Friday, August 20, 2010

Steven Assael at Salmagundi

Two nights ago Steven Assael held a portrait painting demo at the Salmagundi Club. I have admired his work for some time and this was not to be missed. I didn't know what to expect, as usual though, there was large crowd trying to get a glimpse of the artist at work.
Surprise one was his palette set up, or lack of. Huge blobs of old and new paint took up most of the space. How can someone work like this, with no room for mixing or for even to see the actual colors? This isn't the first time that I've seen a messy palette coming from such a great painter the Salmagundi Club, behind glass, one see appreciate the old, messy palette of George Inness.
Here's where the action happens, on the painting itself! On the top right edge of the circular canvas Steven Assael mixes his colors, a practice that he has in common with Christopher Pugliese.
This is the portrait midway through the second day of painting. There's a beautiful build up of paint, textures achieved by a quick hand dropping color and moving it around. Surprise number two came at the beginning of the session when Mr. Assael, in a Pollock like manner, started lashing and sprinkling oil/painting medium on the surface. Some of those drips are still visible in this picture I took during one of the breaks. I've heard of "oiling out" before, I always thought it was an even thin application of oil throughout the painting surface after some paint had dried. His way was not even or thin, but whatever it was it works for him.

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