In the Flesh

 

 

My life drawing course with the excellent Jim Morphesis  (link to his work: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seed/jim-morphesis-the-wounds_b_7014096.html )

sadly ended Tuesday. I will miss the experience of having an actual body, in the flesh, in front of me. I benefit keenly, even if the results aren’t immediately apparent, from a live model and consistent and structured practice.

That said, in the stacks  of drawings made in this class , very few were worth much more than parakeet liner. And from the rest, only bits and pieces satisfy me.

But one of the issues I am working on is abandoning this mad quest for perfection, I fail miserably each and every time.  So relinquishing the claims of my ego, I post  some of the drawings from Art 12A ; some from extended poses, some gesture drawings (gestural drawings drive me bonkers). 

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So now with class ended I will join other forums and study groups…plus I always have myself!

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Of Hands and Feet…and a foolish clown

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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.

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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

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day ( a wee bit early)

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Given tomorrow is St.Patrick’s Day and that its celebration is a well loved childhood memory (my mother’s surname being Murphy after all) I wanted to post something to honor the saint who drove the serpents out of Ireland. I found glancing through past work , that although I am very fond of the saint, I’ve never drawn him before. I decided to remedy that error and set about putting together this rendering .

I hope he would be pleased.

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Blessed Saint Patrick

2016

graphite, colored pencil, pastel and mixed media on paper

18 by 24″

Last minute I snipped away one of my relief prints and added the harpy to the composition ; I’m pleased with the result.

I must have sensed on some level that the holiday was approaching as I have been listening to quite a bit of Irish folk music. A favorite is The Raggle Taggle Gypsy O , particularly as interpreted by the great countertenor Andreas Scholl. I thought I would include it into this post. Link below.

 

Temptation of St.Anthony of the Desert (a fellow and his pig)

 

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Just moments ago I finished up a drawing of the abbot of the desert St. Anthony. This well intentioned saint who sought to avoid worldliness and the corruption that follows only found himself in the thick of it. Anthony is my muse (as he was to Bosch, to symbolists such as Flaubert and to many  Surrealists), I turn to him time and again and have lost count as to how many works I have devoted to this early father of the Church . But one attribute of the anchorite that I particularly love is the company he keeps, pigs. The pig is found in many depictions of the hermit but this  is the first time I have worked one of my favorite beasties into the composition.  I’m sure there will be many more.

In this depiction I tried to incorporate,in a whimsical way, classical elements to depict worldliness ; not that I feel humanism is corrupt but classical sculpture can certainly raise one’s pulse.

 

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The Temptation of St. Anthony of the Desert (and his pig) 

2016 graphite and pastel on paper

18 by 24″ 

My love of pigs is personal, being a vegan I have a particular attachment to this highly intelligent and sensitive creature . David sponsored a pig for me this year as a Christmas present, her name is Sweet Tea and she is well tended to by the loving folks at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary. Although I wish she lived with us we can easily visit her in Tuscon AZ, we plan on visiting her at least every boxing day. This image is from the day we first met, as you can see she is quite adorable and friendly. It is delightful how pigs rush to you when you enter their compound, ever greedy for treats and attention.

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Sweet Tea

Like I mentioned Anthony is often depicted with a pig, this little gem of painting by Lelio Orsi (1511-87) is one of my favorites at the Getty, I search it out whenever I visit.

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On my last visit I noticed this wee little pig pawing at the anchorite’s robe as fervently as my pug Viola.

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As I mentioned I will be sure to return to Anthony time and again, my very sweet and very talented friend, the artist and musician Henry Kitchen offered to pose, sending along this funny photo. He is actually a perfect Anthony, right down to the hoodie.

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I’m sure to take him up on the offer very soon.

Until then, back to painting, good night.

The Ghost of Versailles

 Lately I have been working rather diligently on experiencing lucid dreams; doing this so that I may better  discern my unconscious mind. An although my dreams have been extravagant , I have as of yet, had only two lucid dreams. Last evening being the second.

