Sunday, June 26, 2011

Elinor UberWench

If there was a top model category in Halifax, Elinor (T. Crosby) UberWench would probably occupy it. She's very popular with the local life drawing groups (I've run into her at DASL, Richard's, and Dr. Sketchy). Her popularity is understandable; she's graceful, gracious, and totally charming. Plus she's a belly dancer, and a dance instructor (click on the link above for more info).

So it was quite a pleasure to have her modeling for Richard's Saturday group at the Findlay Centre. Especially so in her dance clothing.

Lisa Not in Green

Friday, Lisa took a really lovely, but difficult, pose. Hard on her to hold (I don't think I could ever tuck into that position, let alone hold it for an hour), and hard to draw, particularly with the slight twist to the head and back. So for me it was good; for her, probably not so much. The result needs reworking (I don't do her or the pose justice), but I think I better wait a session or two before trying it again...

After that was a pose I totally blew (so you don't get to see it), and during a break she curled over to stretch out her back. Being somewhat of an opportunist, and because I love these serendipitous positions, I asked if she'd mind holding it for the position for the last twenty minutes or so. Alas, if there had only been more time!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lisa in Green

I worked with Lisa on Tuesday. One of those typical Nova Scotia days that starts bright and sunny and then goes downhill. So we worked in the yard for a couple of hours, and then in the studio.
The morning started off warm enough just to work in light clothes; Lisa reading and drinking coffee, and me sketching and drinking coffee. Coffee is kind of a constant theme around here.

Unfortunately clouds and spitters and a drop in temperature; Lisa braved it out in a hoodie for a little while:

But, even for me, eventually enough is enough, so it was into the studio. I think like many representational artists, I'm a bit of a nut about fabric. Unfortunately, as a pretty traditionally brought up guy, I'm fabrically(?) challenged. So I have no idea what to call it, other than it was sort of a t-shirty material that hung really nicely, was a lovely light pthalo-green color, and a great complement to the wearer...

Standing poses, btw, are really hard, especially when they are slightly off the normal balance. So that one wass definitely above and beyond, and quite a reasonable justification for the last:

Not that the last pose is actually all that easy (try holding your arm up like that for awhile...)

Shawn, Unforgiven

The title doesn't have anything to do with Shawn directly, he's a great model to work with. Very relaxed and composed. But we did put that movie on during one session.....

It's been awhile since I posted anything (maybe I should be unforgiven for buggering off in nice weather, but I still can't get over an addiction to sunshine); Shawn and I have had two sessions in the interim.

Either of the first two I think could be a good basis for something more formal, probably an oil painting. I'd like to gt back to work in that direction, now that I can work with the windows open. But the prep is always a little daunting. And I do apologize to Shawn for that post-Thanksgiving tummy in the second...

I think on this one, however, the problems just came from getting distracted by the movie. But I do like the area around the left hand.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Jennifer's another new-to-me model, though she's worked a fair bit for the other side (photographers). It was really interesting talking to her about the difference between the two different forms; I learned a lot. And although they are quite different, she took to the figure work quite naturally. Not an easy task, both gesture work and longer poses are quite at variance with photographic practice.

As for me, I struggled with my usual problems of working with a new model - learning to see someone new as they are, and how to represent them. But the weather at least cooperated - cold and damp outside - which gave me all the excuse I need to crank up the heat and turn on all the lights. I like a cozy & bright place to work. And for a first go, I'm happy with this, and look forward to working with Jennifer again.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lisa, Writer, Reader

Yesterday I worked with a "new-to-me" model, Lisa. It was one of those all to rare days here in Nova Scotia - warm, sunny, and just enough breeze to keep the bugs off. So we worked outside.

Most of the time Lisa worked on a short story while I drew. I find this sort of work fascinating; creation often requires isolation, otherwise focus gets lost. Which means that most people never get to quietly observe another person engaged in creative work. I just hope I don't ruin her writing (I can be a chatterer).

Writers have long been the subject of art work - examples include Holbein's great portaits of Erasmus (that's a link to one, there are several), Courbet's portrait of Baudelaire, Manet's portrait Emile Zola, and perhaps even Mary Cassatt's delightful print The Letter.

The big problem of course is that the act of writing is actually pretty dynamic. A subject's thoughts change, the body moves. Someone engaged in thought holds themselves quite differently from someone pouring words out on to a page. It's not an activity in which you can tell the subject to hold still until the buzzer goes! So you collect sketches, good, bad, indifferent and in the end try to to synthesize something. rather like the Hanna at the piano etching (which I am still working on).

So here's a few from the day:

(Note to self - get rid of the Adirondack chairs, they hide half the subject! And buy sunscreen.Around here it's a cheap investment as a bottle lasts for years.)

And of course, after all that work, one needs to relax a bit. Perhaps by reading a book?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Shawn, Changing Gears

Shawn is quite a gear change for me. Quite tall and with that bicyclist build. I think that comes from being - a bicyclist! But he's all sorts of other things as well, including an experienced model who has worked at NSCAD and the life drawing group down in Mahone Bay.

Those that know me know I change gears very slowly, so apologies to Shawn for not getting all sorts of things right. It usually takes two or three sessions to get work I'm happy with. But he did create some interesting poses, and there are some good things about the drawings that came out, so I'll put them up.

The first longer pose, he just relaxed a bit. We had finished an hour or so of gestures, on top of which he had already worked a full day elsewhere. I've cropped the drawing because I absolutely blew the lower portion - which isn't unusual because of the steep perspective involved. But I quite liked the sense of quiet pensiveness.

The next pose was also interesting, peering surreptitiously through the blinds. Portland St. in Dartmouth usually provides a fair bit of entertainment, what with police traffic and odd goings on. It reminded him of nosey neighbors, and me of a scene from some William Burroughs' novel, especially as it was done at night. Anyway, it was a cool pose that took advantage of the setting, I would have liked to play with it for a couple of hours.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Well, now I am officially into the old dog status (though don't worry, I have no intention of lying out on the porch doing inappropriate things), it seems cats and dogs are popping up all over the place. One of the models I was interviewing this week mentionned she had a cat, and that it would interesting to incorporate it into a picture. I quite agree, apparently it's better behaved than most, and I do like putting them and dogs into work such as the recent encaustic of Hanna, or this old etching of Mittens

or the encaustic for (Miss Molotov) Marissa's gallery 5 years ago (IIRC):

And today I came across a great poem by Charles Bukowski, which might be fun to try and illustrate:

wearing the collar

I live with a lady and four cats
and some days we all get

some days I have trouble with
one of the

other days I have trouble with
two of the

other days,

some days I have trouble with
all four of the

and the

ten eyes looking at me
as if I was a dog.

But of course I might have to then answer it by illustrating a poem I like even better, "Dog", by Lawrence Ferlinghetti :

The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn't hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit's Tower
and past Congressman Doyle of the Unamerican Committee
He's afraid of Coit's Tower
but he's not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
very depressing
very absurd
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
fire hydrant
to him
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog's life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
investigating everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
democratic dog
engaged in real
free enterprise
with something to say
about ontology
something to say
about reality
and how to see it
and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
at streetcorners
as if he is just about to have
his picture taken
for Victor Records
listening for
His Master's Voice
and looking
like a living questionmark
into the
great gramophone
of puzzling existence
with its wondrous hollow horn
which always seems
just about to spout forth
some Victorious answer
to everything

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hanna, Waxed

This one is finally done. It's 24x36, encaustic on panel. I don't think I'll try to sell this one, but if anyone wants a poster size print (roughly 13"x19") let me know.
Now on to the etchings....