Archives for category: portraits

zoe-3My friend, the writer and artist, Kevin Eib remarked that since he knows Zoe well enough, he recognizes this expression.  He called it “Mom, this is sooooo boring”.  Those of you who know Zoe probably know that look.  Poor kid.  I empathize with the state that begets the expression.  Boredom is a fine enemy; powerful, debilitating, uninspiring.  I can think of now worse.  We discussed this idea, more specifically the French feeling of ennui, which is a special kind of existential boredom.  We were discussing Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, where boredom comes up as the “abortive birth” of the relationship between mankind and the devil.  I have grown to be quite fond of Baudelaire–once a person gets past the shock and revulsion of his images, once a reader sees past the vehicle and gets at the trope, there is a shining mystical heart to his work that I love dearly.  His poem “Carcass” is one of my favorites.  I was so excited to find that many of my students could see what lay beneath his disturbing imagery…the fleeting dissolution of self into a larger whole alongside the terror of a more permanent dissolution (death).  If I can get even 1 student to buy into the idea that literature and poetry are fundamentally important to our existence, then I’ve (obviously) done my job.  An important part of our discussion revolved around why Baudelaire found Boredom to be such a devilish problem… one or two students managed to identify the central problem: the (false) belief that one is powerless, an ambivalence that allows, even fosters, the growth of evil.  Truly, what worse feeling is there than to think that what one does doesn’t matter at all.  That all action ends in irrelavance.  Pretty hard to swallow if you ask me.

Goethe had some things to say about action:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

Lovely, no?

As far as the portrait goes, I still see some problems with the left eye, specifically the orbital indentation alongside the bridge of the nose needs more shading, and something is still off in the forehead (what?).  Also,I’m trying to  understand hair (shape, reflections, shading, curvature) but clearly still have much to learn.  The black and white medium (charcoal) is much easier to deal with…

Oh.  Here’s something interesting.  It turns out that the woman on whom the red-coated figure is based actually has a “thing” for mushrooms.  Funny, because I just couldn’t figure out why I kept seeing them.  It just didn’t make any obvious sense to me… I have no real connection to the little fungi, but Miss Bloom does.   Weird.  I suppose I must have known that somehow deep deep deep in my brain.  I’m glad I trusted my intuition and added them.  Seriously, no less than 4 times I “saw” the mushrooms before I finally said “fine” and added them even though it made no sense to me.  Cool.

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memories-of-a-southern-girlhood2I’m back to work.  I’m at a place right now where I need to paint what I want to paint…  There are times when I just need to do exactly what inspires me while ignoring outward concerns.  Lately, most of my inspiration is coming from female compadres.  Specifically, I’ve been thinking alot about three sisters (me and my sisters and the 3 Bloom girls).  Our culture tends to value romantic relationships over others, which makes sense since the romanitc is the center out of which families arise.  But the relationshps that form the periphery of romantic relationships, specifically childhood friendships that last well into adulthood, are just as important.  Why do we create such a rigid hierarchy with male-female relationships at the top?  Internally I’m beginning to sense a construct that is more “weblike,” a shape that includes the people in my extended family and friendships that are quite obviously necessary to my spiritual wellbeing.  I suppose this web has always been there, but I can see that I’ve bent my awareness to fit a shape that is contrary to this web.  The “nuclear” of my nuclear family is not comprised of an isolated atom…especially now that my family life is changing shape so dramatically.  A friend keeps reminding me to keep my heart open to all that the universe has to offer, and as I do that I find that my life is incredibly full and that I’ve been blessed with so much.  And I don’t say that in a way that excludes my previous life, but in a way that includes it while opening my life and home to a wider, larger family that has always been there.

Not only that, but I’m grateful to still have my sense of humor.  What’s funnier than putting on those big girl panties and singing along (badly, I might add) while the stars come out and you have the kind of friends who let you sing as loud as you want and give you hell for being the Nancy that you are?

And the mushrooms are not a drug reference, but I kept seeing them again and again, so I put them in there.  I’ll let you know if I figure out what they’re about.

zoe-in-progress Here is a photo of the progress I made today on Zoe’s portrait.  There are some problems with the right eye that I’m having a hard time solving.  And some issues with the shape of the face that I hope won’t be too hard to fix.  There are a few other problems but let’s not nitpick.  Overall I’m pretty satisfied with how it’s coming along.

On another note I’m pleased to announce that (drumroll….) I received a call last night informing me that I won the 2009 Alaska One Poster Contest.  It comes with quite a bit of exposure.  I think fame and fortune will come easy to me and rest assured I won’t forget about the little people.  My close friends and family are welcome to free rides on the Lear Jet they provide, but the rest of you will have to talk to my bodyguards if you want to even get near me. That’s just the way these things go…

Seriously, this could be a harbinger (the good kind not the ominous kind) of things to come.  If I play my cards right I can leverage this in my favor.  Some pretty recognizable names have  graced the face of the Alaska One posters:  Claire Fejes, David Rosenthal, Bill Brody, Karin Franzen, Randall Compton, Byron Birdsall,  Barbara LaValle, Ree Nancarrow, Todd Sherman, David Mollett, and Jon Van Zyle to name just a few.  These are big deal Alaskan artists and one day I might be like that guy in Office Space; I’ll casually rest an elbow on my cubicle wall with a cup of coffee in my hand and say something like: “Sooooo…I’m kind of a big deal around here.”  I can’t wait.

Oh, and don’t even ask which painting won because it’s all very top secret until the grand unveiling.  They’re keeping the painting in a vault at the Pentagon until March.  I’ve taken a vow of silence.

preliminary sketch To the right is the preliminary sketch for a portrait I’m working on of my daughter.  I’m satisfied with the results of the sketch.  I spent quite a few hours getting it right.  After I got the whole figure down onto canvas (the first hour or so) it looked like this:  first draft

The right eye was way off and the shape of her face was too round.  along with a number of other issues.  What comes next is going over the charcoal in a thin wash of burnt umber and then I’ll lay down the first layers of color.  However, from experience I know that everything and anything can go wrong from this point on.  The charcoal on canvas is the easy part since you can erase to your heart’s content.  Paint is another matter though.

Here is the photo I’m working from:

original photoSuch a pretty girl!  I hope I can do her justice…

Later that same day….  I’ve put the first layer of paint on and am feeling good about it.  I think I’ll stop here for the day.portrait in oil