Monday, March 31, 2014

"Whole Piece #35"

"Whole Piece #35"
6" by 6"
Oils on Panel
Almost Up to Date

Finally a more recent painting to share with you all! I painted this just a couple of days ago, from photo reference that I got from another generous Grossmont College student.

Process

This painting was a bit of a challenge and great fun. Getting those lips to be the right kind of bright red (Which sadly doesn't quite come out true on the web. :-P) was a balancing act between garish and vibrant. This is the first of the Whole Piece Series where I got to play with painting some bolder make up. Beyond the fun of potent color this lovely lady's face had so much form to play with. I enjoy sinking my eyes into the dips between one plane of her face and another and gliding over the curves of her distinct chin, lips and cheeks. :) I really focused on conveying that sense of shape and form so that other's can revel in it.

A Piece

I am pleased that this painting of just her lips doesn't belie her overall expression, though in looking at the whole photo I have for reference you wouldn't guess that would be the case.

Currently

I have a nice variety of new paintings. Vastly different skin tones and mood in facial features. I'm almost done with a painting of an eye completely in shadow. (I hope you'll join in too.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Whole Piece #17"

"Whole Piece #17"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
I'm Drawn to Noses

There is something about painting a nose that makes me think of a person's strength or pride. Perhaps it is that a nose boldly sits in the middle of a face buttressed by an internal structure allowing it to strongly project itself into the world. If I am not careful I could easily be drawn into making this a series of noses. :D Here I enjoyed bringing out the personality of this nose by slightly exaggerating it's lines (There is a bit more of a curve to the bridge of the painted nose than in real life.) and by pushing the color into a vibrant range.

Progression of a Series

Looking back at this particular part of the Whole Piece Series from last Fall and a couple of others I haven't posted yet makes me want to get back to this vibrant color range in more of the series. Though I still want the palette of these individual pieces to reflect what works best for each individual. 'Tis an interesting challenge in cohesion.

Next

Well, I haven't painted since thursday afternoon because I threw out my back while painting. :P So! I believe I am almost ready to venture in my painting world again. :)


P.S. You can have your facial feature painted too. Join in here.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"The Sizing Up"


"The Sizing Up,"
8" by 8"
Oils on Panel
A Gift of Personality

I knew these ducks personally, though not very well. I occasionally walked out to their home intermixed with a flock of chickens. They stuck together eyeing my weird human form with suspicion and curiosity. I was invariably wearing my eskimo jacket, as it was winter, with my hood up so that fluffy fur surrounded my face which made my head reminiscent of those on bobble dolls. I never took part in feeding them, which might have endeared me to the little ones. Instead, creepily and strangely without any guile I followed them around the exterior of their fenced in foraging area, awkwardly carrying with me a sketchpad and a pencil bag full of supplies, plopping down to sketch when the opportunity struck.  In these encounters I know I only caught a bit of their personalities, but I believe I captured that bit faithfully in this gift painting. 

Perfect Imperfect Reference

The process of getting a feel for them was fun, as it included looking back at sketches, blurry or dark photos, and snippets of video I took. None of these sources was sufficient to create a painting, but all together I believe they were better than one perfect photo reference. Because I had so many sources and no "perfect" reference to "copy" it was easier to focus on what I really care about conveying in many likenesses: personality, over being faithful to one photographic moment.

Next

I have a lot of Whole Piece paintings in the wings to be shared. They are coming! I promise.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Whole Piece #19"

"Whole Piece #19"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
Intrepid Painting Experience

This was a joy to paint. I started it not long after my husband and I got back from visiting New York and the Met was still fresh in my mind. The Met reminded me of all the possibility in creating art. I saw so many approaches to creating a painting.

In this painting many ideas I had about applying one layer of paint before another, or intentionally picking up paint from previous layers, or laying in color a bit more directly, I allowed to come out. Throughout the painting process I kept thinking I had to try these ideas out as there are so many more ways I can paint and fully become myself in my art.

