Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Madonna Sketched and Mapped


I’ve finished drawing Madonna into the 3 by 4 foot canvas. I realize these pencil lines are deceptive, and that this bit of draftsmanship doesn’t look much like Madonna. However it is the most difficult part of the process. The actual painting has its daily problems, but I enjoy it so much more than the meticulous mapping from the small manqué to the large canvas. The problem with mapping is that it must be perfect or the likeness is lost. That means that this, the hardest part of the process is also the most important.

Tomorrow, the much more involved and time consuming part of the project commences. I will mix a palette of about 8 colors plus white and then start to paint.*

*By mixing these 8 colors with white and one another a palette of many more colors will be obtained.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Madonna For Triptych

I’m not sure which of these 2 images I will use in the Triptych for “Windows on Queen,” Characters Pub in Lancaster, PA. Perhaps readers can help me decide. Please go to “Comments,” at the bottom of this post and post your decision, #1, or #2. Actually, if you are first to vote it will say, "no comments." And, thanks for the help.



Madonna #1



Madonna #2


I personally like the one that zeroes in on her eyes, nose and mouth as these are her most recognizable features. However, I know that the ¾ view is more iconic.

Please do not consider my comments in making your decision.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Henlopen State Park Elevated Walkway


It was a miraculous 73 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday and we took a walk on the new Cape Henlopen State Park elevated walkway/bike path that goes through the sand dunes and marshes. The walkway provides spectacular views, and I took many photographs. These are three of the 120 taken.



I had to remove my long sleeve shirt, and the sun felt so good on my skin that has been burned dry by the 20 degree weather of the past week. Today it is turning colder and we are preparing for a combination of cold rain, sleet, and wet snow. So, I am posting these as a reminder of that singular spectacular indian summer day.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rehoboth Beach Bike Path Fall Foliage


We packed our bikes in car trunks and drove across Ocean Highway at the Food Lion shopping Center traffic light, then drove through the Super G parking lot, past K-mart, and finaly behind Tanger Outlets where we parked in the State Park parking lot.


It was the last warmish, overcast day before the current polar onslaught, so we had our cameras with us hoping to catch the trees before freeze and wind did the leaves in.


These are some of the photos from that 7 mile ride. It is 3 & 1/2 miles each way, from the outlet mall to Lewes and back.

As I write tonight, much of Delaware is having a hard freeze, so the next big blow will take the leaves down.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Vilma Banky and Ronald Coleman

Another over-sized drawing from my "Personal Icons" series of Photo Realistic powdered graphite and pencil drawings.


The drawing was made in 1978 before I began to use powdered graphite more than the pencil point. I’m not sure which film the still photo was from, though it must be either The Winning of Barbara Worth or The Night of Love. Both of those films stared Ronald Coleman in the male lead. Since most of those publicity photos were made from frames of the motion picture, I’m fairly sure the image is in the public domain. I bought the photo in a New York City “filmography” store in 1977. I know most people alive today have no idea who these two stars of the silent screen were. Banky was born in 1901 and died in 1991 at the age of 90. Coleman lived to his 67th year in 1958. You can follow the links in this entry to learn more about them.

The drawing is 32” x 40,” and is on 100% cotton fiber paper. It was completed using Jet Black pencil, and graphite powder ground from that pencil, 4B pencil, cloth and erasers. The paper and photo would have been squared-off with a grid in order to transpose the much smaller photo onto the large paper. I also used an opaque projector to help obtain a sense of “depth of field” from the original photograph. As it is one of the earlier "personal icons" the technique is a bit more crude than the later drawings. I have no idea why the photograph taken of the Photo Realistic drawing is warm in some areas and cool in others because the original drawing is not. Never the less, I know this image conveys the "old time" sense of the original frame from the motion picture as well as the timely extreme dramatic feeling the silent film era relied on to convey drama before the invention of "Talkies" in the United States motion picture industry.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon

An Early Graphite Drawing of the "Personal Icon" series, “Flash” directly references my childhood








































Ming, the Merciless has captured Dale Arden and Flash Gordon. “Flash” has been or is about to be tortured. As a ten year old - hopeless science fiction addict and gay boy (though if you had asked, I would not have been able to tell you why I was titillated) - I watched every episode with bated breath, hoping to see Buster Crabbe stripped to his somewhat revealing shorts. However, this 32” x 40” graphite drawing was made in 1978 at age 33 as part of the series of personal icons I created during the decade 1975 to 1985.* As one of the earlier drawings the technique is less skilled than the later works. In 1978 I was using the jet black pencil point directly on the paper whereas beginning in 1980 the blacks and most grays were laid in using powdered graphite and cloth, rubbed into place, and subtracted from to expose lighter grays and white where necessary. So, this drawing has a more heavy-handed appearance than the later artworks. However, this less defined, and to me somewhat awkward work is in keeping with the quality of the original photograph. Like the drawing the photo was also a bit fuzzy and looked as though it might have been made from an actual frame of the original, already fading film, which was of extreme contrast.*2 At the time I was striving for a Photo Realistic quality though I don't think it was quite realized in this particular drawing.

A Bit of Meta Criticism

I've had friends tell me that I am too self-deprecating when critiquing my own work. However, the artist always knows his/her own flaws better than any viewer, and that includes all art critics who sometimes dis an artwork thinking they understand its flaws.


Two Notes

*In 1978 Buster Crabbe was seventy years old, my current age, and in five years my icon would be dead.

*2 The film series has since been cleaned digitally and is preserved in the Library of Congress, National Film Registry as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" film series. And, I bet I am just one of many gay men of my generation who grew up with Buster Crabbe as one of their heroes and/or icons.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Meryl Streep Portrait: Part VIII

The Finish



The acrylic painting of Meryl Streep is complete but not installed. Due to miscommunication she is languishing against the north wall, and looking out the huge “Windows On Queen,” in Characters Pub in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. However, it is my understanding that she will be installed when Joe and I next visit Lancaster. We will celebrate with another fabulous dinner at Chef and owner, Meghan Young’s restaurant. Of course Dr. more-and-more-dyslexic-gasbag put the panels together backwards and the entire thing had to be taken apart and put together again. Ah well, the joys of old age! At least I can still draw, paint, laugh at myself, and take nourishment, occasionally all at once. Never the less I’m pleased with the final result, and I actually like the Meryl Streep portrait better than last year’s Leonardo Dicaprio portrait. She is bolder both in color and composition. Also, the abstraction of the hair worked out especially well. I debated changing the color of the background, but I am happy that I decided to stay with the black, which is not black. Instead it was made from red, green, magenta and blue, and depending on the number of layers it appears to be navy blue and or black in spots as one approaches the painting closely.

What's Next?

I’ve already begun to think about the new painting to go on the wall across from the bar in Windows On Queen. Instead of another 5 by 7 & ½ foot painting I will do a triptych, three 3 x 4 foot panels attached, hung as one 4 by 9 foot horizontal unit. However, each panel will be of a different character. I will have to consult with Meghan as to which characters are to be used. Perhaps three characters from the world of pop music this time. We’ll see.