Of Hands and Feet…and a foolish clown


My life drawing class with Jim Morphemes is sadly winding down, I’ve grown accustomed to my regular sessions with a live model and I will miss that . I will also miss Jim, he is a heck of a nice guy and a great deal of fun to chat with. Thankfully there is a Life Drawing II.

Our next to last assignment is to produce a  drawing of hands and feet, so the above is my offering. As with most of the assignments given  I have taken the opportunity to benefit my studio practice in general and this assignment is no different. I  have wanted to explore the similarities and differences between real flesh and blood and that of the antique- namely Roman works for some time but have never really taken the time to do so properly.  I am far from the first artist to do this, my great hero Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) avidly emulated the ruins being unearthed in Rome seeking to comprehend their beauty and power. I have always admired how so many of Poussin’s figures possess a certain stiffness, possessing a theatrical formality, a chill even and I would venture it has much to do with his study of the marbles. Folks rant and rave over the dirty feet of Carravagio’s peasants ( a contemporary of Poussin) but for my money, give me the gods of Nicolas. The following is a study by Poussin taken after the antique now in the Musee Conde, Chantilly, France.


I still haven’t picked up a brush after my critique. I don’t want to think that I am still rattled , much has been demanded of my time in the domestic sphere, household duties, the beasties, homework assignments. But I am anxious and will just need to jump in at some point and try anew. I’m told my Seizing Sanctimonium  is SO close to being a worthwhile painting, but now I fear I haven’t the tools or the understanding to bring it to completion. That I guess is where faith comes in. I have however put together a self portrait (part of the final project for Jim’s class) and it makes me chuckle, hoping you like it.

Until next time, be well, LG


Wandering in the Wilderness 

  My last critique ( which will indeed be the last ) has left me reeling . And although the criticism lobbed against the work has in an unexpected way provided inspiration. My work was compared to both wallpaper and paper dolls , two directions I find fascinating- even if that was not the intent . I think exploring the frankly gendered even homophobic accusation that my figures look like paper dolls is exciting . I mean what grown man plays with paper dolls? Me I suppose. But inspiration aside I’ve been feeling hobbled in the studio , fussing but not producing .

The group leader who possesses empathy without pandering , something I admire, confessed that after critiques in her own past she was unable to work in her studio for several weeks.

I simply do not have that time .

 So although I feel dispirited I am facing the studio . Primarily focusing upon drawing , something that feels nurturing and familiar . And without conscious intent I turn to the Baptist John. 

  Drawing away , happy with the quiet I suddenly become hyper self critical – the legs , they are so wrong .My inner voice jumps into overdrive “you really do not possess anatomical understanding , just as the group had asserted !”

It’s a horrible feeling when your harsh inner critical voice is echoed by an external one .

I was about ready to toss the whole damned drawing ( the medium , colored pencil , wasn’t erasing properly ). But instead I decided, partly in defiance to my own demons , to continue drawing .

In this case legs .

  Working from source material I am trying to understand legs and feet; specifically trying to understand the difference between feet depicted in classical sculpture and actual feet. Why the stylization of the toe next to the big toe . Was it simply more graceful ? It does give a pleasant V shape . A lot to explore , plus it silences the nasty demons .

Concerns such as this will occupy my brain, I will try to reject “rightness” over expression and I will continue to try to process the criticisms , perhaps even benefiting from them.

Today I have my life drawing class ,sadly  soon to end and now I am scrambling to find other venues to continue this integral part of my practice .

Until next time, be well.

Taking what is helpful,the rest? Not so easy…

  There was a period in my life when Alanon meetings were a weekly , sometimes daily event. So often I found myself drowning in emotional torment and I literally , often blindly, grabbed on to whatever advice was offered . But over time I had to recognize that  though the advice offered may be well intentioned it may not be approptiate for me.

