At the Art Students League once more

I’m back again at the Art Students League after a 2 yr break. This time instead of the usual evening class I’ve signed up for one in the morning with Mary Beth McKenzie and in the afternoon with Peter Homitzky.  Time is moving along swiftly. The morning class is in a small studio packed with easels forming two semi circles around the two models and poses are held for two weeks. The afternoon class is in a much larger studio also with two set ups, one for still life and one a model.

I now have lots of sketches, gesture drawings from both classes and today I did several on large newsprint. I found that having worked on smaller sizes these past two weeks, working big was very difficult!! I wish these skills could be like riding a bicycle, once learnt never forgotten!

mbm - 4 - wip 5

The piece above is where the painting is at after 5 days. You can see the progress pics below.   One of things that Mary Beth reminded me to do was to keep making corrections at every stage.   She was amused when I said that I found it difficult the longer I’d spent on the painting and said that it was common for an artist to be in denial but to overcome that and step in and make those corrections.   As that had been my first day with this painting I had no qualms enthusiastically jumping back in and making corrections.  Then I spent a few more days on it and up until yesterday I was in denial and kept pretending I wasn’t by making tiny adjustments.  I didn’t want to make the required drastic corrections.  Today with the teacher in class I decided I might as well make them before they get pointed out to me 😛  And there were many to make. For example the white patch just below the eye was where the previous eye was painted!!  This change allowed me to make the nose longer : )  I do actually like it like this, corrections and all, more than the over scumbled stage it was at before. I could keep going in this manner but we have one more day left in this two week long pose.

This is the 4th piece that I’ve worked on in the morning class.  For the first 3 paintings,  I spent 4 days and one of those will remain incomplete as it was based on a substitute model we ended up having for just a day.

Found out today that one more of Mary Beth’s monotypes has been acquired by the Met bringing her count with them to 19 monotypes, 3 paintings and a few prints.  Wow!!

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In Peter Homitzky’s class instead of working on still life compositions as I had planned I went for the model.   We have a really tall Russian model whose size just doesn’t seem to fit into any sized page I start her on.  You can see what I mean quite clearly in the second piece where she grew beyond the rectangle space I’d demarcated for the painting.  I liked the effect of her feet sticking out and decided to leave it as it is.  Used two values mostly for the areas in light and shadow as an experiment.

I can see that amongst other things I have to improve my painting planning and measurement skills.  Peter also said that I should plan the colours that I intend to use in a painting before I start and also about making thumbnail sketches for selecting a composition and improving those skills too.

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I had initially decided to use oils in the morning class and acrylics in the afternoon. I found that I was struggling with the Grumbacher acrylics that I had picked up mostly because of its liquid consistency. The first Homitzky piece here was made using acrylics. When Peter found me struggling he asked me to switch to oils and now I’m using oils in both the classes and brought the acrylics back home with me today. He related the story of how acrylic paints were developed for murals by the Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros and brought by him to America. A point it seems forgotten as some fine art paint company stepped in an applied for the patent in the US back around then in the 50’s. He is of the opinion that that’s where they were and still are best used.  I do enjoy the talking and interaction with the teacher in this class.

I’m updating a set on flickr with this months output, scribbles and all.


Year end challenge

Happy New Year!   I havent been painting regularly and hence not been blogging either.  I hope to change all that this year.

I’ve known for a while now that I needed another jump start and decided to take a leap by signing up for Karin Jurick’s year end portrait challenge.  Read more about it on her blog.

Karin Jurick Portrait Challenge 2009

I didn’t get the likeness I was looking for ( Sorry Andrea! ) but I’m hoping it will help me continue with painting regularly in 2010 : )   One thing that this exercise reinforced is the fact that I definitely need to go slow in the early stages : )  It’s been fun though.  And if you paint too I recommend you sign up for Karin’s regular challenges.

It’s been great fun heading off to Karin‘s Different Strokes from Different Folks blog to check out the entries as she was posting them.  A lot of hard work on her part through the year but this challenge required all of that and more right through the holiday season as there were 180 participants!!   Thank you Karin for doing this again.

8″ X 8″ Acrylic on a linen canvas panel.

Tip : Spot the Flaws with Flipped Images

Here’s a tip on using your computer to spot your drawing/painting flaws.  I was too lazy to grab my camera and take photos of two recent drawings that i did and used the webcam and Photo Booth instead.  What i got was the images reversed and what I saw was a whole bunch of flaws glaring back at me 😀  This is another tool that I will use to spot mistakes in future.  I’ve put a the two examples side by side for you to see.  The first in each set is how you would view it and the second the mirror image.

