30 September 2008

weekly figure group

charcoal on Strathmore drawing, 14" x 10".

another figure drawing group, another model ... i've worked with this model before but forgot to ask her name. she was a great subject -- lots of variety, good musculature and proportion across her form, and energetic interesting poses. she did not do a single lying down pose, which most models use as their free nap. amazing!

the group has been in a slump lately. don, one of the stalwarts, has been sick a lot, and the group organizer has frequently used a particular model, jo, who is both unpleasant to look at and a loud personality. she has worked at the group six times in the past three months. i ran into two artists on my way into the group who were complaining about her; one had just walked out when he found out who the model was.

i called don at home to check in on him, and he asked who was the model at the group that night. "jo," i said. "gee," he replied, "three times in four weeks." and then he laughed.

25 September 2008


watercolor on Lanaquarelle HP 300 gsm, 14" x 10".

third in the paola series. this was shot in very dim light so the modeling contrast is subdued.

in contrast to the previous paintings, this is done in a rough, skritchy manner, with iridescent color contrasts and unresolved brushmarks, somewhat in the style of bonnard.

this painting was the model's choice as compensation for modeling. many thanks, paola!

24 September 2008


watercolor on Arches CP 300 gsm, 14" x 10".

second in the paola series. we were working outside and she stretched out on one of my sun loungers, making for a great image.

i bumped up the chroma in most of the colors and mixed her "hot" skin tones primarily of quinacridone gold and quinacridone magenta, muted with a little phthalocyanine green YS and perylene maroon or burnt sienna.

her face, which was in complete shadow and rather dark in the reference photo, required a lot of fine tuning to harmonize with the lighted parts of the figure and appear darkened but chromatically balanced -- not too yellow, red or blue. (a green bias ended up looking yellow.)

the previous painting was done in a very "liquid" style in which all the areas (with the exception of the hair) were rendered with juicy washes tilted and blotted to create very smooth diffusion modeling. in this painting i relied more on the brush to model the figure, but still tried to keep the edge transitions soft.

18 September 2008


watercolor on arches R, 300gsm. 10" x 14".

despite the distractions of stock markets and home improvement projects, have been slowly finishing a handful of pieces on paola, a model i worked with last march.

this is a simple image, less revealing than most of my nudes (i think the term is "implicit nude") and designed around simple shapes. i like it because it highlights most of her flattering features, especially her large eyes, slender arms and elegant hands.

blue or purple is distributed throughout the background but not in the figure, which is entirely earth pigments plus pyrrole orange, perylene maroon and phthalo green YS.

04 September 2008

weekly figure drawing group

charcoal on strathmore drawing, 12" x 9".

i have missed several sessions in august ... our dog died; i spent a couple of weeks completely refinishing and repairing my wife's redwood greenhouse; and we have been making preparations for a fundraiser we will be hosting this weekend for the endangered species coalition.

anna marie was the model tonight. i have not especially enjoyed working with her in the past but last night was a very congenial session. she was much more relaxed and focused than has been usual, and she had put on some very flattering weight -- by eating, she said, "butter and eggs". scott, a local english professor, was drawing by me and we had some interesting exchanges on campus politics and classical rhetoric.

although her figure is lovely and great interest to draw, i focused mostly on her face, making several drawings and a couple of paintings. these two drawings are both 10 minute poses.

for some reason my glasses were not giving me the clarity i needed and i had only a fuzzy perception of her real features.

03 September 2008

coast cypresses

watercolor on arches CP, 600 gsm, 42" x 29".

i began this painting in 2002 and finished it this week. for five years i have kept the porcelain dishes of dried out paints used in the painting, and carefully transferred the painting from one hanging and one storage to another. today i framed the painting and hung it in our great room and i have finally cleaned out those dishes. my thanks to nick simmons for insisting i get back to it.

i'm an admirer of the late 18th century style of tinted watercolor, for example as perfected in the works of francis towne and john cotman. i kept to the drawing as closely as feasible, and in several places accented or cleaned up the drawing with charcoal pencil. there is very little modeling of form, and complex textures are mostly confined to the grassy bank.

my original interest was in the interlacing branches, a remarkable image of tree community, even though i eliminated about half the branches that appear in the original photo document. i also eliminated all the shadows. i did not want a crisp light concept and the bewildering tesselation of shadows and branches that a strong light rendering would create; instead i wanted the trees to stand as distinct but intertwined figures. i played a violet scale across the tree trunks to define the spatial contrasts between foreground and background trees, and darkened the sky to suggest early morning.

i have never persisted with an unfinished painting for this long. the only reason i did so was because of the enormous work i had already put into it -- the underdrawing alone took two or three hours. it's not my favorite painting, but it is very gratifying to see it finally finished.