Unfinished business

ashu wip 2

This month has been very busy with a flu bug, birthday, visiting friends and now I’m leaving town for ten days.   All that makes this join my stock pile of wip’s.  I wasn’t planning on working on this sketch for much more.  Just a few darks to define jawline better and of course a few highlights.   Still, I do like it enough as it is to want to post it. : )

3rd Portrait Swap at WetCanvas

7th Annual Portrait Swap is underway over at WetCanvas.   The deadline for signing up was the end of October.  And once that passed, the admins paired up folks randomly and you got a partner to exchange photo references, paint and swap portraits with.  The work this year and feedback has been of a high standard.  This link will take you to the fabulous work in their various stages on display in this thread.

My partner on this adventure is Max and you can see his take on me on his blog, Silver and the Birds.  He’s done a fabulous job and soon it will be winging its way to sunny Colombo!

Here’s where I’m at today on his portrait.   I had great refs to work with.

wip 6

And I’m almost done.  I’ll put in some more work on the hair, sweatshirt and background over the next few days.  Below are some progress shots so that you can see what it went through to get here.

KMP 55/100wip 2
wip 3wip 4

Still Life is exciting

At the beginning I avoided drawing and painting Still Lifes.  They were boring and dull.   Paintings of flowers, apples and egg plants just didn’t excite me at all.  I was impatient and couldn’t wait to get started on Portraits.  But then to my surprise as time went by I found many pieces that I did enjoy.  It was the colours, the composition, the brush strokes, play of light that appealed to me.  I also knew that working on them would improve my painting and felt that I must try them out again.

homitzky - 3I signed up for Peter Homitzky’s class Painting from Life, Still Life and Landscapes hoping to experiment and learn.  When I walked into class that first day I saw the set up for the still life was an egg-plant and a few onions.  Eggplants?  Onions? I promptly ignored my plan to try out new things and made a beeline for a spot at the pose on the other side of the class where there was a tall Russian posing.

In the middle of the week that followed I noticed that a large part of the class had moved to the still life section.   And rightly so as there was an absolutely gorgeous set up with electric blue bottles.  But by the time realisation dawned there were no spots available.

For weeks 3 and 4, I made sure that I asked for a spot at the Still Life setup.  I was not disappointed.  Peter’s setups were outstanding and I loved working on them.  I’m sure that the onion/eggplant one was not by him!  The piece below is the second one and it remained incomplete as mid way there was an accident which broke the pitcher and the bowl into several pieces : )

While that did happen I’m just using it as an excuse here : )   Peter made sure that the Still Lifes were not marked so that each day the setup was a bit different from the previous day. He wanted us learn to be comfortable working despite the changes. The truth is that I missed a couple of classes that week and was hoping to finish using ref photos that I’d taken : )  I’ve left the painting behind so I guess I’ll just have to start another one!

Great fun was had making these and I enjoyed the freedom that came with letting go of the expectation that everything would stay exactly the same in the setup day after day.  This even helped me in my morning class.  I also learnt to add elements to my painting which were not there in the setup.  Peter is a great teacher and I do hope to go back for another class with him when next I’m at the League.

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!!

mbm - 4 - wipmbm - 4 - wip 2mbm - 4 - wip 3mbm - 4 - wip 4

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.

homitzky - 4 - wip 2homitzky - 3 - wip 2

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.

Solitude

KMP 37/100 - final

Boredom. Loneliness. Anonymity.  All the things we’ve learnt to avoid and in the process lost our ability to spend time on our own with just our thoughts for company.   I found that journaling helped me get into the mode where I would spend time thinking about things.  I’m a product of our time and cannot get away from the Net for long.  It’s long arms pull me back and hold me closer every time I try.   6 months ago or so I did 12 weeks of the morning* pages once more and came across this very interesting article on Solitude, why it is important and an equally interesting interview (audio) with the author based on this article.  A must read!

What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook. This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves — by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity. William Deresiewicz.   

