Monthly Archives: July 2009

Equine Painting Workshop at Atelier Lack

Yester- day, my daugh- ter, Geneia, and I did a little im- promp- tu photo- shoot of her Morgan mare, Pelee, in preparation for an Equine Painting Workshop I will be attending in Minneapolis next week.
Just to give you a little personal history with respect to Atelier Lack, where I will be taking the course:
When I graduated from Saint Olaf in 1979, I was intending to go on to Art School….somewhere….to do post-graduate work. I hadn’t majored in art as an undergraduate because art school in the seventies was all about “expressing yourself freely.” What I really wanted was the rigorous training of painting and drawing from life, as well as learning the techniques perfected by artists of the past, that painters of the nineteenth century had had. (Ironically, a commercial artist was more likely to get that training at the time.) I investigated several schools, one of which – the perfect choice- was Atelier Lack. I learned, however, that the Atelier didn’t accept students as old as myself. (I was 25 when I discovered it, so it was a couple of years after my BA.) In the true tradition of the French Academy, Atelier Lack was looking only for the very young to enroll. (I guess, at its inception, it didn’t even accept women!) I was disappointed, not to say offended.

Then, this spring at the Midwest Horse Fair, I met Lynn Maderich, who in her forties had attended and graduated from Atelier lack. (Apparently they had changed their policies!) Click here to see her work. I was delighted to hear that she was teaching a workshop on Equine Painting this summer and would be teaching the methods she’d learned at the Atelier, which had transformed her painting. I gave a summer’s vacation to be able to attend.

We are supposed to bring reference photos because, even though classical realism is all about painting from life, horses simply won’t hold still and nearly all realistic portrait painters nowadays are forced to paint from photographs to some extent. So, the trick is to bring what one learns from painting from life to bear upon the process of painting from a photograph, interpreting 3-D from 2-D. Posted by Picasa

Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

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I really can’t come up with a Rilke poem about cheesecake, no surprise. I actually googled “cheesecake poetry,” and discovered I didn’t want to go there either. Really, dessert poetry is hard to find….so there is a need out there! (for all you nascent poets…)

As I said, this was a commission and I enjoyed painting it. I want that plate!

In praise of painting food, here is one by Ogden Nash:

The Clean Plater

Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And course ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.

Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there’s nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they’re food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I’m broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.

Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start.
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I’d rather painters painted food.
FoodJust food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
It’s food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.

Ogden Nash

Before the Descent and Cheesecake in Progress

This Orpheus Paining is much larger than the other, 36×36. The Cheesecake painting is a commission. I’m allowing it to dry because I need to drizzle some strawberry sauce onto it and paint that, but I thought I’d blog the underpainting anyway.

A few blogs ago I mentioned my Circe painting and the pigs I had found to be Odysseus’ unfortunate companions. Well, I’ve been past their paddock 4 times and never again found them outside again. Did I mention that they were an hour’s drive from here? I’ve even tried calling “Suey!” to no avail. Perhaps they aren’t even there anymore. I could of course stop by the house again and ask, but no one would be home until evening and by that time it would be too late in the day for photography because I wanted bright sunlight. So, I’m on the search for more accessable pigs and have located another. This one lives in the country around Mineral Point, so it should be easier to get to.

An exciting opportunity has come up. The State Representative for our district, Steve Hilgenberg, is going to be hanging the artwork of artists from his district in his office in Madison. My time slot is January 20 to February 24, 2010. It will be another opportunity to get my paintings out in the public eye.

I’m also trying to arrange to go to an Equine Painting Workshop with a wonderful Equine Artist, Lynn Maderich, scheduled in Minneapolis at the Atelier Lack in Minneapolis. (The thing needing to be arranged is free lodging at the homes of friends and relatives. More on that later.)

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Orpheus After the Descent

This is the final picture, with the guitar strings and the frets etc. painted. I’m really loving this project of painting the Greek Myths. I was a Greek student in college and have had the enduring intention of incorporating that love into creative work. My central interest has always been the Trojan War and I spent years researching a novel and writing 30 chapters of novel with the Trojan War as its theme — who knows when I will have time to get back to it! — but in the meantime I’m able to have fun with these literary allusions in modern dress. (See my posting of May 2, for the exact reference to the Orpheus Myth portrayed in this picture.) I’m in the process of doing a larger painting of Orpheus and Euridice Before the Descent, which I will blog in progress soon.

In the meantime, here’s a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke (who wrote a number of poems about the Greek Myths as well). I think it applies well to this painting.


How am I to contain my spirit lest
It touch on yours? How lift it through a space
Higher than you to things environing?
Oh, I should gladly lay it by to rest
In darkness with some long-forgotten thing
At some outlandish unresounding place
Which won’t re-echo your deep echoing.
But all that touches you and me comes so,
It takes us jointly like a stroking blow
That draws one voice from two strings by its tilt.
Upon what instrument then are we strung?
And by the hands of what musician wrung!
Ah, sweet the lilt.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Orpheus After the Descent, Oil on Canvas, 18×18, $900 USD

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