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.

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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….

Portrait of a Redhead – sold

Redhead

Oil on hardboard panel, 10″x8″

Playing with color again. The starting point for this painting was an old black and white photo so that left a lot of room for invention. I’m not sure where the red hair came from but she seemed to want to be a redhead and it was fun to paint.

I’m finding that conveying emotion is increasingly important to me in these “portraits”. Even though they are largely invented from my imagination they also seem to create themselves and have their own personalities. Happily, I’m starting to relax with this odd feeling that I’m not in complete control and trusting what emerges in my paintings.

Portrait of a Girl in Pink – sold

pinkpic (2)

Oil on hardboard panel, 7″x5″

Experimenting with mood, expression and color combinations. Trying to create a completely new painting frequently is quite a challenge but I enjoy when I find it taking me in different directions. I’m finally finding myself departing from tight realism and evolving a more fluid and personal style which has long been an elusive goal. I’m still a realist painter and interested in depicting a person rather than a cartoon (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just not something I want to do) but in this case I’m happy to find a touch of whimsy and personality.

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Man in a Sauna – sold

Sauna

Oil on hardboard panel 7″x5″

I love painting figures and enjoy taking them out of the traditional context of figure study sessions. In my work I like to paint people enjoying simple pleasures…sunlight, the beach, a soak in a deep tub, and in this painting, a sauna. It’s a wonderfully sensual respite from winter. I wanted to convey the relaxing heat and the dark coziness of the cedar wood paneling.

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Nude with Red Curtains – sold

Nude with Red Curtains

Oil on Hardboard Panel 7″x5″

This figure painting is a study in back lighting and reflected light. I love the dramatic highlight effects of back lighting while the subtle reflected light from the surrounding curtains helps define the figure. I enjoyed the challenge of painting the contrasts of light and shadow on both the nude and the interior scene.