In October 2002, Seamus Heaney visited MIT and did a reading of his poetry.
(See http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/115 , unless you are using an iPad, in which case it won't work, of course, thanks to Apple's unforgivable contempt for its customers and their wishes.)
In any case, while I watched some of his reading, and did this quick sketch of him, with pastels on dark-blue background.
I've learned that (1) one can't use fixative on pastels and expect the colors to remain vibrant; and (2) it is hard to convey the colors via a digital flash photo, as the photographing somehow only reflects the brighter colors, and loses the darker ones. -or at least I don't know how to do it.
The size of this picture is approx. 25 x 35 cm, (japanese "B4" size).
I have decided to follow the example of a friend of mine, and produce one self-portrait per year, around Christmas. This first time, I tried a pastel picture. This is my first pastel picture ever, in fact.
(But the second attempt of photographing the image, in daylight.)
I had myself a spatula and paint, but no motives; fortunately there were some ad-inserts in the newspaper, including a commercial from Julius Meinl. Here are two quick pictures inspired by the ad. (The paper was white, the whole color scheme is off in the photographs).
The same newspaper had a small photo of some Jazz pianist, plying his trade, but as I ripped the photo out of the paper, I missed the name, so I don't know who this is supposed to be.
Acrylics, on aquarelle paper, some 75 x 90 cm
Finally, a regular brush-paint "alla prima" portrait of a woman, the original was a photo some 10 by 15 cm in size. To nip complaints in the bud: the famous 'beauty spot' on the left cheek disappears exactly into the fold, this is fairly rare in photos of her.
In late November, I took part in a three-day course at the Kunsfabrik Wien (http://www.kunstfabrik-wien.at/) who have just come out with a new catalog for 2011. This time, the instructor was Erwin Kastner, a well-known Austrian artist (his website: http://www.erwinkastner.at/ ). Kastner is an experienced course leader, and very encouraging.
Here I am kneeling on the floor for a portrait of a chap called Ildebrando, an opera singer of some note. He had performed Don Giovanni in the Staatsoper the night before.
This is back-breaking work, painting.
I mostly tried to do pictures with a plastic spatula, a card similar to a credit card in size, but softer. This allows one to work fast, as is needed with acrylics, but of course, small details are not going to show up as precisely. Or not precisely in my case, at least.
Here is one such spatula-portrait, the 'model' was a small picture I ripped out of the paper; I believe it was on his 75th birthday. The original picture was maybe 4 by 6 centimetres; this portrait is on gloss-coated paper, approx 55 x 75 cm.
To view this picture of Mr. Konigsberg, one should stand some metres away, which is not suitable for computer viewing, of course.
It turned out that the glossy paper was not suitable for this kind of spatula-work, as a quick-drying layer of paint would easily be scraped or damaged by subsequent movements. I found some watercolor paper, that tolerates the wetness of the acrylic paint without bulging, and is much more "receptive" of the paint. Here's another portrait, again from a newspaper original; this gentleman was suffering from some easily and cheaply curable disease that left him blind.
(unfortunately, I have blurred the photograph by not holding still enough) Acrylics on Aquarell paper, approx. 70 x 90 cm
This is one of the largest paintings I have attempted, 100 x 70 cm. Acrylic on canvas. As always the short life span of the acrylic paint makes it a bit hard to use, but this is not too far from what I imagine an oil painting would have looked like.
The family picture wasn't complete, a standard "infanta" picture was missing. I added this one rather in a hurry, on a 40 x 50 cm particleboard, with acrylics.
For those who don't recognize the setup, this is the face of my daughter Elin in a classical "infanta" configuration. The only thing missing is the small lapdog that usually sits nearby. True to standard "infanta" pictures, the head is a little larger than normal. That is intentional.
Here's the start of a series I started painting earlier this year, aiming to mimic the glamourous style of Lempicka, but didn't succeed. I guess acrylics are not the best medium for painting cylinders and geometric forms with gradual shadows, etc.
The results look more 'cartoony' than I intended when I started this.
Anyhow, here are the three ladies so far:
All made with acrylics on LANA 360 g/m2 acrylique paper, 42 x 56 cm
It was high time the Erzherzog got himself a spouse; the setup of this painting is taken from one of madam Henriette Alexandrine Friederike Wilhelmine Prinzessin von Nassau-Weilburg, who in 1815 was married to our Erzherzog Karl. I used a more familiar head, though.
This portrait is made on masonite, again coated with some white layer which I sanded a bit, to increase adhesion of the acrylic paint. It is done in acrylics. This is the same size as the last posted portrait, 40 by 50 centimeters.
After a hiatus, and a couple of lousy paintings that I won't post here, I have made a portrait, this time of myself, having borrowed the jacket from Erzherzog Karl, one of the important Habsburgers, late 19th century. This is painted with acrylics on 40 x 50 cm masonite, which had been coated with a white film. The paint didn't want to stick to the film surface very well. I guess I should have used the other side, and done the ground work myself. Or, roughed the white surface up with sandpaper before painting.
Anyhow, this portrait took a couple of evenings, and I think I might record my progression with an annual self-portrait. Possibly I will end up with a heap of them, like Rembrandt did.
I am too impatient to make decent photographs of these drawings. It seems I am working all the proper daylight hours, and have to photograph these in the dark. The result is crummy photographs. Ah well, nobody looks at these anyway.
This February I took part in a model drawing course by Mag. Michaela Ghisetti, in Vienna. She had arranged for four models to pose.
For most of my drawings these two days, I used charcoal which I made myself, from some branches from my garden, and barbequeued last summer. The charcoal was a bit hard, and rough, and not very black. The paper was 40 x 60 cm newsprint or 40 x 60 cm. sketching paper. I also made a couple of drawings with pencil or red chalk. Those didn't turn out well, and didn't photograph nicely.