Thursday, August 17, 2017

Silence


"Would you teach me silence?" I asked.
"Ah!"
He seemed to be pleased. "Is it the Great Silence that you want?"
"Yes. The Great Silence."
"Well, where do you think it is to be found?" he asked.
"Deep within me, I suppose. If only I could go deep within, I'm sure I would escape the noise at last. But its hard. Will you help me?" I knew he would. I could feel his concern, and his spirit was so silent.
"Well, I've been there," he answered. "I spent years going in. I did taste the silence there. But one day, Jesus came--maybe it was my imagination--and said to me simply, 'Come, follow me.' I went out, and I've never gone back.
I was stunned. "But the silence…"
"I've found the Great Silence. And I've come to see that the noise was inside."

Father Theophane

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Joy and Sorrow


When he was asked which was the right way, the path of sorrow or the path of joy, the rabbi of Berdichev said:
There are two kinds of sorrow and two kinds of joy. When a person broods over the misfortunes that have come upon him, when he cowers in a corner and despairs of help—that is a bad kind of sorrow, concerning which it is said, “The Divine Presence does not dwell in a place of dejection.” The other kind is the honest grief of a person who knows what he lacks.
The same is true of joy. He who is devoid of inner substance and, in the midst of empty pleasures, does not feel it, nor tries to fill his lack, is a fool. But he who is truly joyful is like a person whose house has burned down, who feels his need deep in his soul and begins to build anew. Over every stone that is laid, his heart rejoices.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Magali


This is Magali. She lives in France. I haven't met her in real life so this is obviously not a "live" portrait. She sent me a friend request on Facebook because we have a mutual friend and she saw that I was painting her friend's portrait and perhaps that was intriguing and made me seem friendly. I told her I would be her friend but she must agree to allow me to paint her portrait at some point. So, she just sent me a photo and asked if I would pick up my pen. And, like that, we have a portrait of Magali.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Postcards from the Edge


On my recent trip to Key West and France I bought these little watercolor postcards at a bookstore in Key west and put up a post on Instagram asking if anyone wanted one from my travels. About 20 people asked. This is a sampling of what I sent out.

Jessica and Annie


I've been drawing with pencil lately. I sketched Annie at our life drawing group on Wednesday night and Thursday I sketched Jessica from a photo I took while painting her portrait. I love the light on her face. There is a Picasso-like simplicity that is beneath the drawing that would be interesting and fun to explore. I like the difference in her eyes responding to the differences in shadow and light. The two portraits together are interesting. And it's weird to have Jess behind Annie. Creates another kind of tension...

Monday, May 1, 2017

Nancy


This is Nancy. I did her portrait for the Portrait Project 250 series. She was #119. She's married to one of my best friends from childhood. On my way down to Key West I stopped to stay with them for a couple of days. They have a beautiful home in the mountains of Western North Carolina. A few years ago they built a wood shop/studio/guest apartment so that's where I stay when I visit.  We spent the days I was there mountain biking, eating great food, playing guitar, contra dancing, and hanging out with Jack, their handsome Labrador. 

I did this portrait at the end of a long day. Carlos and I were playing guitar and Nancy appeared - beautifully dressed and wearing jewelry she had made herself. She sat down with a cup of coffee and Jack sat in front of her with his eyes fixed on the cup of coffee. So that's the way it was for an hour or so. I painted Nancy and listened to Carlos play guitar. Nancy posed for me watching Carlos sing. And Jack waited patiently for the last drops of coffee.

14x11 pencil and watercolor.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Paul


This is Paul. Tall Paul because he's close to 7' tall. I did his portrait for the Portrait Project 250 series and he was #115 if you want to look him up.

I drove out to his house in Union on a cold February day to do this portrait. When I arrived, I met a friend of his and we all sat down in the living room near the wood stove, had a bowl of delicious chili and hot tea, and caught up on each other's lives.

Paul is a big basketball fan so there was a college basketball game going on while I was drawing him. The TV was to my right so he could watch the game while I drew his portrait. That's a convenient setup for doing portraits of people who watch sports on TV. The blue outline came later - sort of an afterthought.

Matt


This is Matt. His father was the first architect I worked with when I moved to Maine 17 years ago. I worked with his father for about a year and it was during that year that I met Matt. He had just gotten married and was starting a family and was busy building a house near his father's property.

I drove out to his house on a snowy day in February to do his portrait. I've been experimenting with filming the portraits so I set up a camera on Matt and another GoPro camera over my portrait to record a time-lapse video of the portrait. I don't usually like to draw and paint teeth so I usually suggest that people keep their mouths closed. Also, it's hard to maintain a smile over the course of the portrait which can last a couple of hours. But Matt was up for it so I agreed to step out of my comfort zone and paint him with a smile - which, I think, actually suits his portrait much better.

I struggled with it the entire time I was there and was so unhappy with it that I wouldn't show it to him. I told him I would figure out the problem, fix it, and he would see it when it was posted. Back in the studio, I figured it out. Of course, it was the smile and the teeth but it was also the amount of chin I had drawn below the upper lip. With the mouth open, the chin and jaw are much longer than I am used to drawing and I was not believing (drawing) what I was seeing. I learn something new in EVERY portrait.

The writing around Matt's head relates to a conversation we had while I was drawing him. And ironically, it contains the solution to the very problem I was struggling with during the portrait. I transcribed it from the video and it's about Matt's own effort at drawing portraits back in college where he tried to do portraits using a minimal number of lines to capture a person's likeness. I've started incorporating this exercise into my portrait sketches as well - so thanks for the idea Matt!!

12x16 pencil, ink, watercolor and acrylic in my huge Moleskine sketchbook. Text added digitally.