Monday, January 21, 2008




Here is the still life I am currently working on. As I say in the comments section of the last post the grapes I was working from were not black but pink-gold since I couldn't find any black grapes at the store. I worked from the pink-gold grapes transposing the color and values as I went along - a surprisingly easy trick.

8 comments:

painterdog said...

Very interesting, you had white grapes and you used memory and value control to change the grapes.

If you had not told me I would never had known.

I am in this forum and Jacob Collins is a member, he’s a very serious and highly respected painter and he's a nice guy as well.

I like his work but his whole idea is to make it look as close to nature as possible. He has set up a landscape school based on the Hudson River painters. Now I like the Hudson River School, but I don’t understand the idea, they do a lot of drawing, like the HR school did. The idea is to be a accurate and true to nature as possible. Then they go back to the studio to do the big studio painting. I saw a video on the American Artist web site and from what I could see they were not really doing what we did in Franks class. They out doing these small drawings of trees, rocks and stuff, which is good but they are not painting. They have to draw first and then do small sketches; it’s all very controlled.
Franks Vermont class was all about getting out there and painting.
The drawing was part of figuring it out. As I watched this I was taken on how regimented it was.

I have been doing this with a few small studies, like the peaches and so on.

I think your idea of moving into the realm of realism with a leaning toward the poetic more the way people see.

I am to old now to go back and start to re-train myself to do classical drawing using the Bargue methodology and then doing cast drawings etc.

I do wish I did this when I was say 19 or 20 years old. I think as a way to train your vision it is good. The problem then is how do you move on to what you do with this without become a very proficient copyist.

I look at your drawing here on the blog and it's so subtle.
There are a lot of artists doing these very refined highly finished drawings, some are amazing drawings but they don't have this subtly or the flow of rhythm you have. As you stated some verge on rendered manikins, but the real good ones are amazing drawings.


This is an interesting phenomenon part of me thinks this is good for realest painting and part of me thinks it’s a return to a type of academic painting that while it is proficient lacks something tangible that relates to the human condition.


I like his work but his whole idea is to make it look as close to nature as possible.

I have been doing this with a few small studies, like the peaches and so on.

I think your idea of moving into the realm of realism with a leaning toward the poetic more the way people see.

I am to old now to go back and start to re-train myself to do classical drawing using the Bargue methodology and then doing cast drawings etc.

I do wish I did this when I was say 19 or 20 years old. I think as a way to train your vision it is good. The problem then is how do you move on to what your doing.

I look at your drawing here and it's so subtle, there are a lot of artists doing these very refined highly finished drawings, but they don't have this subtly or the flow of rhythm you have.

Elizabeth Torak said...

Hmm, where to begin. You raise a lot of good points. I like Jacob Collins's work, what I've seen of it, and see no reason to doubt he is a nice guy (BTW -what forum?). That said, I do not see the point of making a painting as "close to nature as possible"; I am not even sure what that means - as we used to say at the University of Chicago "Define nature". The perfect rendering of nature was not one of Ruskin's best ideas IMHO; personally, I much prefer the Robert Beverly Hale school of teaching. As I am sure you know, Hale's basic idea is one of using what he called "mass conceptions" in drawing. I have found this concept very useful and think it is a very good way to train the eye. Such an eye sees underlying form first; then relates surface detail to the larger concept of form (and light) so that the rendering of detail and form reinforce each other.

But hey, that's me, I do think the Collins School has done an incredibly impressive job of putting Realism back on the map and making conversations like this one relevant again. On the other hand I can not understand the fascination with 19th Century Academic painting and technique - give me the 16th and 17th centuries any day! I do agree that some of the drawings from that school can be very lovely and I envy them models that will sit forever. The drawing of mine you were kind enough to admire was done in 20 minutes; I would love to have the opportunity to spend a week tickling something up; maybe I'll do a drapery study just for the hell of it and to prove that high finish and rhythmic, poetic, Hale-based technique are mutually exclusive.

painterdog said...

That drawing took twenty minutes.
That's impressive.

the forum is
http://www.rationalpainting.org

I like it as you can discuss these things without them becoming arguments. They are moderated, and the other thing is they don't care what kind of work you do, there are abstract painters and a lot of Classical painters people like me who are in between.

There is a wealth of information being presented there. You have to join, it's free and all you need to do is sign up. The focus is more on proven knowledge and trying to stay away hearsay and so on. It's interesting, I might not agree with everything that is stated but I have learned a lot and have been introduced to some amazing painters.

