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Diary New Painting Sketching Uncategorized

Study of a Woman’s Head – Blue

Sunday afternoon, it’s about two thirty : the light is gone. I was happy enough to arrange two consecutive working sessions this weekend, and finish a painting I started quite a while ago…

Time to seat in the sofa and enjoy a cup of coffee in the resting studio : I feel happily drained by this morning painting efforts and focus. My mind is somehow at peace and is not harassing me with the need to create something else – I mean, not yet… In Art, the more you work, the more you need to do!

Finishing a portrait study of a model I have painted before. This time, I focused on stronger contrasts in the background – somehow inspired by the clair obscurs I love in Rembrandt’s paintings – and on her contemplative expression. This is probably why I felt this painting needed some blue… I may be relating blue to dreams or introspection? I could have worked a bit more on some of the features – the arm and the hand on which she is reclining, some of the foreground… – but I liked it as it was, nothing would have added to her expression. I left it there :

Study of a Woman’s Head – Blue – 50 X 65cm

The lack of light was triggering some frustration recently… I tried to work on some night paintings, but my studio lighting is far from satisfying… IO could not work…

Browsing the work of two artists whose work I love, I found a way to challenge my drawing and carry the work on Figure… Both artists are bringing originality and poetic care to their draughtsmanship, using monochrome technics : Olivia Kemp and Bernadett Timko. One is working with Ink pen and impressive details and incredible sense of composition, the other is such a talented figure painter bringing studies to live with her etchings.

I had some old ink pens in a drawer and started to work on some portrait studies : The work is so progressive, and demand a huge amount of focus – it is key not to close the drawing, to keep it alive as long as one can… if not, any mistake means that the work needs to be re-started. Patience and observation are crucial! (which is a good workout for me… …)

Here is my first attempt :

Portrait Study – Ink Pen – 21 X 29 cm

This technic allows to work in small sessions, any time in the week when I can find half an hour, and… no need for daylight! Winter can last : I have work to do!

I like it very much so far and other works may come!

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Diary New Painting

Study of a Nude Portrait – Blue

  Life has always good reasons to keep me away from the Studio… but in the end, the artist craves to go back where he belongs : in his own creative world. 

Summer has been busy, yes. I have been traveling around, I have been working, I spent quality time with my family – I can’t say I had a bad time – on the contrary! Yet, over the last week-ends, I was delighted to spend some time in my den, finally.

I am back to work, playing with pastels and charcoals. 

I oscillate between figurative works and abstraction, sometimes mixing both, also trying to put a bit more of myself in the piece I am working on. 

The aim is not to tell a story as such with a painting, but rather describe a mood, an atmosphere. Trying to do so means I am much more difficult with my work, especially when I can’t relate to it. 

I have ‘re-started’ several times my last painting… I started with what as a basic nude, almost sticking line for line to the picture I was working from… But I was unimpressed, the colors were nice, but the pose was somehow flat… I washed out the pastel and reworked the composition, ending with what I believe is a stronger nude portrait study. The model was showing strength and a lot of assurance, I also found the light very theatrical – playing with abstractions in the background helped me to emphasize the drama and get away from the model : I stopped the painting today –  I was fearing to overwork it, and it was starting to tell a story of its own… 

Here it is :

Study of a Nude Portrait – Blue
Pastel on Paper – 65 X 55cm

I attended a couple of Art shows that really stroke me, recently. At first, Paula Rego’s Obedience and Defiance at the MK Gallery, in Milton Keynes, and earlier this month, the Cindy Sherman retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery. 

I loved Paula Rego’s pastels, and of course, the stories she tells us! The scenes are – sometimes crudely – unravelling before the eyes… I have to say that pastel is the perfect medium for these stories… with the contradictions of this medium – enabling the strength and power of the lines and the softness of the finger touch. After that show, I felt that I may try some larger formats, at some points… We shall see where my work leads me. 