Photo Booth flipped 1

2nd attempt flipped 2

Didn’t want to go around holding paintings in front of my laptop webcam and googled only to be reminded that flipping images is easy on a mac 😛  Use Preview and use the Flip Horizontal command under the Tools Menu and off you go.  The two below are of a portrait that was started recently.
no name - wip flipped

Pattern : Illustration Friday

Pattern. Face after face. Follows a pattern, a formula.  Actually it is more like a guideline.  First to learn then to forget. I didn’t get that when I was learning it. How was I supposed to forget? The eyes to be centered from the top of the head to the chin and so on. I’m taking it into account but it’s not such a conscious decision anymore, more a part of the background conversation.   I remember talking to myself while positioning his ears though.

no name - wip

Today, thanks to Ed Terpening, I saw a video demo of  Peggi Kroll-Roberts showing her guidelines for these patterns. It refreshed my memory and I realised that I need to allow for more space below the nose upto the chin :D.

You can see more videos, read about this workshop and see Ed’s beautiful paintings on his blog.

Work in progress 12″ X 16″ Acrylic on Canvas

An offering

I was quite busy during the run up to my first solo exhibition and had stopped painting a couple of weeks before. When I came back home, from the opening on a high, all I could think of doing was to start painting again. I got down to it only a few days later on the 31st. This painting just flowed… upto this point 😀 It was extra special not having a need to finish it quickly! A hectic social calendar, a trip to India and then a photo book project ensured that it still stands incomplete on my easel.

An offering - wip

Almost all my paintings have “names”  and this one is called “An offering”.   Today while doing some research on the flower and it’s properties I found some interesting information.

The Bangla month of Ashar began June 15, but only now has the rainy season truly arrived: the kadam trees have blossomed and, in the streets of Dhaka, boys are selling kadam flowers.

Kadam is also available in India and is a flower associated with Krishna.   Here in Bangladesh it is said to usher in the monsoons.  The flower has a lot of medicinal properties too.

Kadam (Anthocephalus cadamba) is traditionally believed to bring happiness and prosperity.  source.

I’ve resurrected this post which had been in draft mode for a while now.  The flurry of activities that keeps me away from painting continues.  We move to Colombo shortly having spent 3 and half happy years here in Dhaka thanks to wonderful friends.  Today the packers have put away all my paints and brushes.   It’s going to be a while before I’m all set up in a new studio.

I know I’m being overly sentimental but moving does that to me.  Here’s wishing you all happiness and prosperity!

Pretend : Illustration Friday


Pretend you’re happy when you’re blue
It isn’t very hard to do
And you’ll find happiness without an end
Whenever you pretend

Remember anyone can dream
And nothing’s bad as it may seem
The little things you haven’t got
Could be a lot if you pretend

And if you sing this melody
You’ll be pretending just like me
The world is mine, it can be yours, my friend
So why don’t you pretend?


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Vacant : Illustration Friday

Shades of Grey

Positions Vacant?  Unfortunately, this coming year this is going to be a well thumbed section in the newspapers.

The piece is titled “Shades of Grey” – don’t believe everything that you read in the newspapers.  As the first thought that came to mind when I saw the topic for the week was vacancies I couldnt resist using this.  : )

36″ X 30″ acrylic on canvas. Photo refs copyright Anil Advani.  Used with permission.


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Routine : Illustration Friday

market- wip

Friends and readers of this blog know that I’ve been trying to build painting into my daily routine for a while now.   The time I spend on the computer every day has prevented me from succeeding so far.  There’s an interesting article in NY Times “Wake Up. Wash Face. Do Routine. Now Paint.” about artists and their routines.  The Artists Way by Julia Cameron once helped me jumpstart daily art activity.  Then, it was in addition to attending art college and my class work.  I’m hoping that the book by Carol Lloyd, Creating a Life Worth Living and delaying the acquisition of a MacBook (currently in the process of selling my PowerBook) will help me achieve my objective.

Started this earlier today.  30″ X 36″ Acrylic on Canvas. WIP.  Photo ref copyright Manu.  Used with permission.  You can see the earlier smaller piece made using the same ref here.


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Detach : Illustration Friday

Dignity of Labour

Sometimes you have to detach yourself to be able to get on with dealing with the hand that life has dealt you. This is a daily cart puller who stopped along the way for a breather.

Dignity of Labour, 8″ X 10″ acrylic on canvas roll.

Photo ref copyright Anil Advani.  Used with permission.


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