Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Which I Teach and Get Ready for my Show (Sleep, What's That?)

"Not Just a Pretty Face" Workshop

Sunday I met with two brave women ready to learn how to paint faces, which I always say, is learning how to see. The students chose from an array of faces, most by well known artists. They each did two studies and one or two portraits on canvas. They did great at rendering their own versions of masterworks by Matisse, Cezanne, Berthe Morisot, Lavinia Fontana, an ancient Greek encaustic artist, and Sofonisba Anguissola. By copying accomplished painters we start to learn how to see in a different way and how to use paint to create the illusion of a face.

Hilary starts her version of Lavinia Fontana's painting. All the faces done today used a blue or green undercoat before adding the various flesh lights and darks. This gives the portraits a lot of depth and interest.

Hillary boldly started with this study of Matisse's portrait of his wife. Critics were shocked at the time by his colors, especially the green stripe on the nose. When the paintings, both Matisse's and Hillary's are viewed from a distance, Matisse's choices make sense--at least to modern eyes!

Suzanne's first study was Cezanne's portrait of his son. She captured the influence of Japanese art on Cezanne in this simple, eloquent, and touching portrait.

Suzanne's second study was of a Madonna. I don't remember the name of the artist, but I think Suzanne's version has more character than the original. Both Suzanne and Hillary seemed to see into the heart of their portrait subjects. Suzanne said she was worried about trying to paint eyes, but she did wonderfully here.

Hillary's second study was of a portrait by Lavinia Fontana. She did a fantastic job on the hair and skin and she captured the weary expression of the sitter.

For her canvas piece, Hillary chose a Greek encaustic painting of a woman. The original was very expressive and Hillary's is also! She enjoyed painting the wrinkles and incising the lines in the hair with the end of a small brush.

Suzanne chose a small canvas and a portrait Impressionist artist Berthe Morisot did of her sister. Suzanne caught the wistfulness of the sister who had chosen marriage over painting, unlike Berthe. The transparent brown Suzanne used for the hair just glows in the daylight.

Here's the gallery of faces we arranged at the end of the day. On the top right is the beginning of another work on canvas by Hillary, from a painting by Renaissance artist Sofonisba Anguissola.

Thanks to my two wonderful students for plunging in and painting your first portraits! Great job!!

Women, Creativity, and Healing Class at PSU: Goddesses and Superheras

No, the above isn't a typo. In creating their own goddesses or superheroes, students in my class went along with my suggestion that we use the feminist term, "hera" instead of hero, which suggests a man, or heroine which is kind of like "heroette." The students and I used the chalkboard to make quick sketches of our goddesses and heras who are personal icons we can use to encourage us and are also heroic versions of ourselves.

This hera is like an Amazon warrior who protects her creator from harm.

A lovely pregnant, glamorous tango goddess.

This superhera can fly and supports freedom.

A goddess pregnant and caring for the world.

The students asked me to do a drawing. This is my muse. She has a long cigarette holder with a healthy, non toxic cigarette. (It's my fantasy, ok?) She says, "You must live for your art, cherie."

Ready for the Onda Show

Here's my living room before I packed up my work to deliver to Onda for the July 31 opening. My partner, who's working out of state until Saturday said these photos remind her of a Cohen Brothers movie. I'm not sure why...but not a bad thing. For fellow Cohen fans, "The Dude Abides."

A couple of encaustic pieces

The blurriness of this photo reflects my state of mind about now. But all I have to do from now on is show up on Thursday for the opening and August 16th for the artists' talk. I can do that!


Dot Hearn said...

I love the student work. The faces have so much character and are alive with energy.

The chalkboard goddesses and heras are inspirational and make me smile.

As for the Cohen brothers living room setting: think Barton Fink with the ochre tones and a sense of things melting and melding...

*big smile*

Judy Wise said...

Wow, all that and a blog entry too. Fabulous student work and fabulous teacher work. Blessings on all of your endeavors; it's always fun to see your paintings and all the goings on. xo

Serena Barton said...

Thanks, Dot and Judy! Your encouragement means so much to me!

Anonymous said...

Hi Serena,

Thanks for a great day and believing we could do it more than we did (a lot more). And congratulations on the success of your show!!

Student Suzanne :)