It started with the idea of a forum dealing with the Munsell color system, which I have been studying.
I have this big book with 1600 color swatches, it is interesting as it has taught me how off my eyes can be and it has been very helpful in how I am thinking about color.

I think DuMond was into this somewhat as Munsell was a contemporary of his and Reilly(DuMond student) developed his palette after Munsell. I could be wrong, but my research from that period does point to this kind of color theory being used by Henri, Bellows and others.

The idea of using gray scales (DuMond's palette)seems to
have been developed by him to some extent.

Monhegan buddy said...

Hi Elizabeth,
It is so nice to see your works as they develop to the finished product. Thank you for sharing this! I do have a technical question though. If an area of the painting dries (or sinks in) before you have a chance to finish it, how do you bring it up again? I used some spray retouch varnish the other day, but will have to revive it once again (too many layers of opaque paint probably) and am wondering if I am going to damage the painting in the long run if I continue to do this? Are you using Maroger for this purpose or something else? By the way your drawing is impressive and you're getting really interesting comments on this site.

Elizabeth Torak said...

Hi Monhegan Buddy! Great to hear from you. I loved Monhegan so much I made plans to return this year - but the best laid plans...On January 2nd my gallery called and asked if I would do a show in October. Couldn't say no of course, so instead of traveling to Monhegan I will be spending the summer in my studio frantically painting for the show and will put my Monhegan money into frames ! Next year.

Anyway, to get to your question. Truth be told when I have a sunk in area that I want to repaint what I do is to cheat by rubbing an incredibly thin layer of medium over the area (1-1-1, not Maroger) sometimes rubbing it off with a paper towel so that there is very little moisture there, just enough so that it is not bone dry, and then work into it. I would not use Maroger for this purpose unless I were putting on a final layer. I often put on what I think will be a final glaze with Maroger only to find myself working into that glaze with some delicate semi-opacities. I don't think that is too bad because it is a final, or at least pen-ultimate, layer.

I consulted Tom (Thomas Torak, husband, fabulous artist; link to his website is on the left) about your question as well as he knows a lot about these issues. His take is that retouch varnish should be fine even in multiple layers (BTW I do not disagree with him - I am just too lazy to use it myself and I tend not to have the problem of working into a sunk in area over and over as mine rarely sink in twice). Tom further points out that the argument against doing it my way is that there will be extra layers of oil in that area of the painting and that over time (100 years or so)that oil will rise to the surface and darken the area; the use of retouch varnish is supposed to prevent this. Bottom line - do as I say, not as I do!

Actually, on the very rare occasion that he has a sunk in area Tom does it the "bad" way too but he rarely does because he uses a lot of paint and a lot of medium.

We both agree that we do not try to "bring up" a sunk in area unless we are actually going to paint over it. If it just makes our lives difficult (since it is hard to see the whole picture) we just cope with the annoyance and soldier on rather than mess with the surface unnecessarily.

It is funny you should bring up the question (no pun intended)at this time because my current still life, the painting you see on the blog, has a big sunk in area. The whole blue-black velvet cloth is completely sunken in!

Karen Winslow said...

Hey Lizzie...Really nice still life! Your new studio is working! Very interesting dialog. I just tried to look at the forum Painterdog referred to. You have to register first, so I am waiting to see if I am "accepted". I have been curious about the Jacob Collins group, as well. We realists all seem to be going in the same direction, but wearing different shoes...or using different modes of transportation. I did notice an article in a magazine Ann had about their landscapes. It was very different from what the Mason/Dumond/Hale lineage. Drawing, though, is important, but having the ability to draw with the brush is better. Karen

painterdog said...

There has been some discussion about this at Rational painting.
It's a interesting subject.

Some people think that addition of varnish is not good to use at all as it promotes cracking.

Mastic is not the most stable varnish I do use it as I use Maroger but I am thinking of not using it anymore. Damar has some issues as well.

There are some who think using retouch varnish is not a good idea due to the problem of it weakening the paint film. I don't subscribe to this myself, but the argument is very convincing and backed up by conservationist the National Gallery.

I use Maroger sometimes, and a Damar based medium as well.

I also now use Stand oil, Canada Balsam and Spike oil or double distilled turpentine to make a medium that is very nice to work with. Smells good as well.

There are a lot painters now using Amber based mediums, I know Frank Mason is into this. I have never used it but I hear good things about it.

Personally I am a bit confused with all the different ideas being put forth. I have adopted the rule that it's better to use the simplest medium and to use very little of it.

painterdog said...

I forgot to add that some advocate for oiling out instead of using retouch varnish.