Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Portraits

I am establishing a painting routine that is working well for me. Most of the week I work on my own in my studio and Friday mornings I go to Royal Queensland Art Society to work from the model. One week it is a nude figure the next it is a clothed figure suitable for portrait work. It is always just the one three-hour pose for the entire morning.

This is my painting from yesterday's session.

The model was nude and I was given the opportunity to "set" her pose so I chose a standing pose up on the plinth with her body facing towards me and her head angled away looking up. I was seated on a donkey easel with a lower viewpoint.

During the week I saw the amazing movie "In Search of Chopin"  and I was reminded of Delacroix's portrait of Chopin.

It is obviously just a quick head study not even progressing past the tonal block-in stage but the angle of the head really appeals. It has a lean not only sideways but also away from the viewer as if he is listening to music and concentrating. It is a fully Romantic image fitting in well with the feeling of that whole era of artists. painters, composers, musicians, and writers (George Sand) all being great mates and bouncing ideas off each other. Mutual respect was the order of the day. I have visited George Sand's house in Paris and it felt like a pilgrimage to the shrine of Romanticism. There is a great movie called "Impromptu" starring Hugh Grant as Chopin and Judy Davis as George Sand that I saw years ago that has stayed with me. In fact I used to dress in a men's style black suit  with tie there for a while in my youth!

To get back to my work, I had forgotten how much I enjoy working "alla prima". Obviously before the age of photography  everything was done from life (or from memory) but not necessarily as quickly as this sketch seems to have been done. You can't expect a model to hold such an obviously awkward angle for long. That is why I placed myself at the lower viewpoint.

The light was from above and to the left and I started boldly with yellow on the left of the face and purple on the right. I think the nailed the right side pretty early on and have just left it. The eye on the right I had to adjust several times and I do think it was because of model shifts after each break. I still have a plan of working with the "accidental" and the messy mark that is almost so wrong it is right, Almost!

Acrylic on card, big brushes throughout. Lots of the cardboard left to show through.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Portrait - Looking Up to Jan

I apologise to my readers for having neglected this blog for a while.

I have been painting almost everyday and posting many of the images on instagram, also behind the scenes studio images, complete with dogs, cats, and cups of tea.  user name robynbauer

Last year was what I referred to as my "study year" with my anatomy classes, life drawing, sessions with David Paulson, heaps of art reading and attendance at Royal Queensland Art Society portrait group sessions (all untutored).
This year, while I am still letting myself experiment quite a bit, I am consolidating what I have learned with the production of lots of new work on a consistently bigger scale than ever before.

It has always been my goal to "put it all in". A bit daunting and maybe not even possible, but I have an idea of including my portraiture, figure work, botanical things such as the big fig trees and other flora and of course fauna in big landscape compositions of the Paddington area where I live with its timber and tin cottages and leafy gardens.

All this new work is to be included in a solo show in March 2015 at the Petrie Terrace Gallery of the Royal Queensland Art Society. I have a few threads going that I am happy with and lots of other dilemmas to resolve. The main problem is balancing my work  from observation with my work from imagination. The different paintings work in themselves but will not work together so well for a solo show. I am sure the answer will come through "painting it out". I still thankfully have a bit of time up my sleeve.

In the meantime I thought I would post a recent portrait.

I am calling it "Looking Up To Jan".  Jan is a model we sometimes have at RQAS.

She was doing a standing pose up on the model stand and I decided to sit down and work so that I was literally looking up to her. She did look a bit like a diva or opera singer and I went with that idea. It is acrylic on shellac-coated card, unpainted bits showing through.

I am pleased with this painting. It had been quite a tough week and I had made a big decision to leave another group I had been going to as I felt it was becoming toxic for me and bad for my work. I feel as artists we have to nurture ourselves and our ideas. Our work always comes first and if we find ourselves in a group or situation that has stopped working for us we have to absent ourselves.  So having been through this experience I arrived at RQAS on the Friday morning feeling a sense of relief and excitement.  I  don't think I have ever painted so boldly and quickly from the model. The painting was finished in about two hours of the three hour session and I have left it alone since.

Having used every possible art media in my career I am really gravitating towards acrylic paints now. They allow you to work fast without getting muddy. I think a lot of the blending people do with oil paint makes the work look a bit dated and old hat. I like to put the brush mark there and try to leave it. Acrylic dries so fast that it makes this possible. You can layer heaps in the one session no drying time needed. And it is much more practical and economical to work on card than canvas.

This is another one of the same model. Again painted in the same way, alla prima, fast and furious, about two hours. The shadow cast by the hat was what interested me. I did like it better at an earlier stage, when it was as simple and clear as a Sam Fullbrook but I guess I didn't have the confidence to just leave it then!

A couple of pieces of advice I remember from my artist mother Joan Bauer (1933-1995).  She said to put down the mark and just leave it, and she also said "Just keep on producing".