It seemed a short dream , which was a pity as it was set in the Palace of Versailles (a place I have not had the chance to visit and which I fear I may never actually visit). In this dream I have the ghost of Louis XVI on my back and he is directing me from his suite to the ground floor. He is doing so through some sort of night goggles, the images are sepia toned, and I soon realize I am having a lucid dream . From my knowledge of the palace, I begin to direct myself downward, it is dawn, barely lit and we are all alone. But as we descend to what I know will be the grand staircase it all evaporates as thoroughly as the Ancien Regime itself.

 This charcoal sketch is my accounting of the dream and aside from my commedia dell’ arte costume which is how I  often designate myself in drawings, it pretty accurately captures the mood of the dream.

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2016

charcoal, pastel and a bit of collage on charcoal paper

12 by 18″

As I mentioned, I have been having many other vivid dreams as well, and this image Out on a Limb was inspired by two recurring dreams, none of which were lucid, but which still moved me deeply. In one series of dreams I am consistently losing my right hand ( my working hand) which of course is quite disturbing . In another I am in a snowy metropolitan area, high above mankind, as I looked down I see the most pitiful bat-bird like creatures slowly freezing to death. No matter how much I alert others to their plight and no matter how I try to disentangle them from the ice, I cannot save them. The dream left me breathless and despondent. I tried to capture that sense in this graphite drawing.

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Out on a Limb

2016

graphite and colored pencil on charcoal paper

19 by 25″

That said, I will close with the good old boy himself, have a great week.

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The Castration of Uranus

I  recently stumbled upon a 14th c. image of the Castration of Uranus . It was of course disturbing , but also fascinating. I felt compelled to add my voice to the conversation and the following drawing is the result. 

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 The Castration of Uranus

2015

graphite and colored pencil on paper

11 by 14″

The story, in case forgotten, is that the old god Uranus had fathered the Titans (and the Cyclops) with the Earth Mother Gaia.  As is so often the case the father became wary of the offspring and buries those born of his seed deep within Tartarus -so deep in fact, “it would take a falling anvil nine days to reach the bottom”.

Gaia prompts her Titan son Cronus to smite his father, arming him with the familiar scythe of Time. Unbeknownst to me, but fortunate coincidence, Cronus, according to the mythologist Robert Graves, “grasp[ed] his genitals with the left hand (which has ever since been the hand off ill-omen”. This merciless act produced the vengeful Furies and from the severed penis, when thrown into the whirling ocean, the eternal Aphrodite.

The story is stunning in its primal psychological symbolism; incomprehensible yet visceral. At least I felt so, hence this drawing.

The following is the  wonderful illumination that inspired my own, I am sorry to say I do not know its source, any information pertaining to it most welcome.

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That said, this image is a bit confusing to me. When first stumbled upon, source being unremembered, it was identified as Saturn Devouring his Son (ca.1501). I think that is off, Cronus/Saturn would eventually  devours his  Olympian young  (as magnificently represented by Rubens), perhaps the artist was confused as I haven’t stumbled upon Zeus/Jupiter castrating Cronus/Saturn. I believe this image simply illustrates Cronus castrating Uranus with the prophetic image of Aphrodite in the background. The bloody child-devouring a cinematic bit of excess to gets one’s attention-if severed genitals weren’t enough. It is perplexing that the castrated figure is wielding the Cronus’ scythe of Time. Whatever, its a grand image. 

First day back to the studio, now I will try painting , I feel quite rusty…and anxious.Will keep my progress posted, until then, be well, LG

Herakles and Telephos

In my ever expanding collection of books , I possess a well worn volume that I treasure dearly. It is The Odyssey of Homer,  translated by Alexander Pope and illustrated with lovely line drawings in the manner of Flaxman. As I mentioned, it is in sorry shape, but I picked up this gem for a quarter at the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh  many years ago. I confess I haven’t read this translation, the pages are brittle, the text so teeny I can barely focus on the page. I merely enjoy the book ; its fussy attention to detail, each page framed by an elegant red line, its many musty charms. I particularly love the ornamental spot illustration, micro plates , somewhat Greek (sometimes not) in nature,that intersperse the text; they are often enigmatic and always delightful .

