I can't tear myself away from the easel. I feel a bit like Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George, who can't give the time of day to his beloved. My wife is a painting widow, my son is a painting orphan.
The piece above is actually not brand new--I just haven't gotten around to posting it. It represents a trend I find myself following, very much in light of my experience with the model detailed in an earlier post, the one about the visual being over. I'll be honest, when I first started doing figurative art and working with private models, pretty much any gorgeous photo of a beautiful figure would do for me. Not so much any more. These days, in choosing images to paint, I find myself drawn now to images that really overtly express a kind of happiness or radiance, a contentment, a delight in being a body in the world. I find myself painting lots of smiles, or lots of looks of smug satisfaction. The piece above is an obvious example. My dear friend who modeled for me was very happy to work naked, and we have a warm relationship, so I have no shortage of pictures to paint of her. I love this one--the image, I mean. I confess I am not entirely happy with the painted result. But it's not bad.
Here is a newer piece in this same vein.
I love this piece. The portrait is rockin'--best portrait I've done of this lovely model. I love the energetic light in the piece. But mostly I love the facial portrait. It accurately, to my vision, captures an almost smug happiness. That, combined with the sassy S-curve pose, yields a picture that sort of says, "yeah, I'm awesome. I know it. I'm so lucky to be me, right here, right now, in this body. Life is great, isn't it?"
Finally, here's a pure figure.
This piece makes me very happy. I love the beautiful off-balance pose, and I think I'm doing good shadow work here. Plus I find that I have learned a lot lately about use of masking fluid. I'm being much braver with it, putting it on and taking it off throughout the painting process, as I find myself needing to reserve white paper. I find myself taking more time per painting, but that, I think, is just part of the game.
Indeed, if I can gloat for a minute, I have learned so much. Honestly. The other day I looked back over my "best paintings" file, with pieces that stretch back now nearly ten years, and there's no doubt: I am really happy with my technical proficiency now. I love the rich realism I have attained. The figures and portraits I've painted over the past couple years are just simply, to my eyes, really, really good.
It feels good to say that.