Friday, March 30, 2007

Born a Refugee

This beautiful little girl lives in one of the refugee camps in Thailand along Cambodia's North border. These refugees fled the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia of 30+ years ago and have never returned to Cambodia for fear of the Khmer Rouge who still live in Cambodia. With the exception of Pol Pot himself, none of the criminals responsible for the genocide were ever brought to justice.
This painting was done on a 9x12", 140# block of Kilimanjaro Cold Press watercolor paper. It was painted with a #10 round sable brush. I have finally become a fan of the sable brush. When I began to paint seriously I didn't have much money and satisfied myself for years with synthetic brushes. I used a good synthetic. Mostly I used the "Golden Fleece" brushes available from Cheap Joe's Art Stuff. I still don't have much money but, enough that I can justify the little more that it takes to enjoy a medium grade sable. Sables hold more paint and I really enjoy a good rich brush full when I am working.
For you students, I have posted a close up of the work so that you can see the how to. the rich deep color in this piece was done with Cobalt, Ultramarine and Burnt Umber mostly. Still no black. with this painting I have just about given up on trying to use Raw Umber to achieve vibrant darks. It just seems to go dead for me.
technically, this piece is a success. the entry from the bottom is soft and moves well from two dimensional space to three dimensional space. It is well balanced between two and three dimensional space. It represents an effective use of lost and found edges and lines, paper doll and sillouette objects. It is a good value painting in my judgement. The Deep rich darks effectively set up the lights. I also like the movement between abstract forms and the limited ammount of realism. There is just enough realism in this piece to be convincing enough to tell the story and no more. I like that.
The subject is a beautiful little girl. There was a defenite pathos in the subject that was first captured by the photo. I am satisfied that I was able to capture on canvas what I see in her well enough to draw the viewer in to the emotion I feel around her. As I have often told my students, don't paint for your own sake but, respect the integrity of your subject and then paint for the viewer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Snail Seller

There are a variety of vendors on foot pushing carts on the streets of Phnom Penh. This particular vendor was selling snails that are harvested from the many suspicious smelling drainage ditches and ponds in and around the city. the cart that they are sold from has a sheet metal top onto which the snails are scattered. Apparently it is the sun on the sheet metal that cooks this delicacy as the vendor is walking along. This vendor is wearing a straw hat, somewhat unusual, under which is the traditional Ghrama being used in this case as a head covering. The Ghrama is an article of clothing that is owned by every Cambodian man, woman and child. They are worn as everything from a skirt by men and women to head covering to baby wraps.
This painting was done on a 9x12 block of Kilimanjaro, 140# cold press watercolor paper. I painted the entire piece with a #10 sable. I used some liquid mask on this piece (which is unusual for me) to maintain the light on the hat string and on the edges of the straw hat. I included the enlarged image so that students can see more clearly the how of this piece. The light that I took this pic in was rather flat so I needed to take some license with the treatment of the light. There is actually far less contrast in the subject than I have portrayed in the final painting. This is the first of many that I will be doing from the wealth of pics we brought back from our recent visit to Cambodia and Thailand.