Read his full article “End of Solitude

And hear his interview based on this article.

* When i did the morning pages the first time I wrote in a file on my computer when I could and it was mostly last thing at night.  The second time around I tried to follow the rules wrote long hand and on most days managed to write first thing in the morning.  I haven’t as yet managed to go back in and separate the nuggets of info from the drivel.

Stages that the painting went through over 3 sessions.

KMP 37/100 KMP 37/100 - wip

KMP 37/100KMP 37/100 - final

Oil on Canvas.

Update : June 11, 2010 : And a song by Suzanne Vega to go with the title of this post.

Grandparents and painting despite a never ending supply of excuses!

These are part of the “starts” that I’ve been working on lately, numbered 35 and 36.   There is a faint resemblance to my parents but none to my nephew.  But then that wasn’t my main aim in this exercise and with each passing piece I am able to get away from trying to work towards likeness alone.  I’m still working hard at trying to give the figures form.  For example the baby in the top painting has more form than in the one that I’d painted earlier.

KMP 36/100

Haven’t painted as much as I wanted to lately.  My current excuses are

  • that April has been a busy month with family and friends visiting.
  • it’s been incredibly hot and humid in Colombo.  The turpentine prevents me from using the air-conditioning and the sweat baths discourage me from painting when the weather is so.  I’m already on two showers a day and cannot imagine having a 3rd!
  • I can’t paint until my studio is organised and all my books sorted out!

I’m surprised I even paint at all!

KMP 35/100


KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.

I’ve passed a few Stations

It took me a while to figure out that enjoyment lies in the journey and not the destination.   And while it sounds a bit over dramatic I pray that with art I continue on this adventure with no end in mind.

I was listening to a TEDx talk on music, one of my other interests, where towards the end the speaker talks about how to spot a beginner from a pro.   It applies to painting as well.  On this wonderful ride I’ve hopped onto the slow train it seems.  But it moves and I’ve past a few Stations.

When the way ahead is daunting, take a break and look behind to mark your progress however slow it might seem.  Acknowledging that will able you to move ahead with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

KMP 32/100

My niece and nephew and she’s just giving him a friendly hug even though it doesn’t seem so in my painting 😀

If you have an interest in music and Indian music in particular do listen to Dhanashree Pandit-Rai on the subject at TEDx Mumbai earlier this month.


KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.

Postponement of gratification

The title for this post is lifted from Robert Genn’s recent letter on Chunking. I’ve put below a quote from it.

Understanding and learning worthwhile new skills……… requires focus, repetition, a willingness to apply self-determined rules, and the postponement of gratification

KMP 34/100

I was stuck in a rut after the excitement of the Biennale.  Spent the next few months just not painting and feeling miserable.   Decided it was time to learn new skills and started work on some incomplete exercises.  I guess I’ve been in chunking mode for a few months now.

Some more KMP’s.  The ones above were made after viewing two of Peggi Kroll-Roberts videos.  I’m delighted with the content.  I have all six as they reminded me of the exercises in Charles Soveks book which I have long delayed working on.    You’ll be seeing more work based on these and other recently acquired (generous, supportive family : ) )  goodies in subsequent posts.

KMP 33/100  wip 1 KMP 33/100

KMP 31/100


KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.

Easier ways to make money

Publishing books to make money…………

is a little like hanging out in a singles bar if you want to get married.

It might work, but there are way better ways to accomplish your goal.  If you love writing or making music or blogging or any sort of performing art, then do it. Do it with everything you’ve got. Just don’t plan on using it as a shortcut to making a living. Seth Godin

KMP 29/100


KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.

Golden Brown

KMP 28/100 - crop
KMP 28/100

Started this over a week ago but a trip out of town threw my routine out of whack and I got to finish it only tonight.


KMP’s are skill building exercises advised by Kevin Macpherson in his book Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light & Color. I started these in 2007 and am continuing with it in 2010. If you want to know more about this set of exercises click here.