Friday, December 31, 2010

George Bernard Shaw and Helmut Gernsheim: Notes On The Gernsheim Collection At The Harry Ransom Center

George Bernard Shaw, famous playwright, was born in 1856 and died in November 1950.  Throughout his life, he took photographs to record events and to express himself artistically.  He said:

"If Velasquez were born today, he would be a photographer and not a painter."

In 1949, Helmut Gernsheim, engaged in producing a history of photography, submitted a series of questions to Shaw.

The typed questions and Shaw's handwritten answers are on display at the Ransom Center, along with a 1950 letter from Gernsheim, with handwritten reply by Shaw.

In his answers, Shaw writes that he is still actively taking photographs, something he has been doing for most of his life.  He lists the different cameras he has used over the years. The beauty, strength and wit of the replies, written so near Shaw's death, are striking.

In the letter shown here (photographed with i-phone by Matt Spitzer), Gernsheim tries to get Shaw to agree to let Gernsheim look through Shaw's photos, to select some for Gernsheim's book on the history of photography:

Gernsheim pleads:  "I won't disturb you in your work; in fact, you need not see me if you don't want to!"

Shaw says no:
"Quite out of the question.  You would have to ransack the whole house: a week's hard work.  They are not collected and catalogued.  Keep off."  [Signed, GBS 5/6/1950.]

From Gernsheim exhibit at the Ransom, through January 2, 2011.

Shaw's photographic legacy is being cataloged in the project,  Man and Cameraman.  Apparently, a great deal more than "a week's hard work."

[Shaw is famous for so many sayings;  I invite you to leave your favorites in the comments]

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reclining Man With Headache; Head of Reclining Man; Hand; Head In Profile; Head In Three-Quarters

 Drawn this morning, from life.

The first two are pastel and charcoal on pastel card.

The last three are Tombow marker and water on Bristol.

In reality, it was not the model with the headache, but me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Woman In Grey

Painted this morning, from life.

Oil on 24"x36" canvas.

The light this morning was strong.  Blue sky, clear, cold weather, fairly calm.

The model posed in front of a large window, with extra light coming from her left.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Season's Greetings, December 2010

Drawn from life, this morning.

Pastel on card.

My models were some branches from this morning's walk.  I don't know what kind of tree the predominant branch is from, but the leaves suggested in the background are from Spanish oak.

I wish us all a peaceful and joyful season.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silent Night Woman; Silent Night Figure; Portrait In Red

 Drawn this morning, from life.

These are Tombow marker, brush and water, plus ink on Bristol, about 9"x12" each.

We were listening to Christmas music.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday Morning Woman

 Drawn from life, yesterday morning, at Ruta Maya.

Tombow marker and ink, with water and brush, on Bristol.

The smaller sketch can serve as a thumbnail, with sufficient light and dark information, if I decide to paint this.

It was very dark inside the cafe yesterday morning.  And it was crowded with holiday get-togethers, including one revolving around a doula and her clients and their small children.  Several of the children came by to watch me paint the portrait and ask questions.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reclining Figure In Brown; Rainbow Torso

 Drawn Wednesday morning, from life.

The reclining figure is Tombow marker, water and brush on bristol paper.

The torso is Tombow marker, water and brush, pastel and ink on bristol paper.

I am just starting to use the markers and brush again.  I am way out of practice, but it's a skill worth redeveloping and developing further.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Woman Among Leaves; Woman Among Calla Lilies; Standing Woman

 Drawn from life, this morning.

These are pastel and charcoal on 12"x16" black pastel paper.

The seated figures are 30-minute poses; the standing figure is a 15-minute pose.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reclining In Lavender; Reclining In Blue; Artist And Model In December

The top two drawings were drawn this morning, from life.

They are pastels, on approximately 9"x12" card.

The model was in a single pose.  The figure in blue is a mirror image, from a different place, of the figure in lavender.

Do I even need to say I was late--almost an hour late?  In this case, it's because I forgot the time while painting earlier this morning on the canvas below.

Artist And Model In December is oil on 20"x24" canvas.  It was painted from life Monday morning.

