Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Limitatio Scientia Empiricae

Baby Abraxas in a specimen jar: A Sol Invictus gift for my sweetheart.

In case anyone is curious, the ingredients are: Sculpey, glass jar, water, food coloring, wax. I tried in vain to use gel for buoyancy, but ended up stringing the specimen to the top so that it would not sink. The Latin label roughly translates to: the limitations of empirical science.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Psycho-Political Posters

As I am actively engaged in therapy and mash-ups are all the rage, here is my attempt at what I am calling psycho-political posters. Hopefully this will become a series.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Magdalene Revisited

Finally had the courage to return to my painting from the summer class. It is coming along nicely. Lesson learned: even when mixing only two colors of oil paint for the skin, there are a group of shades that are warm and vibrant and a group that are dull. How is this possible? I still do not know, but I have learned to recognize if I have mixed the vibrant or the dull version. Ah, the mystery that is paint.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Changes with Frames

I found an inexpensive place to buy them, so for the first time I have been able to see my paintings framed. They automatically add that "wow" factor, especially since the only available frames there are big and gold. It is very interesting to me to note my own reactions: my paintings immediately seem more worthy to me. Someone noted the difference it made in home decor: "we have a grown-up apartment now." When you go into a gallery, presentation plays a very big role in how the work is perceived. The Abstract Expressionists and Modernists rejected the frame for similar reasons. I respect these art movements for all that they stood for. Is this why I feel a little guilt along with the pleasure of having presented the work at its most palatable? After all, the concept of the work and the application of paint have nothing to do with the change that occurs upon framing.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Art vs. Craft No. 2

Another wallpaper sample figurative collage. Fom now on I will make the silhouette in more than one piece, because painting glue on the back of this entire bird/ branch piece and then flipping it over and accomplishing correct placement was not easy. In fact, it is crooked, but I am just relieved that I did not totally mess it up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Class, Day 7

It has taken me awhile to be comfortable enough with my most recent work on this to post it. Maybe I will have the bravery to work on this painting more this weekend. Interestingly, the camera created a golden sheen on the lower left side, which I think I am going to try to re-create in the actual painting.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Art vs. Craft

I memorialized a dear friend's dear cat using my newest media: wallpaper sample collage. An in-noble medium for a noble animal. I like how this media bridges art and craft. I am hoping I will gain experience and knowledge about color emphasis and balance and about texture. I am enjoying this simple quick process that can produce good result.

Wallpaper sample books are filled with sheets that have their own texture, sheen and patterns. Some are hideous, and some are tacky in a fun kinda way. In any case, there is no end to the variety in wallpaper these days.

Directions: find free wallpaper sample books at wallpaper stores, select a subject, draw a simple pattern on the back of selected paper (simpler the design the better), cut out design with an Exacto blade, choose background and foreground colors, paint craft glue onto the backs using a paint brush (be sure to cover all parts evenly and lightly), assemble each layer one at a time and use a roller on the back to apply pressure and adhere the pieces together, let each layer dry before adding another. It is a good idea to create a piece that measures in even numbers (12 x 16, 16 x 20) so that frames can be easily found for them. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Class, Day 6

Work yesterday included learning how to glaze with oils. I tried adding just a little of the glazing medium I bought- a frugal instinct which I always have and which is usually wrong. The instructor came over and dumped a huge portion of the liquid onto my paper palette (I gasped) and added just a little bit of the color I wanted to glaze with. Ah-ha! We have glaze! I did a reddish-brown over the orange cave walls and an olive green over the black-brown. I instantly loved the effect- it seemed to immediately deepen the whole picture. At this stage in learning, most results are still a surprise to me.

I am finally finished with body contour (having reconciled the fact that it is not proportional and I am going to leave it that way) and will just be working on shading and the detailed features. The red I added to the hair has made the skin appear lighter, so I may glaze the skin with a more golden-brown later. I need to remember to add oil to the glaze so as not to disturb the drying process and thereby avoid cracking of the paint layers. Remember folks, paint fat over lean!

I am worried about just having one more class in which to get advice, but I will take her classes again. And I really have learned a lot. With the right teacher (and I have had the wrong one before), Cambridge Center for Adult Ed can be good arts education.

