Lost Generation – sold

Scan_20160506 (6)

Oil on canvas, 10″x8″

A portrait of a moody flapper in a cafe. I experimented with using cooler, bluer colors than usual for the flesh tones in this painting. I wanted to imply her ghostly pallor and the smoky haze of a bar back in the day.

Perhaps she’s waiting for a date who’s late or thinking about the boy who never came back from the war. Or maybe she’s just wondering what she lost in herself and how she ended up here. I’ve always been fascinated by the Lost Generation, the seemingly dissolute and world-weary survivors of the Great War who partied their way through Europe in the 1920s. This girl could be Lady Brett Ashley or Nicole Diver, those enigmatic and compelling characters created by Hemingway and Fitzgerald, the feminine personifications of that confused, hedonistic era. These memorable women weren’t the most admirable in literature but the flawless seldom haunt.

Reclining Nude in Bed – sold

nudeinbed

oil on canvasboard, 5″x7″

This figure study captures the direction and movement of morning light on a reclining nude. I don’t normally crop figures this way but I like how it emphasizes the angles and shapes. I also enjoyed observing the light and shadows both on the figure and in the light and dark areas of the bed and background. I like how it turned out. I think the closer focus on the figure allows for more detail at the same time it creates bolder shapes which gives this small painting great presence.

 

Portrait of a French Girl – sold

frenchgirl

Oil on hardboard panel, 8″x6″

This is another of my portraits of imaginary people from the past. Don’t ask me why she’s French, that just seemed to come to mind as I was painting her. She was a difficult girl to paint, elusive, challenging, different. The paint didn’t want to stay where I put it on the board but it created some interesting effects. She was painted in one very long session and the slippery quality of the paint made the brushwork rather distinct. It’s an unusual look but I decided to go with it. The colors didn’t blend quite like I’m used to but it retained a fresh, wet appearance even after drying.

As she emerged from the chaos of the painting she brought to mind smokey Parisian cafes, red wine and existentialist conversations. Mysterious, with a hint of deep passions, I could imagine a girl like this holding the attention of the Lost Generation.

Portrait of a Glamour Girl – sold

glamgirl

Oil on canvas, 10″x8″

Some things never go out of style. A certain sleek elegance was achieved in the the early 20th century that’s simply timeless. She is not any particular person, but my evocation of the glamour girl of that era, beautiful, classic and charming.

 

 

Flapper in a Cloche Hat – sold

browncloche

Oil on hardboard panel, 8″x6″

There is a certain intensity to this girl. She’s a bit fierce. This may be a result of the slickness of the board surface that results in the paint strokes keeping a certain edge. This makes for a bold look that’s a bit different from my work on canvas. I’m not sure I have complete control of the paint on this surface yet but I like some of the accidental results.

Flappers tended to be dramatic. They were in rebellion against traditional rules of modesty for women, wore a lot of makeup and clothing that scandalized the polite society of their era…this is why I find them to be a fascinating subject for paintings.

Portrait of a Dance Hall Girl – sold

dancehall

Oil on hardboard panel, 8″x6″

This painting is another in a series of what I think of as “creative portraits”. They aren’t any existing person but are usually inspired by old B&W photos and stories of the past. They start to take on a life of their own as I paint and become about an imaginary character and mood.

This girl reminded me of the taxi-dance girls in the dance halls of the 1920s and 30s. Paid a dime a dance, it was a somewhat scandalous yet relatively lucrative profession for young women in an era where opportunities were limited. I think anyone who was able to make a living that way had to be tough yet charming. This girl looks like she’s got a lot of spunk and wouldn’t take any nonsense from drunken louts.

Portrait of a Blonde Flapper – sold

daisy

Oil on canvas, 10″x8″

Although she’s decidedly a girl of the 1920s, while painting this one she started to remind me a bit of Botticelli’s Madonnas. The Cestello Annunciation in particular…maybe something about her golden hair and sweet but uncertain expression. So I went with a hint of Renaissance colors in the coral red of her outfit and the faded blue of the background.

Portrait Study of a Young Man – sold

jd

Oil on canvasboard, 10″x8″

This is a quick portrait study I did of a beautiful young man with dreamy eyes. He has a renaissance look about him so painted him with something of a Caravaggio flavor. I liked how it turned out so I might persuade this model to pose for me as Bacchus one day.

 

Nude in a Red Chair – sold

Redchair

Oil on hardboard panel, 7″x5″

While painting this one I focused on the angles and the light falling across the figure. It’s a serene seated pose but I like the energy produced by the various angles of the arms and legs. The unusual vintage chair and the paneled interior add to the timeless charm of this painting.

This model is just as naked as the one in my previous painting, Standing Male Nude, but so far no one who’s seen it has had any discomfort with her body or level of nudity. Everyone also seemed to think that my earlier female nude, Woman in Bathtub – sold was just a nice painting. It’s a minor thing but interesting to me that male bodies seem to trigger a reaction of mild discomfort, even in a painting, whereas a female nude is seen as pretty standard stuff.

Standing Male Nude – sold

Standingman

Oil on hardboard panel, 12″x9″

This painting is a classic figure study. Figurative subjects are my favorite and I love the challenge of painting nudes. Especially male nudes as they tend to have more defined musculature. There are few things more difficult to paint than the human body and I have to admit that the contrapposto stance gave me some trouble…but I think I pulled it off.

I was told by a male friend that I made the penis too large in this painting. I wasn’t trying to be shocking or make a statement here, the model’s penis just happens to be on the large side. But this comment made me wonder, do artists have to “tone down” that part of the body or risk having it come off as erotica? It’s just a normal part of a human body, why is there so much baggage? If a female model happens to have large breasts is it somehow more tasteful or artistic to shrink those? I spent a lot of time in art school drawing whoever happened to be naked in front of me on the model stand, did this throw me out of alignment with what regular people see in a nude? Obviously there’s no answer to the various questions that occurred to me but it does make me wonder….