I can scarcely believe a whole month has gone by since I last posted! I was fairly tired after the workshop and spent a week cleaning up, reorganizing, and just resting. The beautiful Autumn weather was not to be missed by spending too much time in the house so apples were picked, wood stacked, grass raked, walks were taken and time just standing in the waning sunlight, soaking up warmth was enjoyed. Then the rains came as they always do up here this time of year, and we have been preparing for winter. A new, very efficient woodstove in the basement is heating up the house so well we are finding we only need to use it once every couple of days and what a savings on the expensive oil furnace!
Michael Ward, the intrepid male model from Victoria, arrived for a day of conversation, eating, (homemade vegan treats) and posing. He was to have been accompanied by the beautiful Tegan but she was not able to come at the last minute. Too bad as I had dug into my stash and found fabrics to drape her with that would match her currently dyed pink hair! Another time, although the hair will likely be a different colour by then. That's ok too.
Michael posed for me so I could just draw but mentioned feeling a little sad that I am not as inspired by the male figure as I am the female, and that is true. I think I understand the female form so much better, physically and psychologically, plus one can seem to play more with the subject, poses, dressing up, hair styles, backgrounds, etc. I always feel more constricted by the male form - more serious? Less bendable and twistable! Michael does have a collection of marvelous costumes and I am thinking I should look into this, see what he has, and work from there. He presented two quite large, beautiful photographs to me, taken by well known photographers who often use him as a model. In one he was dressed in full medieval armour and in the other he was posed with Tegan, both body painted and set in a dramatic, futuristic, apocalyptic setting.
Having Michael here provoked my conscience and I pulled out the drawing I had done of him months ago with intentions of starting a painting and I did just that. I am sticking to the 16"x40" canvas size that is my current favorite and got paint on the surface this week. After the preliminary background work and a bit of value placement on the figure I started in on skin tones yesterday. I was not in the mood to fuss. I had no powers of concentration available for itsy bitsy paint-every-square-inch-precisely as I tend to do. I kept the palette limited: quick dry white, naples yellow, cad yellow medium, cad red medium, burnt sienna, brown pink, indian red, permanent rose, and indigo. I looked at my photo reference and mixed some colours and kind of slapped them on. I had NO patience. I was irritated and feeling restless. I kept looking out my window and asking myself if I really want to continue painting for the rest of my life (I know, I know...what kind of a question is THAT??). It is such hard work painting and I find myself feeling fed up and tired of it all sometimes these days. Part of me seems to want to just rest, to retire I guess. Another part rebels at such a notion. I will never stop. I know that, but I think I may slow down. I am actually liking the days I spend going over recipes and pulling together interesting foods. The act of keeping the house clean (at least on SOME days) feels like a prayer to living and honouring that privilege. I take a lot of time with books and I am a shamelessly promiscuous reader. I am constantly discovering new authors (new to me) who open doors in my mind and allow me to travel on the beauty and skill of their amazing craftsmanship. How do they find the right words and the way to put them together just so? Look for A Message for the Emperor by Mark Frutkin to sample harmonious ideas and structure; simplicity and complexity woven seamlessly. Some painters can do that too.
This I painted in that outside-of-myself mood of no patience and realized after the strokes were down that I had found where I truly reside. My hands know and I let them off the leash. The rest of the painting may not match this. I won't know until I return to the canvas. I don't mind either way as I am happy with what I discovered.
Michael is scheduled to come visit again at the end of the month and bring another lovely female model whom he knows. He is very devoted to the needs of his favorite artists and photographers! I've never known another quite like him. I posed him for more photo references while he was here and had intended to use Tegan with the fabric full of stars, but I posed Michael there and think I know what my next long, skinny canvas will be, only horizontal this time. Michael is a star in his own right:-)