Friday, May 4, 2012

A week's worth of paintings

This week I've spent my days finishing up several paintings that had been languishing around the studio for months.  It's not like me to leave paintings unfinished, but with these, I kept getting things I was hot to start and finish - my self portraits, primarily - and interrupted myself with those.  Once I realized I had 6 paintings unfinished, I decided this would be the week I'd finish them.  Yay.

Here they are:
In the Woods was the one I finished today.  Sometimes my models want to pose in the woods just for the heck of it.  This woman seemed to love being out there feeling the air on her skin and exploring Nature.  This picture reminds me of the Mary Cassatt painting which the Virginia Museum owns. The composition with both reaching up for the tree branch, as well as the look of wonder in each of their eyes.  I love her joy!

This picture of Kate is one I did for the documentary Roberta Oster Sachs is working on about my work.  She wanted to have shots of me working with a model so Kate boldly agreed to be photographed being photographed and to have her painting in the movie as well.  It took me a long time to get around to finishing it, but, finally, here it is!  She's a beautiful woman, and it was interesting hearing her talk about how it was for her to model and be photographed and painted.  I think her participation will add to the documentary in lovely, wonderful ways.

I was wonderfully surprised in the middle of doing taxes one weekend to receive a phone call from CA from a man who'd seen my work online and was interested in commissioning me to do a couple of pieces for him.  He loved what he saw online but wanted larger images, so I took on the exercise of re-painting my sand, sea, and sky studies in oils, significantly larger.  The studies were small - 9"x6" - in pastel, so I wasn't sure how well I'd do blowing them up in another medium.  I started working on them about a month ago.  The first one went really well.  I put the paint on the palette and started applying it to the canvas with a nice, big brush.  I realized right away that that wasn't going to work for me, so I put on some latex gloves and scooped up globs of paint with my hands and smeared it on the canvas.  What joy and pleasure!  This is the picture that resulted:  Friday Morning Calm. 

After I finished that one, I started on the next one.  The gentleman who commissioned me to do the paintings had said he was planning to meditate in front of them and that he liked the energy differential between the two - Friday Morning Calm being very Zen-like and the other a bit more full of energy.  When I began painting the second one, I riffed on the idea of energy and went to town smearing paint and feeling the absolute pleasure of paint in my hands - like finger painting as a kid. I felt so happy!  I called Glenn to let him know I was done and sent him images of each.  (Ah, the ease of the internet!)  I was a little bit disappointed and a little bit glad when he said that Evoking the Beach (the second piece) wasn't what he had in mind.  Oh goodie- that meant I'd be able to keep it!  This month it's hanging at Glen Allen Cultural Arts Center in a show my mom and I are doing called At the Beach.  That works too!
So I began another piece for the commission, this time truer to the original.  I'd done the original piece when I got home from the beach one time as a color study, without looking at anything beach-like.  I actually hang it the other way around, but my client wanted the blue at the top, so I did it that way instead!  The picture went through several iterations before I got to the one we both liked a lot.  The picture on the left is the original pastel.  The right hand one is the new oil.  I tried doing a wobbly horizon line, but it just didn't work in oils.  I copied what I'd done in pastel as well as I could, but neither of us liked it particularly.  I was blessed in that the client wanted me to create something I loved, so I put away the original and went to town, getting into the Zen of the painting, and came up with a piece I really love now.  I hope he will too!  It's quite different doing a piece on commission than doing it just for myself because it's what's inside me that needs to come out.  This way there are two voices in my head - not just mine!  At its best, it's a terrific collaboration.  It certainly was this time around!

A friend of mine gave me some roses last weekend which reminded me of my grandmother's garden when I was a child.  I was captivated by the smell and the beauty of them so I rushed out to the studio first thing Monday to paint them in watercolor.  It isn't a medium I normally work in, so it was challenging, but it felt like the right medium to try to capture the delicate beauty of the rose petals and the beauty of the glass vase they were in.

This piece, Crone, is one I started months ago as a "blow out" piece - that means I just need to paint without any references and do whatever I feel like, letting it be ugly or harsh or whatever.  That painting was very different than this one.  After having that one around the studio for months, I decided one day to work it a bit more, so I got out a mirror and turned it into a self portrait - more or less.  My hair is nothing like this, but the face has my features.  I find when I do a self portrait from life, people tell me I look way older than I look in real life.  I'm not sure I highlight my most beautiful features, but it's the best, most accurate representation of myself I can manage. 

This is another piece based on photos I took at the beach on one of our trips.  It's called Silent Sound.  It's the sound just south of Avon, NC just after the sun went down and the glow was still on the water, but it was dusky, almost dark with ripples on the water and rose in the sky.

Now that I have just gone through all those pictures, I realize I'm going to have to get off my case - I so often feel like I don't get anything done during my days in the studio - perhaps because I'm enjoying it so deeply - and I feel dissatisfied.  Time to lighten up and feel good about this week!  And time to go in to dinner and to see my darlin' who's now home from work!  Have a great weekend!

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