Watercolor Life Drawings
I returned to semi-regular life drawing in the late 90's after a dry spell of about ten years--I began with dusty mediums--graphite, charcoal, prismacolor pencils--but eventually I wanted the speed and flow of wet media. This urge prompted my first real exploration of watercolor--I started with a cheap children's craft set of cake watercolors in a tin, then a fellow artist I met in the class suggested I invest in a set of M. Graham's beautiful watercolor paints and buy sheets of actual watercolor paper. (Before that I was painting on the pages of an ordinary sketchbook).The results were rejuvenating! I became enamored of the glorious spontaneity inherent in watercolor and have since painted hundreds of life sketches in this delicate medium. Above are a few examples.
The two self portraits above were paintedin March as a release from several monthsof nearly unbroken grinding effort to finishprint projects. The gaunt bleak-eyed visageis an accurate portrayal of the state of spentenergy I was suffering from. I painted it theday after I'd worked a continuous 36 hour sessionto finish a project. I'd slept about six hoursand decided to capture the dead stare of thezombie I saw in the mirror. Its not a verypleasant painting, but it's certainly honest!The second smiling portrait was an attemptto nudge my attitude back toward my usualcheery demeanor. ( I think the eyes stilllook exhausted though.)
Dead Rose Tea
My wife ordered a pair of these Jack Skellingtonmugs through some sort of coupon promotionthat accompanied the film's original release.They took so long to arrive (nearly two years!)that we'd forgotton about them until the packagecame. I gathered some withered roses fromour front yard and tackled this still lifewith thick paint and palette knife.
Popeye Still Life
I began this painting as a demo in the co-opgallery I belong to, www.artsprescott.com I used mostly palette knife except for the anchortattoos and the lettering on the spinach can.
Blue Tea Cup
This painting is a favorite of mine--it seemed tocomplete itself while I watched from an interiordistance and the mood it evokes is a genuinereflection of the emotions that inspired its creation.
Still Life with Curious George
My friend Mike Manley and I both painted this still lifeset-up while he was visiting Arizona after attending the San DiegoComic Con a few years ago. I was fascinated by the various texturesof the different objects--especially the wavering lamp flame!
I discovered a still-warm jay in my driveway one morning as I was taking out a bag of trash--other than a missing tail the bird seemed whole and unmolested. He inspired this somber little thanatopsis.
Recent oil paintings
Made In ChinaThe severe expression of this small clothed dollI found in a thrift shop captured my fancy--I imaginedI could feel the resentment of the assembly lineworker forced to paint an endless stream of thesesmall masked portraits.Although I've been a complusive sketcher since childhood and have always drawn from life at every opportunity, over the last few years I've made time to paint for no other purpose than to express my own spirit. I've been fortunate in my illustration career to earn a living as a visual storyteller, and I love to bring a narrative to life through artwork, to animate and understand characters and explore their emotions and behavior in myriad situations. I expect to tell stories with artwork for the rest of my life, but I can't deny the intense pressure of creating vast amounts of intricate drawing under deadlines--often unreasonable ones--has lost the appeal it held in my eager adrenaline-charged youth. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m choosing projects carefully and arranging the rest of my affairs and responsibilities to allow me to give my best at a pace I can enjoy.This improved schedule is also driven by the desire to draw and paint as a window to my intimations, to make visible my reactions to stimuli and experience free of the specific parameters that shape hired work.The pictures above were painted from life over the last few years, usually during a brief respite from a pressing deadline. With each painting I am more amazed at the subtlety that can be expressed with oils—the medium draws forth ever more sensitive perceptions as you paint because it is so responsive to every whim and observation. Although I love watercolor and casein for the unique results possible with each, oil is the richest medium for the painter.
Pencil and wash studies
Two other studies from the same session as the prior post--the leaning pose is strengthened with a bit of black watercolor wash.
Two Pencil Studies
These two drawings were done several months ago--late 2006 I believe. This model is a favorite of our life drawing group--she's gifted with an inherent grace that inspires a beautiful image from every pose.