High drama in my neighborhood. Lonely cicadas, waiting patiently in the ground for seventeen years are now above ground transforming, dating and dying. HERE * is a link to a beautiful video, for those who are interested in the life cycle of the cicada. Above is a quick watercolor sketch of the amazing dance they perform as they shrug off their shells revealing a smooth white body.
As I type this, my windows are open to a beautiful day. The peculiar drone of thousands of courting cicadas overrides the sounds of traffic, planes, and birds. It’s a wonder to witness.
*Thanks to Terry for the cicada dance reference and Marguerite for the link!
I LOVE to paint portraits, people, figures, gestures. In the hands of a skilled and thoughtful artist, Old Master or contemporary, there is no subject more compelling for me than a portrait. But, paintings of people can sometimes leave me less than satisfied. They can sometimes appear to me, too pretty, or too gimmicky, too separate from the viewer, or too…vacant. I wondered what would happen if I pushed all of these notions? So, I did.
With this third painting, I decided to glaze with opacity (a paradoxical notion), in order to create a ceiling, if you will. A separation between subject and viewer, like the photos I’d taken of debris, still, under a frozen pond. This painting is no longer a portrait because it does not reflect what I know about my subject. Here, she is merely reference for a painting. It speaks for me, not for her. Got to say however, that I enjoy this outcome:)
The three experiments in oils have helped me come to some conclusions about the way I like to work, what practical methods I find satisfying, and the thought behind what I want to make. I think that now I’d like to further explore both my appreciation for portraiture and my personal prejudices about portraiture, to see what might happen next.
Thanks for your kind comments and interest! I’ll keep you posted;)
Thanks for all your thoughtful and kind comments on experiment #1.
Onto experiment #2.: Experiments #1 and #2 have photo challenges in common, even though this surface is not shiny. These colors are somewhat brighter than the original and playing in PS didn’t get them right. No glazing here, the paint was applied fresh but thick with medium.
I say, “meh”. So far I’m confirming that the way I usually work, seems to work better for me. I’m going to have to paint this model in my old tried and true fashion, because I just haven’t begun to do her justice.
Tomorrow, oil experiment #3
I’m without a commission at the moment, so I’ve been pushing into “what if” territory in oil paint. I’ve played with three paintings, all handled differently. The subject is the same, though posture and expression vary greatly. Above is the first. I applied many more layers of glaze than I normally use, to see if my usual technique could improve with the added work, or if the result would just become too noodley. The later is the final verdict. The dozen layers or more of paint simply created thicker clumsy strokes. The painting does however, look better in reality. Photographing the painting sans the shine was a bear. The translucent quality resulting from multiple glazes isn’t apparent in the photo, and the transitions between values aren’t showing up well, resulting in annoying linear areas.
Note to self:Don’t overdo the glazing:)
Tomorrow, oil experiment #2
I’m just an amateur photographer, so sometimes great opportunities for marvelous shots are lost due to my inexperience. This was the case recently when a spectacular heron modeled for me, but all my shots alas, came out blurry. A photo disappointment for sure, but grist for some watercolor sketches. Step 1 and 2 below.