Yes, I was late.  And all that was left was a "less desirable" profile view of the model, plus the mirrored image of another painter.  We were painting indoors because the weather was cold that morning.

I've been working on it intermittently at home since.

It's probably not complete, but it's far enough along that I'm willing to share.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Two Figures; Seated Woman

Drawn yesterday morning, from life.

These are pastel on pastel card, about 9"x12" each.

About these:

There was only one model yesterday.

Two Figures is yesterday's model, drawn on top of an earlier life drawing of a male model.

In the comments, we've been talking about influences, conscious and otherwise, in this drawing.

Check out the relevant bit of Botticelli's Venus here.

And the flattened and distorted face Picasso painted  here  (part of a discussion at Banjo's blog on December 8, 2010.)

And the stark palette of the German Expressionists, in a poster  here.

Seated Woman is actually my first drawing of the morning.  Very colorful, very classical in shape and pose.  Two Figures is, in part, my own reaction to this classicism and high color.

Seated Woman is also my first drawing after getting the thumb on my left hand splinted on Tuesday morning (thumb is sprained, we hope). It is awkward working with a splinted thumb, but much nicer than trying to work without the splint.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In 5 Minutes . . . More Or Less: A Preview Of My Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook

I've cut and glued and photographed and processed my little drawings for the Brooklyn Art Library's Sketchbook Project.

The book, with the original drawings, is ready to be mailed off to the library, where it will become part of a traveling exhibit of people's art.

While the sketchbook project is closed for this year, the Library has other projects going. Each project seems to involve filling a small notebook with something like story or photos or . . . and mailing it in to the Library, where it is exhibited with others of its ilk: A fun thing to do for yourself or with a group, maybe with children.

Meanwhile, enjoy the movie of the sketchbook, at

This is my first stab at "movie." I tried to photograph the sketches so they looked like part of a notebook--which they now are. The best part of this sketchbook is all the different papers I used; it's tactilely pleasing.

Keeping a sketchbook is good for drawing skills. It's also pleasant to have a little book that records drawings from a particular time and place, in this case, Austin in November 2010.

I am looking forward to seeing all the notebooks, when they come to Austin.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seated Woman In Blue And Red; Reclining Woman In Orange And Gray

Drawn yesterday morning, from life.

Pastel and charcoal on card, about 14"x19" each.

About these:

It was a beautiful, crisp, cold, clear morning.

The model, also an artist who draws, posed in two very relaxed and natural ways. A pleasure to draw.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Man In Blues And Greys; Reclining Man In Red

Drawn this morning, from life.

The large painting is oil pastel and acrylic paint on 20"x24" canvas.

The small piece is oil pastel on 6" square origami paper.

I will probably add some detail to the large painting, but I want to live with it for a bit before deciding.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Woman In Autumn; Back In Purple; Woman In Blue And Red; Woman In Blue And Yellow

 I painted these yesterday and today, from life.

Woman In Autumn is oil pastel and oil paint on 11"x14" canvas.

Back In Purple is oil pastel and oil on 12"x16" canvas.

The two small sketches are oil pastel on papyrus, for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.

About Woman In Autumn:

These are the colors of the leaves on the ground this morning.  Although it is a warm windy day today, it looks like and feels like winter is coming.  And that is what I painted.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Woman Among Marigolds At The Eastside Cafe

Painted outdoors, from life, yesterday morning.

Oil and oil pastel, 20"x24" canvas.

About this:

We were outdoors, in the middle of the most marvelous organic garden, with chickens, at the Eastside Cafe. (Check out the Eastside story portion of the Eastside website for more about the garden.)

The day was kind of cool and windy and threatening rain at first, then it warmed up and got sunny and windy. This was a three-hour long session, with breaks.

I painted the dark and threatening part of the morning.

The model, also an artist, was shivering at first, then closed her eyes and kind of sunbathed, fully clothed, once the sun came out. And we enjoyed our cold drinks--our model had root beer-- and painted some more.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bathing Beauty; Sleeping Sitting Up

Drawn from life, yesterday afternoon.

Bathing Beauty is oil paint and oil pastel on canvas, 24"x36".