The Cindy Sherman show was another sort of revelation… What a fantastic array of Self Portraits! The subject is nothing else but a pretext to play and depict ironic dramas or scenes of incredible intensity. As many of the works are printed on large scale, one can almost enter the picture, being fully absorbed by the scene – the works of the early 80’s made me think to some of Lucian Freud’s self-portraits : A simple subject or pose, yet a lasting impression and atmosphere… I should – will – see more Photography… 

(Ah – speaking of Lucian Freud… Another show is coming in the next couple of months… Looking forward to that one! After all, ‘Human Form’ is also a bit my ‘subject’).

Back to work… 

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Diary New Painting Sketching

Study of a woman’s head

June is a blessed months for painters… The days are getting long enough to allow extensive working time in the studio and, despite busier times at work and in daily life, I finally got to finish a painting started months ago.

Back in February, I was browsing for online resources for artists, when I found a series of ‘life drawing’ videos featuring great models and very expressive poses : I continue to be somehow naturally fascinated by portraiture and human figure – drawing a face, capturing its expression, is another way to dive into life. There is, of course, the person depicted, and her story.. But as in many cases, the subject turns to be the pretext for looking at inner things, and project some of our feelings… On this case, even though the video images quality was very poor, I was drawn by the movement of her head, the quiet assurance of her look, her presence. I paused the video and made a couple of drawings, before starting a pastel… I was short on time, left the painting that I had started hanging on the studio walls, waiting to have sufficient daylight to work on the final stages and the definitive skin tones.

Study of a Woman’s Head
Pastel on Watercolor paper – (53X65cm)

When I started, I was aiming at stronger contrasts, but the color rendering of the video was so poor that I changed plans, completely reworked the painting background, aiming at a softer general color harmony. The result is less a of Portrait and more of a Study… But I hope I could render a bit of what attracted me with this pose, this face expression.

Now time to finish some other works, that have been hanging in process for a bit too long…

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Diary New Painting

Abstract Landscape

Very quiet morning in the Studio, and a great light to work with… until the sky darkened. The clouds are thickening in this afternoon… but, Hey! One cannot qualify this as unusual… May has been very strange in the London area so far, and we felt very blessed, a couple of weeks ago, to enjoy truly fantastic Spring weather. 

April and May are, perhaps, the times of the year where I feel the most productive and creative : The change in the air, and the freshness of the colors and vivid contrasts are arousing my senses. While outside, I find myself looking intensely at these changes, trying to capture their essence. I want these impressions to trigger my work and inspirations, and while working, I want to dive in these visuals souvenirs.

In my last pastel painting, I tried to render the energy I felt in these changes in Nature, as well as the sense of Harmony I never fail to sense while enjoying Spring beautiful days. Here it is :

Abstract landscape – Pastel painting
(70 X 50 cm)

This painting came out quite fast… It was pretty much spontaneous, and I now work very naturally with Pastels. I might have said it a thousand times (?) : to me, nothing feels like the joy of rubbing pigments on paper, the touch, the grain, the saturation… However, I recently added a bit of Photography to my creative process…

I already enjoy photography as such, and as a creative activity… and, while the picture above is a faithful reproduction of the pastel work, I found myself playing with the digital file to create some monochrome variations of the painting. I am not a natural photographer, but the play of creativity, the joy of doing, led me to what are, I believe, interesting results…

Below are some of the iterations I mention… either drawing me towards dark matter, very high contrasts and energy (a bit like when I was playing with Chinese ink and attempting at calligraphy…), or leading to some atmospheric composition. I definitely liked it and will try to dig this further, when time, and inspiration, allows…

For now, time to clean up the studio, sort the pastels out, and enjoying the rest of the day with a bit of drawing….

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Diary New Painting Uncategorized

Early Spring

After a busy quarter at work, I finally found myself with a bit of free time… I waited a couple of days to get rid of all the tension one gets in his life and spent some time in the studio, sorting things out, arranging my pastels, and puffing the cat’s cushion (the most important thing of course… I sometimes wander if this room is my art working place or the cat’s main bedroom…).

