"Departing" is soon to be exhibited in its fourth show this year! The fun part is the exhibition is hosted by my old boss Doug Eisele, owner of Old World Restorations, (where 20 years ago, I learned patience as an art restoration technician,) in his gallery: Doug Eisele Gallery of Fine Art. Talk about full circle! This should be interesting, right?
This little portrait (7 x 8.5") was created from a 3.5 x 5" vintage photo. I don't normally consent to doing such a small human portrait, especially from a client provided reference. I prefer to photograph the subject myself. It allows me to see the subject clearer. What is her attitude about things? Does she have a sense of humor? From the many photos I take, I will be able to make compositional choices that allow me to say something specific about the subject. With one client reference I have nothing but a 2 dimensional image. There is no way to know the subject. Hence I meticulously copy, as best I can, the photo. This kind of interpretation leaves very little, if any room for creativity. I depend on the medium and the character of my technique to make the difference. Though, I carefully warn the client that to work this small makes it difficult to nail likeness, that all it takes is one tick of the pencil to completely change an expression, does she hear me? Once the piece is finished and a photo sent off for approval, I sweat it out. Did I communicate well; did I capture whatever it is the client sees as likeness or will I have to start over again? Weighing challenge against risk, did I quote the proper price? One could say, that each time I do a commissioned piece I learn something new. That is invaluable right? I've been doing portraits for 15 years. It should be effortless by now, (smiley face with tongue in cheek and wink.) Good thing I have another commission to get to!
Something I'm working on... Anubis. So far 32"x24" on Crescent Rag mat board with Prismacolor french grays. My ref photos taken in Cape May NJ. I have always been fascinated by Horse Shoe Crabs. They used to litter East Coast beaches, where I spent many happy summers as a kid. Creepy and a little like Darth Vader's helmet, they are ancient. We are a mere aggravation on their long, long, time line. The idea of this figure as Anubis, (you might want to look this up- the god Anubis, often depicted as the scale of justice, decides who gets into heaven or hell,) has been percolating in my head for three years. A disadvantage of a back-burner, (forgive the cooking metaphors- I didn't eat breakfast,) a slow cooked idea, can go many different directions. It can be simple and to the point like a good crusty bread, multilayered like marinara, or tricky like pie crust. Then I get it started on a new piece of board and see possibilities start poking holes and burning the edges of my plans.
Please allow me to toot my horn! "Departing" is accepted into the Manifest Gallery DRAWN exhibit. 36 pieces form 27 artists chosen out of 1188 entries by 394 artists. Opening reception April 17th. This is a big deal for me. Manifest Gallery is an amazing non profit organization that shows and promotes very current work through its publications as well as exhibitions. Acceptance into DRAWN makes me feel relevant. And believe me when I tell you, it has been a long windy road to arrive at this point!!
"Departing," 18.5 x 25" various lightfast colored pencils mixed with solvents on 4 ply mat board. The reference is from a series of photos I took as my 25 year old daughter prepared to board her plane to California. The painting is about leave taking and letting go. I may have gone a little crazy with all the details, right down to the turtle charm bracelet, which she has had since she was small enough to collect everything turtle, the safari bag she found in my closet, her high school back pack and the thrift store suitcase. I include these things because they are necessary to create an accurate portrayal of this cunning, free-spirited artistic person, whom I love beyond measure, in her moment.
This is "Stripes Hooligan" completed. He is a little under 16x20". I used Prismacolor pencils, Prisma Artstix, Luminance Caran D'arch pencils and solvents on linen. The reference photos are mine; the cat a rescue from the Family Animal Hospital in Batavia who now resides with me. I painted this as my entry to a competition. We'll see what happens. I already have two interested buyers.
Can we talk? Where are my clients this year? Now that I am so much better and should command higher prices, I see fewer inquiries. I am currently running a sale which reduces my base price by $65.00. This is drawing more browsers to my website, but so far no takers. The recession has changed many things. People don't see the value in original art work. Potential clients grasp every dollar as if it is their last. I understand this better than anyone. (Another story for another time.) I'm less and less willing to go through my pricing and commission process. The attitude is that I can work miracles out of bad photos in last minute conditions. And that I should do it cheaper and cheaper! Where is the respect? Would you ask your plumber to work for minimum wage? Reproduction art is cheaper. I have no problem with selling art prints, if they will sell. The sad part is that the viewer will not have the same experience with reproduction art as they will with the original. In the original, if you look closely, you will see tick marks, brush strokes, eraser marks, wipe downs- the back and forth of the creator's process. Though the print might catch the marks, it can't record the grit, the digs, the sweat left behind by hours of work. A good reproduction print on heavy rag paper, using light fast inks, is a beautiful thing in itself. It is in essence the cleaned up version of the original. But to own the original! Now that is like owning a piece of magic. For enclosed in that border of wood, encased under the sheet of glass, is a piece of human experience perhaps even genius. So much more than a print!
Working in a gallery and frame shop I see clients who are more than happy to drop hundreds of dollars on framing, but walk right by the original art. Even our top sellers, who show at multiple galleries are complaining about the lack of sales. What gives? I am itching to use my abilities, but find myself working on my own stuff. It's fun, but I can't live off it.
This wonderful letter is found in the current issue of JAVMA and refers to last month's issue (June 15) which featured Ears on the cover. The ears have it
I wanted to say that the artwork appearing on the cover of the June 15, 2013 issue is in my opinion one of the most beautiful pieces of art that you have ever published. Margi Hopkin's colored pencil drawing of the cat entitled "Ears" had gorgeous detail and was stunningly realistic, likely a result of her great talent as well as her close observation of the feline form during her work as a veterinary technician. I would love to see more of her work featured in future issues.
Michele Rosenbaum, VMD, DACVD- Webster NY