as well as months of intense observation.

"I paint people," Freud said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Towards the end of his life he did a nude portrait of model Kate Moss. Freud was one of the best known British artists working in a representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989.

In May 2008, his 1995 portrait Benefits Supervisor Sleeping was sold at auction by Christie's in New York City for $33.6 million, setting a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A good day of painting.

The Central Park scene is progressing nicely.

Another favorite painting.

There are many truly great landscape painters, but out of all of them Willard Metcalf (American, 1858-1925)stands apart for me. 

Of  the many landscapes he painted, one speaks to me more than any other - Giverny (1887, Oil on canvas, 26 x 32 in.). 

It's a simple scene, but somehow he's captured not only the visual representation, but I can feel the warmth of the sun and almost smell the grass. No color is more difficult to work with than green, and yet Metcalf makes it look completely natural in both the light and the shadows. Every leaf and blade of grass is there, and yet nothing is over painted. It's a simple scene, no figures, nothing of specific interest, and yet I can't look away.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

John Peter Russell

I came across this painting by John Peter Russell (1858-1930) in a book on Australian painters years ago, and I've always been drawn to it. The composition, color and texture are stunning. It becomes almost a tapestry of brushstrokes. I tend to pull out this piece for reference on almost every piece I create. John Peter Russell is not to be confused with John Russell, the English painter from a century earlier.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Filipp Malyavin

Filipp Malyavin (Russian, 1869-1940) studied under the great Ilya Repin, and you can see his influence on the work of Nicolai Fechin. He’s known for his portrayal of Russian peasants and a brilliant use of color. The varying patterns of the peasants clothing convey an abstract sense.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hugh Ramsay

Found a nice cache of Hugh Ramsay (Australian, 1877-1906) paintings online. I've always been drawn to his nudes and portraits. Amazing work for one who died so young.

Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, son of John Ramsay. He moved with his family to Melbourne in 1878. He was educated at Essendon Grammar School, and joined classes at the National Gallery of Victoria at age 16 under Lindsay Bernard Hall and became one of the most brilliant students ever trained there. He won several first prizes, and at the competition for the traveling scholarship held in 1899 was narrowly beaten by Max Meldrum, another student of unusual ability.
Ramsay went to Europe in September 1900 and was fortunate in finding a kindred spirit, George Washington Lambert, on the same vessel. Arriving at Paris, he entered Academie Colarossi and was soon recognized as a student of great potential. He sent five pictures to the 1902 exhibition of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts and four of these were accepted and hung together. No greater compliment could have been paid to a young student. Another Australian student whose studio was in the same building, Ambrose McCarthy Patterson  (brother-in-law of Nellie Melba, then at the height of her fame). Ramsay was introduced to Melba, who gave him a commission for a portrait and would no doubt have been able to help him in his career. Unfortunately Ramsay became ill in Paris, and it became necessary for him to return to the warmer climate of Australia and the opportunity to paint Melba was missed. Before leaving Europe, he had exhibited four pictures at the British Colonial Art Exhibition held in London at the Royal Institute galleries.
Returning to Australia, in spite of failing health, Ramsay succeeded in doing some remarkable work including The Sisters, now in the Sydney gallery, the Lady with a Fan (possibly his most famous painting), the portrait of David Scott Mitchell, and his own portrait, now in the Melbourne gallery. He gradually became weaker and died on 5 March 1906 a few weeks before completing his twenty-ninth year.
 Self-portrait with glasses, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 30.5 x 23.0 cm, Private collection

 Self- portrait, half-length with pointing finger, c. 1905, oil on canvas, 76.0 x 60.5 cm, Private collection

Monday, July 4, 2011

New paintings in progress

Two new paintings for the urban series in progress. One on canvas and one on board. The scene of the skyscrapers is well underway, while the figurative scene is in the earliest of stages. I have to say that perspective is a bitch.