Self-portrait #3

I tend to, every so often, do a self portrait. Portrait was something I worked on heavily, early on –even as I was still in high school. One of the first works I did early on, while a student at Skidmore College in Saratoga, N.Y., was a self-portrait. It was the culminating project that semester (Summer, in 1997). It’s still, technically, among the best things I’ve done. 

A self-portrait, for me, is a good way to look inside yourself at what’s difficult to understand or to manage within. Sometimes, it’s forward-looking, sometimes it looks backwards. Perhaps this one is both.

This will be the third self-portrait I’ve done in oil. I will do small sketches every so often. I don’t suppose that self-portraits mean much of anything to anyone but the artist and people very close to them. The source image is sort of self-explanatory to people who were around for events for me in the fall of 2009.  

Self-portrait #3, Oil on canvas, (2014).

Self-portrait #3, Oil on canvas, (2014).

 

I may decide the flaws I see are something I can live with, or I may simply consider this done. The following photo is of the source image.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Source image, on my easel.

Recent Happenings With the Class (cont.)

It’s been an exciting couple weeks since I updated about the class. Students have the option of submitting work for display at the OMH “Art on 8″ exhibit. I am exhibiting two pieces of my own with art from all over the state. The art will all come from people (in the community, and in hospitals) who receive services at OMH facilities.

A lot of people who are considering submitting work have never had their work shown before. So, a lot of people in my classes are really excited about it.

The second bit of excitement is that the class has been asked to do a mural project for a new staff member in the Occupational Therapy Department. This past week has mostly been spent trying to generate images for the mural. (These drawings are all my own, as I draw with the students as I am teaching. I am still working on permission to show student work on my site. It’s a NY state facility, and the proper procedure can take time. Currently, I am waiting for agency approval for the release form I created).

Enjoy the images:

KODAK Digital Still Camera

simple design with gem and leaves. Drawn with the class as they are working on mural ideas.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Among the mural ideas, we have talked about nature scenes.

 

Before I presented the mural project to the class, we had been focused on architectural drawing with oil pastel.

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Oil pastel, old, dutch-era house, Albany Co. New York State.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Simple study of a barn and silo. A student request.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Historic Mansion, Troy, NY.

New Small Works (Summer, 2014)

I decided to do another page of the Small Works Progress Administration. The other has a lot of work on it already and has fallen pretty far down the page as new posts have been added on the blog. These are all small studies I have done, on paper or cardboard, designed to be sold for $15 – $25. As an artist, I want people to think of original art as something that is available personally to them –not as something unaffordable that hangs in galleries or museums.

 

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Edgar 1, acrylic on card-board. 4″ x 7 1/2″ $25

I did one of the Edgars today (I will probably do several more, especially if people express interest. Plus I find painting them fun and whimsical) If you don’t know Edgar’s story, I explain in the sketches blog (II).

Secondly, I did a very small image of a single wine glass:

Wine glass, 3"x5", acrylic on gessoed card board

Wine glass, 3″x5″, acrylic on gessoed card board $15

 

Lastly, there’s an image of “The Peak House,” a (now demolished) farmhouse in Saratoga County that was near the home I grew up in. The image is based on a picture I took with a Pentax 35mm SLR I learned photography on as a teenager.

The Peak House, acrylic on card board, 5" x 7 1/2" $20

The Peak House, acrylic on card board, 4″ x 8″ $20

 

[older]

 

The pieces shown here were done yesterday. While visiting with my son, I set up my easel near the park playground (Washington Park, in Albany, NY, where he usually plays). There are little color-studies of some of the stately old trees there, and a few subjects a little more whimsical.

 

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Washington Park tree, water color on paper. 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ approximate.$15

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Washington Park tree # 2, watercolor on paper. 7 1/2″ by 9 1/2″ approximate. $15

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Pencil on paper sketch of an espresso (demitasse) cup. From my sketch book. (make offer)

 

To see my original post about the NWPA, go here: http://elevenimages.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-small-works-progress-administration/

A couple more whimsical images:

 

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Child on bicycle, watercolor and pencil on paper, 8 1/2″ by 11″. $15

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“RAWR!” (children’s playground equipment) Washington Park, Albany NY. Watercolor on paper, 7 1/2″ by 9″ approximate. $15

 

If you are interested in any of the works shown there, or in any of the images following, please use the e-mail listed by clicking “about Eleven Images.”

This Week (give or take) in the Class.

I’m going to try to break up the posts to progress every couple weeks. I’m still waiting to iron out the issues surrounding HIPPA (confidentiality) and showing student work (many students are doing fine work in the class). Until then, I will continue posting in class demonstrations. If you’re seeing this post the first time, my class is the blind leading the blind. I have struggled with a mental illness for decades. I’m celebrating my thirty-sixth birthday in a couple days. (August 14th) I am happy to be alive. I am happy to be teaching students in an inpatient psychiatric hospital that art can be a way to heal yourself, to grow personally, and to keep yourself well and out of hospitals.

