Friday, November 06, 2009

Anatomy of an Artwork

Here is a sequence showing the development of my drawing from
November 5th.

"Into the Horse Wars"
Oil paint bar

The initial sketch in charcoal.

Filling in major areas---focusing on the body armor/breastplate and horse heads.

The faces appear.....

Mixing tones more, and the bowl appears...

The composition is completed and all areas of the image have been attended to. Now for the final adjustments....

Just a bit of deepening of blacks and it's finished.

This drawing came out fast and furious. It's the most compositionally complex piece I've done this month. Today, another oil stick drawing on a similar horse theme titled, "Ride It Through." My task for each day is to find a good idea, most often accompanied by a provocative title, and then jump right into it without a lot of analysis or planning. It's working well, as I have 11 finished pieces as of today.

Tomorrow---a new task. This afternoon I bought a BIG piece of heavy watercolor paper for the next artwork: 30"x40". This is still to be completed in one day! I have a juicy idea in mind, but of course, this could change easily in the morning....

I'll keep you posted....

Open Studios: The Inside View

Open Studios Night here at VSC: We all wander around from building to building, checking out what everyone is working on. If you don't feel like sharing, you just keep your door closed. Good to see what all of my fellow residents are working on! There is great talent here this month. The following pictures are a few of my favorites....
Wesley's studio---his big charcoal drawings depict bears and bear hunting. Beautiful, if sad and haunting work.

Oreen's sculpture. Found object, junk, ephemera and detritus. I LOVE her stuff. I feel a kinship, since I photographed abandoned buildings for all of those years. Her studio is like a big rusty playground. Great stuff!
Erin Lee Benson---painting the walls of her studio---a full intallation piece. You get this really amazing feeling in there, surrounded by the giant pink critters and yellow, floating orbs. Really fun and slightly unnerving stuff----like I like it. She's a delightful person, as well. Very intelligent and funny.

Liz Hamby: Her table of objects. This type of arranging of stuff really tickles me. She does layered painting/drawing/collages and sands them, then builds the layers up again. She works fast and furious.

Jason's studio with about 75 figure drawings. He's managed to do all of this in 2 weeks, as well as have a few oil paintings underway....and go to all of the evening events and parties! And he's 22. Nifty guy. Very talented.

My studio, yesterday. I'm doing well on my "one artwork a day" project. This type of approach makes me appreciate my ideas differently, as well as work differently. When you don't have a set plan, you have to pay closer attention and keep all of you options open. I'm having a great time with it. I've made art that makes me laugh and creeps me out at the same time. Good combination!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hard work at Art Camp

Halloween at the Studio School! Not a lot of costumes, but the ones that arrived were good. This is Jason, pro wrestler artist. I helped him find the knitted ski mask---pro wrestling Vermont style!

A new exhibit in the gallery by my fellow resident Sookoon who is from Singapore. You can see her work at These brooms are made with hair and have careful braiding at the binding. Really evocative, story-teller, fantastic stuff!

I've been working with chalk pastels for the past week and a half. Running out of a few colors I brought with me, I went to the art store here and bought a few of these. Holy roller....they have changed my life, I think. I have NEVER used such smooth, soft pastels. They make the chalks I brought with me feel like crumbly rocks! These Mount Vision pastels have dense color and layer and blend....oooohhhhh......safer than sex and better than drugs, lemme tell ya.

My ideas are becoming more and more narrative. Perhaps I've described this already, but my project while I'm here is to do a drawing or painting a day. Instead of laboriously sketching and planning out an artwork and making sure it links up closely to other artworks in a series, I am getting a good idea and just going with it. I don't prepare or analyze or plan. It's turned out to be remarkably fun and satisfying! I feel like I'm getting back to something I had lost, honestly. Working with pastels has a good immediacy for this: no tools, brushes, thinners, canvas, etc., etc., etc. It's just my hand and a stick of color. Talk about gratifying. Here at the VSC, residents ask each other over mealtimes, "How is your work going?" I always say, "So far, so good!" It's the most honest appraisal I can give.
Above: a life drawing sketch for a drawing I finished yesterday. The model was very accomodating to my requests for particular poses. She'd ask what the figure was really doing in the picuture and I would describe. "Well, there's a woman talking to a severed head oracle in a speaking circle." She and I and the other artists in the life drawing room would have a little laugh, and we'd all get down to work. Gotta say, I love this place.

Here is the face of the woman---a close-up. The title of the drawing is, "The Speaking Circle (Asking the Oracle)." Funny thing, she turned out to be happy to talk to this oracle....her facial expression happened on it's own. This is what I am getting from not planning everything out: great surprises.....a feeling that the artwork is leading me, rather than me directing it through something like a cattle chute. Haha!

Walking by the river the other day, I found these fish washed up on the gravel bar. I think they're Junk Fish. Not very good eating...