Thursday, March 28, 2013

Into the Interior

Blue Silk Kimono is a 12x24 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla.

Sometimes they’re lumped with genre, but most often they’re overlooked. I’m speaking of paintings which have as their subject, interior spaces; they’ve received rather short shrift since the Dutch of the 17th century loved and bought them for their homes.
However, I think they’re making something of a resurgence. Just look at some of the interiors painted by Paul Oxborough, Pauline Roche or Karen Bruson.
For artists, painting inside from life can be as fun as plein air, but it’s definitely harder to get permission. Oils and turps can be a messy business afterall.  
My interior was painted from life at a new open studio opportunity here in Nashville so the mess potential didn’t matter. I hope I have the chance to do many more.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Following the Light

A Rose Is a Rose, Is a Rose* is an 11x14 oil done from life by Shirley Fachilla. 

I really like edgy, unexpected compositions like those of the Impressionist Degas. An especially striking example is his painting, La Coiffure. It’s of two women; one is combing the other’s hair. 
Two-figure compositions are difficult, especially when the figures are separate (as these are). In the painting, there’s no overlapping or visual connection.  Though the hank of hair stretching across the canvas does join them, Degas obliterates that connection by painting the hair and its background the same color and value. Instead of following the flow of hair from one woman to the other, our eyes follow their long pale arms, a much more interesting path.  
Because La Coiffure is virtually a monochromatic work done in reds, those arms, white apron and tablecloth become light pathways that lead the viewer through the painting. The faces (almost always a focal point for us humans) become instead casual pauses along the path of light.
Now how does my painting relate? I created a very straightforward light path from one side of my canvas to the other. Follow the light along the vases and rose to my lady and then travel back again via the pale tabletop.
*My title is a quote from the great art patron, Gertrude Stein.
[If clarification is needed for composition, monochromatic, value, please see the Artful Definitions page.]  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Complicated Lives

Turistas without Umbrellas is a 24x18 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Every once in awhile, I try my hand at a scene with multiple figures. Such paintings are complicated challenges in part because they must usually be pieced together from photos, sketches and memory.
Of course, in the days of patrons and grand altar pieces, multiple figures were almost the norm. Michangelo’s The Last Judgement, Titian's Assumption of Mary and Rubens’ Descend from the Cross,  to name only three, are all filled with multiple bodies. What painters they were! They created marvelous compositions filled with passion, emotion and movement.  
But I think for all the drama and virtuosity of those works, the modern eye prefers something else entirely. We will look at Zurbaran’s solitary monks to fathom their mysteries and study Rembrandt’s self portraits for glimpses into the complexity of a single soul; but Rubens’ many-figured canvases, we pass them by with scarcely a pause.  
In the twenty-first century, we seem to limit our interest in the intricate to still life and landscape. For people, we prefer one complicated life at a time.
For another look at multiple figures, visit my post, People Who Need People

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Plein Air and Memory

Where Otters Play is a 16x20 oil by Shirley Fachilla.
First half was done plein air; second half was memory and imagination.

This painting was begun by the Harpeth River late on a summer afternoon. The day was winding down, and the canvas was bigger than my usual plein air size. I didn’t finish. I color blocked and had to stop.
I brought the piece home and told myself I would return again in the late afternoon on another day. But life (and procrastination) intervened; summer turned to fall then to winter. I didn’t go back. I hadn’t taken a photo. So I remembered, and I imagined.
The most important memory? Remembering what I wanted the painting to be about when I was there on the bank of the Harpeth.  This I did remember very well, and this I tried to put into paint.
Where the Otters Play is one of the paintings I have in the Nature’s Legacy show to benefit the Warner Parks of Nashville. It’s a Chestnut affair this weekend, Friday, March 8, through Sunday, March 10, at the Warner Park Nature Center, 7311 Highway 100, Nashville, Tennessee.
If you’re in this neck of the woods, please drop by. There will be literally hundreds of beautiful paintings by the Chestnut Group, and a chunk of all sales will go to the parks.   

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 ...