Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Interior Scene

I do admire the figurative work of Richard Diebenkorn, He produced figurative work for but a few years after doing dedicated abstract paintings. Then, he returned to abstract work and did no more figurative work. Oh, the delightful figures he produced, beautiful blends of abstract and representational themes. 

Sunroom, Charcoal and conte on paper, 8"x10"

Have a happy holiday.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


I was born in April 1950, on the crest of the Baby Boom. Now, I am facing one of those milestones that gives one pause. We Boomers have a significant history in that we are the bridge generation for the age of Rock and Roll, the Space Race, and the Era of Environmental Awareness among other significant historical and cultural events. This is all pretty well documented, Vietnam, Woodstock, Apollo 11, et. al., each time a journalist has a touch of nostalgia. Beyond that though lies a significance in that our parents were the World War II generation, a generation that grew up in the Great Depression and then fought a great conflict of moral imperative. The downside was that they thought they were right about everything, little wonder we were rebellious. On the upside, most of what we are is a product of them beyond the misery they gave us by being our parents. 

My dad was born in 1921 and was drafted into the army in 1942. Bill Haley as in Rock Around the Clock was born in 1925. Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 and Alan Ginsberg was born in 1926, the writers credited as the nucleus of the Beats. Timothy Leary, the psychedelic guru of the sixties was born in 1920. Malcolm X was born in 1925. More of what we are is a product of our parents generation than just our physical selves. It's a pointer to the fact that our story flows more like a river than like the cars of a train.

Masquerade, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Today's drawing has nothing to do with all of this but, turning sixty is a bit unsettling which in itself is a bit unsettling and touch of youth seems appropriate.

Have a lovely remainder of the weekend.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Drive Time

On the Road, an American Romantic notion. Since Jack Kerouac wrote his novel in the early fifties, driving, being out on the road, is an ingrained part of the American psyche. It's reflected in our culture. Television in the nineteen-fifties brought us Route 66, about two friends roaming up and down the iconic highway that runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. Also, the song by Bobby Troup, Get Your Kicks on Route 66, celebrated this same bit of Americana. In the nineteen-sixties, television brought us Then Came Bronson with Michael Parks as a disillusioned journalist (who wasn't disillusioned?) who buys himself a bike and takes to the road. Of course the sixties were the heyday of being on the road as The Easy Rider rode off to 'look for America,' Humbert and Lolita rolled across the country staying in seedy motels, and the rest of us were Hitching a Ride. The nineteen-seventies expanded the scene in novels such as Michener's Caravans, which took on the road global. The list can go on through the eighties, nineties and the oughts.

Maybe it goes back to the frontier west, the wagon trains and the wandering cowboys. Or, maybe its the independence, the anonymity, that is the allure. An article in the New Yorker commented on On the Road and Lolita and how there was a normalness to travelers that would look odd in a normal settings such as a middle-aged Humbert could travel with an adolescent girl and not raise a question that, in any other setting, might.

Rachel, charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

So. let's celebrate the highway and revel in the romanticism of the idea. I'm working on pieces that draw on these ideas for their inspiration and want to hear your ideas of these native romanticisms. Have a good evening.


Monday, March 22, 2010

At a Girl!

For Martha Miller, whose blog post today is about her forging ahead to do commissioned portraits. Rather than leave a comment, I decided to post a note of support for her. I feel the conflict, anticipation, and all the other thoughts and emotions that accompany an endeavor like this. For an artist it is even more intense because the work is so much a part of themselves, so personal. But, Martha is so talented and her work is work that I do admire, that I am sure she will do well with this endeavor.

Therefore Martha, since you are diving in say 'Geronimo' and have at it.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Quick Sunday Post

I have been producing these drawings from photographs and have learned a great deal in the process. Using photographs has the benefit of letting me work quickly because I can short cut the layout procedure by using devices such as printing inkjet images and coating the back with charcoal to make a carbon paper like transfer. Also, I cut the inkjet prints to make masks that I can use a bit of powdered charcoal in a piece of cloth to dab around the edges to give rounded forms to work from. I sometimes prepare what I call an armature in Photoshop and print it. I vary these techniques or combine them to whatever effect on which I want to work. The more of these techniques I use in tandem the more concise the layout and the quicker the rendering can proceed.

Working from a model or a photograph and laying out the landmarks and forms by surveying the model and transferring them one at a time by measurements is a laborious task and can interfere with the learning process. That makes it more desirable to shortcut these and get on to the things I am more interested in.

Jennifer, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Thanks for stopping by on this rainy Sunday. Have a nice finish to the weekend.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who me?

In my life, I've noticed that I am a different person at different times. Not in a Sybil way and not in a different mask kind of way but, in that my actions and considerations in situations differ. I have a persona for any situation and not all of them are the person that I really want to be. The hero, the villain, the stalwart and the craven are all part of me. Now that I am getting older, I am a different set of personas from the personas I used to be, if that's not too confusing.

So, in consideration of this, I like to do self-portraits. Also, it's easy to find a model. It's a chance to consider all of my different selves. 

Shaving, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Self-portrait, Conte on paper, 8"x10"

I'd like to hear about your other selves. And if you do self portraits, I'd like to hear what you have to say about that.

Have a nice evening.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


In case there might be an uproar for being over the top, let me state that this piece is about conflict. Not conflict in the theatre of humanity but, the quieter conflict that that we all face each day in our hearts, in our heads and in our souls. This is a piece I did, not as a finished work, but as a musing about my own state of being and a way of expressing to myself how I am feeling. Kind of taking my own temperature. The title is of course from the Odyssey, but I decided to give it a twist as the Siren song is usually more personal to us. We all face these conflicts, and as I grow older they seem to be more numerous. I think as artists we experience these conflicts more because our works are so personal to us and it is a huge burden to give up some of this personal connection for commercial concerns. 

