Sunday, July 31, 2011

To Do List

The Late Night, 13"x9", oil on linen, 2011, ©Richard Luschek
I just finished this painting the other day and thought I would post some process shots. I am quite pleased with this painting. It has a very comfortable color harmony. I had an arched frame for this piece, though once again I did the painting out too close to the edge of the canvas, so the frame I had cut off some parts I was not happy with. I had to build a new frame for the painting. I will post the process of making the frame some time this week. 

The sketch:
I was up late drinking a lot of coffee. I like coffee, but this night it was to keep me fired up so I could get a pile of illustrations done on time. All my coffee cups were getting stacked up and I really like the rhythm they created. At first I thought the joy I felt from this visual phenomenon was mostly as a result of my caffeine overdose, but the next day after I got out of bed and returned to the desk I was still impressed with the arrangement. As I often do, I screamed out "I shall paint that!"
The next day in the studio I tried to recreate the scene. I enjoyed the curves and movement with all three stacked up, but was a bit much. I played around with a set up for a while till I got something I was happy with. I then did a color sketch on my Nintendo DS.

Day 1:
I am painting on oil primed linen glued to a birch panel. I set up the still life and was going to just dive in, but I got side tracked and had less than two hours to paint before I would loose my light. I decided to lay it in quickly using only burnt sienna. I don't usually do that, but I wanted to mass it in and I knew it would go faster in monochrome.
Day 2:
After it dried I made sure to go in on the second day and cover the canvas as best I could. I felt it was one of the better lay ins I had done- meaning, it had fairly accurate color and value notes and just enough drawing.

 Day 3:
A short day, just refining some of the forms and correcting the drawing.

 Day 4:
Bringing it into focus, I add details as needed. I had a group coming to the studio and I thought it would be fun to play a trick on one of my friends by adding an item to my "to do" list. I quickly painted "Kill Clem" on the painting. It was an hour into our sketch group before anyone noticed. I was thinking I should paint this message into all of my work.

 Day 5:
More finishing and refining. Of course I removed the "Kill Clem" joke and repainted the pad to get more of a light effect in the center of the picture. The coffee had evaporated and was covered in mold, so I cleaned the cup, added more coffee and repainted the cup on the right.

 Day 6- The Final Day:
I now decided I needed to finish the picture with some text. I made up a To Do list, wrote it on the pad in the still life and then did my best to copy it. I did not want the text to be readable, but to just appear as if it could be read. After this I realized the red vertical strip on the right was too dark and chromatic, so I lightened it a bit. Checking it for any other issues I realized the perspective on the cup was off. I repainted it again correcting the curves. A few tweaks and I had all I wanted. I then crossed this painting off my To Do list.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Death of a Modern Realist

Lucian Freud died this week at the age of 88.

During my time studying 'art' in college, Freud was one of two living realist painters we were encouraged to look at. Odd Nerdrum and Lucian Freud were two painters that managed to straddle realism and the modern in an art world  too tired and self important for truth in painting. Since I believed the sole purpose of art was a faithful representation of nature's beauty, study them I did.

While I must admit, after moving out of the study of 'art' and into my study of painting, I do not look at the work of Freud much these days. He was a realist for sure. His paintings are studies of life with crumbly, thick surfaces which are something to behold in person. You can see the journey, the study and the learning. He painted his subject warts and all. As a result he was a brutal painter. His work is often not pleasing. He never idealized his subjects, he painted what he saw. I think it is important to note that he did not refer to his models as "nude" but preferred the term "naked".
He was a hero for me in college, as living heroes were hard to come by. I still admire his work. When you look at a Freud painting you have to wonder if it is about the struggle the artist had visually or if it was something else in the painter. It is not surprising that the grandson of Sigmund Freud's would be so psychological but it often results in paintings that are not fun to look at. They tend to be confrontational and uncomfortable, much like listening in on a therapy session.

A few quotes from Freud:

"A painter must think of everything he sees as being there entirely for his own use and pleasure. The artist who tries to serve nature is only an executive artist. And, since the model he so faithfully copies is not going to be hung up next to the picture, since the picture is going to be there on its own, it is of no interest whether it is an accurate copy of the model. Whether it will convince or not depends entirely on what it is in itself, what is there to be seen."

"Painters who use life itself as their subject-matter, working with the subject in front of them, or constantly in mind, do so in order to translate life into art almost literally, as it is this very knowledge of life which can give art complete independence from life, an independence that is necessary because the picture, in order to move us, must never merely remind us of life, but must acquire a life of its own..."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bridesmade Revisited

My painting A Monster Attacks At Breakfast has been selected as a finalist in the Still Life/Floral category of The Artist's Magazine 28th Annual Art Competition. As a finalist my name will be featured in the December 2011 issue of the magazine.
So, that is three years in a row. It is of course an honor to be selected but I was hoping to win fabulous prizes. Oh well, there is always Next Year!