LIFE DRAWING – AN EXERCISE IN CALM FOCUSPosted on January 18, 2017
Life drawing is a study of the human form done directly from a live model. Since I can't count on the model keeping perfectly still for very long, I am forced to approach each pose as a hunter - in a concentrated state with tools ready and eyes sharp, trying to capture the moment in as much detail as possible.
Pastels are my tool of choice for their simplicity and immediacy. When you have only a few minutes to draw, you have to be armed and ready. Today’s color palette is based on the Orange/Blue complements. I set it up from the darkest to brightest to lightest values. It’s so simple I don’t have to worry about mixing the colors of flesh in the shadows. I believe life drawing is the greatest, most difficult practice an artist can have and the foundation for all other work. It also can be a time of quiet meditation where the distractions of the outside world are set aside.
THE DISCIPLINE OF LIFE DRAWINGPosted on January 12, 2017
While thousands people are hitting the gym this January, artists are known to hit the open studio life drawing class. This is where we practice our drawing skills on that hardest of subject, the nude model. Not only is the subject itself difficult, with all those challenges of anatomy, lighting and skin tones, but the model may only be holding the pose for a few minutes, or typically twenty, or at best, an hour.
Open studio life drawing sessions are usually available wherever there is a dedicated group to organize it on a regular basis. In Buffalo, they are at the University of Buffalo, Buffalo Arts Studio and many other locations around town. People show up with armed with every media, from a set of pencils, to a complete kit of watercolor or oil paints or even a block of clay.
Pastels are my tool of choice for their simplicity and immediacy. When you have only a few minutes to draw, you have to be armed and ready. I come in with toned pastel paper that has a bit of ‘tooth’. I organize a limited palette based on complementary colors. Complementary colors are the opposites on the color wheel. Across from the red is green, across from the yellow is purple and across from the blue is orange. Complements both enhance and neutralize each other. Here is an Green/Red palette. Ranging from the darkest to the brightest to the lightest shade for each color. From this simple group I can create a wide range of skin tones in any sort of lighting.
The best resources I have found for understanding color are ‘The Yin/Yang of Painting’ by Hongnian Zhang and ‘Imaginative Realism’ by James Gurney. These masters offer major inspiration. What works for you? You can send me a comment on my contact page. Thanks!
DISCARDED THEN DISCOVEREDPosted on January 4, 2017
A few years ago I found a photo album thrown out to the curb in front of a demolished house. There was apparently no one left to care for all these mementos and no way of finding out who these people were. The photos were so precious that I wanted to preserve them in some form. I took some of the photos out of the album and surrounded them with bits and pieces of abandoned Buffalo – graffiti, empty houses and decaying landscapes. It was my attempt to pull the past and present together and to honor these unknown people.
More than 60 of the ‘Discarded Ancestors’ collages were sold – at 464 Gallery, the Buffalo History Museum and out of my studio. I recently had an exhibit of thirteen collages framed in recycled wood, at the Peter A. and Mary Lou Vogt Gallery at Bouwhuis Library at Canisius College. During the run of the show, two librarian/genealogists, Lisa Sullivan and Kathleen DeLaney, stepped forward and tracked down the owner of the album.
They discovered the name of the woman, ‘Eleanor’ on a photo envelope, as the person who owned the album. Tracking Eleanor’s surname, Weinzierl, Lisa located an obituary in the Buffalo News. Then, through “Find a Grave” she discovered the burial site in Mt. Calvary. It appears that Eleanor was born in 1927, the daughter of Frank and Crescentia. She was divorced, never remarried, but did have cousins at the time of her death. Her obituary mentioned her great love of animals. Since she never had children, there was no one to keep the family photos. Eleanor died on January 11, 2011. Her house was torn down a couple of years later. Thank you to Lisa and Kathleen! And thank you to everyone who ‘adopted’ the friends and family members of this beautiful Buffalo woman and kept her spirit alive.
ENVISIONING THE SCAJAQUADA THROUGH ARTPosted on December 23, 2016
This week I had the honor (along with Barbara Rowe and Doreen Deboth) of being a judge in the Art as History Project sponsored by the Black Rock Historical Museum. This year’s theme was ‘Envisioning the Scajaquada’ for a better future. The timely subject gave students a chance to learn about the past and living history of all aspects of the Scajaquada, its creek, and environment. Kerry Chiado, the very dedicated and talented teacher at Riverside, inspired her students with ecology, art history, mythology and more. The results were truly colorful, unique and creative! It was a very tough choice to narrow it down to the top five prize winners. Here they are, standing shyly and a bit overwhelmed:
Doreen DeBoth, Coordinator of the Black Rock Historical Society, Delia DeLeone Olmo, 3rd place winner, Tiara Pagan, 2nd place winner, Saw Freeman, 1st place winner, Kerry Chiado, Riverside Art Teacher, Jazmin Mendez, Honorable Mention, Ella Dunne, Riverside Principal, and Bawi Kahn, Honorable Mention. All other students who completed the project received a Certificate of Community Service.
