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.