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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Meryl Streep Portrait: Part VII

Okay, I finally finished the sixth and last panel of the 5 & ½ x 7 foot painting yesterday. This is the finished panel (taken with my cell phone).

The day before yesterday I had bought a new drill to make the holes in the frames in order to fasten the entire thing together once we are at Characters. I drilled one hole in the back of the first two panels and the drill quit! A-a-a-a-a-a-r-r-r-r-r-r-g!

This photo shows the back of the two panels with the drill bit stuck in the frames. I took the drill back to the store and replaced it with another of different manufacture and charged it over night. I’ve tested it and it works this morning. So, we will see if I am able to get through 17 more holes. I will do the drilling as soon as I post this. I think Murphy’s Law should be enshrined as an actual scientific reality!*

*Murphy’s Law – “If anything can possibly go wrong, it will!”

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meryl Streep Portrait: Part VI

Panels column b/row 2 and column a/row 3 are done!

Panel Row 3, column a

Panel Row 2, column b

I have one panel to go. As the artist, I have to admit the work is getting better as I progress. The risk-taking quotient has gone up as I continue the work. I’m more and more willing to break free of the pencil mapping I do in order to make sure each panel conforms to the others.*1 The mapping is a must for two reasons; 1) to make sure all the pieces of color line up from one section to another, and 2) Meryl won't look like Meryl if the drawing isn't absolutely correct. However, I am able to take creative risks with blending wet paint passages with several colors mixed to create skin textures that I was not willing to take in the first three panels. I am enjoying the conflict that process creates between the flat areas of color and the more nuanced textured sections of thick paint. In other words the battle between thin and fat paint works in this 5 by 7 & 1/2 foot portrait painting. *2

I probably won’t have time to go back through the panels and make corrections because I have but four workdays left to complete the final panel. The panel is only mapped about three quarters. So, I won’t begin to paint until tomorrow. And, the work will be interrupted by travel to Philadelphia for doctor appointments for my husband’s eyes. I will post photographs of the completed painting when it is finished and installed in the banquet facility at Characters Pub in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania in two weeks.


*1 mapping - in drawing the term is used to denote the exact draftsmanship necessary to create a perfect likeness. Mapping is often done with the squaring technique (modern jargon - the grid) invented by the ancient Greeks for transferring a small drawing to a large wall as in a mural.

*2 flat (thin) versus fat – I am working in acrylics here, however, fat and thin are terms used to refer to heavy thick oil paint and thinner flat oil paint – fat because of all the oil in the thick paint, flat because of turpentine or other thinner added to the paint to flatten it out. Working in acrylics with fat and thin means using no water versus more water to thin the paint, and moving very fast with heavy gooey paint application so that colors will mix together with brushwork on the canvas before they harden.