 My backstory, my desires and my needs were often at odds to what was being offered . At one point my sponsor tried to instill in me the ability to take what worked and leave the rest behind . If only it were that easy . 
Such as it is with critique groups I’m beginning to feel. This morning I had the first critique of my work since PAFA. I was determined to not be cowed by the experience at the Academy and when presented with an opportunity to join a critique group with the Los Angeles Art Association I leapt at the chance. And overall l believe it was a positive experience . 

There were the observations of apparent flaws in perspective , anatomy , light and space , criticisms I had heard in Philadelphia . But I feel I have been addressing them on my own terms. I do think being self taught, not being equipped with what seems to be very familiar jargon and aesthetic expectations leaves me at a disadvantage at times. But it also allows for work that I hope does not look like the work of others . In fact what seemed to be a prevailing sentiment was that my work possessed its own vocabulary ; if I accomplish nothing else before I shed this mortal coil, that will have made me proud.
There was so much talk of intentionality ( as there was in Philadelphia – that must be quite a buzz word amongst the schooled ) and  with that reference one can infer a lack of intentionally on my part. That is so peculiar as my work is so far from random. There were concerns that my perspective was just not right, that perhaps my figures were just a bit off and the concern  that somehow I just wasn’t comprehending these principles. I study these principles with fervor and work to my ability ( and then some ) but the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins who I  admire so very much once warned me of the stifling trap of such disciplines . His advice early on was to make my figures (and space) convincing but not to be ensnared by academic sense of rightness for the creative spark can so easily be extinguished . With that in mind I haven’t pursued realizable space but the in- between spaces, often dizzying and overwhelming. The world of my interior; my decisions made with intention to express what I so often find vague and fleeting.

There is a confession I may need to make concerning light and space and that is my own lack of depth perception . Recently it was discovered in an eye exam that I lacked a sense of it, having failed rather miserably the depth perception test. That came as a bit of relief because I have struggled with how my work is percieved by others and been puzzled by that reception . For work that  seemed to me perfectly reasonable and recognizable ( certainly not academic realism but convincing) was deemed by some as lacking . I believe now I just might be seeing things differently and will continue to work from that vantage point .

I was thankful to the leader of our group for I felt that in spite of her initial hesitation to the work ( particularly the latest painting Seizing Sanctimonium ) she truly looked at the work and gave it it’s due ( and some very helpful advice ). The group as a whole was earnest in its attempt at offering advice in order to improve and I am sure over time I will refer back to their suggestions . I’m grateful to them for that . There was only one sarcastic remark and later when I spoke privately to the fellow he confessed that yes he had meant it as an insult . So one must take that and then let it go. Again , not easy , but what can you do. I don’t want skin so thick that my heart cannot beat freely .

My buddy, my comrade , Paul Torres supported my efforts with the enthusiasm I feel for his work. I may never have a large audience ,but I do have admirers and delighted Paul is one of them. Inmany ways my work is self indulgent for its first aim is to please me, that I guess is my intention. Now I need the confidence to express it.

 I must go for a run, clear the mind and be ready to start anew. Be well

Open for Critique…kinda

So after much studio time (on and off, over a year) I am at last, pretty close, almost positive, for the moment, finished with my latest paintings. And although I have heard younger artists, seemingly without any pause (or apparent modesty) call their work “masterpieces” , I am in no way inclined to make the same claim; but I am pleased (for now).

IMG_8447 (1)

Seizing Sanctimonium 


56 by 40″

oil on canvas 

click on the image to enlarge

 I have been eager to get the painting into a presentable stage as Sunday is my turn for the critique group I have recently  joined. As some of you might remember this is a bit anxiety producing. My paintings are very far from random and imbued (crammed)with meaning : personal, mythological, literary etc. All not terribly obvious from first encounter. I fear it might not be well received or understood, but that is something I cannot control.  One of the problems I anticipate is that the one being critiqued is  not to respond while criticism is being made. I might have bitten off my tongue by the end of all of this.

So wish me and the painting well.

I will tighten the painting some more next week, details and glazings, saturating shadows and such. Then I will try to explain the painting at some length in the final post. Hopefully with a better image.

Until then , be well.