Sleeping Sitting Up is oil pastel on clear gessoed doorskin, 12"x12".

About these:

The model chose her costumes. The first was an early 20th century swimsuit. I imagined a summer day at a beach with a rollercoaster.

In the second pose, she got into a state that reminded me very much of those times when, exhausted, you fall asleep despite yourself.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reclining Woman In Red, White And Blue 2

I drew some more on Tuesday's Reclining Woman.

I like most of the changes, but I think I may go back and add some more fleshy colors.

Studio update:

I have put away enough stuff that I can start painting again at home.  Yay!

Means I can work bigger, when I like.  As I often do.

And I can start going back to the plein air oil sketches and turn them into paintings.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Woman Reclining On Flowers

Drawn this morning, from life.

Oil pastel on pastel paper, about 12"x8".

About this:

I'm having a lot of fun with these oil pastels. Especially now that I've realized I can smear them a bit if I want--and, sometimes, I do.

It's a beautiful, sunny and mild day today. Fairly tame for Austin and appreciated all the more for that.

This model is much larger, lusher, than most and the flowers just seem to belong with her.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Woman With Snake Tattoo; Seated Woman On Gold Paper; Reclining Figure In Red, White And Blue

 Drawn from life, this morning.

Woman With Snake Tattoo is oil pastel on pastel paper, 12"x16".

The small piece is oil pastel on gold fibrous paper, for the sketchbook project.

The third, unfinished piece (Reclining Figure in Red, White And Blue) is oil pastel on pastel paper, about 8"x12".  I expect to add more white to it and better define the shapes with black and red.

Anyway, I actually learned a bit about pastels today, courtesy of an artist, Maria Lyle, who also attends these drawing meetups and who is very skilled with and knowledgeable about pastel.  And does some beautiful stuff.  (Check out the link.)

About these drawings:
Of course, I arrived late.  But, some folks left early, so I was able to move around.

The model is a teacher and a poet, and on breaks, we were able to talk a bit about writers and books--some of my favorite things, as a consumer.  She is also a stronger appearing, more muscular type than the usual models we've been drawing.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Woman In A Fur Coat

This morning's painting, en plein air.

Oil pastel and oil paint on linen canvas, 11"x14".

About this painting:
The model, a jewelery artist, was huddled in her coat, reading a book and trying to stay warm with a hot drink on this chilly, overcast morning.  She really does have amazing red hair.

We were painting on a sheltered outdoor patio, and we needed the shelter.  It was raining a bit and it was in the 50s (Fahrenheit).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Artist And Model 4; Recliining Woman In Red And Green

 Today's paintings, from life.

Artist And Model 4 is oil pastel and oil on 12"x16" canvas.

Reclining Woman In Red And Green is oil pastel on pastel paper, about 5"x8".

About these:

Once again, I was very late to this early morning drawing session.  So I got another chance to explore the artist and model theme.

The artist this time is Dave, a talented pastel artist and dancer.  As you can see, today is sweater weather in Austin (very beautiful).

I expect that I will add to this painting, later.

I also did another small painting for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Woman Sleeping In Green; Woman Sleeping In Red; Woman Sleeping At Night; Woman Resting On Stool (Brown); Woman Resting On Stool (Gold)

Some of this morning's drawings, drawn from life.

These are more for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.

All about 5"x8", pastel on varied art paper, including some pastel card.

To see more from this series, go to imagekind.  (Blogger was not cooperating with the posting of more images.  Indeed, I had to struggle with the program to get any image posted.)

These are small, quick sketches.  The actual poses were long, about an hour in each pose, minus times for breaks.  So I was able to draw the same two poses repeatedly, with different colors on different papers.  Lots of fun for me, and excellent exercise.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Woman Standing On Brown Paper; Back On Purple And Blue; Figure In Red; Reclining Figure In Blue; Reclining Figure In Yellow; Back In Blue And White

 Drawn from life, this morning.

More small, quick sketches (these are about 5"x8") for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.

These are all oil pastel on different fancy papers.

I am enjoying the challenges that these different surfaces present.