Friday, December 31, 2010

A digression

For the last few days I've been fiddling with a light over our dinner table.

The result, seen here, has four light bulbs, and is covered with parts of the Icelandic daily "MorgunblaĆ°iĆ°" from 1954. The whole construction is a box, about 15 x 25 x 70 cm.

Paper, wire, various electrical doodads.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Poet

In October 2002, Seamus Heaney visited MIT and did a reading of his poetry.
(See , 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).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Der Weihnachtsmann

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.)

Pastel on paper, approx. 25 x 36 cm

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More pictures from the KunstFabrik course

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.

Another course at Kunstfabrik-Wien

In late November, I took part in a three-day course at the Kunsfabrik Wien ( 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: ). 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

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Old Friend

The other day I got convinced I needed to try painting with Egg Tempera.

Here's my first attempt: a portrait on wooden board, of an old friend. To
protect the innocent, I won't mention any names, not that the person could
necessarily be identified from this painting ..

I started out with three basic colors + white, but gave up on that, as all
colors came out muddy. Sometimes one needs clear black.

The mount is a wooden board, 20 x 30 cm., gessoed, and polished with
sandpaper, re-gessoed, re-polished, ..
Lots of work, that. Too much, really.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


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.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Infanta

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.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Work my fingers to the bone, what do I get ... (?)

... according to Hoyt Axton(1974): Bony Fingers.

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A spouse for the Erzherzog

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.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Erzherzog Edwald

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More charcoal drawings (March 13, part b)

More drawings from the same batch. Again, charcoal, on 65 x 80 cm paper

More charcoal drawings (March 13, part a)

These were made on white paper with Polish charcoal, which is softer and more reliably uniform than the home-made batch.

All on sketch paper, A1 size (ca 65 x 80 cm )

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here's how to do it

A friend pointed me to the following link

This is the way to do it, I guess.

Seems I am drawing nothing but pentimenti.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Drawing course, Day 2, part pm

Still some more drawings, made on the second day of the
workshop, see postings below for the first few.

Drawing course, Day 2, part am

More of the same.

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.

Drawing course, Day 1, part b

Another model, same day. Still Icelandic, handmade, charcoal on 40 x 60 cm newsprint.

Another drawing course, Day 1

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.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Lithuanians here, either

Influenced by my friend Tommi, I have dusted off some old watercolors I made
back in the summer of 2007 or so. The model was an austrian woman.

The model was cold to start with