Work in progress

I recently made an order of paint brushes from Rosemary & Co for my standard long bristle brushes and to that order I added a few brushes that I have been wanting to try. I’ve noticed that some fabulous artist’s such as Colley Whisson use very soft brushes, so I added to my order one brush from each of these lines:

And they changed my world.

All of a sudden my portrait painting stepped up it’s game and I’ve started a series of 5″ x 7″ character studies.

The brushes are AMAZING! It is difficult to explain why… they hold a lot of paint, the paint goes on softly and smoothly and the comber helps to soften edges even more. I use the Evergreen primarily as a background brush right now because it is too large for the details of the portrait. The long flat is my main brush and as I said, the comber is fantastic at creating a random softness between two fields of paint. Oh boy, are these brushes a pleasure to behold. So much so that I had to put in another order. I like to work with 3 brushes of the same type and size so that I have one each for my light, middle and dark tones. That way I’m not wiping the brush in between every change of light.

And the little portraits are so much fun to do. I can complete them generally in 1.5 hrs, which is currently about the limit my focus, free time and energy level allows me. I am using random references from magazines and news stories – just as structural guides rather than portrait references. I find I will start a piece and it just doesn’t feel right so I wipe it off and try another. When they are so small like this, I don’t lose much time or effort starting over – it’s actually a good little warm-up exercise. Then when a piece comes together, the person that emerges tells me who they are. Author, policeman, chef, etc.

I don’t really know where I am going with this series but I sure am enjoying the process and the progress that it appears I am making. I do feel it is leading  up to a course I’m taking at MISSA this summer called Charcoal Noir: Creating Compelling Visual Narratives.  My hope is that with the work I’ve been doing on these oil portraits and my charcoal portraits will coalesce with the course into a full-on multiple figure painting or drawing. It’s been decades since I created large-scale figurative paintings and I’m curious to see what I will come up with, especially with these miracle brushes!

 

First Love

Last night Andrew and I attended the opening of this year’s Sidney Fine Arts Show. We saw plenty of lovely work and a few really inspiring pieces (Debra Tilby). The show allowed me the opportunity to see my own work in the context of my peer’s work and… I wasn’t happy.

My pieces were okay. Not great. Not terrible. Just okay. And that is not okay with me!

So this afternoon I decided to do something about it. I went back to my roots. Back to what has always inspired me and fed my desire to make love… er… I mean art. And there you have it! That freudian slip of Love vs. Art tells me everything I need to know about where I want to go with my art and my life. I want to make love! I mean art! In my life there have been moments where I grew as a person and as an artist and in my mind they tie back to drawing. I LOVE drawing. I love the memories I have of being in drawing classes and drawing in the studio. I have fallen in love in drawing class. More than a few times!

I love everything about drawing. The immediacy. The messiness and the ability to control or let go of control with drawing. The ability to put down drawing tools and walk away without having to clean up a mess. The smoothness of the paper and the chamois. The stickiness of the eraser and the silkiness of pulling a line of light away from the dark and the lines that feel just right at the right moment. I love drawing.

I remember a moment in one particular drawing class where I let go of the charcoal but continued the line in the air and then slid it back down to complete the line on the paper at the end of what was the culmination of the voluptuous arm of the model. And I remember love blooming when that mark was recognized as beautiful by someone I admired. Love in and through art.

And so today, I returned to my roots and my love and I drew.

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Sunday Morning Crossword, charcoal on paper, 16”x20”
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The Politician, charcoal on paper, 18”x20”

 

Sidney Fine Art Show

This year both Andrew and I decided to submit work to the prestigious Sidney Fine Art Show. I’ve done so in the past and enjoyed being a part of the show. Andrew has never submitted. The show is a good one; high quality work beautifully presented. It’s on the more traditional side and generally takes a less broad approach to jurying (than say, the Sooke Fine Art show). Meaning, there are fewer “what is that doing here” pieces. The tricky decision-making aspect of this show is that the show is only up for one weekend and the submission and jury process is not done online so it means driving to Sidney 8 times. We counted. 8 times (including attending the opening and artist’s nights).

Regardless, we submitted the maximum of 3 pieces each and both had all 3 pieces juried in! Yahoo! I’m looking forward to going to the opening night and artist’s night and to seeing how our work fits within the rest of the art work. I hope you will join us there!