bemusing musings of a bewildered brush-wielder

murphy, matt, margaret, me, and helene

Murphy, progress shot- day three, oil on linen, 48″ x 48″

Things have been going really well in the studio, lately.  For the past week, I have been painting with models in the studio, all day, everyday.  A few of those days, I didn’t have time for lunch- not a bad problem, really. In the past, I usually paint still life work for half of the day- paintings of violins, boots, etc.  But recently, all of my energy has been in painting people, and so I’m excited with this group of paintings.

In addition to this, a close friend has come to stay with Margaret and me.  While in Valparaiso, Margaret and I met a French girl named Helene who could play the fiddle like the devil himself (assuming the devil is fond of Irish music.)  Five years after Chile, we have since met up in New York with Helene several times.  This visit, she is staying with us for one month.  Helene has studied the classical violin in France, jumped in with an Andean folk music band in South America, fiddled gypsy music with gypsies in Romania, played in the jazz cafes of Montreal.   She draws from so many traditions of music, and the resulting amalgam is an identity in music that is distinct and her own- ranging from a brooding Slavic dirge to a lilting Irish reel, from a guttural Andalusian cry to Bob Dylan.

So as I’ve been painting away these past four days, Helene has been playing violin.  She flies up and down the fingerboard of the violin effortlessly, and Margaret and I just listen in amazement.  In this photo, you can see that I’ve begun to work on the hand of Margaret.   I am only several minutes into this portion of the painting.  You can see that I’ve put down broad masses of paint, so that I have wet paint to work with.  Then into those broad masses of paint, I begin to paint in more details.

Margaret, progress shot- day five

Matt has also posed several times in the past few days.  I am excited about this painting.  You may remember Matt from ten or fifteen blogs ago.  While Matt poses with the guitar, he is plucking away at some random tune.  As he plays some classic Flamenco standard,  Helene jumps in with the violin.  The only problem I currently have with the painting is that I unknowingly placed the eyebrows too low, and as a result he looks a bit angry.  Mistakes of this sort happen when I paint for too long a stretch of time.  Like any other muscle, your eye gets exhausted and can’t really see anymore.  Taking a break solves this problem.  I’ll quickly move the eyebrows back up tomorrow, when he sits for me again.  Here is a photo of the progress so far- day three of this painting.

Matt, oil on linen

Most recently, I’ve begun this painting of Murphy.  Murphy is a friend of a friend who I ran into at a barbeque here in Islip.  He is a perfect sitter for a painting, his face is a story in and of itself.  I don’t really know much about him, other than the fact that he won’t accept any money for modeling.  He insists on doing this to support me.
After posing on Monday, I had to coax him into letting me pay for his beer at Lily Flanagan’s, a pub around the corner from my studio.

These following photos are day two of my work with him.

Murphy, progress shot- day two, oil on linen, 48″ x 48″

Murphy, detail, day two

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One response

  1. Fred Shriver

    Kevin! These are so exciting — I like them all very much — in fact I don’t know which of them I like the best, but they show your best, your enthusiasm, technique! I will strive not to get too carried away. Murphy’s eyes are spectacular, I think.

    November 30, 2009 at 5:30 am

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