Sunday, June 27, 2010

Self Portrait

I've been doing a lot of drawing lately. Trying to sketch everyday. Drawing was what I did almost daily for the first 21 years of life (ok maybe 18 - whatever age it was when I could pick up a crayon) before being an art major and therefore an "artist" which paralyzed me for decades. This morning as I was putting on make-up I noticed the lighting was good so I thought I'd try a self-portrait. I haven't done any since college. My mother has one of them - a charcoal drawing of me when I was 20 that I did an hour before class. I don't think there was a college assignment - whether it was for an art class, programming or literature - that I didn't wait until the absolute last possible moment to start. I've always wondered how I knew that it was in that PRECISE moment that I needed to start in order to get the assignment done on time.

This is this morning's sketch. In retrospect I could have given myself some graphite and kneaded-eraser botox, but that's me in all my jowly lined glory. Comments that I've gotten from my son - "Muuuum, you don't look like that, it makes you look too old" and my favorite (from a neighbor) - "When did Meg turn 80?"

That old self-portrait that my mother still has was a big bone of contention between she and I. It is huge and she loved it and had it framed. I thought it was totally depressing -big, scary, gloom woman peering out of the frame. I was pretty depressed when I drew it and it showed.  One day I came home from school and there it was, prominently displayed in the sunroom. I freaked and demanded it be taken down in the way that only an overly dramatic 20 year old can do.

The portrait sat in my mother's closet for the next 31 years. Funny thing is - she showed it to me a couple of months ago and I liked it. It was pretty good considering I did it in about 20 mins. I should take a picture of it and post it - just for curiosity sake.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's the little things when drawing people...

The next thing I am starting to try is people. As a kid I spent a lot of time drawing people, and my favorite art class was life drawing. That was a looooong time ago and I need to spend time sketching again.

I didn't paint this weekend but I did draw. I'd like to paint my niece Olivia because she is just all around fantastic, so I have been drawing her a bit. The two drawings here are so-so, but I am trying to work out the issues before I start painting. It is incredibly hard to capture exactly what it is that makes a person's face THEIRS - it comes down to just one little line, angle, shadow...

This  drawing of Olivia looking up is problematic. Her eyes are too close - her nose is just not right at all - not even remotely like her nose, and the face is kind of long. I suppose it doesn't really matter if it doesn't look like her for the painting's sake, but if I was doing a real "portrait" of someone, it should actually look like the person.

I sketched it onto a canvas because I want to try painting a face and see what happens. But I really should do some more sketches first - although I think the eyes and nose are better on the canvas drawing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


This is the second painting that I did at the workshop ( actually it is the 3rd, I wiped the second - day two didn't work out so well for me :) ). This painting went through some stages before it got here. I can't say that it follows Karin's style but I incorporated the amazing things that I learned from her into this painting - simplification, shapes, light and color. Halfway through I decided to experiment and  lay paint down without blending. That meant that every brush stroke resulted in a color that stayed there - no covering it with another stroke. So whatever I put down stuck.

I wish I had taken a photo when it was at that stage because it was kind of cool. I finally "got" the concept that laying down colors next to each other creates an optical illusion - your mind blends them. That is what the impressionists did. Simply stated it means that a yellow stroke next to a blue stroke causes your mind to see green. I didn't do anything that drastic, but I discovered that monochromatic variations next to each other create a very cool effect. The painting started to shimmer and move.

I didn't keep it that way because even though it was cool, and I really learned something big, it didn't work for this painting. Amy Stewart (a very talented artist at the workshop - check out this incredible painting she did on day two - same day I was in misery) said something about liking the distinct shapes of color and light of the man, and that it would be interesting if the shadows were more distinct shapes. As soon as she said it I understood exactly what she was saying and I simplified some more.

So here is my painting. Its called "Waiting". I don't think everyone will like this, but I really really do.
Oil on 8x8 Panel