Thursday, 31 May 2012

Leaving New York

Finally it was time to leave. (And before I have posted all the blog posts I have planned. Did not quite realize how busy I would be, or how bad the internet access. There will be quite a few new posts over the next few days, including shots of the open studio.)

The flight home was truly breathtaking, leaving Newark at dusk and reaching Ireland at around dawn. Unfortunately I am not nearly a good enough photographer to catch the amazing light effects in the sky, nor am I a good enough landscapist - even if I had the materials with me.

Tried my best, as you can see. Hard to make mountains look bad, though. And a truly beautiful and heart-warming sight they were, after all that flatness of New York. (To those that tried to argue with me that New York is not flat, Yes It Is. The Palisades are NOT high. Come to Scotland, and I'll show you.) From looking at the flight path provided in the plane, I'm pretty sure this must be Skye. Which is a not very big island, for non-scots. Oddly, staying in a (little bit) upstate New York has made me much keener to go and explore the countryside here - so, if nothing else, the trip has made me appreciate how many good things we are blessed with back here in Glasgow, and in Scotland.

(oh, and here is a little link to a great video - Bonnie "Prince" Billy - I came across it near the start of the residency, and as it shows some of my common haunts, it kept me from being too homesick during my stay.)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Blue Hair and Aquaboard

This one is a study done for a bigger painting that if you have sharp eyes you may notice in the studio shots. The big painting has been a lot of hassle and I am still not entirely happy with it - will post it sometime soon. This little one (13x13cm), though, just worked first time and is why I decided to go bigger. It is painted on aquaboard, a new thing to me, but appears to be quite common in American art supply stores. It is made by Ampersand (who seem to do a big range of boards) and claims to be of archival quality - "watercolors on Aquaboard can be sealed and framed without glass, keeping colors and textures true to life". The surface certainly feels like cold pressed watercolour paper and is ivory in tone. The paint seemed to take longer than I'm used to, which made me impatient as I was wanting to layer. But this could be a strength, as it would maybe give lots of manipulating time. Will report back after I have used it a few more times.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Fall

Beginning to think about getting things together for the open studio (I know, a bit late, right?) so am beginning to photograph stuff prior to putting them up on the walls. Pity it's a dull day here. Anyway, I have tried to take a few progress shots as I go along, and of course the studio shots often show work in progress.

This one is pretty small, hand-sized, and much more intense in colour in real life. Currently I am quite pleased with it, and so was Gary Sussman at my critique last week. It was one of those paintings that come quick - just the two stages that you see here.

Monday, 21 May 2012

More Studio Shots

Time for an update - painting time is almost over for me, as the paintings will need a little time to dry. Also, the open studio event is on Thursday (yes, this Thursday, folks, do come along if you are in the New York area). So, here are a few shots of how the studio looks now - with a few paintings scattered around. If you remember, I posted some piccies on flickr a few weeks ago, just as I arrived.

As most of my paintings are pretty small (and the studio is pretty big) they don't really take over the space. And I have no idea how I'm going to hang them. Oh well. Suggestions (and help, if you want to come down early on Thursday) welcome!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Life Drawing and Fun

Life drawing again - yesterday I had a particularly good session - as can be seen more fully over at my flickr page. But that leads to the question, what do I mean by a good session? For me, the process of life drawing is more important than the result - in some ways this is the opposite of oil painting. If I feel that I have spent my time really translating what I see into graphic form, I am happy. Every session there are different problems I am trying to solve, and months can pass trying to figure out one thing. Yesterday was particularly good, as I felt I caught the movement and character of the model (the lovely Mimi) more than I usually do. This is sometimes important, and sometimes not - after all, when anyone other than me looks at the drawing, they are not judging it on its faithfulness to the model. However, I prize life and character, and often feel looking at other folks drawings that what little character is present belongs entirely to the artist. Models (and by extension, as most life models are female, women) have character and thoughts, and moods, too, and this is something I am trying hard to portray, both in life drawing and in oils.

The history of art is littered with empty women, especially in oil painting, and I know this is partly the ladies fault for requesting a painting to make them more beautiful, younger looking, etc. But that can only be an excuse for portraits - not for Titian's mythical ladies, or Renoir's daft teenagers. (to pick on just two - they are still outstanding paintings). There are, of course, exceptions - in the field of life drawing, Watteau's delicate heads come to mind immediately.

Boy, I've lectured for a bit! Anyway, I had fun and I enjoyed letting go and seeing what the watercolour wanted to do. Hopefully people looking at the results will share some of that joy.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Some Progress Part 2

This first painting is a little one (10x10cm) that I brought with me to New York, as I wanted something to compare my progress with it. The second painting, same size, same canvas, was my first completed painting here. I hope you all agree that progress has been made, although basing this on two paintings only is probably a bit daft, as of course things are never quite that straight. Not for me, anyway - I find I can do something that I really like, then forget how I did it, and go back to struggling for a while.

