Monday, April 30, 2007

Henna Seated

Henna Seated, 2007, pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches
Very unexpectedly I was able to get a good drawing done this past Saturday in class. Why you may wonder? Before registering in Michael Burban's class this month I had taken another drawing class with a different instructor, Sherry Camhy. The name of the class, Painterly Drawing, was set up so that students could draw and paint from the same pose for the whole month. That's fine when you want to get a good drawing or painting done, but to my unfortunate luck we were given Henna as a model. The pose and the mood of this woman was all wrong. It was painful to watch this sad middle aged woman sit on a chair holding a book and falling asleep as she posed. With that bad experience I enrolled into my current class in hopes that I would get a chance to draw from more dynamic models, which I have. But this Saturday morning Henna comes into the drawing studio, about 20 to 30 minutes late, and I wanted to run away with my sketch pad and pencils. But to my surprise she pulled it together this time and gave us a good pose, allowing me to get a good drawing in two and a half hours.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One Year Anniversary!!!

It all started a year ago. I had no idea as to what I was getting myself into, but thanks to the help of Carol I went ahead with it. This blog, at first, was set up as an alternative to my official website which at the moment was taking forever to launch. Unlike the website, this blog was going to force me to put into words my thoughts about the work that I do. I needed to now focus on both painting and the presentation of such in a written form. Little while later I was able to get comfortable with this new way of communication. Things evolved as I used this blog to record my experiences in New York, and the way it shaped my art.

Little did I know that being an artist blogger would be so much more rewarding. In time I was introduced to the world wide community of artists bloggers who not only shared their work for all to see but who also inspired each other by stopping and checking on each others work and offering a piece of advice or just encouraging each other to keep producing. I came in contact with the "Daily Painters", a group of individuals who after being inspired by Duane Keiser took the blog, and art world by storm. Their dedication to creating a piece everyday was a true inspiration and motivation for my work. I too got hooked on the movement, but briefly. I never became a daily painter by choice since I was here to promote my more finished pieces and to share with all the process of my work.

It is within this same year when the "legendary" Moleskine came into my life. A new tool in my development as an artist, this book accompanied me during my train ride commutes to work, or while hanging out in the Big Apple. Many ideas came to me while going about my daily routine, and it has been an advantage and privilege to be able to dig into my bag and pull out this Italian book. This little black sketch book came in very handy as I explored the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art , a place I call my sanctuary.
In this year of blogging I have grown so much as an artist and individual. Trying to keep this exiting and new it made me go out and experience the art scene further than before, as well as the many awesome places this city has to offer. Places like Strand, Farmers Market, and some of the Chelsea Galleries. The timing was right, I was living in Manhattan and everything seemed new. Everything was at a convenient reach. I must say this has been a year of self discovery and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thank you to all of those who have been visiting this blog and leaving their sincere comments. To all the artists bloggers out there who I have come in contact with I thank you for the inspiration and I admire your dedication to your art.
What's next for me this year and the coming ones, I'm not sure. I'm at a crossroads right now. The reason why I haven't been posting as much. I'm starting to sort out my life, many changes have happened in the last few months. New living situation, new friendships, new experiences, and new ways of looking at my future. My biggest question is, "should I go back to school and get a masters?" If I do I have no clue where it will be, but where ever it is I need to make a decision quick since I have to start getting my financial situation figured out before classes begin on the fall of 2008. I'm thinking of three schools: The New York Studio School, The New York Academy of Art, and the ultimate dream, The Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. For the moment I'm enjoying my Saturday classes at The Art Students League.
Whatever it is the future holds for me I think it will all be positive. At the moment I'm keeping my fingers crossed after submitting my work to four different gallery shows for this summer. I can't believe I did all that this week, getting my new slides and sending them all out! Wow I was busy this week, and I'm sure that will not be the end of it since I'm starting to get more focused on my work and in trying to get my name out there. This blog will be updated when new work is freshly painted and when there's an important show I would like to share with everyone.
Once again, thank you to all the visitors and I hope to hear from many more in the future. Rock on!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tattoo

Tattoo, 2007, conte crayon on paper, 24 x 18 inches
This is another drawing from my Saturday mornings class at the Arts Students League. It seems that I only feel comfortable using pencil when drawing, but on Saturday I felt a little more adventurous and used a very soft, silky conte crayon in a pencil form. I guess you can call it conte pencil! Well whatever you call it, it worked great. It gave me that light soft touch I get with regular pencils, something I have never been able to do with conte crayons or charcoal in the past. I am happy with the outcome, and on next Saturday I think I might use a shade darker of conte.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

