Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sketching In My Favorite Places.

There is a variety of places I visit on a regular basis that never cease to inspire me to open my sketchbook and start to make marks on the blank page.

One of them is "Jim's Lunch," in Millville, New Jersey. The same family has been making delicious "Diner food" there for 3 or 4 generations. This is the second sketch done of one of the current owners, Jim Maul, as he was making my "one-egg-over-easy" with Italian sausage and rye toast, and coffee. I show up there every Thursday morning before teaching at the nearby "Barn Studio of Art." Jim always kids me about not quite capturing the full length of his nose.

Just a few blocks from my home is a McDonalds. Once a month I give in to the urge...the need, to down a calorie-laden short stack of pancakes, of which I only allow myself two. And again, with a sausage patty.
YUM! And oh-so-bad-for-me.

If I want something a bit more "upscale" in the food department I walk the few blocks to my favorite Jewish deli, "Hymie's." I have one particular seat that gives me a good view of the patrons. I'm often asked if I did the many portraits on the walls? I did not. They were done by another artist/friend of mine.
He recently put me up on the wall. By the way, this is not a portrait of me, sketching.

Speaking of portraits. Once in awhile I'll end my day at "The Tavern," a gathering place for those wishing to partake of the "Happy Hours" specials, and hors d'euvres. I have a favorite place to sit at the bar, one that gives me a mirror image in the beer tap of those sitting behind me...and in this case, me.

On very rare occasions, when I'm still not quite ready to head home for bed, I'll stop in at an all night Diner.
The nearest is the "Llanarch Diner." It has been there for a long time, and it's most recent claim to fame is the
 booth used in the film "Silver Linings Playbook," where Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence had their first date. This couple was not sitting in that booth, but there definitely was something going on here between the two of them. About as close as they, and I, will ever get to Hollywood fame, I suspect.
OK; time for bed.    

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Weekend Of Opera, Art, And Tons Of Snow In Boston.

Two weekends ago my friend Nancy and I, and her dog Leah, drove up to Boston to hear Nancy's daughter Rachel (right) sing in the opera "Ithigenia in Tavris."  Rachel and her friend Coco are two of the many amazingly talented students at the Boston Conservatory of Music. (Thank you Coco for use of the photo.)

Once settled into our room high above the Brownstones behind the hotel, Leah checked out the view.
She said there was snow as far as the eye could see.

Indeed there was; piles on sidewalks and intersections five to seven feet tall.
And as we know in the week since, even more snow has been dumped on "Bean Town."

Saturday morning I decided I had to somehow chronicle the snowfall in a drawing, without freezing my butt off. Across from our hotel was the Prudential Center, in which I found the lobby of a condo. It looked out onto a snow covered garden. I settled into a warm and comfy overstuffed chair, and did this sketch in about an hour.

After lunch Nancy and I decided to brave the snow and walk to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Mrs.Gardner was a patron of the arts, and close friend of one of my favorite artists, John Singer Sargent.
The elegant home was built in the late 1900s, in the style of a 15th century Venetian palace. The three story building's interior surrounds this beautiful garden, the top of which originally opened to the sky. I couldn't help wondering how they would have dealt with snowstorms back then? Brrrrrr.

This is the last painting done by Sargent of  the ailing Mrs.Gardner, when she was 82 years old. She had suffered a stroke three years earlier. Sargent's water color captures her pale fragility, propped up by pillows, wrapped in shades of white cloth, surrealistically echoing the drifts of snow surrounding her former home.


Monday, February 9, 2015

The Rules Of Making Art; And How To Violate Them.

Once in awhile I forget the sub-title to my blog is "My adventures as an artist...etc...etc...etc."
On a recent weekend night I went to hear my former harmonica teacher, Seth Holtzman, playing a "Blues" nearby Media, PA. with  his friend, "Johnny Never." They did their Art, and I did mine.
But as often happens, I soon realized I had mis-spellings in comments heard, and with one of Seth's hands.,
I'd totally ignored one of his fingers wrapped around the harmonica.
OUCH! Where is the White-Out when I need it? Pablo Picasso supposedly said ;"An amateur artist learns the rules. A professional artist learns how to break them."  This drawing will get cleaned up.

And yes, I have absolutely no problem reaching for the White Out, or whatever else will cover errors...bad drawing, mis-spelled words, to bring my drawing or painting to a satisfying state. Notice I did not say "finish," or "conclusion."

Supposedly Pierre Bonnard (my absolute Hero) would quietly sneak his paints and brushes into museums that had bought his paintings, and discreetly touch them up, unable to bring himself to say "Enough already!" (Not sure how to say that in French?)

I've often been asked, "How do you know when a painting is finished" There are a couple of fairly good answers. "How do you know when a conversation is over?" If the person asking the question is also flirting with you, the response might be, "How do you know when you're done making love?"  It comes down to a gut feeling, usually, that there is simply nothing left to do, as with this drawing. Lots of texture, cross-hatching,
values from white to almost black. Anything more would be redundant.

And the fun thing for me as I draw and the sketch evolves is reaching those moments when I must make a choice. Do I stay with a drawing that is open, airy, and just done in simple "line?" This drawing was done at Barnes and Noble. I liked how these two were separated by a column, each contained within their mental and physical space, seemingly unaware of the other. And I really loved the big pile of hair on the woman.
(It was bright orange.) Her "statement" about who she was begged to be confirmed on paper via my pen.

Taking this relatively simple drawing to the next level, with cross-hatching that implies a variety of "values"
(degrees of lights and darks) begins to describe the environment. There is implied depth and perspective to the column..These folks now share the space. Clothing has texture, shadows of lap-tops and coffee cups let us know where the light is coming from, and as a drawing made up of "Marks" on the flat surface of the page, the total image becomes more graphic  It's now more about the "shapes" of things, and less about the initial open line. I can keep adding cross-hatching to make areas look darker, and by comparison, other areas look lighter. As my boss at KYW-TV-3 used to say, "It's all a bunch of cheap optical tricks!"
And a judicial use of good old White-Out, when needed.