Next

I'm almost done with Whole Piece #36, so I'll be posting the last couple of paintings. My goal is to paint two 4" by 4" Whole Piece paintings in one day this week. I've been painting daily, but so much in life has interrupted the progress that I must gain some ground; I must exhibit fortitude. Enough grandiose declarations.

Oh, and I've started reading a book on the lost world of letter writing. When I saw the book I couldn't help thinking that blogging feels a lot like writing a letter to me. I'm not sure the book will further that connection in my mind, but it is worth exploring.

Another idea in the works! I must try one of the projects out on the new PBS online series "The Art Assignment." I just noticed they uploaded another video. I want to do every project, but I'm thinking I'll have make a tough choice and only count on doing one in the next week or two. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Piles of Words: Book Art Work-in-Progress

What Draws Me to Alter a Book

 One version of my idea of a
 "gutted" book by Georgia Russell.
After looking into book art further I've decided I'm interested in exploring most are a few qualities: a surreal exploration of elements of the book's content, "gutting" the book by allowing the viewer to experience a whole swath's of  its content, or winnowing the book in an area to expose one element of it's content that reveals a new way of thinking about the book.  In this project I'm leaning towards a surreal experience for the viewer, though a bit of "gutting" is involved. 

The Process

What I have done so far is page through the book looking for words and phrases that jump out at me and then carefully cut them out. In the end I want those words to create disjointed combinations that hint at meaning but don't communicate it; I want it to be a fun confusion to the viewer like venturing with Alice Through the Looking Glass.

I'm in the obsessive phase of this project. I found myself a few days ago planning on just taking half an hour to go through a few pages cutting out words and in the end I spent a few hours absorbed in it and hunched over it. My shoulders were a bit sore afterwards. :P

The effect of cutting on the pages.
This likely will not be a visual element of the finished piece.








The words and phrases I carefully cut out of the pages of Introductory Metaphysics.
They have yet to find their final purpose.


I'm still not sure what the final result of this is going to be, but this piece for me is very much about finding ideas through the process of making something new as a reaction to something old. 

What I have decided is: I will incorporate painted elements (perhaps small creatures on the cover), that the end result will be a solid sculpture rather than an altered book that can still be flipped through, I will recombine words I've cut from the book to build a new idea or meaning that still incorporate's the book's original idea/ideas, and that layers of paper will be glued together and bursting through the cover so that the interior and exterior will be experienced simultaneously.


The Book's Lofty Subject

You may be asking what my interest is in metaphysics. My answer in this case is that I don't need to be absorbed in the subject to find meaning from this book. What drew me to the book were these elements: the book was free at a local library, it was full of vast ideas communicated in brief and dramatic phrases, it was full of words that are meant to be important and cause a reaction, and that the book had a pleasant air of age about it; so I could see myself absorbed in reacting to those words and that object for many hours.

The book, with such a meaning rich title to play with.



Friday, March 21, 2014

"Whole Piece #33"

"Whole Piece #32"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
A Beard!

My wish came true! A most generous soul allowed me to paint his beard for the Whole Piece Series. (Actually I may even have another beard or two to paint...) Now, I do have a couple of other paintings where a beard surrounds the focal feature, but in this piece I was able to share a beard as a feature on its own.

What power to have at your disposal to be male and add a whole element to your face, to shape it, to imagine how it will remind others of a certain kind of person: a hipster, an animated character, a distinguished person, a mountain man, this list flows on in my head. We do this in every way we present ourselves, but I believe the act of growing a beard holds a special boldness. Yes, women alter their appearance with makeup, sometimes dramatically, but they do not add a feature wholly and sculpt it as they desire it. (Perhaps I should include all facial hair to this particularly special place. Oh, I would be very pleased to meet someone with Mutton chops... and if they were generous enough to share a photo... oh that would be lovely.)

(Join in, especially if you have mutton chops.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Whole Piece #26


"Whole Piece #26"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

Where a Painting Diverges from the Photo Reference

There can be a particular joy in painting someone or something you know well. In this case I painted this facial feature from a photo a very good friend generously submitted to the project. When I paint a subject I know, I am painting with so much knowledge, I have seen so many moods on that feature, sometimes I have seen it in afternoon light, others in morning light, or in the harsh glow of fluorescent lights, I have an understanding, a belief, an opinion that has built up under so many variables that it has complexity and I am bringing that to the painting. 