The pictures are what I draw as I am teaching my students.


In the past week,(6/29-7/7) I’ve continued to focus on the use of color. Here are some more of the in-class demonstrations. I have based my lessons on a book I have borrowed from the library, “Understanding Color” by Marcia Moses. I’ve been using a couple of images by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch as out in-class examples, because Munch’s use of color is so striking of an example of the use of a limited palette.

Continuing the class discussion on color theory. I have been making art my whole life, and I’m picking up what I might of missed in my informal education, from what I take out at the library. My degree is not in art, so I am learning as my students learn.

We were doing split complimentary color schemes this week (complimentary pairs, pus an adjacent color on the color wheel).

My in-class demonstrations:

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Vincent Van Gogh, “Peach Tree in Bloom” reproduction. OIl pastel on paper.

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Color study. I gave my student the prompt: “Locals say, if you go you will still find her there waiting” Oil pastel on paper.

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Oil Pastel on paper, reproduction of one of my photographs, looking south from the Rennselaer train station.

Before our discussion of color, I did a simple exercise I feel is helpful for training the eye. I began the week by bringing in a bag of dried leaves from my yard. I had intended to encourage students to develop their eye for detail. This was an exercise I found useful, early on, as I was developing my own abilities:

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Leaf, charcoal on paper.

Shifting the discussion to color, I started with a simple geometric abstract, and encouraged students to use a limited palette in their own drawing.

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Abstract, oil pastel on paper. Students were encourage to use a limited palette. My example is dominated by the complimentary colors blue and orange, and green.

The next two examples are explorations/reproductions of Munch’s work. His general color palette and strong use of color worked well to illustrate aspects of color theory for my students.

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Oil Pastel on paper, Based on Edvard Munch’s “White Night.”

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Oil pastel on paper, based on Edvard Munch’s mural at the University at Aula, “The Sun.”

Over the past week, the class focused (mostly) on using perspective. In most of the classes over the past couple weeks I have also been teaching students to mix color and have been teaching the to work in water color.

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From pictures I took as an adolescent at the Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Water color on paper.

(Explanation of caption under the painted image: I wanted students to think of their lives before they were ill, and the kind of person they were –or might be, if they recovered from their mental illness. I had brought in photos I took of the Grand Canyon when I was an adolescent, before I was diagnosed and before I knew I had a mental illness. I had all the students caption their image with something about themselves. My caption reads “before I was ill, I was creative and adventurous.”)

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Barn, water color on paper. From the book “The Welsh Hills of Waukeska County” by Pat Byrne

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Charcoal and Water-color on paper, reproduction of Paul Klee’s “The Conquerer”.

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Tree-lined path/road. Based on a photo from the Welsh Hills (Byrne) again).

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Original image, water color on paper. Based on the house where I currently rent, Albany, NY. Perspective lesson

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Charcoal on paper, study/review of face and facial features. My students ask that I draw and older man.

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Perspective study, based on an image by Gustave Caillebotte, (“Paris, a Rainy Day”).

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Figure study, “Officer in Riot Gear” oil pastel and charcoal on paper.

My Current Favorite Tree. My Pet Tree

I’ve always had a great fondness for trees. There was a plot of land behind my father’s house that was more or less my playground as a kid. It was a woods was filled with stately old trees. That plot of land (much to my father’s chagrin) sold and now has a house built on it. Still, a fondness for trees, and especially urban trees that live out their lives more or less paying little attention to what humans are doing below them, endured. The landlord has told me that the house I’m living in was built in 1910. It’s reasonable that the tree has stood about as long as the house has, and was part of the original landscaping of the lot. There is a large stump in the middle of the back yard, –a sister tree that must have been a match for size of its brother that is still standing. I am not one for new-agey/spiritual beliefs, but I do find the presence of a venerable old tree in my backyard to be calming. Frequently when I am at home I can be found perched under it.

I am often noted to be a sort of whimsical human. I do talk to trees, –who in turn don’t say anything, but simply listen.

This spring, when the weather changed, I took a series of photos of my pet tree as it began to leaf out. The photos were taken with an Olympus OM-1 35 mm camera, and Fuji 400 film.

I hadn’t intended these for sale, it was more a project of selfishly documenting something meaningful to me. Still, if someone made an offer for a print, or even the whole series, I’d be more than happy do that for those who asked. There’s many way I can think of that these photos as a series together would make a very beautiful piece framed imaginatively.

