Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Imagine...

The Last Time I Saw Paris is a 24x20 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Was this very dapper gentleman really gazing up at the Eiffel Tower on an early spring day? No, in fact, he was sitting in my Monday open studio studying a spot on the wall and wearing his boater at a rakish tilt. I added the Eiffel Tower after I got home using a bad photo I took in Paris.
The thing I most love to paint is the figure (or figures) in a place. Sometimes I paint the figure in the actual setting in which I find them and sometimes it’s a setting that I’ve imagined. The difficulty with imagined places (or added places) is linking those bits to the person. Often they just don’t make a seamless whole. My bon vivant worked better than most. Of course, that’s why I’m showing it to you rather than one of my many other attempts!
My last post was all about finding the “good” painting within rather than looking to your subject to provide it. I think there are many avenues to that result. And sometimes that path goes through one’s imagination.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In North Light

Detail of In North Light a 20x20 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you might know I paint in an open studio each week. The studio is intended for portrait, but I often use it for figure. I also often complain about and protest the sameness of the pose from one week to the next. I can find it quite repetitious.

But as Hamlet said about his mom, “the lady doth protest too much, methinks.” In other words, I need to stop protesting and look to myself to alleviate the boredom.  

Wonderful contemporary painters that I greatly admire (two immediately come to mind, Carolyn Anderson and Dan McCaw) paint the same pose over and over again. Examples here and here for Carolyn and here and here for Dan.

They recognize that they are exploring form and light, shape and line, depth and flatness just as intently as the abstractionist.  They know that it is not the subject but what they bring to the subject that matters. I need to attempt to bring some of that same intensity to my subject, whatever or whoever it may be. The good painting is found inside the painter, not out. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seven Days in Maine

High Tide is an 8x10 plein air by Shirley Fachilla.
Before I left for Maine with my artist friends, I thought a lot about what I wanted to paint. I’m a big believer in good painting having little to do with subject matter and much to do with what the painter brings of him (or her) self in terms of skill, intellect and emotion. A view of one’s backyard can have the makings of a wonderful painting, just as much as waterfalls, canyons and mountains. The still life painter Morandi proves this with a vengeance.
With that said, there’s something in Maine that can’t be found in Tennessee, something that I very much wanted to paint. I was dreaming of the Atlantic, its waves and color.
In Maine, happily painting at the shore, at high tide, I realized that even if painted everyday, the ocean would present a completely different face each day to the artist. In effect, it would function like Morandi’s bottles and dinnerware, same subject but with endless permutations.
There's a seascape painter whose work I studied before I left for Maine. The Californian William Ritschel painted his ocean, the Pacific sublimely. I find his work to be beautiful, powerful, and like the ocean, endlessly fascinating.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In the Margins of My Mind...

In the Margins of My Mind is a 20x20 open studio oil by Shirley Fachilla.
When I was in school, my notebooks were notable not for the clarity or completeness of my note-taking but for the doodles that decorated their margins.
There were stylized daisies, disembodied eyes, badly drawn cats and dogs, and lots and lots of faces. I drew both male and female faces, almost always young, and always with a romantic look about them that was my attempt at creating beauty.
A few weeks ago in open studio, we had a model with flowing hair dressed quite romantically in white lace; and as I painted, it occurred to me that she might have stepped from the margins of one of my old notebooks… or rather the idea of her might have stepped out (my doodles were never very good). She might have emerged from the margins to remind me of my time-wasting in high school and how it felt to be so very young.

Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...