Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This is a delayed post. I last worked on the dancer November 17th and then I caught a virus and I've been sick ever since. This is the first day I've been able to sit in front of the computer; I hope I can get back to sitting in front of the easel soon as I am anxious to finsh the piece.

I did finally finish the winter scene that I was working on when I started this blog and although I think it is too subtle and high in pitch to come across well in digital format I am happy with it. One day last week when I thought I was recovered I popped it in a frame and took it to the gallery - then I went home and was sicker than ever for another week.

Friday, November 11, 2005

This is two days' work. It is amazing to look at these: who would guess how many hours of work went into the barely discernable difference between these two states? Well, for one thing I spent a long time working on the head: putting it down and then wiping it out, over and over. I have always found it particularly difficult to draw this view of the head, a sort of 3/4 back view and I have never found it easy to twist the neck. It is a little discouraging that I have been at this for so many years and still find myself struggling with these problems. I shouldn't get down on myself too much though. A lot of painting and drawing problems which I used to find completely daunting I now execute with ease and confidence: drapery, for example. But the head twisted slightly on the neck seen from behind still throws me. I also spent time working on the shadow side of the torso and I think it is coming to life and looks more human and less like an anatomy cast.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

This is about a week's work, with the most recent state at the top. I finally decided to quit working on the drawing, even though it is not finished, and just start painting. I was getting too wrapped up in making a beautiful drawing. Looking at my last post, I saw that the last time I worked on the drawing I destroyed the delicately modeled surface in order to dig into the action again. Looking at the the two states side by side I saw what I had lost and was furious with myself. But, but, but I also saw why I did it: the more delicately modeled version had started to look frozen, it had stopped moving. The truth is I'm not happy with either state and I want to go back and put in the delicate surface without losing the life. The question is: how to do this? Maybe the problem is I don't know what I want to do with the surface other than polish it. I have a clear vision of the big dynamic elements and the blocking and anatomy, but I don't know what to do with the surface. Now that I'm working on the painting I have the same struggle: I keep going back and forth between a painterly broken color surface and a smooth sense of skin and flesh; as soon as I've achieved one effect I'm dissatisfied and go in the other direction. Writing this I realize what it is I want: I want both in exquisite, heart-rending balance with each other. I went to a wedding once where very expensive chocolates were placed at each guest's place at table. I had never eaten such a chocolate: the outer coating was so delicate and fine that it broke against my tougue and melted in an instant; like a fleeting dream it was gone before I could grasp it. I think I want something analogous for my surfaces: an illusion of flesh and reality so delicate that as soon as the eye touches it it dissolves into color, light, and movement. Oh, that should be easy to paint!.