Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tomatoes and tornados

Back to the tomatoes and the Scottish dirk.

Added the tomatoes this morning. After lunch going back to place the leaves.

Listening to The Forgery of Venus as I paint. I'm thinking about the protagonist's yearning to work in an time of faith and meaning, a pre-ironic age and about the marriage of technique and skill with inspiration and creativity in the service of portraiture. Good times.

Yesterday I worked on the Tornado (Aftermath)


Added pine needles and general yard trash. Worked on the brick lattice, the garage wall, and added paint to both figures. The faces don't read well on this photo, but I'm working carefully there. At the end of the day I cleaned my brushes and hated it, but after dinner, it didn't look too bad. 'Just keep swimming,' as the little fish says in Finding Nemo, 'just keep swimming.'

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thirsty, 20x20", oil/canvas
I wish every painting was this much pleasure to make and I ended up with the sense of yes, that's exactly what I was going for.

Once I finish Tornado (Aftermath) I have a few tomato & knife paintings lined up. Thinking about what I want to do for a new series, the concept.

There are several more of the portrait-esque paintings I wanted to try, mostly using images from my modeling days in new contexts, but I don't know if I want to suffer through the ones that are dead ends or don't work. I'm pondering doing a few small studies of them, sort of like 'let's have coffee' instead of 'lets get married!'

There are also a few paintings left over from other series that,  like Thirsty, were either drawn or started or planned, but that I couldn't get done before the show date. There's a whole category - candles in churches - that I wanted to do back at the very start. I ended up doing Table for One instead. I might revisit that, for my own happiness. I've had every gallery owner tell me that religious work doesn't sell, but if ever I was free to follow my bliss, it is now. Actually I don't think of votive candles lit in Catholic churches in Italy as religious. It's about the spiritual impulse to add light to the world, to think of others, to wish for their well being. Something too about aligning with other human beings who have shared that impulse, for generations unto generations.

So maybe it's tomatoes, little portrait studies, and big candles in churches.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thirst almost quenched.

Spent yesterday on Thirsty. Just flew along.
Down to indicating the sand texture. The base color is working for me, that mottled neutral. Hoping to not go all OCD and try to paint each individual sand crystal. I'm thinking lightly stipple, with an almost dry brush. Three values. I have an old stipple brush from back when I stenciled patterns on the walls - 1980-82?- and I'm not afraid to use it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tornado (Aftermath)

While Thirsty dries I'm back to its meteorological opposite, Tornado (Aftermath).

Worked on the wall to the right, the rhododendron shrub in the foreground, a terracotta sun sculpture on the wall, and gleefully added trash to the ground. Cleaned up my profile a little. This took all morning and I had to look at a photo of the last session to see any progress. This painting absorbs hours of work like sand sucks water. I've got three weeks and change to have this, Thirsty and one of the tomatoes done in time for the OCAF show. I may have to skip a few naps.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I started this back during the drought, when I was still working at Atlanta Magazine. The title is Thirsty. I was in love with the meretricious beauty of crumpled plastic waterbottles, the contrast of  light glinting off the water and dessicated sand sucking moisture away.
I got to one point and put it aside. Always meant to get back to it. Today I jumped on it. Four hours later, there's progress.
There will be more layers, more subtle shading and punched up contrast, but I have no doubt it will be done in time for the OCAF show.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sgian Dubh #1

Laid in the background with a trellis, a pot with a shrub, and the back of a chair. What I really like is the cord wood cut and stacked behind the chair. Thinking of taking the chair out and just indicating the logs.
Reworked the sheath, the blade, the hilt and stone. Added a layer to the tomatoes.  Leaving the background loose, maybe even looser than it is here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sgian Dubh, times two.

I've started working on the Edinburgh tomatoes with the two vintage sgian dubhs (pronounced see-ann doo). They are small, singled-edged knives, worn tucked into the top of the kilt hose, and belonged to my host's family. Beautiful pieces.
Image This handle looked like wrapped and woven leather, with an amber-colored stone (perhaps a Cairngorm stone?) on the hilt and silver work on the scabbard. Added in the reds and did a bit of texture on the wooden table.  This was set up in a little stone courtyard filled with potted plants and plenty of light. I may make the background very hazy or I may not. Jury is still out.

For the second sgian dubh painting, the tomatoes and knife are balanced on a ledge outside my B&B bedroom door. This dirk handle appears to be made of antlers or horn. I picked up a bit of vine that was growing in one of the garden pots, and held in the corner for the shot. It's a variety of honeysuckle, obviously much hardier than its southern American cousins. I liked the leaf shapes and the curve of the red violet stem, the contrast of organic with stone. And then there's that great red/green thing.

Today I placed the stone, mortar and stucco colors. Love the stonework and stucco textures. The canvas is 14x18, bigger than my usual 10x10 for these. I wanted it to be as close to life-sized as I could make it.

After wrestling with that self portrait, this is pure pleasure.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Central Pillar of Frenzy

Here's the latest version of El Cap Swing, now re-titled Central Pillar of Frenzy - that's the name of a particular climbing route which is Parker's favorite. It's visible on the Cathedral Towers formation in the background. This round I worked on the trees behind Parker, the scree, and the specific routes on the lighter, left-hand face of Cathedral Towers.


Plugged away on Gripland. Have got most of the detail in, except one sandbag. Could use a few more leaves, and Robert's hands need attention. Next time I'll be working on unifying it and pushing the darks and lights. It's all about the glow.