In any painting I am attempting to paint more than what is visually in front of me. Often the changes are made to convey mood, or to emphasize an aspect that was subtle in the subject. Here the photo was taken in very warm yellow lighting and that color shifted the mood of the photograph regardless of what the facial expression conveyed. I used my personal knowledge of the subject to come up with the color palette for this painting which is wholly different than the photo and simply took the shape and shadows of the nose from the photograph. I was most pleased with the final use of light purple to tie the color palette together.

Familiar Faces in Pieces

"Whole Piece #26"
Side View
In the context of the larger Whole Piece series seeing familiar features becomes a different experience. I recently laid out all the dry paintings together on a flat surface. I wanted to see if I was achieving the visual impact I had hoped for and if the careful juxtaposition of very different features could make the collection more meaningful. (I was pleased with the result, but the photo of it isn't up to snuff, so I'll have to share a better photo sometime soon.) 

Since the Whole Piece Series was inspired by facial aphasia (in which one cannot put a whole face together but only see it as disparate elements) and the common human experience of miscommunication, misreading, and over reading other's facial expressions I found that taking these individual features from people I know, even though I can picture their original context, can still lend an ambiguity to the mood or emotion they are displaying. That ambiguity that leads to thoughtfulness was what I was hoping to achieve. As these images come together as a group I hope you all will see it too. (Here is how to join in too.)

Currently

I have made some progress on the experimental piece of book art. In fact I became a bit obsessed with it the other evening, spending hours cutting out bits of text with a fine pen like exacto knife. It's curious progress will be posted soon. Whew, sleepiness loosens my jaw allowing a stream to poor out. Time for bed! Night.


Monday, March 17, 2014

"Into the Snow," Daily Painting #49 (2-17-2014)

"Into the Snow"
6" by 6"
Oils on Panel
Rusty

Rusty was my love for many years. After we had to put him down a few months ago I knew that I had to create a portrait of him. I found myself sifting through hundreds of photos from many years to find all the photos of him and to find a reference photo that would convey so many aspects of him that I loved and respected. In the end I had an idea for a different kind of portrait. Just one image can capture a certain idea of that person or creature, but a series of images could capture many ideas and one larger thought.

Portrait Series

So, this is the first in a cluster of small paintings I plan on making of Rusty. He was so much about doing: going out, sniffing, greeting kids, and wagging with a powerful thump against cabinetry, furniture, or anybody nearby that some of the paintings will not focus on his face but instead him in action. But, there will have to be a least one painting in the series that is likeness of his exuberant face.

"Into the Snow"

Rusty lived his whole life in Southern California. Snow was a rare experience for him. My family lives in the foothills of the mountains outside of San Diego, so on rare occasions (maybe every few years :P) it does snow. Often it melts within hours, if your lucky you get a whole day of it slowly dripping away.

We were excited about this snow, I mean excited. We were buzzing, zipping from one end of the house to the other to see how the snow was falling, peering through different windows in the same room to see how that changed the scene. This despite the fact that the snow didn't properly start falling until after dark, which meant there wasn't much to be seen out the windows.

With all this human excitement the dogs perked up and starting making noise too. Rusty was keen to be in the action as usual. He followed me around peering at windows too high for him to see out and then stationed himself in front of the sliding glass door, probably wondering what we were looking at 'cause he darn sure wasn't going to miss out on it. Still in my fuzzy slippers and quickly bedecked in my down jacket off we went out into the cold dark.  (After a quick peek out, and a chance to feel how uncomfortably cold snow was, our other dog Abby sagely returned to the house.) Rusty looked up at the sky and then adventured forth unfazed. And so we explored giddily in the dark backyard.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Whole Piece #31

"Whole Piece #31"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

"Whole Piece #31"
Side View
A Bold Endeavor  
(Well, bold in my life experience anyway. ;))

This is the first of many paintings in the Whole Piece Series that I'll be painting as a result of walking up to a perfect stranger and asking if I could take their picture. (Join in too.)

