In case you haven’t noticed, I love painting two people together. Kissing, whispering, dancing the tango…I relish the interaction and the intimacy. I also like to vary my painting experiences by taking a break from one subject to the next, by working in color after black and white, by painting a small canvas after a couple of large ones. I think it allows me to approach every new painting with a fresh eye. And so At Last is a small canvas, filled with color and a sensuous image of two people who I imagine have finally managed to fulfill a mutual fantasy.
The grisaille project that I started earlier this year continues with Rising Again, the painting of Whitney Browne’s breathtaking dancer in her collection of Dance for the Photographic Eye. While I usually paint my grisailles in tones that are akin to the colors I envision for my finished painting, as in Looking for Love, this time I saw this magnificent black woman coming to life in black and white. Because I am not a robot (#captcha), the grisaille and the painting are not identical, but rather two exceedingly similar views of the same subject, much like a photographer might find just one or two shots out of dozens snapped in a portrait shoot that are worthy of publication.
Looking for Love
I continue to enter juried art exhibitions, whenever I think my paintings are a good fit for a particular competition, since there’s no better way to be taken seriously as an artist than by getting a third party endorsement of your work. Family and friends may offer praise out of love, but the judgment of someone who doesn’t know you and does know art carries a lot more weight.
Since figurative is where I live, this one was a no brainer. I entered five paintings in the Figurative 2018 Art Exhibition, and, of those, Looking for Love was awarded Special Merit and Rising received Special Recognition and can be viewed on the Light Space & Time Gallery website. If you have the interest and/or patience to view the YouTube video of the Special Merit winners, you can see what good company I’m in.
I attended another lovely reception at the Lighthouse ArtCenter in Tequesta, FL, last Thursday night, celebrating the latest and largest Best of the Clubs juried exhibition, featuring the paintings, photographs and 3-D art of the many country club communities in this part of south Florida. I’m delighted that On Fire was displayed with a wonderful tropical landscape by Roma Josephs and a great portrait of a saxophone player by Diane Mittenthal, fellow painters at BallenIsles. Good company, I’d say.
When I see a photograph I want to paint, there are many decisions to be made before my brush ever touches the canvas. Just as a plein air painter might use a view finder to frame the scene he chooses to paint, I need to decide where my edges will go…how much do I crop and where…will the image fill the frame or have background…and, in the case of Rising, is it a figure or a portrait? When I first saw the photo of this powerful dancer in Whitney Browne’s collection of Dance for the Photographic Eye, I knew I wanted to paint her as a portrait. I moved her to the left, cropped off all but the upper portion of her body and counted on the negative space on the canvas to provide the feeling that she is a woman about to take flight. This version of Rising is the grisaille; the full painting is yet to come…
Looking for Love
My dear friend, Carole Goldberger, is a big fan of my work (she has several paintings of mine in her home), but especially likes the grisailles (monochromatic drawings in paint) that I draw on my canvases before I begin my paintings. In Florida for the holidays, I had a small, blank canvas in my studio, chose an image of a couple about to kiss, cropped it and painted a grisaille. I posted it on Instragram that day, with the caption, “A good start.” Carole commented, “Start? Finished I’d say.” Which got me thinking…so I got another small canvas and drew the same grisaille again. This one, of course, I actually painted. Now I can offer the grisaille or the painting, Looking for Love, separately or together. Interesting, I think…maybe even inspired!
Looking for Love | Grisaille
Suggestive, erotic, sensual…I must admit to being attracted to images of couples on the verge…of that kiss and more. I’m working on expanding my black and white portfolio this year, starting with Contact, which I painted from a color photograph. It’s an interesting exercise to paint in color from a black and white image, because it frees you from reliance on the photograph, but I particularly enjoy challenging myself to translate an image in color into the lights and darks and warms and cools running from white to black through a myriad of grays.
I’m a huge fan of black and white movies and have been since I was a kid, when I could stay home from school when I was sick (or occasionally not really sick) and watch the Million Dollar Movie all day. Fred and Ginger, Bogart and Bacall, Hepburn and Tracy, Bette and Joan—I loved them all then and still do, since they’re all featured on Turner Classic Movies these days. Those early filmmakers knew how to create atmosphere with lights and shadows, drama with highlights and lowlights, and that’s exactly what I try to achieve in my black and white paintings.