Once I found the peace needed to pay attention to my Art and dive into some work, I browsed around the studio walls in search for something to carry on or to finish : there were hanging a couple of portrait studies in process, some life drawing sketches I really like, some portrait drawings… all was about Figure. I felt I needed to work on something more spontaneous, instinctive, something where I could just focus on the sensual touches of pastels on paper and on the sense of colors.

April : early spring… the first days of this month were rater cold and fresh – at times, sparkling with the first sun shines and the blooms of the season, or sometimes showered with a fresh and cold rain – once this happens, the atmosphere is oscillating from green to grey, while the ground shows the saturating contrast between soil and the first shouts of grass… I guess this led to the following abstract piece, as did the urge to play with colors, without having to abide by any figurative rule… Abstract is healing and resting. Figure will come back, in time…

Early Spring Rain
Pastel on paper (50 X 70 cm)
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New Painting

A Figure Study

A New year.

I like these times, opportunity to reflect – seat in the studio – and dive deeper – find a sense of progress. As often, it is a bit of music, a nice coffee, and me – dreaming around, looking at the sketches and charcoals I have hanged on the walls.

If we have to summarize how I feel these days, as written in an earlier post, I want to engage further with my work, be more serious, work more. A way to achieve this is to approach my works with more patience.

I am an impulsive creator – my instincts and my moves drive me to mould shapes out of white paper and play with a medium to craft a piece of art. I believe these impulses are a strength. I feel that I need to go beyond that, though : I have started to take pauses on the work I do, and stop rushing to the finish piece – I look ‘more’ to the model… I spend more time on my medium.

Here is the first piece of the year, a reclining nude study :

Figure painting, reclining nude, in pastel.
A Figure Study –
Pastel on Paper – 67 x 52cm

The work I did last year on abstract pieces starts to serve me – I now get really comfortable with my support (heavy watercolor papers, which I prepare with pumice gesso).

In the process, I can work with more freedom, and let my energy shape the drawing and vast color shapes – after a quick first step, where I focus on the figure movement and ensuring it is placed correctly in its space, I rub and ‘paint’ the pastel to obtain a colorful wash. I then go back to the drawing and the soft pigments, and progressively add on to the details. Working like this feels a bit ‘Fresher’… I am stuck or if I am unsatisfied with a part of the work, I wash it off, scrub the pastel and go back to the basic : the drawing and the line… This means I can also have multiple working sessions and always re-start to work on the piece with a clean eye and a refreshed mind.

here are the main steps that led to the work above :

Time to rest, reflect on this work, sort out the pastel table (which is a mess every time I finish a painting), before diving into the next piece.

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New Painting

A Portrait Study

   Over the last few weeks, my appetite for Figure drawing and for Portraiture found its way back to the studio…

  After months longing to find a proper subject and hardly having the motivation to paint, I felt the urge to revisit some of my previous studies and do more advanced work. I used as well a bit of time to dive into old films, videos and books about the masters I admire – being able to specify why I love their works or what attracts me towards specific pieces may as well be a way to help me in finding WHAT I want to paint – (I amassed an impressive collection of Art books over the years, but somehow always end in diving into two great masters retrospectives : Rembrandt and Lucian Freud – looking at their works, interest turns into fascination). 

After these sessions, I have two learnings : First, I want to use Portraiture or Figure drawing to crystalize some of the feelings I get from observing the world. Either doubts or faith in Human beauty, emotions, I would use a subject – maybe unconsciously – because I know it will help me to revisit my thoughts. Knowing this, I need to be more selective on the way I select my models, who, what I paint, probably get out of the usual pictures and models photographs I can find, but rather work with my own sources. Second, I need to do more on each piece and with more honesty – give more work, take more risks and give more time, more dedication to observing and crafting my drawing thoughts. 

