Saturday, July 4, 2009

Quotes and Drills

"...staggering babies embody the deepest truth about deep practice: to get good, it's helpful to be willing, or even enthusiastic, about being bad. Baby steps are the royal road to skill." Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code

"Try again. Fail again. Fail better." Samuel Beckett

The idea with these exercises was to pick a shape, draw the shape, get the value correct and go on to the adjacent shapes. I had to judge each value relative to the adjacent values, then compare the whole. From simplified shapes create a complicated picture. It's not as easy as it sounds. I tried it three different times, then wiped each effort out. The last time I used the scaffold of a contour drawing to relate the shapes to each other. The colors used were transparent oxide red, ultramarine blue and white.

I wipe out each effort because I'm working on belgian linen C13. They're exercises so I want to keep the same surface that I'd use in a gallery painting. Wiping out an hour, hour and a half effort is strangely liberating too. I think it gets away from the "preciousness" of an image and places the emphasis more on the process. Or as I like to mutter to myself, "It's the process, not the product." I'm usually muttering that to myself in front of a really bad effort.

This quote is also from Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code:

"1. Pick a target.

2. Reach for it.

3. Evaluate the gap between the target and the reach.

4. Return to step one"

Here I used a rough contour. Then I explored the temperature variations with value. It's a beautiful pose by a pool so there was a lot of reflected cool light and warm sunlight. Unfortunately I didn't do the pose justice. She looks like an amputee.

This summer I'm hoping to pose some more models by the pool. I'd also like to get some pictures from underwater, and in the water. I bought a plastic sleeve for my camera so I could do just that. One of our models was a diver in high school. We talked about some pictures of her diving.

In my upcoming show there are two paintings of figures swimming underwater for the ladder. The mix of pool light, bright suit colors and strong gesture is addicting. The one painting is of my son; the other is of a neighbor girl. I'll be posting them on my website soon. Or you can come to the show? July 24th is the opening. See you there.


  1. Always striving to be better when you are already so amazing. Jeff, you are an inspiration. Your shapes and values are graceful, breathtaking. I can practically reach out and feel the indentation in her flesh when her thumb presses down on her breast. Truly outstanding work. And to think you wipe it all way......

  2. Thanks Bella. High praise from a discerning eye. But you're the inspiration. Your poise and positive attitude through your recent loss are awe-inspiring. I hope you and the girls had a great 4th and that the fireworks last night were spectacular.


About Me

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Elmira, New York, United States
In many ways I think like a photographer. The image itself is becoming more and more important to me; the actual application of paint less and less. Blasphemy in some painterly circles. I choose to paint figures and portraits because I consider them the most difficult subject.