Friday, September 3, 2010

Portrait Drawing with Angela Cunningham

Last week I took a portrait drawing workshop with Angela Cunningham at the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas in Asheville. It was quite an experience, six hours a day in a darkened studio drawing in a very focused and precise way. In pencil. One drawing only.

The class was a condensed version of drawing practice at the Grand Central Academy in NYC, where Angela is a fourth-year student and instructor. She is a wonderful teacher, patient and approachable, serious about the work yet relaxed. Her lectures and demos are direct, clear and informative--she doesn't get sidetracked, distracted, or ahead of herself or her students--and her critiques are helpful, specific and kind.

Our model, Elisabeth Guibert Thomas, was ideal. Her face is beautiful and interesting, with great structure. (She's also a fun and interesting person.) The other students came from a variety of backgrounds but all are accomplished artists, though not all were familiar with the "classical realist" approach. Angela's blog has photos of the class in progress and of some of our results, mine included:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Ideal Studio

Sadie Valeri's Studio.

It's also in San Francisco, sigh. In the Mission. Taquerias, sigh.

See Sadie Valeri's work, which is beautiful and interesting, teaching schedule, and blog here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sincerity, Originality

"Thinking more of sincerity than of originality, conscious that originality that is not the product of sincerity is but peculiarity, and that sincerity alone points the road to the only originality anybody is capable of." -- Harold Speed, Oil Painting Techniques and Materials

Speed's Oil Painting is a classic, written in 1924 (thanks, Barbara, for pointing me back to it). There is much wisdom in it, though his style is sometimes awkward and dated. Sincerity is an old-fashioned idea, but it informs my best work and the work of others that I most admire.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tiny Touchups

Kitchen Counter came back from exhibit with just a little edge wear.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Paintings at Carteret Contemporary Art

We just got back from a North Carolina road trip, visiting family and friends and taking paintings up to Carteret Contemporary Art. A couple are new and there are also a few that haven't been seen in some time. Jack Saylor will be the featured artist.

The one below is called At the Beach House (16" x 18", oil on linen). Another in the pink bathrobe series, it's on a rougher linen than I've been accustomed to using, and maybe that's what got me painting a little more loosely. There's even some knife work.

We visited my friend Marina Bosetti in Raleigh. Her recent work is, if possible, even more terrific. Here is one of her birdhouses (from her blog).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If at first...

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." --Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Singularity, Revelation

"In a mass society we have the sense of being anonymous: therefore we look for the silent moment in which our singularity breaks through, when emotions change, without warning, and reveal themselves." --V.S. Pritchett, Introduction to The Oxford Book of Short Stories, 1981.

Monday, April 5, 2010


There will be an art show/sale on April 15, 2010 from 6:30pm-10:30pm at 501 King St., to benefit the local Planned Parenthood Health Center. The title of the show is “Re-Nude”, reflecting the theme, an all-nude show, which will be created by local artists. (...) The talented, festive and fun Garage Cuban Band will provide stellar entertainment and beer and wine will be served. Cash charge of $20 at the door/ $15 pre-sale to cover costs of the event.

I have a piece (Column 4) in this show, my first Charleston "exposure." I'm happy to participate, both to have the work seen and to support Planned Parenthood, an organization I've regularly donated to.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

Groucho said that.

When you put your work out there, you never know how far it may travel: O cão que comeu o livro... ("the dog that ate the book"), a Portuguese-language blog, and Klimtbalan, one in Spanish. In the main, I'm very flattered, though Klimtbalan snagged photos that aren't particularly good, and one (reproduced grande!) is of an unfinished piece I'm not happy with. I use this blog to share in an informal way, mostly work in progress with friends who aren't near enough to come by for a glass of wine in the studio. The website I try to keep more formal and more structured, so it's a little troubling to see things piled one on another, out of any context in the case of blog images, and out of the chronological and thematic order of the website. But I guess it's all outside of the dog now.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I spent the day updating my website, adding many new pieces. I've discovered that it's only a chore if I put it off for, um, a couple of years. Take a look.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another in the Column Series

Or maybe the pink bathrobe series. Or the Trailer Series, of which it would be the last. 16"W x 18"H, oil on linen.

Monday, February 15, 2010


A polarizing filter on the lights as well as the lens (no change to the painting). The face has one more layer of paint on it than the neck area, which is shinier. I think this trick will make a difference in photographing paintings that have opaque color painted into glazes--in photos the opaque paint seems to float above the glaze, whereas in real life there is a more subtle optical mixing going on.

Tabletop Fog

WIP, oil on linen on panel, 16"W x 20"H. Not the real title (it has none so far), but I like the unfinished hand lost in some otherworldly realm. Still a way to go.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Black vs. White

Friday evening, between some heavy downpours, we went to the opening reception at Robert Lange Studios for the show Black vs. White. A good though incongruous omen for the show was the brief appearance of a rainbow just as we turned onto Queen St. The theme, or conceit, was to have many of the gallery artists and several invitees create pairs of paintings contrasting black and white. There were some very lovely works--Robert Lange's play on Ceci n'est pas une pipe, Kirsten Moran's tiny Greek goddesses, Megan Aline's Whisper and Hum. (I am, not surprisingly, drawn to small pieces.) There is always good painting to be seen at this gallery and I always enjoy and am energized by a visit there. The featured painters are generally young, the paintings crisp and competent, and there's just enough of a whiff of whimsy for lightness. These artists, and the gallery owners, are having fun while they're working very hard.

(And check out the photos from the opening: who's that famous artist in the first one?)

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Re-Do

In the last couple of weeks, as I finally get out from under the last of the move, I've pulled out the unfinished or problem pieces and tried to make some decisions about them. A couple were, I decided, unsalvageable--generally something basic was wrong with the concept or the composition--and those I recoated with a gray ground. It can be a grand relief to make a bad painting simply go away.

Then there are the paintings that are not so bad they need to disappear; they're the ones I need to recast in my mind as unfinished or with problems that may have solutions and work a little harder to bring them together.

The painting Column from July of 2008 has continued to bother me. It's been out and come back again. It was a difficult painting from the beginning; the deep chromatic red in the background seemed to overpower everything, the figure was stiff and her head not quite right, Milly got her tough cow-punching feet on it once, and neither I nor Chris could seem to get a good photo of it. The only thing I really liked was the, well, butt crack. But those hips seemed worth the trouble of another attempt at a better piece, and a canvas with paint on it moves along more quickly because I like the surface better.

Here's the re-do:

And the two together: