It has been a very busy two weeks. I am showing work at the Art Garage in Green Bay. I had to gather the work for hanging, hang the work, and put together some required documentation: lists of works, updated resume, artist statement and biography, acquire new business cards, yadda, yadda, yadda. Sometimes I think I am doing more of that kind of thing than actually making work. I hate it but it’s essential. Fortunately, I have a lot of that stuff already done. I have my resume alias on my desk top so I can update as I have additional items to record; statements are written for different bodies of work; and my biography is ready for printing.
On top of that it has been unbearably cold the last two weeks with temps well below zero and wind chills well below that. Today we are having a heat wave. It’s 20º. Tomorrow is another story. Colder.
I have joined another group on Thursdays for portrait sessions. This is from my first session. This is the second attempt of the evening. I will post the first attempt nest time just for contrast. You can see the paper is very wet and the image is much more generalized as a result. You can also see how I have kept certain areas apart by leaving tiny threads of white. I have called attention to this in previous posts.
This boy is about 14 years old; a youthful baby face. It’s not an insult. Just an observation. Young faces a very rounded and smooth with few planes. It makes it very difficult to pick out features since all the changes in direction are so subtle. I had a devil of a time getting a likeness. This was my respite from all that. This was fast and loose with only a care for how he was sitting and how his clothing draped around his body.
This session is held in a old flour mill. It was really cold that evening and the heating had a hard time keeping up. This boy was wearing a heavy black hoodie for warmth while he posed. He was very good. He really held his pose well. He wasn’t the antsy teen one would have expected. I could never get my kids as teens to pose for me at all. Coercion just got me some photos to work from but never an actual modeling session. As I sit here typing, the rogues’ gallery resulting from my coercive behavior, is on the wall: one sullen 15 year old and one truly put upon 12 year old. The 15 year old is now 41 and the 12 year old is now 38. How time flies!
These little figures, some no more than 3″ high, are warm-ups for figure painting sessions. It’s a way to get into the “zone” for working for longer periods. It’s very much like warming up for an athletic event. An athlete needs to warm up their muscles and get themselves psyched-up for the activity. The is true for drawing or painting. We need to get our hand/eye coordination working and our visual thinking engaged. Little gestures like these are the vehicle for that.
No more than one minute for these is allowed. Enforced speed turns off the inner critic that inhibits the flow of drawing or painting. One must focus on what the model is doing, what the direction of the limbs is, what the direction change at the joints is, what the weight distribution is, what the apparent intention of the action is. That’s a lot to think about in a short amount of time. With all that to consider there is no time for the critic to interfere. The focus on all those things is absolute. One gets only as far with gesture as one can. No minute detail is possible in so short a time. It’s all very generalized.
The term gesture, in my mind, includes not only the gesture of the model in taking a pose but the gesture of the artist and the quality of the mark made tangible by the artists’ gesture. The speed of these requires an economy of mark making. There can be nothing extraneous that can waste seconds of that precious minute. One can actually make some very complete figures in a minute but it takes practice. I have been actively engaging in figure drawing and painting for over 25 years. So these little figures each took one minute and twenty five years to make.