On a note regarding the subject- I am not sure if I want the Madalene's eyes open or closed. Closed would imply the holy within but eyes open implies knowledge, or the search thereof. Suggestions?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Class, Day 5

Starting to have some depth and some life. I am very pleased. What is working well: use of paper palette makes blending easier and more natural. I am glad I have some drawing experience, because it is easier for me to correct mistakes. If something looks off I can compare height and distance as if it were an architectural drawing, which helps in stepping back from the fact that I am trying to make an arm.

Her features look nothing like the original painting, but I am fond of her look. I think she will be a different woman rather than a replica of the Rizzoli painting. Also, the original is clearly a European, which I would like to stray from.

Some things I am noticing now- the hand to head ratio is off: I think I need to make her head smaller.

Advice from teacher- you do need to let the oil dry at some point and stop working with it, even if it is not how you like it. At some point you are just pushing paint around.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Class, Day 4

To my delight I started a new painting in class yesterday. I am pleased that I will get to do two for this class, of different nature, to get as much advice and learning as I can. I bought palette paper to mix on at her insistence, rather than using my usual plastic trays.

I am starting this with the intent of doing a

replica of Rizzoli's Magdalene. I am hoping to learn how to create the soft lines and shading, and how a figure can be partially hidden by darkness. I did an acrylic undercoat of yellow (!?!) at the recommendation of my teacher because she said it is an overall warm painting. She also recommended just under painting some translucent reds and dark browns (the latter of which she said was too dark). Then she recommended drawing the figure with paint or charcoal, and I chose to develop the shapes with skin tones rather than draw. Here I switched to oil, and I found it to be such a great medium for this task, as I could very quickly correct the angles and shapes as I mixed light and shadow. Now I do not know how or why I ever tried to do a realistic skin tone with acrylic.

I took a lot of pictures, because this is unfamiliar territory for me. I would have done things very differently and I know they would not have been very successful at the start- I would have really struggled. I tend to paint final shapes and detail in quickly and to not apply as many layers as are needed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Class, Day 3

Day three, and my teacher thinks I am just about done with this. My goal was to add more detail to the landscape to make it look more real like plants and things, but she strongly advised against it, because she thinks it is much more interesting as is. she thinks detail will be too much. I have come to see her point. I added the two bodies (one a reflection) and a little more light green and here is where I have landed. The story in my head also has seven floating orbs throughout the painting, but again she thinks that too much detail would be a bad idea. It seems that composition is more important than the subject matter- she says if I need to add anything perhaps I need a second painting. She likes the bodies being the same size and parallel, as it creates an interesting tension.

I also presented pictures of my earlier work which I used as an example of how I want to NOT paint: solid lines, no subtlety, clearly defined forms only... she said sometimes that technique is useful for the subject and sometime it is not.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Class, Day 2

It is very helpful painting in front of someone who knows their stuff, and does not mince words. Class 2 I learned that I do not even know how to buy paint properly. I am serious. For the last 3 years I have been using a red that is not true red (necessary for proper mixing) but rather an orange red that is almost glowing, it is so bright. Turns out I need Cadmium, not just the red that stands out to me in the store as the red that most closely resembles my idea of red. She also said that the blue that I bought is so intense that it is dangerous. Dangerous!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Class, Day 1

So I have very little training in painting (negligently little, really) and I am taking an adult ed class whose focus is to learn to mimic an artist or movement that we like. I picked Odilon Redon, because I love his dreamy "Cyclops." So I will try and learn to handle paint more expressively and use color more relevantly. Here is a pic from my effort on day 1.

My teacher laughed a lot when she approached my station, first of all because it was messy, and yet I was not creating enough space for my mess. Also, I was not using a real palette but plastic cups, because I am used to using whatever is on hand.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pastels, a distant friend

Title: Father Mollinger's Relics

This was inspired by a trip to St. Anthony's Parish in Pittsburgh, PA with the Rev. Donald.

I am not sure I used to use pastels correctly years ago (if one can use art supplies correctly). Listened to some St. Hildegard and made marks, blended, and made marks and blended. A splendid afternoon with satisfying result.