Thursday, May 27, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends

Took some reference photos this past weekend for the painting that is due on June 30th for the submission at Manifest Gallery. I want to say thanks to Reg and Kristen for opening up their house and helping me out with getting the photos taken, which by the way took a lot longer than expected, but that seems to be the way of things. I had a model picked out for this painting, but he wasn't able to make it at the time, and I had a hard time deciding if I should wait for him to be available or just use myself.
Since the deadline is fast approaching and I was dealing with some perishable items in my setup, I decided to use myself. Looking back, I think it was a good result:one, for the fact that I had to kneel on hard floors while photos were taken and I wouldn't want to subject anyone to enduring that, and two, the painting is deeply personal to my life so despite my issues with my own body image, its more fitting for me to be in the painting.
So now it's up to me to get this thing done, and I must admit that I'm feeling the pressure. I don't want to waste too much time with the few hours I have each morning available to work on this, but I don't want to hurry up and do a half-assed attempt at something worth painting either.

So many people have been helping out with this project, mostly in the spiritual and encouraging supportive manner , which is what I need to keep this thing moving.
I have the layout drawing completed now, and now want to do a value study while getting a panel ready for painting. I'll try to post pics of the value study when I get it done.
I'm still trying to decide how large I want to make the piece. I want to paint it as big as possible, but then again my wife and I have small cars, so transporting this might be an issue if I make it larger than what could comfortably fit into our vehicles. Oh well, it will come down to a gut decision at the last minute.

I also wanted to mention that I am going out to a week long art conference in August called the Glen workshop. It's an incredible week where Artists, writers, and poets from all across the continent get together in Santa Fe, NM, to be one community. The are classes offered in the morning by faculty renowned and respected nationally in their own fields of study. Everything from Figure drawing to fiction and non fiction writing classes, to a film seminar. In the afternoons and evenings there are lectures given by faculty as well as time to spend exploring Santa Fe. I went last year as a gift from my brother, and I am excited to be going back again. This time I want to say thank you to two friends of mine (Dan, and Cam,)who contributed funds to help me get out there. I would say that the trip last year was the shot in my arm that made me seriously contemplate moving towards being a professional painter. Last year I took figure drawing with Barry Moser, who is an extremely intelligent man and a font of wisdom and Wit. He's a real character and you can't spend time with him without him making a strong and inspiring impression on you.
this year I am taking a portrait painting class with Joel Sheesley and am looking forward to it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cossacks come out of the basement

I recently finished a portrait commission in charcoal that I'm really happy with. I would show it now if it wasn't for the fact that it's a surprise wedding gift for the client's fiance'. So, instead I'm going to talk about this painting that I ran across at the Cincinnati Art museum. - Well, not exactly. -I'll explain that in a moment.

Cincinnati actually has a nice art museum for a small conservative city, and I should add that we also have the Taft art museum and the Contemporary arts center as well, before I make it sound like we only have one public showcase for art.

Whenever I visit the museum, I often forget that there is quite a large collection unseen in storage, so when I ran across this painting I was very pleased and surprised to find it. I stared at it for quite sometime and wrote down the artist and Title. The painting is titled; "The Zaporozhye Cossacks writing a reply to the Sultan." Now the painting in the museum is done by Paul Porfiroff, but when I did a search online for it, I couldn't find a Paul Porfiroff, and instead the painting was credited to Ilya Efimovich Repin. Long story short, I'm 99% sure that the painting in the Cincinnati art museum is a copy for the fact that 1, the painting by Ilya Repin is said to be housed in The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2, the online images of the painting like the one above, seem to have a lot more detail than the painting I saw at the Cincinnati art museum, and 3, The signature on the painting I saw in person was done in red in the lower right hand corner, while the painting credited to Mr. Repin is done in black in the center bottom. If you're wondering why I haven't sought confirmation of this, well I have... I asked the museum's security personnel and info center personnel, and they didn't have a clue since it was recently put up on display and I sent an email to the museum curators asking about it and I am still waiting for a response.

Anyways, I still love the painting for many reasons...

First off, without even reading the title, you can tell that the cast of characters are writing something humorous, if not pointedly so, and there is an audience of revelers and contributors surrounding the sneering face of the scribe. I love the faces and poses in this painting. You can almost hear the laughter and read into the character of each man in this painting. I love the face and pose of the Cossack in the center smoking the pipe and glaring with a smile to the right.

Secondly, I love the ethnic diversity in this painting. Without conjuring up ideas of modern social-political agendas, I'm just saying that I love the sense of family within the painting given that you see men of European decent as well as men with differing ranges of Mongolian decent all congregating as a deeply linked brotherhood. I actually did some research on it and found that there is in fact, a deep bond of brotherhood in Cossack culture. You can find more about that as well as read the actual letter that was being written in this painting here.

Thirdly, I love the way this painting is designed. You can trace a spiral inward from the man in back center with his left hand pointing up and to the to the left and then spiraling clockwise you can follow the heads of the men closest to the scribe until you hit the feather at the dead center of the painting. The man siting on the barrel with his back to you is almost falling out of the painting and this direction is reinforced by the Cossack in the back exhaling smoke out his nose with the slanted rifle or spears behind him. - The rifle,or spears begin an invisible line to the head of the man leaning back on the barrel. Finally the crew in the center of the painting are framed by the man in the white cloak with his back to you as well as the man to the far left also with his back to you and just off the left edge of the canvas.