Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life drawing and Artist Roundtable

Had a wonderful Friday. Spent Friday morning painting, working on an anatomical chimp, inspired by Vesalius. This is the first of three small canvases I'm working on. There is still some work needed, such as reflective glare highlighted on the muscles, more lights in some of the cartilage, and light tones and florals in the plant life around the figure.

Everytime I look at chimp anatomy, I marvel at how similar their structures are compared to humans. And yet they are so aggressive, often nasty, with male dominated social structures. They make war on other chimp tribes, murder and have other nasty behaviors. When humans exhibit their best behaviors and best nature, we are clearly a big improvement over chimps - but when we lapse into our dark side, I can see our chimp brain emerging.

In the afternoon, headed over for an "Artist Roundtable" get together at Muddy's on Valencia and 16th. We had coffee, and headed over to Intersection for the Arts (exhibit of Margaret Harrison) and Art Zone. I had to really appreciate Harrison's rather unconventional paintings of sexed up comic superheroes, and her great use of watercolor. But I also had to recognize there is a fine line between making a serious statement with art, versus sheer sensationalism. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this exhibit. Art Zone had just wonderful blasts of color, and looking at the art here is best described as eye candy.

Anna, Marianna, Teresa and I then headed over to Mission Cultural Center for life drawing, where we had an amazing model. I was a bit rusty, since I hadn't been able to attend a session for the last couple of weeks.

Monday, March 22, 2010

ArtSpan Tour des Artistes

I was very honored to be selected as an artist to participate in ArtSpan's Tour des Artistes. This is a VIP Brunch-Around tour of five working artists' studios led by ArtSpan's Board Chairman, Michael Yochum, and ArtSpan's former executive director, Therese Martin. The tour began with coffee & pastries at ARC Studios & Gallery, 1246 Folsom Street; and attendees enjoyed a VIP limo bus and refreshments along the way. Even cooler than that: two of my artist friends were also featured on the tour: William Salit and Kathryn Arnold. Attendees also got to visit the studios of Carolyn Hinman and Phillippe Jestin.

I was interviewed by Kris Vagner at the SF Examiner, and described some of my preparations for the tour. (here's a link to the article - just click the page number at the top and enter "28")

There were 22 folks on the tour, including tour guides. So it was a bit crowded in the studio. I had to caution one women to watch out for the wet palette that I had left out on the taboret. (I had worked on the skeleton/lizard painting that morning - it helped to keep me from stressing out over the event!) To make a bit more room, I shoved the easel way back and put my buddy Friedrich the skeleton out in the hallway to be my doorman.

Basically, I did a show and tell, very similar to what I do for friends when they visit except much more organized. I made "packets" of related sketches going from early thumbnail concept sketch to the final finished drawing that is transferred to panel or canvas. The discussion included several of my reference clay models used to work out perspective and shadows. I also showed them the reference photos used for the BDSM paintings, including the skeleton strung up into poses using monofilament line hung from the ceiling. I don't know if it's a good idea for artists to talk about where the problem areas of the painting are located, but I did share with them places that caused consternation during the painting process. I gave them a handout color printout, showing a painting from first layers of warm underpainting through the final touches.

I also talked about the process of finding authentic models for the BDSM series. The poses themselves were developed by looking at porn magazines, websites and so forth. I then used Poser software to manipulate a virtual human model and skeleton to visualize various poses. But the virtual model has than android look. I joined various organizations and websites to locate authentic models.

It was a very nice group of people who asked great questions, such as why certain colors were used for background, why certain color is used for underpainting/ground. There was one question though that I tried to gracefully evade: someone asked me if I participated in the BDSM lifestyle or tried it out. I told them I was too busy but had been to the Citadel a few times. Is that vague enough?

Mike Yochum was a wonderful moderator, and he asked me to cover a couple of topics pertinent to the symbolic content of the works.

I also had a milestone event: an older retired couple bought one of the paintings in the BDSM series! The usual buyer of my paintings are generally younger, so I was excited to have reached an audience beyond my normal market.

I hope that all of the attendees had a great time.... despite the butterflies in my stomach, I had a good time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Base Layer on Skull

Another busy week. I've been asked to serve on a committee to organize for Spring Open Studios. I finished (I think for good) my temp job at the Bank, so I don't have to worry about the pesky day job anymore!

I was asked to participate in ArtSpan's Tour des Artistes. This is a limo guided tour to several artists studios. Unlike Open Studios, when an artist generally spiffs up the studio for a larger numbers of guests, this is more intimate, and the goal is to see studios in their working state. I've been putting in the hours to get several paintings to an advanced state in anticipation of the event.

I had been contemplating getting some better track lighting put up to illuminate the walls (and works). I have wall mounted lights which are great for lighting the work area/easel, but these are no good for lighting works on the wall. The Tour des Artistes, and upcoming Spring Open Studios, gave me the incentive to go ahead and put in tracks for lighting the wall.

Today, made some good progress on getting the base layer done on the skull/lizard.

P.S. the SF Giants item hanging behind the painting in the photo above is a freebie apron that Jude got for me at the ballpark. I am not a Giants fan.