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