More to come on this subject… In the meantime, I was focusing on this model, this time with pastels (I did a charcoal drawing of the same model by the past). She is looking forward, with intelligence and gravity.

I added all the main steps to the finished painting. Here we go : 

Portrait Study (51X51cm)

A Portrait Study – Pastel

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New Painting

An Autumn Cityscape

   The year is closing fast… An it has been a strange one… I cannot say these have been times where I put my head down and worked tirelessly, with the single and simple drive to work to my Art. Rather than that, a lots of thinking, and a lots of looking.

I have been observing the world around, moving, somehow into some depressive spirals – I tend to look at the papers or tv with a slight apprehension that, yet again, something stupid and monstrous will emerge from the news, making me wander : ‘what world are we living in!’… I have been enjoying the quiet and silent moments that Life offers, quite simply : the smiles of Friends, the Love in the House, the colors of the sky while walking in the city, in the end of the afternoon.

I like things that don’t lie…

A pastel study : I d’like to call it ‘An Autumn Cityscape’ – and will let the viewer set his mood on it, focusing either on lights or darks.

 

Autumn Cityscape (52X72cm)
An Autumn Cityscape – Pastel on Paper (52 x 72)

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New Painting

Pink & Green

   Rubbing pastels in the studio, after several months of being busy, either at work or traveling around.

I somehow needed to take a rest, and come back to Art once my mind could fully be at it. Either with a plan, or simply with the aim to dive into the poetry of colors, and the sensuality of softening pastel power onto paper.

Over the last two weekends, I completed a diptych painting – I wanted to render the smooth contrasts between pink and green –  an imaginary landscape, spread on two rough watercolor paper sheets, this to reinforce the ethereal atmosphere in which I want to invite the viewer :

 I start to find a real joy in creating these abstract landscapes… Of course I like the medium… (for those who love colors, pastel is a kind of absolute…) – but I also love the process… Abstraction, clearing up the mind, trying to focus on the emotions where the colors, the texture and the masses of composition are leading us… I will build a more consequent portfolio on this area… Let’s see where it goes and if we can meet some of the emotions we are looking for?

***

    I as well carry on figure drawing… more as an exercise rather than taking it as a subject. Over the last weeks, I started several drawings, made from materials and photographs I could find online, but ended destroying most of the work, rather frustrated by the lack of Life of the drawings or attempted paintings… Life… not that I’d absolutely need a Life model to produce a good artwork… But I need to really focus and put all my mind to the work, an it lacked substance (at least for me…)

IMG_2775

Drawing is technical… We can practice, on a mechanic way… Seeing and using drawing to produce art is extremely demanding – a vague or casual attempt is most often heading for a frustrating failure… (at least in my case…).

I include in this post a few drawings that escaped destruction… I need to focus more, and to re-connect with the joy of Human figure depiction… I may try to go and visit my old friends in London museum (these good old masters…) – they’re always generous in their teachings. Yes – using a bit of this hot summer to walk in these alleys and allow my busy mind to refocus on what this subject has to bring, the emotions it conveys : it keeps us connected to the wider world…

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New Painting

Going back to work…

A very busy start in 2018… Different trips, work – and a strong cold – kept me away from the Studio. Difficult not to blame the necessary distractions of life, and not to feel the frustration of having to remit creative instincts! This time ‘away’ had to stop and, last weekend, I forced myself into to studio…

Starting to work again, I dived into my pastel box, in the search for deep colors… I ended up rubbing an abstract composition, playing with contrasts – Deep blue is always a source of rest, for me – and I enjoyed working on a smooth and velvety texture, completing the first painting of the year.

Who knows what 2018 will be made of? I will surely continue to explore abstractions in colors, but also feel the need to go back to drawing and enlarge the scope of subjects I depict: after all, Art is also an exploration – a way to craft reality, and shape it as per our dreams and senses… I hope 2018 will give me more time to dive in my world.