Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"The Tenderness of Youth"

The Tenderness of Youth is an open studio 14x14 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

The first Renaissance portraits were posed in profile. Frequently, the subjects were the very young. They were often quite literally Romeos and Juliets with their likenesses done to show a prince his potential bride (or more rarely a princess her possible husband), and sometimes sadly, to commemorate a young death.

One of my favorite places in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the gallery that contains many of these Renaissance teenagers.  It’s a wonderful room for the study of interesting painting techniques, but that’s not why I love the place. 

When I first took a real look around, it was a case of déjà vu; the painted faces were so like the faces of my daughter’s teenage friends. The clothes, of course, were different; but the faces were the same, tender innocent profiles, expectant and beautiful, now and more than five hundred years ago. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Going to Richeson 75!

Under an October Sky is a plein air 8x10 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

I've posted this painting before, but I did want to share with you that it was accepted as a finalist in the Richeson 75 International Small Works show.
I’m very grateful to my friend, Jean McGuire who told me she especially liked it because her comment inspired me to submit it! 
It’s of a very typical Tennessee scene, a field of soybeans. In my state, soybeans are one of our cash crops, along with tobacco and corn; and the plant is pretty ubiquitous. But though it’s common and unassuming, combined with our lovely rolling hills, it can put on a show.
I love it when the ordinary turns beautiful, and we artists have the pleasure of painting it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Into the Heart of Bok Choy

 The Heart of Bok Choy is a 8x6 oil on linen by Shirley Fachilla.
This painting began with a beautiful head of bok choy from a good friend's garden. I intended to paint all of it, every purple/green leaf (which I found to be absolutely gorgeous).
But good intentions often are subverted when I start welding a paintbrush and instead of showing all, I painted a close-up of the very heart of that crispy little bok choy.  It became an abstract rather than a study, something that was all about light and dark, color complements and thick versus thin. 
Who would recognize it as a garden vegetable? Probably no one that’s who.
Turning things into abstractions, of course, is hardly anything new. Georgia O’Keeffe did it with a vengeance. Her big, bold close-ups of flowers filled canvases with swooping, simplified shapes and beautiful subtle colors. Art critics compared those flowers to many things, some x-rated, or at least extremely intimate; but no matter, artists have been following her lead ever since.     

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Remembrance of Things Past...

Study: Heading Out  is a 6x6 oil by Shirley Fachilla.
As mentioned before in Sometimes a Painting, when I was in Maine, I very much wanted to paint the ocean. Though I did have my chances, the little painting above doesn’t reflect one of them. It’s the afternoon view of Mohegan harbor as we waited to board the ferry back to the mainland.
There was no time to paint, barely time to snap a couple of photos that I knew would have no resemblance to the shimmering scene before me.
So I took photos to remind me, and I tried very hard to impress on my mind the colors and light I saw. The above painting is the result. Actually it’s the initial result. I’m attempting to paint it again much larger with the help of the color harmonies I worked out in it and prolonged looking at images of William Ritschel’s seascapes. The photos I took mostly help with the shape of lobster boats!
Just for your information, the Ritschel  link does not do justice to his amazing use of color. It’s often saturated, usually unexpected and somehow always totally right. I just wish there were more and better images of his work available on the web.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

To Vignette... Or Not to Vignette

Baby, It’s Cold Outside is a 24x12 oil done in open studio by Shirley Fachilla.

The vignette isn’t as easy as it might seem. Knowing when to leave a portion of a painting unfinished, knowing when to let your line, your shape just fade away is tricky.
It’s tricky because the empty negative space becomes a part of the painting’s composition. That emptiness can make the painting look unfinished or worse, awkwardly designed.
[For the art meanings of vignette, negative space and composition, please visit the Artful Definition page.]
It can also give work a freshness and structure that finishing out would not. So artists vignette. Manet’s Portrait of Mme Zola is a very classic vignette design; Berthe Morisot’s Girl with the Greyhound where the unfinished space becomes the light illuminating the room is not.
With Baby, It’s Cold Outside, the vignette was a way to avoid a portion of the pose that I found distracting and focus instead on the model’s very elegant face.

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 ...