Tied to the Mast, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

On a recent post by Martha Miller, I commented about how we are affected by our works. Her post was about a portrait she was executing of a family member and she was telling about the emotional investment she had in the piece and I gathered from her words that working on the portrait was a give and take between she and the piece itself. I really feel that each piece we make changes us in either a small or a large way. If for no other reason each piece we make teaches us something about our craft. I was thinking more though that through the intellectual investment in thinking through the composition, the learning about the subject, and the interest in the subject leading to the desire to make the work that it insists it way into our psyche and become an integral part of us changing our world view and the way we interact with the world. As with any exploration, you're a different person at the end of a trek than when you begin. As I stated earlier, this work was intended to affect changes, to think through the internal conflicts between what I have and what I desire, between what I want to accomplish and to what I am limited.

I have a friend whose work is in psychology and social work. She is a proponent of art therapy, mainly journaling for which she leads workshops. She looks at it more as being like a therapy where exploring the issues leads to insights into the journalist's motivations and issues. As we were talking one day she asked my take on it. I told her that it was my experience that when I was stressed or at odds with myself that I became hyper-creative. I attributed this to the self-defense mechanisms we all have ramping up their efforts to fend off the stresses by finding creative ways to combat them. Further, you should be able to tap into this heightened self-defense creativity much as a physician would inoculate a patient to bring to bear his patient's immune system, not only to affect change that would benefit the individual but, to glean valuable creative resources due to the condition.

Some of the conflict for myself is that I decided to put my effort into art at a late date in my life so that I feel that I don't have a great deal of time to let it take me where it will. That, and as with all artist there is the conflict between the work and the rest of life, the need to spend time working on art and the demands of the day to day function of survival. Thus, I take the theory I have about the changes that a piece of work can have and use it to set my self up to go on. 

I've include this piece of music by Will Hoge for its philosophical value. Have a lovely, lovely weekend.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

American Romanticism

American Romanticism, that's what I'm thinking of these days. Trouble is, I'm not sure what constitutes American Romanticism. What are the romantic notions that we Americans have. Initially I think of things like cowboys and the West. Also, being on the road, Route 66 and what have you. These are general romantic ideas. Personally, I have some notions of romanticism, drifting and rootless and Southern romanticism. I'm not sure I have a crystalized idea of the concept though.

Heather2, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the subject dear friends. Can you broaden the list for me? Do you have notions that seem to fit the concept (think Turner and Delacroix) that might not occur to me? I'm going to make this an ongoing dialog for future posts so, please join in with your opinion.

Have a lovely evening.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Sometimes a portrait is just a side item. Here is Scooter with Laura and a quick sketch I did for use on a card and for a start-up screen for Laura's computer. Scooter is in the center, Co is on the left and Obie on the right.

Laura and Scooter, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"
Puppies, SmartSketch file

Also, the first crocus, err crocuses, errr croci, whatever, of the spring.

Have an interesting evening.


Saturday, March 6, 2010


One thing I am learning from the charcoal sketches that I am doing is that less is more. That seems to fly in the face of something that I learned from a book about drawing and that I truly believe which is, 'it's good to exaggerate, and it's better to exaggerate too much than not enough.' It's a paradox I haven't resolved yet. I realized this truth from doing perspective drawings and the way they naturally exaggerate the angles of the lines.

Heather, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

1670 (detail)Acrylic on paper with collage, 18"x24"

This lovely young lady posed for photos as a model for this painting and the charcoal is from one of the photos. I have several of the photos and will be doing some more charcoals from them. One of the purposes of these exercises is that I am about to start work on some engraving prints and want to get the hatch correct.

Have a lovely weekend.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Martha Miller has been writing lately about her angst about doing a portrait for commission. I myself have thought over all of the pros and cons of doing portraits and whether the sitter will like the work. So far, so good, all my subjects have been to kind to tell me if they loathed my work.

Part of the problem is that where do you target your attempt at a true likeness of the subject. I have been doing some practice drawing for my blog from photos using charcoal and working from photos. I find that working for a more true likeness kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. You take time doing a really good layout using a transfer methods such as a grid, projection, camera obscura, or tracing and then it is a matter of paint by numbers. The hard part is putting more of yourself into the work.

June, Charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Little Yellow Idol, Oil on canvas, 18"x 24"(Gallery View)

I like charcoal because it does so much of the work of for me. I like the way you get areas where the mark making is so lovely. Take for instance the portrait of Laura from my post of February 12, the hands turned out very nice. My take is that for a good portrait from a photo, the photo has to be good, well composed with good lighting. I'm not a good photographer so I take many photos and hope after the model quits posing I get photos that reflect the person I want to portray.

This goes to the heart of the matter. The portrait is a collaboration between the model and the artist. Both must relax and show themselves and they both have to bring part of themselves and invest it in the work.
But, then, I'm just kind of going on without knowing what I'm talking about.

Have an exciting evening.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Snowy Tuesday

It's a snowy Tuesday morning here in North Georgia, Looking toward the top of the mountain, I can't see it for the falling snow. The schools are closed today so, Laura is here and that makes Scooter, our silky terrier, very happy.

I've posted another charcoal drawing rendered from a studio study. I've included the study, which I have posted previously, also. 

Seated Nude, charcoal on paper, 8"x10"

Seated Nude, charcoal and pastel on kraft paper, 18"x24"

I think I will have some breakfast and watch the snow. It started about 5:30 AM and is now beginning to accumulate. Have a most exciting Tuesday.