Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sad Woman

Sad Woman was drawn from life in 2008. It's on paper, about 15"x22."

I spent today at a workshop taught by Steven Saitzyk at Art Center College of Design. The topic was "Mastering Oil Painting," basically a tour through the materials and techniques oil painters use, with thoughtful and informed explanations for why things are done the way they are--and with recommendations for best and safest practices. This was enlightening in many respects and money well spent on my part because it provides a framework for analysis of future painting issues, as well as answering specific, immediate questions about safety, solvents, oils, paints, media, varnishes, and supports.

One question the workshop answered was whether it makes any significant difference to our environment to give up using pigments made from toxic metals. The short answer, I believe at this point, is no, if the paints are used responsibly. Additionally, because of the relatively short history of modern paints that do not use these toxic metals, while there may not be known problems with some of them, this does not mean they are not harmful. The bottom line, I think, is to use what works best for the particular application, but use it as carefully and responsibly as I can.


  1. All the lines point downward on this.

    Question: When drawing this, where did you start? The top of the head, a facial feature...

  2. Thanks for the information Jean - this sounds to me like a good topic to be informed about.

  3. The more lead the better. I have a tube of Old Holland in Napels yellow. Nothing can compare.

    I'm going to look threw my stacks and see if I can find a book that I think was called Handbook for Painters. Rabbit skin glue, egg tempra, encaustic etc.

  4. It's good to know about the technical behind the artistic.

    I agree with your close: paint responsibly!

  5. AH, this was not a terribly long pose, probably 20 minutes or a bit less, so I think what I did, judging from the evidence, is make some loose circles about where and how I wanted the figure to be on the paper, and then drew from there. I don't have a consistent, mechanical process. I probably started here with the line from her forehead on down and then drew in some improvisational and intense way from there.

    Katherine, you're welcome. It's genuinely interesting to me, or 10am to 5pm wouldn't have seemed like a good idea. I'm under no delusion that I now know it all, but it's a good starting place, and makes me a little more comfortable with what I'm doing. And also, S. Saitzyk makes himself available for follow-up, so there's a scientist/artist as back up.

    PA, I love those old books too. I have a special love/hate relationship with Leonardo On Painting, translations of his painting notebooks. And, yeah, lead rules. Sadly, we have much, much more lead in our bodies and what we eat than most of our ancestors--but it ain't from oil painting. (PS, the oil sticks I'm using are a form of encaustic because they're wax based.)

    CO, yay! And check out today's post: I'm getting closer to home.

  6. muy bueno , totalmente admirable , como todo lo suyo