A Painting Series with Pattern

Dan, Reading #3
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 10×7″


This is the final watercolor painting of this series. This pose has yielded some excellent drawings from my class. I will be sharing them on this blog after our final class critique next week. It has been a very rewarding life drawing semester. I have the best students and the nicest people in my class.

I have often said to my class “Repetition is the key to learning.” Any skill well learned has been practiced again and again to the point that it becomes as natural as breathing. Any accomplished skills-based artist has worked for years to achieve and maintain those skills. It takes as long to educate such an artist as it does to educate a physician. 

So I keep my sketch book handy. I do three views of the same pose. I paint different version of the same still life. I paint outside on my deck. I do all this to maintain skills and to stimulate ideas. I get my best ideas while I am working. I have to keep my sketch book handy to write them down before they fly out of my head to be lost forever and be replaced by another idea. 

I do have times when I have the nothing-to-draw notion in my head. I find it’s best to acknowledge the insignificance of those thoughts and just draw or paint. There are certain subject matters that I find are always satisfying to me. Chairs are a subject matter that falls into that category. Another subject matter is, of course, the human figure. Art making is my best therapy.

T F m
April 30, 2013

A Painting Series with Pattern Part 2 of 3

Dan, Reading #2
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 9×6″


This is watercolor #2 of the Dan, Reading series. This pose was held for three consecutive sessions. Since watercolors are fast, especially at this small size, I could make one watercolor per session. I moved from one side of the room to the other. I was able to do this right at my desk. I had my timer at hand so I could be very conscientious about setting the time for breaks. 

The model has half hour chunks of time for holding a pose with a 5 or 10 minutes to loosen up for the next chunk. While on break, I make rounds to see how everyone is doing. I offer suggestions and ask questions as to what they each want from the work. Beginners usually don’t know what they want from a piece. It seems like a perfectly natural thing to know but, most beginners are struggling with building skills and have no idea at all as to what they want from a work. They have considered what the look or mood should be.

I know I like pattern and color so I inflict that on them because I am a benign dictator. I have told them, if they are sick of my fabrics, to bring in some fabrics of their own. I have had no takers as yet. We have only one more pose after our current model so they had better come up with something quick if they want more variety.

We are now talking about after the semester ends. I am retiring but I’d still like to do a little teaching. I just am sick of whining children. This class is certainly not that. We are talking about a pleine aire workshop at my house in Wisconsin. I could see it becoming a regular event. That would be delightful!

T F m
April 24, 2013

Figure Painting with a Wider Context

Janet, Reclining
Watercolor on Rag Paper, 5×10″


I received many requests to have models booked for multiple sessions holding the same pose for the purpose of making a complete work of art. Besides, complete works are very helpful to those students who wish to transfer to a four year, degree granting college or university. It is to their advantage to have such pieces for their portfolios. So I have arranged for models to come for three consecutive sessions. 

An isolated figure on a blank ground is merely a study. Figure study has a long history so how does one make a work of art from a study session? Context. What is the context? It can be an observed environment or a composite environment or an invented environment. Background stories provide the context in fiction and background context provides the story for a visual work of art.

The story is pretty apparent here. It’s a drawing studio with a model, a fabric dressed wall and, lighting. An anatomy chart has been included just to add a greater hint as to what is really going on. It’s a wide focus of the same set-up as for a previous post. The job of a model seems a lonely one according to this image. I have often included the artists in the room in other pieces for a more complete depiction of the situation. Here she is at her most vulnerable with ten artists all creating their own visions of Janet. 

We try to make our models as comfortable as possible both emotionally and physically. They are our co-workers and collaborators in art making and therefore VIPs It makes for the best work to have them feel secure.

T F m
April 9, 2013

Sunday Figure Drawing and Painting Group

Watercolor on Masa Paper, 7.75×5.25″


This a small watercolor from a Sunday group I have joined to fill the void left after the dissolution of my Saturday group. I have been attending sporadically because of family events or because of opera dates conflicting with my going. I have reverted to watercolors because the poses are no longer than 40 minutes. I can’t bring this kind of finish to less than a 40 minute pose lately. I have in the past. I have gotten used to being more deliberate and methodical. I am going to have to break that habit and allow for more happy accidents. 
I have some masa paper pieces that are much faster and bleedy than this. I have to re-teach myself how to do them. It amazes me how easily a certain approach gets left to the wayside as conditions change. Going from a short pose group, to a long pose group and, back to a short pose group, can really place one in a zone of discomfort. 
I have had to go through a lot of these to get something presentable enough to post. I have also been working during my life class so I have become little more practiced than I might otherwise be. This is my last semester teaching. After I am a free woman, my search for a other venues intensifies. This will be a large life change. I have to adapt quickly to keep me from idleness. My skills will erode very quickly if I don’t.

T F m
April 5, 2013