Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sketchbook - women's heads

While I spend a great deal of time painting or working with encaustics, I also enjoy drawing and sketching. 

Since I started out painting before learning how to draw, I find it challenging but rewarding and I'm still a rank beginner at drawing.  But sometimes it works and I've been happy with some of my pieces.
Lately I've been doing more women's heads, some perhaps for the Victorian women series in my encaustic

work, but some I'm trying to do as contemporary women.  I use photos as references since I've never been to a class where they have live models for figure studies.  Classes have been held  here occasionally but they never worked out for me.
I've been using some of Julia Margaret Cameron's black and white photos since she focuses on Victorian women.  She was one of the first serious female photographers in England and spent hours on her compositions, developing her photos at first in a chicken coop.
I like the way she poses the women's heads and takes photos from different angles.  They're more interesting than just full on front poses with the subject looking at the viewer.  Her women are often pensive or even melancholy.  Because her models were people she knew, they translate well to a contemporary look when not sketched in costume or the clothing of the turn of the century and with their hair down and natural.
Some I've done in charcoal and some in pencil.  She uses a lot of shading and high light and dark contrast. .  I chose to play it down in case I want to use any of the sketches for transfer onto beeswax and I'll be drawing the women in either charcoal or conti crayon which comes out much darker than pencil. . 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Playing with Abstracted Portraits

In between painting landscapes, I've been playing around with figures and faces. I'd call these abstracted portraits in some cases because the first two are abstracted from real people, but I don't know if they'd be considered abstract portraits.  I've always enjoyed
painting figures and have never painted them in much of a realistic style so leaning towards a more abstracted view of the human figure or face is much more to my taste, except in my drawing.
In painting,  I've been influenced  by many artists and they're all jumbled together in my head from the painters during the heydays in Montemarte, such as Modigliani, Van Gogh, John-Edourd Vuillard and early and late Picasso (not so much his Cubist period) to contemporary painters  Dave McKean, Nick Bantock, Ascenscio and Desjardins.
 I call it play and I don't know any of the rules, I'm just trying to capture an essence, a mood or even just the look on a face. I enjoy experimenting with distortion, exaggeration, perspective and perception.
 I started this current series painting my friend and fellow artist, Szag Randahl, who
has a very recognizable face and style. 
I guess I'd say these pieces are more like interpretations of the people I paint rather than they way they look in person.
Another one I did is of Chris Conner. It's so stylized its not a likeness many people may recognize.
This is of him in his role as performer, where he takes on often extreme characters. This pose is of a pause - a moment when he seems to be shutting himself in from the audience for a moment preparing to unleash the personas he becomes onstage, which are very different from his rather shy everyday personality.
The third one I've done so far is a woman whose expression is full of doubt.  I guess this is where I stand at this moment although it's not a self portrait. I'm much older than this woman and a red head.  I've come to the conclusion that I paint dark haired women when I'm trying to accept darker personas of my psyche - women who don't hesitate to display negative moods or experiences.

The woman is not of anyone in particular.  As I was painting her, I let the way the paint landed dictate what I would do next. This was more of a subcomscious, stream of consciousness painting, where I just followed the mood and painted without planning or forethought.  She's raw and rough but I like the way she turned out because she caught a mood I was trying to express.  One of doubts and questioning with a sort of stern and cynical
viewpoint as to what the answers might be. She's blue because I happened to have a lot of pthalo blue left over from a previous piece (I tend to use similar colors on different paintings completed around the same time). I used heavy oils on this one and larger brushes going for an overall look as opposed to details.

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