September Show

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My still life table has been a busy setting lately and this painting above, called “Food for Thought” will appear in an upcoming Art League exhibit.  It’s an acrylic painting and measures 36 x 18 inches.  I have been painting a lot!

The painting has a cousin, a small work 20 x 16 inches that features the same compotier.

compotier yellow cloth

That September show will be at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, VA beginning September 10th and lasting through October 6th.

gallery visit / it finally stopped raining

 

dark flowersAnd thus I was able to photograph my painting.

Currently it hangs in the May exhibit at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria.  Very pretty light in the gallery today though there were areas of flooded streets just outside the building.  Mother Nature dropped A LOT of rain on the Washington DC region.

Capricious Mother Nature.

Here’s a view of the installation:

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between drawing & painting

oil pastel

A few weeks ago in September I went to the Botanic Gardens to draw with a Meetup group.  I decided to use some Sennelier oil pastels that I have — just because — and it turned out to be rather a challenge.  Sennelier oil pastels, as you may know, are expensive and lip-stick like (when new) and corrosive to the paper (eventually) because of the oil in them.  I used them on Arches oil paper, and since mine are not new, rather than being lip-stick like, they were just sticky.  I knew then that precision was not the effect to seek and so I bashed the color around.  And it’s kind of pretty if somewhat incoherent.

oil pastel neopastel botanic gardens

For a second drawing, I used Neopastels (Caran d’Ache) which I love.  Not much detail or evident precision in this drawing either but by the time I began it I had been standing rather a longish time, balancing my box of pastels under the drawing itself, a very ungainly way to work!  The flowers are composed of little flowerets that cascade across in a ball.  I got the ball quality, but not the parts.  Still, not bad to get some if not all of the complex perception.

The gooey Sennelier drawing sits inside the closed Arches oil paper tablet.  The Neopastel sits propped against furniture on the studio floor where I can see it as I work. (I’m working on a largish painting of a moth at the moment).   Seeing it there it has begun to affect me with its bright colors.  And even though the kind of flower portrayed isn’t even evident from the drawing, I find myself wanting to go back to Botanic gardens and make more incoherent drawings like these.  And I’m wondering if I could make a whole incoherent painting of them, one made exclusively from drawings.

So, we’ll see.  But for now, I’m all moth.

Here’s a detail of the gooey Sennelier where you can see the texture available. It’s a very expressive material for a certain kind of work.  I wasn’t quite in the mood for it that day I used it, but its appeal sneaks up on you later on after the work is done ….

oil pastel oblique angle

The color relationships are not unlike those of the flower painting I made recently, which is now on the wall at the Virginia Art League during the month of October.

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on the wall: Pickle Jar of Flowers

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I just learned that my pastel “Pickle Jar of Flowers” has been selected for inclusion in the upcoming “Mark” exhibit at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia.

Here’s how the gallery describes the exhibit:

Pencil marks, painting strokes, woodcuts, or a dynamic editorial eye are all marks artists use to create their works. Mark-making has been associated with conventional pen, pencil, and paper, but artists make marks on ceramics, plates, fabric, and film, with tools ranging from sticks to scrapers to pixels. Artists can also be marked with memories, conditions, or experiences that shape how their artwork is made. Specific tools, techniques, and the artist’s physicality are embedded in every work of art. This exhibit will show the viewer how the artist’s mark can be the most important element in transforming the ‘blank canvas’ into an image. Artists are also encouraged to provide a brief statement about their ‘mark’.  The curator is Charles Jean-Pierre.

The exhibit will be on view from September 5th through October 1st with a reception taking place on Thursday September 14th from 6:30-9:30 pm.

A print of the painting is available for purchase here:

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/pickle-jar-of-flowers-aletha-kuschan.html

Head seen through color

With a very specific goal in mind, I began

model april 14 (3)

attending a drawing group a couple weeks ago, and I set myself the task of drawing heads. They will be always larger than life size and always in pastel. Moreover, my idea is to use color to understand the forms — even arbitrary color.

I got the idea when my daughter was attending a portrait drawing workshop taught by Teresa Oaxaca. Whether it was by instruction or happenstance, all the participants produced charcoal drawings that were either life size or larger — many were larger. Their method if I understand it correctly (I only saw the drawings during their breaks and wasn’t privy to the conversations that took place) was to conceive the head in terms of light and dark. The model was strongly lit from one side so that many of the heads had a cast shadow of the chin raking across the shoulders.

Looking at the several drawings, an idea popped into my head: “what if the shadow, instead of being dark, was pale violet?” And in my mind I could see a kind of pale violet such as you often find in Bonnard’s palette.

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Influenced by Fauvisme, I decided to use color somewhat arbitrarily in the ways that Matisse, Bonnard, Diebenkorn and others used color.  Thus I make these images fairly rapidly and instinctively.  There’s much information to process. I see many things I want to record so I just point and shoot. The goal is not to produce a likeness, but to capture as accurately as I can some of the visual incident that catches my notice — however, I am also running the ideas through this mental lens of exaggerated color.  See something, draw it in the manner that you think about it.  So my pictures begin in odd ways and follow no logic per se except that of my attention.  Whatever I notice first, I begin drawing first.

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I discovered afterwards, though, that some priorities govern my choices.  The first priority is color. I choose the colors to relate to something I’m seeing, though the relationship is not literal — not local color.  Sometimes the warmth or coolness of the color relates it to formal aspects of the figure, to whether something comes forward or recedes in space. Sometimes the color relates tonally, but not chromatically to what I’m seeing.

Sometimes the color is a whim, a feeling, a hunch. On the whole, I choose color over tone. Next in priority is line when something linear strikes me as especially intriguing and lastly tone for the sake of the form — in that order.  More or less.

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I have no idea where it will go.  And I like that too. When I’m there, actually drawing, I do very little evaluation of the image. Mostly I react to what I see.  And thoughts about the resulting images are something I leave for later on — for some future meditative moment.

Yesterday the session was all short poses so I never made a large pastel.

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These short drawings are on small sheets or in a notebook. The sheets are about as large as regular photo copier paper.

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This last drawing is a rapid sketch using oil pastel.

Little sketches

doll drawings

We dropped by the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, earlier today to watch Teresa Oaxaca demonstrate her manner of drawing with charcoal.  While she drew I made a few sketches of her set up. I learned afterwards that she had made the doll I drew herself (there were two dolls in her set up): she had sculpted the doll’s face herself.

Here’s another:

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