Archive for November, 2013

Working with the Model

Posted in Live Model Study, Oils with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2013 by Angie Coleman

20 Beeb 10 - 11 - 2013 Oils 12 x 16

“October 11″
Oils
11″ x 14”

I have an old book of Kevin McPherson’s in which he explains how to ‘see’ when painting a landscape. In my most basic and crude summary, one is to look for the large shapes, get them and their color down correctly and then break those large shapes into smaller and smaller shapes and color notes. I believe he recommends painting 100 beginnings this way and I began to follow this advice, but somehow lost my way; most likely because I got pulled away by some other pursuit, drawing or acrylics, etc. Always experimenting and looking for ways to express best what it is I’m trying to say. A decade or so ago I attended a workshop in New York conducted by Ken Bacchus, a wonderful en plein air oil painter and good friend of McPherson. It was like a refresher course with Ken’s twist.

On my last trip I read a book about Hensche and the Cape Cod School of Art, started by Hawthorne who followed the theories of the Impressionist painter Monet. Reading about this history and lineage I realized that McPherson is also in this lineage of painting what you see, and what I was missing was those hundreds of hours of seeing and putting down exactly what is in front of me – well, at least hundreds of hours following McPherson’s technique.
I know that seeing is a skill artists develop over a lifetime of looking. Like any other art form, the ability to hear when studying music or the development of a sophisticated palette if one is a gourmet, etc., the ability to see develops over time through effort/action. The next step of this journey was talking over my discoveries and thoughts with my friend Janis Gay Maker, a landscape oil painter who paints en plein air a great deal, and creates beautiful light-filled paintings. Janis exposed me to another follower of this lineage, Susan Sarback, whose work explains full-color vision and how to develop the skill. Hensche it seems was big on painting white colored blocks in various natural light conditions and Sarback recommends using a palette knife instead of brushes to avoid getting bogged down in details. I tried the blocks – I can see that doing them is beneficial, but I have enough experience and enjoy painting more interesting objects, so I haven’t done enough of them although I anticipate working into my schedule a regular routine of doing a simple color block study bi-weekly or at least once a month.

The mind is very efficient; once it sees something it categorizes it and stores it so that the next time you look at something similar your mind will shortcut much of the information in front of you as secondary or not important in a process that actually suppresses your vision. You see a house and your mind cuts in and says, “house”; a shade of blue and it’s, “blue house”. You have to get past that shorthand, past the mind and to a state of looking that is very relaxed and open, a direct link from eye to hand unfiltered by the shorthand language of the mind. Sarback describes one of these great painters – I don’t want to misquote who it was – but she describes him as being very relaxed, almost languid, as he looked and applied brush strokes with an easy, fluid hand. The mind is always going to fall back to its shorthand just as it is always going to step in to try to ‘help’ even in situations where it is a hindrance. I remember vividly the struggle I had over perspective drawing as I sat in front of a two story Victorian with a pitched attic roof, pencil in hand – all of the directions and rules of perspective pounding in my mind so that I was paralyzed with over information. I reviewed the rules one last time and then I intentionally forgot them all, relaxed, and started drawing. Drawing in correct perspective and correct and full-color vision, besides being things to know, are also, and perhaps more importantly, things to experience, processes through which we grow and unfold; a meaningful dance between the mind and the body that propels one towards consciousness.

These are the three last oil paintings I have completed during our weekly model session this past month. Our sessions are broken down into two one-hour sections with a break in between. I began with the intention of completing a painting during this allotted two hour time frame, but I am slowly moving towards getting the bones down during this time instead – i.e., an accurate placement of shapes, color notes, etc. and then finish the painting during the next few sessions from memory and reference photos.

Back Pose 10 x 8

“November 1″
Oils
14″ x 11”

“November 8″
Oils
12″ x 16”

#7 Oils 11 - 9       11 x 14

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New Works

Posted in Oils, Still Life with tags , , , on November 14, 2013 by Angie Coleman

#1 Oils 11-1         12 x 16

“Still Life”
Oils
12″ x 16″

A simple still life, set up in a sunny corner by the window and completed over the course of a few days, working when the lighting conditions were just right.