 

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Quick Lesson, 5/14/14

So, this past week I stumbled upon a lesson idea I used in class. I thought I might share for people that teach students that may have limited or highly varied proficiency. Readers could also try this lesson on their own. Generally, I aim to create lesson ideas that challenge my students who came into my class with a set of fine art skills, but do not loose my students that may be thinking of themselves as artists for the first time. This lesson is intended for a group of adults with mixed skill levels. My students are adults hospitalized for a mental illness.

This lesson I drew inspiration from one of my favorite abstract artists, Paul Klee’s “Drawn One” (1935). See here:

 

paul-klee-drawn-one

(Image from the website, friendsofart.net)

The simplicity of the drawing was possible to recreate for less advanced students. I encouraged my students who are advancing to draw a more realistic face.

Because I am working with adults with mental illness, I entitled the exercise “Fractured Self.” Many students used the exercise to explore their own emotional state at class time. I we were working, I talked about how the choice of colors, thickness of lines, and other things may influence the emotional content of a drawing.

I had students working in charcoal (the lines) and oil pastel. I also encouraged students to limit their color pallette to three or fewer colors.

The first step was  to have each student draw a grid of irregular lines that intersect. After creating the grid of lines, students who had been in my class for some time applied what they have been learning about drawing faces, and drew a bust (head and shoulders) in the grid of lines. The last step was to color in the segments of paper created by the grid.

My students responded well to the exercise. The assignment moved quickly, but is possible in a forty-five minute class. I am still working out with my employer the consent and privacy laws under HIPPA to be able to show any student work. Each class I find it helpful to demonstrate the activity on an easel in front of the room. So, I have included two images of my in-class demonstration.

I hope this may give you some of your own ideas. If you do try this in your own classroom, or on your own, I would love to hear feed back from people.

Sample 1

Sample 1

 

Sample 2

Sample 2

New works, spring 2014

 

Mission complete. I don’t have a firm title for this, but “To Love a Falling Object,” so far,  is the working title.

It’s done, for sale, and I hope to be exhibiting it when the right opportunity arises. Trying to put those pportunities together now. Interested parties see the contact in my about section. Here’s a couple images:

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On the easel, “To Love a Falling Object” 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas.

 

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Detail, “To Love a Falling Object” 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas.

[more images as I worked on the piece, and other new work continue below]

 

I’ve started new works for upcoming shows, and so on. This one is oil on canvas, 24” x 36”.

Photos show how I blocked areas of the canvas into light and dark and started building up the sections.

 

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Starting…

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Detail…

 

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The work so far, (first sitting).

[update: second sitting]

Working on the new oil. It is yet untitled. Here it is after a couple hours this morning:

Oil on canvas, work in progress, untiltled, 24" x 36"

Oil on canvas, work in progress, untiltled, 24″ x 36″

 

Tonight I did a third sitting with the large (yet untitled) oil.

I may still do another sitting, but lightening the highlights and deepening the contrasts are bringing the piece together nicely, in my mind:

Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.40 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.43 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 8.58 PM Photo on 7-13-14 at 9.05 PM

Second (as yet, untitled work):

The idea for this was developed from the Tumblr.com blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References Reborn (see here: http://fucktonofanatomyreferencesreborn.tumblr.com/post/85055323385/artists-subject-prompt-1). I began with using a sketch I had done previously, the source material for that was The Northampton Historical Society’s book: “The Life and Death of a State Hospital.” Here is the sketch (original photo by Sherer)

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Hospital Ward hallway, pencil on paper, based on the photo by Tom Sherer.

 

I adjusted the storyline to suit the back-drop I was creating, and made a few modification on the sketch image I had drawn. The piece is nearly done. The over-all effect is very much what I wanted. There’s a lot of detail work, and since I had some tubes of incandescent paint, I decided to experiment with incandescent copper (Golden acrylics) and incandescent gold. This afternoon I worked on it again (after this picture was taken) and the walls and foreground are much darker and look less washed out. Aside for bringing more light at the back of the hall and around the figure, I am mostly pleased with today’s progress. Also, the discarded item is another detail I intend to work on when next I sit down to finish this.

Here’s an image, from this morning:

Acrylic on Canvas, my work based on prompt 1 from the blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References, it's a really great blog and you should probably follow it.

Acrylic on Canvas, my work based on prompt 1 from the blog Fuck-ton of Anatomy References Reborn, it’s a really great blog and you should probably follow it.

Hope to be able to post either one of these as finished pieces within the next couple days. Morning sunlight tends to give me the best light for painting. I try not to resort to spot lights in my room in the middle of the night –as I did when I was a kid.
Worked on this piece, again, this morning. It’s getting there, there’s mostly details left. Also, it has a working title:

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Acrylic on canvas, “Found Where Her Tormentors Never Rested.” For sale, inquire.

 

 

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