Anyway, to me the difference is the use of medium - a mix of stand oil, liquin, galkyd and turpenoid - which my workshop introduced me to. Until now I was using turpentine if painting at home for the first pass, but after that using straight paint. In Life Class it would be straight paint all the way, as it is not fair to inflict turps on other folks. But using the medium allows me to really think out the composition both in tone and colour right from the start and gives me plenty of opportunity to change things around. It also enables thinner layers and glazes, whcih really expands on the possibilities - great stuff!

Turpenoid doesn't seem very available in the UK, though, so I may have to experiment a bit to find an alternative - the manufacturer says it is citrus based, so maybe Zest-It would be the one to choose. Or turps, back in the house, as previously.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Some Progress

Half way through the residency and I haven't done enough painting. My main excuse is that as I haven't been able to hire a model yet I am mainly working from photographs - and I can do that back home. So far, only the life drawings, the bird painting and the start of a landscape have been done from life. And, of course, the painting I did in the workshop that took up the first week - which is still languishing at the ASL 57th street building. Oh well.

However I have made some progress, from doing the workshop, from talking to people such as Daniel Maidman and the other residents and wandering round the art museums and galleries. All I need is to put all that thinking and learning into practice!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sketch Class

Tuesday night is life drawing night here at the Vytlacil Campus, except they don't seem to call it that - it's "open sketch" instead. This particular chap (Robert) was great, very athletic, and we seemed to decide n mainly 10 minute poses, which really suit me. Longer poses tend to be more static and I get bored, end up doing to much.
These are done with a dip pen and Dr Marten's Radiant Watercolours (with the white being chinese wite watercolour). I bought several different papers in Pearl Paints the other day and this is me trying them out. Think it will take me another few sessions before I make my mind up which papers I like, though.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Vytlacil Campus Sculptures

There are a wealth of sculptures scattered in the grounds of Vytlacil Campus, so much so that you never quite know what you are going to stumble across next, or what is natural and what is created. The following are a few that are round the back of the house - the first is particularly friendly.
Others are a little more startling and have a very strong presence. The last one pictured blends with the life-drawing barn, shifting in mood with the light.
Remember we have an Open Studio event on the afternoon of the 24th of May, with bus leaving from the Manhattan campus on 57th St, so you can come and see them for yourself.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

More NYC Museums

Yesterday I learnt that Americans call all places that sell artwork Art Galleries, and all places that show art but don't sell it Museums. Just one of the many little misunderstandings I am having with people - it is really making me wonder how much of my blog is readable by non-scots, and how much of other people's blogs I am really understanding. Huh, as New Yorkers seem keen an saying. Anyway, I've been wandering around a few of these museums - MoMA, where this marvelous goat statue by Picasso lives in a lovely little outdoor space. Unfortunately I was generally underwhelmed by the place - I was expected tons of abstract expressionist works, lots of people I'd never heard of, and a better understanding of abstract art as practised in America. But no. What you have is like a mini Tate Modern, with the impressionist/post impressionist bit of the National Gallery added on. Oh well.
So I went to the Guggenheim. Half of which, it turns out, was closed. But again, the strength seemed to be with the post-impressionists. Still, I had fun drawing the inside of the building, and lots of legs of folks appreciating these big torn metal sculptures. Then I thought I'd have something substantial and warm to eat, so ordered the fixed price menu of a sandwich, chips and a glass of wine. OK, I thought, chips and a sandwich seems a strange combination, but I'm in a foreign country so I should try and eat what the locals do. Except I had forgotten that what they call chips here are crisps. Duh. Still, the sandwich was nice, as were the wine and the crisps, and I had another go at drawing the building, this time with a little bit of Central Park thrown in.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

And Back Home . . . PAI 2012

If any of you are paying attention, you'll notice that this painting was posted back in December. However, this particular image is the product of Lighthouse Photography who has done a much better job than I have ever managed. Also, I believe it is currently on display at Paisley Art Institute 2012 exhibition.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Exploring the Metropolitan

The Metropolitan Museum is huge. I knew this, but it really didn't prepare me for the reality of just how huge. Think the National Gallery and Tate Britain and The British Museum all added together.
So far I have been twice and am planning on going back at least another couple of times - although I wandered around the Impressionist section (so many Degas! Heaven!) I was too tired to really pay attention (like you can sorta see from my sketch I was in the American wing).
This wing is interesting and I particularly liked the storage area, which has rows of paintings hung vertically in glass containers. What was particularly good was that you could get real close to the paintings and the area was deserted - enabling a very good gander at how the paintings had been painted. Invaluable. In that section there was, of course, lots of stuff other than paintings - including this statue. (Sorry no scanner presently, so all pictures photos - hence much darker and less clear than normal)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

First Night at Vytlacil Residency

First night at Vytlacil Campus and I am rather knackered, so please excuse the out-of-focus photograph. There are more (of varying quality) at my flickr page. It was lovely of the last resident to leave me a nice smiley face to welcome me - thank you!