Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Losing my Edge


Old Teapot, Old Rose, Fresh Pears is a 9x12 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

It’s an old-fashioned, tried-and-true still life subject, flowers, fruit and teapot. But that’s not what I mean by losing my edge. (Not that I’ve ever been very edgy.)

Edge is a sort of technical term for artists.  In a painting, where one value meets another, where one color meets another, there’s an edge. As you can tell from the definition, paintings are made up of a series of edges. A primary trick for representational artists, and for many abstract ones, is to make those edges mimic three-dimensional reality, to create the illusion of depth, form and weight on a two-dimensional surface.

Edges can be soft, can stutter and break or simply disappear entirely. The hard edge (sharp and well defined) is the easiest to create and the one to use the least.

I’m thinking a lot about edges these days because I just attended a Carolyn Anderson workshop and toured a Joaquin Sorolla exhibit, two masters of the edge. They each succeed at creating beautiful edges in completely different ways which gives me hope that I may find my own way to make wonderful edges. So I came home and made a still life, a still life that is all about the edge, when to hone it and when to make it vanish.



Monday, April 7, 2014

A Remembrance of Cezanne


Filagree is a 14x11 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

You may very well be wondering why Filagree is a “remembrance of Cezanne.”   
I’ll try to explain.
I went to a Cezanne exhibit at our National Gallery in D.C. a few years ago. Those paintings took my breath away. His still lifes had such volume and presence with apples and oranges that looked as though they could tumble out of the canvas and roll across the gallery floor. Then there were the views of St. Victorie, so varied and diverse although they were all of the very same mountain.  
There was one painting that especially captured my attention. It was a simple portrait of one of his father’s farmhands, farmhands that he often painted playing cards. He painted this man alone with the light catching his eyelashes, so that the lashes were etched in light. It seemed such a delicate touch for the study of a laborer and for a painter lauded for his ability to convey mass and weight.

My view of our beautiful model at open studio allowed me just such a view. Her lashes were turned to gold by the light, filigreed so to speak. Thus she became my special remembrance of Cezanne.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Different View


Once Upon the South is a 12x9 oil painted from life by Shirley Fachilla.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may know that I belong to The Chestnuts, plein air painters for the land. It’s a local organization dedicated to the preservation of the natural and historic beauties of Tennessee.
The Chestnuts help preserve and commemorate with their paintings. This is the second time we’ve used our art to help the Battle ofFranklin Trust.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Franklin (a town in the next county from Nashville) was the scene of a horrific Civil War battle. Thousands were killed; and an army virtually destroyed, all in the small village of Franklin. The battle was a pivotal factor in ending the war less than a year later.
The Trust was created to gather and preserve that original battlefield; it has made great strides in the endeavor and Chestnut art has helped.
I find painting for The Trust an emotional experience; quite literally one is standing on dark and bloody ground. This year, I painted mostly inside the Lotz House, a family home located smack dab in the middle of that conflict 150 years ago.
Johann Lotz was not slave owner. He was a cabinetmaker from Germany who came to America seeking a better life. His daughter Matilda Lotz later became a very successful painter (a rarity for a woman of that time). I find it fitting that painters should come back to the Lotz house to reimagine and preserve on canvas the times and lives of its former inhabitants.
Matilda’s Tea Party is an 8x10 oil painted from life by Shirley Fachilla.

Our art will be on sale at The Carnton Plantation, 1345 Eastern Flank Circle, Franklin, Tennessee. The exhibit will be Friday, March 28th, through Sunday, March 30th. The hours are 9 to 5 on Friday and Saturday, 12 to 5 on Sunday.

Hope you can make it. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Abstract Beneath


The Blonde at the Window is an 18x14 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

A month or so ago I went to a wonderful art lecture given by Maggie Siner. She’s a very accomplished artist, one who has thought deeply about her art. She'd come to Nashville to give one of her rare workshops.
I didn’t manage to get into the workshop, but I did make it to the lecture. I’m so glad I did. 
It was not set up as the typical artist demo. Instead she showed the audience a series of paintings by some of the greats of the past. Her primary point: that within every successful representational painting is an abstract and the power of the painting derives from that abstract play of dark and light.
For truly great paintings, the power and the meaning of the representational subject is also reinforced and magnified by the abstract design that lies beneath.
She used work by Degas more than once to prove her point. Degas is one of my favorite painters; I think his compositions (his abstract designs) are some of the most innovative, interesting and edgy of any artist alive or dead.

When I painted my The Blonde at the Window, I was thinking of the lecture and of Degas. I was thinking of the abstract beneath.       

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Lies Beneath...


Troubadour is a 24x18 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

There’s a very well-known painter who advocates repainting canvases. By this, I mean he suggests painting over failed works with another. And he isn’t adverse to letting a bit of the past peek through.
A branch of a tree there, an arm or a leg here… hmm, hope you get the idea.
In fact, I believe he suggests that the painting lurking beneath the surface can add depth, character, interest to the new painting on top.
I’ve followed his recommendation several times and found replacing the failed with the new very satisfying.
Troubadour is one of those paint-overs; underneath there’s the partial wipe-out of a very sad fellow in a golfing tam. The quality of the above image just captures the remainder of the golfer’s face; it’s now just a bit of glowy pink in the light coming through the window, the golfing green is just a slightly darker hazy neutral in that same light.
I once followed another painter whose process incorporated the paint-over in her every work. She would paint a figure, wipe it off, repaint over the ghost image, wipe it off, and paint it again until she was satisfied with the result. Her work had a real richness and depth derived from that very process.
Her art proved that what lies beneath can sometimes inform the visible in a quite meaningful way.  

       

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Shades of Downton Abbey


More Alike Than They Know is an 24x18 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.
I'm lucky enough to have an open studio available which poses models in interior settings and as you can see above, sometimes in costume.
It can be very challenging to paint such poses with suggestions of the surrounding interior in the limited time of an open studio. It's especially difficult with more than one model. But I'm getting faster and maybe a little better. Anyway it's a lot of fun to try to get an interesting painting from the mix.

[An open studio is a gathering of artists in the same studio to paint together without instruction; usually, though not always, the artists are painting the same subject.]   

Monday, January 13, 2014

My Continuing Love Affair with Parasols


Butterfly is a 20x16 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.
I think this is my latest figure with a parasol; I love painting people with or under umbrellas. In this blog, I’ve even examined why I, and other artists, find such people so great to paint. 
I must also admit I have done many more umbrella/parasol paintings than I have ever posted in Sometimes… at least, I haven't posted them yet!
I’m posting this, my latest, because she’s in Arizona at The Best and Brightest juried show in the Scottsdale Artists School. There are some especially lovely works in this year’s show.

Here’s a link to them all. (You might brew a cup of tea or pour a cup of joe and tour this year’s offerings online.)