I’ve always admired the art of, and particularly this painting done in 1516, by Albrecht Dürer from the National Gallery in D.C. Particularly when I read this description of the painting from the Gallery’s voluminous volume of selected works, and Dürer’s ability to:
“lay open the fine net-work of the heart and brain of man”…”to make us see deep into the soul until we understand, for example, the character of this ugly, resolute individual, whose personality, flashing out through luminous and asymmetrical eyes, exerts a powerful spell. His is the face of the Reformation”.
So I thought I would make my own attempt to capture him.
A drawing of a friend of mine, done on brown-toned paper, using soft graphite and white charcoal. She was sun-silhouetted from across a room and I rushed over to her to for a photograph, thinking it would make a good subject for a painting or drawing. A year later I gave it a shot, and after several false attempts on a white sheet, decided to initiate the new tinted drawing pad I’d just bought. Very happy with the result.
With all that’s been going down in our country lately, my sanity and peace of mind needed a total break. So I got off social media, and quit reading the news; at least for a while. Art, specifically drawing, has been my lifesaver. I was looking at a garage sale college art book and found these great black and white photos of classical sculpture heads. So I decided to try copying several of them, not in pencil, but ink. Besides being near smear-proof for this lefty, I love the challenge of trying to mimic the subtle shading using crosshatching. But more importantly, creating these detailed renderings almost totally absorbs me, and helps me forget all the insanity out there. I am very grateful for that.
As Winston Churchill said about creating art, specifically his:
Painting is complete as a distraction. I know of nothing, which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow along, there is no room for them on the mental screen.
This is the final studio watercolor, along with my working sketch of a commissioned work, one of my more challenging. Final size about 18 by 13 inches. There was a lot going on with this home. I took many reference photos from different angles and spent quite a bit of time consolidating and compressing the placement of the many prominent items in the yard as to get them all in the image in a pleasing way without overly compromising their actual placement in the landscaping. I’m a bit reluctant to say that this work took many months to complete. Fortunately, the homeowner was very accommodating and understanding. It just so happened that about the time I was commissioned, my graphic design business really took off. But I should also admit that I intermittently suffered from the “crisis of confidence” that I suppose every creative person goes through. In my experience, the only way out is to go through it.
Sketched on the bus. See more here.
This is the first of several watercolors I painted recently for a benefit art show and sale. A few years ago, my wife and I took our first trip to California. We visited one of the parks and were very moved by the majestic trees. Inspired, I took out my trusty, cork-covered sketchbook and pen on the flight home and created the drawing that became the painting.
It took me quite a while get the look that I envisioned. I wanted to portray dappled sunlight, and I did a whole bunch of preparatory exercises. I was particularly challenged by the reddish path and the tree trunks. Once I took a deep breath and laid down that first wet-in-wet wash, I have to say I was less than satisfied. Exasperated, I quickly blotted out the still damp wash and let it dry. Having spent many hours practicing and still not achieving the results that I wanted, I was very frustrated. What worked was that the second time around I went at it with a devil-may-care fury. I realized that I was being too deliberate and tight with my brushwork and once I loosened up, the results were beyond my expectations.