From Studies

I'm taking a little break from the larger still life of apples, and I'm now working on an old subject. Last year I painted a small study of a Red Bartlett Pear (below) as a way to get me familiar with the subject. I had picked up this pear at the grocery store across the street and and thought that it had an intense beautiful color.
Red Bartlett Pear, 2006, oil on canvas panel, 7 x 6 inches, Collection of Mr. Fredda Weiss, New York
In my life I have seen plenty of pears but somehow this one caught my attention and it has been on my mind since my first encounter with it. Soon after painting the study I knew I wanted to make it into a much more fine tuned piece.
Study for Red Bartlett Pear, 2006, pen in Moleskine Sketchbook
That's when I made a small sketch of the pear and made notes of color changes. Using these two studies as reference I've started working on the painting using panel as my support. Recently I have been enjoying painting on panel more than canvas. I've noticed that colors are more luminous on the flat surface the wood and that it's also easier for me to build up more paint on this surface. So far the beginning stages of this painting are going well, and I have hopes that this will come out better than I expect. I guess I have to work hard and cross my fingers something terrible doesn't go wrong with the painting before reaching that goal.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Drawing the Figure

Kristen, 2007, pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches
Saturday morning at the Art Students League couldn't have been better. On that morning I started a new figure drawing class with instructor Michael Burban and I could not bee any happier. This drawing is from one of the two models we had for the class. Kristen was a beautiful African American woman who knows how to give you the right pose. Both models for this class were right on point, challenging all artists in the class with their motion and angles. Although I have been away from drawing the figure for a few years I was not as rusty as I thought I would be.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Changes

Once again, after putting a few hours of work into a painting I decided to restart it. At first it seemed like everything was going the right way, but after after being away from the easel and painting for a couple of days I started to notice some problems. I think the biggest one was the scale of the objects. They seemed to be pushing their way to the ages of the canvas a little too much. They had no room for air. I thought that maybe it was one of those weak moments of doubts, panic attacks that I get in the mid stages of a painting. Like a good trooper I thought, maybe I could make it work, somehow. But after considering the work already done and the direction of where this painting might be heading, I took a mixture of paint and covered it all up. Not wasting any time before the paint dried I laid down a rough sketch, with paint, of the new composition. Everything remains the same as before, the only difference is that I've scaled down all the objects and made the still life feel like it has more space for light and air.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Velazquez in New York

Diego Velazquez, Peasants at the Table, ca. 1618-19, oil on canvas, 96 x 112 cm, Szepmuveszeti Muzeum, Budapest

As an artist, the beauty of living in New York City is that I get to experience first hand the numerous exhibitions put on by museums and galleries. Most blockbuster shows make a stop here after or before they head to other major cities in the states or the world. Sometimes some exhibits are exclusive to New York, which was the case with the Guggenheim's Spanish Paintings from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History, November 17, 2006 - March 28, 2007. The second best show, after a Caravaggio show in Hartford in the late 90's, that I have ever seen. As any major exhibition the walls contained a large amount of work borrowed from many museums and private collections from around the glove. As the title suggests, this event was a celebration of the history of Spanish art from El Greco's time to Picasso, and with such names one may assume that most of the show will feature both artists works. It came as a surprise to find not too many El Grecos on the walls, as matter of fact I can only remember a handful maybe less. Picassos there were many, but they all seemed to fall short hanging next to other great painters like Murillo, Goya, Ribera, Cotan, Zurbaran and Velazquez. Time after time I was stopped dead in my tracks and left breathless in front of a 17th century painting. But the one painter who seems to do it for me all the time is Velazquez, and it was Peasants at the Table, a painting I have always wanted to see in person, that with pure magic hypnotised me for about half an hour.
Peasants at the Table (detail), after Velazquez, 2007, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook

Velazquez has been considered a genius of painting and a technical innovator, but as many other artists he had to start somewhere. He had to admire and emulate somebody. Peasants at the Table is one of a number of paintings Velazquez executed during his early years before joining the court of King Philip IV. In these works, Velazquez takes the naturalist and dramatic style of Caravaggio and explores its possibilities to tell his stories of domestic life. "This style appealed to the young Velazquez, though it was considered scandalous by other Spanish painters who were unable to assimilate Lombard naturalism. The atmosphere of the taverns not only gave rise to scenes of prostitutes, musicians, and gamblers, but was also used in the representation of religious themes like the Supper at Emmaus, a subject painted by Caravaggio himself (1601, National Gallery, London)."*
Peasants at the Table (detail), after Velazquez, 2007, ball point pen in Moleskine sketchbook

As a fan of Velazquez and Caravaggio I had no choice but to make a couple of sketches of this picture. Hanging by itself on a modern white wall, the painting, with its excellent use of bright and dark colors, demanded the attention of museum visitors.
*Francisco Calvo Serraller, Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History, 2006,The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York