One such micro plate inspired this painting/drawing, Herakles and Telephos.

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Herakles and Telephos

2015

graphite and watercolor on YUPO paper

9 by 12″

Initially when I stumbled upon the plate (set neatly between Book  XIV and Book XV) I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was looking at. The image seemed  vaguely surreal in its composition and in its elements: a big headed man, a putto, a doe (with antlers), a strangely phallic cloud and a menacing raptor. But as I began working on my own interpretation I began to realize I was looking at an image of Hercules and his infant son Telephos. In  a nutshell, Telephos born of one of Hercules’ many dalliances, was ill fated, and like the babe Oedipus, sentenced to death, in this case by his fearful maternal grandfather. Our Hero-daddy rescues the boy, entrusting his care to a lactating doe. For a better explanation, this link might help, HERE.

The following is the initial image, blown up quite a bit, the original is the size of a postage stamp; I have no clue as to who the artist was.

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If the original was enigmatic, my interpretation might be more so. I of course retained the phallic cloud, and the doe’s perplexing antlers, but Telephos is no mere babe and the raptor/Zeus ( the boy’s grandad) is no mere bird. I’m not going to analyze the drawing to deeply but let’s just say the notion of a protective father figure resonated for me. Session ended.

In this drawing/painting I experimented with a new material, the synthetic paper YUPO ( link HERE). I was introduced to this paper by another artist who extolled its virtues, namely its ability to take a lot of medium and still remain flat and unwrinkled. It also allows for errors in watercolor to be easily removed. Alas it also allows for details you value to be easily removed. It takes a bit of time for paint to set up, and I must figure out how to work with it. YUPO may not be my go-to paper just now but it does have possibilities I would like to explore. It is marketed as a watercolor paper yet it takes graphite beautifully, the pencil glides upon the smooth surface. The following is the drawing before I added watercolor.

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Today I will be back into the thick of oils and perhaps venture into a hand puppet ( one idea will not leave my head so I better let it out).

Be well,

Lg

Goblin Market

I’ve been reading a fair amount of poetry later, mostly for class, but also revisiting  some old favorites; one being Christina Rossetti’s  pre-Raphaelite jewel, Goblin Market (Link Here).

This little graphite drawing was inspired by her wonderfully dark poem.

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2014

graphite on paper

8.5 by 11 inches

“Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy”

A Case for Doodling

I have consistently high blood pressure which is maddening, I’m fit, I’m vegan, I exercise daily, I practice yoga and yet the numbers soar. My doctor advised I buy a home monitor (if you want to feel decrepit, buy a home monitor) and now I have the added delight of watching the numbers rise on a daily basis.

This morning I decided to experiment, ordinarily I fuss trying to stay still as possible when using the device. I naturally run high on nervous energy,even sitting perfectly still causes me anxiety, a creepy Catch-22. My experiment was to draw during the monitoring. I was happily but not really surprised to see my numbers close to the desired range(125/83 whereas target blood pressure is 120/80).

I was delighted, it has been years since the numbers have been this low. I have known that when I draw my breathing becomes less frantic and I can experience a bit of calm. But perversely I always feel as if on some level drawing isn’t “real” work; I do not  regularly show my sketchbooks to others. And yet I doodle and draw all day, often with a weird sense of guilt. But this morning’s numbers have liberated me a bit from that ridiculous thinking, I’m not wasting time or procrastinating-this is therapeutic !

The following are a few pages from my sketchbook from the last few days. To a new and reasonable acceptance of doodling.

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the following two were from dreams the evening prior:

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Well that is it for now, off to yoga, then doodling perhaps. This evening one of my prints is in an exhibition, tonight is the opening. I’m so lame, I should go, but I would rather paint , will see what happens.

Until then, be well,

Lg