Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Subtlety in Painting Arm Study

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Anyone who has had almost any contact with me might recognize that I struggle with subtlety. For this post, I asked my witty brother Paul to give me a comparison for how subtle I am. I was looking for a phrase other than the overused “bull in a china shop” visual. Granted I caught him while he was rushing out the door to the airport once again, but he delivered a few quips not unlike our family’s humor (on a bad day). So, apparently I am about as subtle as a:

  • ...fart in an elevator
  • ...streaker in church
  • ...boner at the playground (ok, that's gross, but I can't help the brainstorm)
  • ...punch in the nards
(Thanks, Paul.)

I have been thinking that maybe my approach is ALL WRONG! Instead of trying to portray myself accurately, but perhaps more charmingly, why not try to improve my skills in being subtle?

So, here is my latest painting study in oil. This one is an arm study from a live model. I used a toned canvas that I prepared in advance a couple of weeks before. And while the project is the paint the arm, one must paint the tones surrounding the arm because … everything is relative. This study was done at the new location of the Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. There are dark green walls behind the model, designed specifically for their programme.

Anyway, I quickly show you the steps for my painting of a woman’s arm. I first sketched in oil the gesture and shape before designing the shadow shapes. I drew in the shapes surrounding the arm – her robe wrapped around her waist and parts of the chest. I then put in my first guess at the background tones so that I could better relate her skin to those other forms in context. For this study, I am only concerned about getting a rough estimate of the proper hue. I really want to get the proper relationships in tone. For example, I wanted to note how the shadow side of the lower arm relates to the shadow that falls on the robe right next to it. Or how much lighter the arm is than the background.

I have then laid in, using the fat part of the brush, not dabbing the tip, the shadow shapes on the body. Then I can add the basic flesh tone I created for this project. The next step is designed to help me figure out warm/cool relationships. You might notice in Images 2 + 3 how high a chroma the transition tone that I created has. I need to grey my basic flesh color, so that as it darkens , it also cools in color.

With each pose (of about 25 minutes) session, I refine my tones and hue, and even correct the shapes. The color is not accurate (the model has a more yellow complexion, for example), but the relationships are and hopefully you see a more 3-dimensional looking arm.

The Angel Academy recently moved to a new location just outside of central Florence. I love the new studio (we can LAY on the floors when so moved … they have not yet had too many spirit spills!) and I love not having to haul supplies between two studios, as before. This Saturday, Angel is hosting an Open House. Come see what happens in these doors if you happen to be in Florence, Italy, this Saturday. It is free, of course. I will be there with some friends at some point, but if you want to see me, please contact me and suggest a time. I will probably be there around early to mid-day since I want to leave the city to go to carve marble this weekend. Details follow.

To celebrate its relocation, The Angel Academy of Art, Florence, Italy, in collaboration with the Amerigo Vespucci celebrations 2012 will host an Open House

Saturday April 28th,
10am - 5pm
Via Nardo di Cione 10
Florence, Italy\

Where visitors will have the unique opportunity to observe the working studio and meet faculty and students.

The Angel Academy of Art
Via Nardo di Cione 10 50121 Florence Italy
Tel./Fax 055 - 246 6737

New Blog

Please check out The Academic Process lecture on YouTube. Here is the link:

Happy Liberation Day, Italia!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Florentine Humor – Santa Trinità Church Italy

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I love hanging out with the boys. And just as in any group, each one has its own personality, according to the members involved. One of my groups of guy friends are the Florentines. They are a bunch of boys, older than me, and they have known each other for years, some since childhood. They, especially Simone, show me a lot about Florence, Italy, that I might never hear of any other way. I am about to tell you a story that illustrates something of the Florentine humor. If you do not like jokes that would be … let us just say, “Not PC (politically correct)”, you may want to skip this post…

So, I often meet these boys at Le Giubbe Rosse, a restaurant famous for its support of all kinds of artists for over a century. It lies at the edge of Piazza della Repubblica, near the carousel. One night the boys and I were walking over to Piazza Santo Spirito for aperitivo. We passed by the Church of Santa Trinità and this triggered a story from Simone, as the other boys chuckled at my amusement and surprise by the art.

The Church of Santa Trinità is not far from the bridge of the same name that crosses over the famous Arno River. It is a lovely church, inside and out. There are three pairs of doors that face the street and are necessary for our little tale. (Only the left two are shown in this first image.) The tall doors are made of wood with carved bas reliefs on them that no doubt tell a story. But I am sure it is not the story that I am about to tell you.

You “read” the lower panels on these doors, starting at the most right and moving left with each new line…

Panel 1, above right: “Dear God, we have done so much of what you have asked of us, and yet, there is still so much to do. We are tired and unhappy. It has become difficult to work for you and we want to make a sciopero (strike).”
Panel 2, above left: “No, God, I apologize, but I am unable to perform the mass tonight…”

Panel 3, above right: “No, God, from the bottom of my heart, I am sorry, but this has gone on too long without reward.  I lay down my hat with sorrow.”
Panel 4, above left: With resignation, “Allora, ok, God, I will perform one more mass for you, but it shall be my last unless you DO something good.”

Panel 5, above: “Dear God, I want so much to honor you and believe again in your kindness. But I must ask you, what is this altar boy doing underneath my robe? Why is he touching me there … “
Panel 6, below: “… when I want him to touch me here…”

Happy Earth Day: Earth without Art is simply “Eh”