More about the project:
This year’s Art as History Project was funded by grants from the Ronald McDonald Foundation and the West Side Youth Development Coalition. Two Buffalo schools agreed to participate in the contest for the fall 2016 semester, Riverside High School and Our Lady of Black Rock. The Art teachers and Principals at both schools fully embraced the project and teachers diligently prepared courses allowing for over 200 students to participate. Of note is the significant diversity of the students who were engaged in the project. Students in grades 6th-12 represented over a dozen countries. Allowing for limited language learners, a special curriculum was developed to ensure that all students had a chance to work on this project.
The Black Rock Historical Society goal for the student project includes fostering a better understanding about neighborhood history; taking pride in having student work displayed at a venue such as a museum, and resulting in pride in their community. Students participating will be a positive role model to their peers and have a much better understanding of their environment’s potential.
POKING FUN AT POKEMONSPosted on December 1, 2016
BUFFALO POLICE ARREST 12 POKEMONS
for crimes ranging from trespassing to assault and battery to drunk and disorderly.
Their mug shots are on view at 716-GAL-LERY in Hydraulic Hearth in Larkinville!
With all the upheaval in the world today, it was a fun break to create these little paintings on beer coasters. It's part of a fundraiser going on the the phone booth gallery at Larkinville to benefit Harvest House. Harvest House is a wonderful organization supporting families on the East side of Buffalo for job training, healthcare, children and more.
BETHLEHEM BURNSPosted on November 16, 2016
It was a dark week. Trump was elected. A huge fire raged through Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna. I drove down to the old steel plant on Sunday, pass an anti-Trump demonstration in Niagara Square, to see what was left of the site. Streets were blocked off and firemen were still working on the smoldering hot spots. Huge cranes moved piles of twisted metal. My photography could not capture the sheer vastness of the place (one million square feet - six city blocks) but I took this Instagram of some fencing and ran it through a Prisma filter. "Yellow tape...like sinews stretching in loss of muscle mass". After hanging around for an hour, I had to get away from the toxic atmosphere. The evacuation order has been lifted but the local residents must wonder about long-term health effects.
FACING THE DARKNESSPosted on October 31, 2016
A couple of weeks ago, I encountered a bat in my bedroom. It escaped before I could catch it so now as a precaution, I am going through a series of rabies shots at ECMC. A bat flying into your life can signify a transformation – “the end of a way of life and the start of another...facing the darkness before you will help you find the light.” Sounds good! Perhaps I’ll get some super powers too, like increased night vision and sonar sensitivity.
I did this sketch of bats a while ago. Happy Halloween!
DEEPWATER HORIZONPosted on October 26, 2016
Now playing in area theaters is the stunning film “Deepwater Horizon.” It’s an intense dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when an offshore drilling rig exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Although it concentrates on the exciting action aboard the rig and not the devastation to the Gulf of Mexico, the film makes its point. Oil drilling is a dangerous enterprise that can be driven by corporate greed and ignorance, capable of destroying our irreplaceable environment.
When my snowbird parents were still living outside of Tampa, I visited the area many times. After the shock of the disaster in the Gulf, I made this 40”x 58” pastel drawing, “The Ocean is Burning.” A drawing can only be cathartic for myself and the limited number of people who see it. But Hollywood has the power to create a message of enormous power and get it out to millions of people. The film has terrific acting (I especially enjoyed John Malkovich as the corporate official from British Petroleum) and incredible fiery effects of the catastrophic blowout.
With our lives so based on fossil-fuel-based energy, this movie gives us reason to pause and think. The story goes continues on today with the current North Dakota pipeline protests.
MIXING FLESH TONES – WITH THANKS TO HONGNIAN ZHANGPosted on October 19, 2016
MY PERSONAL COLOR MIXING EXERCISE - sketching a little 9" x 11" oil portrait once a week with a different color palette. This week’s challenge is dark-skinned Keisha, being mysterious. I am using the complementary system described in “The Yin/Yang of Painting” by Chinese Artist, Hongnian Zhang. Last week’s portrait was of a fair-skinned blond, but the same paints can work just as well with other skin tones.
Keisha is painted with the GREEN/RED complementary palette. It includes a wide range of paints from SAP GREEN, VIRIDIAN and RAW UMBER on the Green side to MAGENTA, CADMIUM RED and BURNT SIENNA on the RED side, plus WHITE and BLACK. The little abstract on the right side shows some of the colors in their pure form.
MIXING FLESH TONES – ANOTHER WAYPosted on October 12, 2016
MY PERSONAL COLOR MIXING EXERCISE - sketching a little 9" x 11" oil portrait once a week with a different color palette. Here is ash blond Sara. This time, instead of a triad of colors, I used the complementary system described in “The Yin/Yang of Painting” by Chinese Artist, Hongnian Zhang. (Partners In Art Studio at 83 Webster Street in North Tonawanda, NY sells a handy and easy to use guide sheet that lays out all the possible complementary paints.
Sara is painted with the GREEN/RED complementary palette. It includes a wide range of paints from SAP GREEN, VIRIDIAN and RAW UMBER on the GREEN side to MAGENTA, CADMIUM RED and BURNT SIENNA on the RED side, plus WHITE and BLACK. The complements can enliven when side by side or soften when mixed. It really offers lots of choices yet keeps things together.