Sunday, July 17, 2011

First Portrait Attempt

Here is my first portrait attempt! I used charcoal on Strathmore charcoal paper that I toned with charcoal dust before I started. This is a six hour session done in 50 minute or so chunks of time spread out over a week or two. The subject is my handsome husband. I haven't done a full scale charcoal drawing in a while and I found I was a bit out of practice. To my eye, it shows. There are plenty of mistakes but, for a first attempt, I am pleased.
Life drawing today wasn't so great. I have come to the realization that it might not be the best use for my time and money due to the nature of life drawing with a diverse group of people who all have different needs as to artistic direction. I am going to pull back for a while and rethink the situation. I must add, this decision has nothing to do with the wonderful group of artists who come to life drawing. It has more to do with my own needs and resources. I do miss being part of a group with a common artistic goal.
This is a short post this week as I want to get a few more things in place today so I can hit the studio hard next week.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Introducing Clara Peeters

Need I say that I am learning about some wonderful women artists as much as anyone reading this blog?! Let me introduce Clara Peeters:
Vanitas painting;it is plausible that the woman in the painting is Clara Peeters (1594-c1657. More in general this is to be considered a Personification or Allegory of Vanitas
1613 - 1620
Most sources consider this a self portrait.

According to my trusty book; 50 Women Artists You Should Know (Weidemann, Larass, Klier, Prestel Publishing, N.Y, 2008), Not a whole lot is known about this artist. She was born in the Netherlands about 1594. She is credited as one of the founders of still-life painting with her first known work at age 14! Like so many women in the history of the world, not much is recorded. It is surmised that she was under the guidance of a studio or apprenticed to a master. There are about 80 known paintings of hers that have survived, she had signed at least 30 of them. Her final painting was dated 1657, and is now lost. The circumstances of her death are unknown. Some of the images of her paintings that I have seen show beautiful and rich detail. Unfortunately, they don't show up as well here but I will try it anyway. Her still-lifes are exquisite with incredible attention to detail. One of her most famous is Still-Life with Fish and Cat.
Clara Peeters, "Still Life of Fish and Cat," n.d, Oil on panek, 13 1/2 x 18 1/2 in.
I searched for a good image but was not able to find one of good enough quality to do it justice. The descriptions on various websites and the picture I have in the book show beautiful and skillful work.I find it rather frustrating that so much of her work is spread so thin and details about the paintings seem to be rather sketchy. I would love to see a major exhibition of her work.
So, after checking Clara out, here is a bit of my humble work. All I have to show this week is a 30 minute life drawing sketch. While I am grateful for still life sessions here in our little town and only 4 blocks from my house, I must confess, I do miss so very much 18 and 24 hour poses. Here is my sketch which was done with earth brown pencil on drawing paper.

30 minute sketch, brown pencil on paper. July 10, 2011
The next couple of weeks I am going to be painting like mad to see if I can get a couple done for two local group art shows. I am continuing to work on the charcoal portrait of my husband.
Should be an interesting and busy week!
P.S. For some reason Blogger is playing games with my font and size. Sorry for the weird reduction and change.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ah Summer

It looks like we are going to have a sunny and warm Fourth of July here on the northern Oregon coast. I have been itching to get outside to paint. I could but....I am feeling a bit overwhelmed this weekend. Our little town of 700 hearty full time souls has swelled by several thousand people to partake in the festivities. Every house has several cars, the streets are crawling with people and their dogs and herds of small shrieking children. The beach is crowded with people burning the beautiful driftwood logs and, in one case, a tourist knocked down a street sign and threw it on the fire (he was fined). Even though there are signs all over the place forbidding fireworks on pain of citation and fine, there are fireworks all over the place. We don't have a large police force, as one would guess for such a tiny town.
It is funny how fast we claim ownership of a place. We have such a wonderful local culture of sustainability and recycling, and love, gratitude, and respect for the incredible natural beauty of the area. It is a bit hard to see people come in, shatter the peace and drown out the sound of the ocean with their music, disrespect the laws, and leave trash on our beaches. Specially, for me, thousands of people (someone told me 10,000!) Well, all this has made me feel a bit reluctant to go out and paint until the holiday is over and most of the people go home.
So, with that rant out of the way (if you are still with me, I appreciate you hanging in there) I will move on. I have started a charcoal portrait of my husband. It is my first attempt at a portrait. I have been reading and viewing videos and figured it is time to just do it, and make mistakes, and do it some more. I am also working on my first ocean painting using an oil sketch I did on the beach and a few photo references. I will have more on that later. I have a color study all set up. A simple color study this time! Life drawing continues and all the work feels good.
Of course, we have had well loved visitors with more to come and now the holiday weekend but thankfully summer days are long. Love it!
No pictures of my work this time but I want to wrap up with another woman artist from the past. I plan to look up more on this incredible woman, Rosa Bonheur 1822-1899. She lived an unconventional life starting with her upbringing. She was allowed to follow her tomboy nature and was the daughter of a drawing master. She was sent to a boy's school with her brothers! She blossomed as an artist early in life with encouragement from her father. She was a master painter of animals. Here is one of her most well known pieces:
The Horse Fair, 1853–55
Rosa Bonheur (French, 1822–1899)
Oil on canvas
96 1/4 x 199 1/2 in. (244.5 x 506.7 cm)
Signed and dated (lower right): Rosa Bonheur 1853.5
Gift of Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1887 (87.25)
On view: Gallery 812   Last Updated June 29, 2011

This painting is 8 ft by 16ft! Here is another beautiful one:
Rosa Bonheur, Sheep by the Sea, 1865; Oil on panel; National Museum of Women in the Arts   
The picture above does not do it any kind of justice. Looking at a photo of the painting in 50 Women Artists You Should Know, the colors are rich and the detail and lighting is exquisite. Google her name and a lot of information comes up. It is wonderful to read about a woman who was a successful artist on her own terms and was accepted as such, more or less. It wasn't all smooth sailing, One critic wrote "Mademoiselle Rosa paints almost like a man." (50 Women Artists You Should Know, pg. 63) I mean, really!
The life and work of Rosa Bonheur is well worth checking out.
I will add her name and link to my artists who inspire list for sure.
For those of you in the USA, have a happy and safe Independence Day. And, to our neighbors up north, happy Canada Day.
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