Thursday, April 30, 2009

Here is a copy of a Prud'hon. I am now working on doing a painting of this.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Breaking It Apart

I was asked a question the today about what I am trying to do with my work and I thought I would share that here. Let's start with what I am aiming to do.

I have found I am interested in perception and how we as people take in and understand our surroundings. The information we gather is both incomplete to begin with and is filtered down to the level required for us to function. It is not a reflection of reality, not even an accurate copy of it. Rather its a reconstruction of what we perceive that has been reshaped by our mind. I am exploring this through translating the human figure into a form explained this in way, not as an attempt to describe an individual or idealized form.

Right now, I a working on the visual aspect of perception and one of the things I am doing is using the guidelines and principles of traditional realistic painting as a way to explore how we view form. I am doing this through exaggeration of these principles, edge variation, color temperature, level of structure, and things like that.

For example, I push the relationship of hard and soft edges to make this relationship unavoidable to the viewer. Edge variation is used to define distance, space and turning of form, as that is what we actually see in life. I push that to a degree where the form merges with the space around it, connecting the form to its environment.

I am also working with color as a way to explore perception. I try to do this through both exaggeration and the purposeful misplacement of color. When exaggerating the color, I push color temperature to the furthest extremes I can, I may paint very hot shadows and cold highlights. When misusing color I will break those rules of color relationships to emphasize that everything is following a pattern then suggesting to the viewer to consider that pattern.

Now on to the work done this week.

The two images above are paintings I am working on with what I said above in mind. I took the paintings to a group critique this week and it was generally felt that they lack cohesion, the parts don't connect well. In part, I agree with this. I don't know if I truly want complete connectedness between all the elements of each piece, as incompleteness is a theme I want to include in my work. Still, I do think some more related elements my make the work stronger.

I am going to move away from relying on the the cross hatched strokes to break the form and work in some other ways to do that, to include more variety.

The next image is the start of my next painting. Unfortunately for this one, I will not take it any further. I consider this a disaster and will scrape it and start again. I tried to lay out my composition more directly this time, and I have decided to go back and do it without so much color information up front. Its just too much information form me to handle at once.

The copy is of another Prud'hon. This one is coming out well for me. I am not done with it and will complete it this week. I decided to push the values down much further than the photo copy I am using. As I think it is a poor reflection of what the artist actually did. Since the goal is to learn from the artist, I am going to try to do it as he might do rather than imitate what I see in the reproduction.

The last one is the structure drawing from class. I like it so far. The only problem I have with it is from the vantage point I have in the room I can't see her feet. Her legs end abruptly at the knees and makes the drawing look awkward. I will have to resolve that, maybe I will try to include the hint of a foot behind the knees.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

New stuff

Today I want to start with something different. As many of you know I don't do many landscapes. That is mainly because I don't enjoy doing them all that much. It's hard to explain why, I enjoy the subject, I enjoy the challenges found in painting landscapes. I don't enjoy painting them as much as I do my figurative work.

This week I thought I needed to do a landscape, mostly to practice painting, also to see what I could do. This scene is from the top of Mt Tamalpais looking down. It is not painted on location, it has been a while since I have done that. I enjoyed painting it for about an hour, then I started losing interest. Still it was a good exercise and I think I will do it again, just to see what happens.

To the right is my workshop painting form Thursday. The idea for this one was to make the primary focus the feet and obscure the rest of the figure. Here I am testing out paint application ideas for my thesis project. In these other paintings I am exaggerating certain things to develop ideas about perception of form. One of them is playing with and exaggerating hard and soft edges.

Below are color studies for my next painting. I received some ideas from my group directed study on these studies. Everybody liked and disliked different studies for different reasons. Mostly the red shadow area can be problematic. it reminds people too much of blood and makes the painting creepy. My advisor says that is it common for his galleries to tell him not to use strong reds because of that. I like the red so I have to decide whether its important to include or not.

This painting really has much more do to with the compositional arrangements rather than the figure as a subject of the painting. Arrangement of the values seem fine but I need to adjust the color temperature to both suggest a light source and create visual movement.

This painting is coming along slowly as I experiment with a medium that has slowed down the drying of the under painting. This week I reworked the knees a little and stopped to let it dry. Here again the group felt the red is to red against the blues, but I am not too worried as it just at the underpainting stage and more color will help dilute the strength of that red. Here you can see some of the edges are pushed to emphasize perception. I am trying to find a balance between the actual structure of the form and the visual construction of the image we get when looking at form.