I had a plan: I would go to Grossmont College and bug strangers, I would be intrepid, I would communicate the human need for art and thus create a desire for these strangers to participate in creating art. (This would have had to have been with mental telepathy because eloquent words were not coming to me as I prepared.) 

What I actually did for quite a while was wander around looking at people intently not believing it was possible to just walk up to a stranger and ask a favor of them, and of course, I had the excuse of posting flyers about the series around the campus as I did. :P 

In the end I did it! Many people were quite generous and good natured about it (I may even do it again...). Of course I hit up several art students in the art area of campus, and that is where I met the subject of this painting. I hope she sees the painting and enjoys it. Thanks very much for collaborating with me! :) 

If anybody else from Grossmont is checking out the blog, I'll be painting randomly from the photos I took for the next couple of weeks, so keep an eye out, and a hearty thanks.

Next

I'm dipping my toe into book art this evening rather than finishing off Whole Piece #32.  Hopefully there will be some progress worth posting about. :D Cheers!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

"Whole Piece #30"


"Whole Piece #30"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel
Color

I usually attempt to "push" color. I attempt to paint color that is only hinted at in reality, or that expresses a mood I want to convey rather than "local color" absolutely from what I am seeing. I definitely did play with the color here, but more subtly. I wanted that blue iris to be the show stopper, so I kept all the colors in the skin vibrant but relatively subtle because they are related.
"Whole Piece #30"
Side View

Next

I'm hoping to meet someone with a flowing beard and include that beard in the Whole Piece Series. If their beard extends off their face I could focus on it as a feature in its own right. How curious that such a dominant visual communicator could be transient. A whim could erase a beard in just a few minutes. I'd like to explore that. If you know anybody with a grand beard send them my way (my email is: ambergoulet@yahoo.com).

Soon on the Periphery

Oh! And I'm in the mood to try some art experimenting. I made one piece of altered book art in the past and thoughts about delving into it more deeply have floated into my head occasionally since. I checked out a book called Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed from the library recently and even procured a discarded out of date hardback to experiment with. There were other books I wanted to play with, books that still could be useful, but guilt crept in and kept me away. I was one of those bookish kids that treated a book as sacred, I could not make one mark within its covers. Over the years I've loosened up to the point of underlining lightly in pencil. Book lovers forgive my sacrilege. :P

Friday, March 7, 2014

Whole Piece #29

"Whole Piece #29"
5" by 7"
Oils on Panel

"Whole Piece #29"
This photo of my painting has a bit of glare, but it
displays the composition straight on without any
distortion from an angled shot, so I decided to share it.
Two Facial Features: One Whole Piece

This composition was a fun workaround for dealing with the desire to only display one facial feature while capturing nuanced angles or a peculiarity of an expression that can only be seen from an angle that includes more than one feature. Here I snuck in a full eye in addition to the focal point of the nose.  I think this counts as a painting of one feature because of the subtly of the eye, it is there more as a context for the nose than as its own element. I'll be sneaking in more secondary features as this series develops.

Shadow

I'm pleased with the shadows cast across the face in this painting. I think I'll be exploring this further in the Whole Piece series (my other shadowy Whole Piece painting). Shadows can be a perfect trick of perception as Film Noir exploited. Who doesn't look mysterious with half their face in shadow, even if they are smiling? (Carravagio was clearly in on this too.) And as this series is partly about finding ambiguity in what we find most recognizable I'm down for pushing into this aspect further.
Rebecca (1940)
Film Noir

Next

Eleven panels are freshly coated in gesso. A day of photo taking is planned for next week as my stockpile of Whole Piece reference has dwindled due to copious painting (If you'd like a piece of your face painted read about it here). I might even finish the plein air painting that requires having perfect weather, that means no clouds or wind, for a 2 hour window of time in the morning on top of my roof. :P Oh! And I do plan on posting my backlog of paintings. 


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