Monday, August 4, 2014

Portraying the Human Spirit

Passage Through St. Lazare is a 24x20 oil by Shirley Fachilla.
I’m very proud to have work in the exhibit Portraying the Human Spirit at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Vermont. It’s a juried show of only 26 paintings which will be on display at the center from August 2 through December 21. I’ll quote the center on the theme of the show, “Our goal in jurying Portraying the Human Spirit was to find portraits that were more than portraits…”
Each artist was asked to do an audio for their work explaining process, inspiration, etc. For me, the audio may have been more difficult than the painting! However, I was delighted to have the opportunity to put into words what this painting meant to me. Finding those words? Definitely, a challenge.
A bit about the Bennington: This year, the venue hosted the national juried show of Oil Painters of America, and every year has an invitational wildlife art exhibit that is probably the very best east of the Mississippi, perhaps the very best nationally.
Again I’m so honored to have work at the Bennington in such a meaningful exhibit.

Here’s the link to the show.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Improbable Painted Daisies

Improbable Painted Daisies is a 20x10 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

Actually I don’t know if the flowers were really daisies, much less the painted daisy variety. I found them at the grocery store and couldn’t resist the color combination of deep purple petals and neon green centers. I also loved that they were so perfect… well except for the one that I almost beheaded. That one had to be included in my painting in all its imperfection.
This particular still life let me utilize one of the perks of painting on an untoned white canvas.
See that sort of luminous red and blue in the middle of the vase? Using oil you can only achieve that sort of color if you are floating a transparent oil color (in this case permanent alizarin for the red and a combo of blues for the blue) on a white, untoned canvas. The white of the canvas shows through the transparent paint like the white of the paper shows through a wash in watercolor. But with oil, the color keeps a very high degree of saturation (definition found in ArtfulDefinitions). 
Every once in a while, I have the opportunity to make use of this little trick. I love the look it gives.

On the subject of still life (which rarely comes up in this blog), Brian Sherwin has something interesting to say in one of his latest ArtEdge emails. I think I may agree, at least in part, about the value of symbolism with still life though I do think his symbolic examples may be too straightforward. Personally, I find a great deal of very subtle whimsical symbolism in Carol Marine's little still lifes (whether or not they include her porcelain pig). How about you?

Monday, June 23, 2014

How is a Max Like a Carolyn?

The last painting I did in the Max Ginsburg workshop on day five.

I made a surprising discovery during Max Ginburg’s workshop, he paints like Carolyn Anderson. If you’re familiar with the work of both, you will realize that I’ve just made a rather amazing statement. For though both are primarily figurative artists, their paintings look nothing alike.
Carolyn’s are sometimes close to abstraction; Max’s are sometimes so polished and finished they might be mistaken for reality.
Both say that they are always drawing as they paint. And both work in the same intuitive way with a bare minimum of any sort of measuring. Instead they rely on the angles and relationships between shapes to get proportions right. Both strive to capture the gesture and to do it without losing the accuracy of their drawing. (much easier said than done and so important when painting the figure.) They both correct throughout the painting process and are always adjusting and refining brushstroke by brushstroke. 

Their method allows for precision with fluidity, accuracy with freshness. 
It’s what I also strive to accomplish. I'm just so lucky to have found two such different, yet similar, masters to inspire me.     

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Five Days with the Master, Max Ginsburg

My work from the first day 
I’ve just finished a wonderful learning experience, a five day workshop with Max Ginsburg right here in my home city of Nashville, Tennessee.
I knew Max was an amazing draughtsman, and artist friend Mike Sowers had told us that he was a good teacher. (Mike had taken a workshop from Max at the Art Students League in New York.) So I had high expectations, expectations that were not only met but exceeded.
Max’s work ethic astonished. We started early; we stayed late. Jeanie Smith, the creator of  Warehouse 521 Max’s venue in Nashville, brought in lunch and Max proceeded to lecture during lunchtime! He did demos for us almost every day, but the demos were quick so we would have time to paint and learn from his lead.  And he brought a stack of his beautiful little paintings for us to learn from as well. Some were quite finished and polished; others were very painterly.  All were gorgeous.

More about what I learned from Max in my next post. Some of that learning was quite surprising!  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I Should Be a Vegetarian

Sun and Shade is a 12x16 oil done in plein air by Shirley Fachilla.

I think cows, bovines, cattle (whatever the proper term might be) are one of the most appealing animals on the planet. They move with a kind of grace that is just a bit awkward like human teenagers at the gangly stage. And they socialize together for snacks and naps sort of like kindergarteners. They look out at the world with their big long-lashed eyes, taking in everything with a mixture of curiosity and innocence.
These attributes make them wonderful subjects for paintings as well as the fact that they often stay still for rather long periods of time as did these belted bovines who posed so nicely for me one glorious sunny day.

Yes, I definitely should be a vegetarian.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

"All Her Worldly Possessions"

All Her Worldly Possessions is an 18x14 oil on linen done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

I am very happy to report that All Her Worldly Possessions picked up an Award of Merit in the NOAPS International Online Exhibit for the spring of 2014.
The exhibit features 150 paintings with work from Russia, Canada, Japan, British Columbia (I have not listed all the countries) in addition to, of course, the U.S. And though this will sound even more braggy and boasty than I’ve already managed, the figurative work included in the show is, in my opinion, particularly outstanding. I am honored to be with so many wonderful artists.
I am also delighted that my painting was done completely from life because that’s the kind of painting I enjoy most.  I need the push of a deadline (the pose only lasts for a few hours) and find that painting from direct observation can (if I’m lucky) give my work a freshness and immediacy that I can achieve in no other way.  

A word about show judge, Cheng Lian: he is a National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society Master who does a lot of portrait and figurative subjects. He was both the judge of selection and of awards which makes it very much his show. Often these two functions are performed by different persons. Organizations tend to look for a big name to choose the award winners while leaving it to others to select the pieces for the show from all the submissions.  

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.