I worked on this one some more. I am done with it for a while. Mostly because I am not sure what to do with it just yet. This was one of my first trying out my new ideas so its a little muddled and confused, so it needs some work but I haven't figured out where to take yet. So it will sit for a while.

Drawings from the figure studio class. The first is from life. The second is a Pruh'don copy.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

To do List

Another week spent in pursuit of figuring out what it is that makes me paint. For those of you following this I have been worrying a lot about my work and trying to figure out the direction I want to go with my work.

I think this dilemma stems, in part, from the fact that I am in school. I am now at a point where I find doing what I need to do for school and what I need to do from my art in some competition with each other at some level. Time needs is definitely part of it, but I also find my direction shifting away from the path I selected for myself when I started here.

My work is taking an unexpected turn. Sort of, I am not sure how to say this exactly. I have wanted to learn the techniques of figurative painting and had thought that this was the direction my interests was taking me. I now find my interests pulling me away from this track and towards something less clinical in its process. In short I am moving more towards personal sources for how I make my work.

This piece and the one above were attempts at dealing with some of the concerns about the perception of form. I was looking for ways to dealing with the connection of the body to the space it rests in. I thought melding the body into the space around it to blur the division between the two.

I am going to continue with this with on both these paintings and the next one I started.

This is the next one I am working on and below are some studies for it.

Life painting done in class.
Self portrait
More studies

Another master copy, this one is a copy of a Rubens

This one done in the workshop.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I will start with my drawings this week. To the left is my most recent in class drawing. What I am working on right now is still the same thing as the last drawing. Now that I am understanding the human form more, I now trying to make more complete and expressive drawings.

I think too I need to include more environmental elements into the drawings to create a space for the figure to sit. These are academic drawings about the human form so not much is needed but I feel my past drawings had figures just floating on a blank page. I do like the drawings better with the inclusion of the representation of space beyond the figure.

This seems to be an area where I can include more expressive elements to the drawing. I like this as my drawings look less sterile.

The feedback I received on this drawing was to fix the value on the shoulder to connect it to the back and I did well on the feet.

This is the prior in class drawing. You can compare the two to see the direction I am going.

One thing that the instructor has added to the class in the last couple of weeks is the discussion of inspiration in your work. (This is new and it actually surprises me a bit as it is almost a 180 degree turn around in the discussion) The discussion reminds me that I need to find my reasons for doing my work and not do work I think other want to see. That is hard to do when taking art classes because of the feedback given to you. I just have to remember that now its just advice and the success of that advice relies on me doing two things.

One I need to communicate my intentions better. By this I mean be able to talk about what I want to achieve in my work. The other is to use the advice to achieve my goals and not just do something because some one tells me to change something.

Now the paintings. I am still working through what I want to do. I am very interested in painting the human form and I am interested in it from the point of view that the figure is perceived not just an static object. It come loaded with environmental, emotional, and social context. I don't want to tackle all the possible perceptual context but I am interested in tackling the idea of the perception of the figure and not just as an object of beauty or appreciation. I am also finding my interests in paint creeping back into my work. I see this as me moving away from the goals of my class and finding my own interest moving to the forefront.

These paintings are a reflection of that. I am working on finding way to use the paint to explore perception and disrupt the figure to play with the idea concept of viewing the figure. I don't view these as successful paintings yet. I still am wrapped up in painting form according to the rules of realistic painting. These are the more attempts in deciding what I need to do to achieve my goals. I think the second of the two is more successful than the first.

The feedback in these two paintings followed the idea of expressing my intent better within the work. These works are stuck in a in-between of intentions, like I can't decide what to do can keep changing as I paint. I need to create a more clear focal point in the works. The high key painting needs to move the focus back to the shadow side and play down the light side.

These paintings are also a continuation of the experiment of a new color palette. I like it. I will continue to use it. I do think I will bring back a cad red as well but that will be the only addition to my core colors. The painting to the left is my first attempt in this color palette.

Some studies done in directed study class this week. My instructor wanted us to spend the time considering compositions rather than trying to do a complete painting. This is my work. The studies at the bottom were more successful

This was last week's inclass painting. I just did as portrait were I focused in form and color.