Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. It's a journal of sorts. It gives me a place to show my work-in-progress for my painting and photography. Comments are welcome --- add one at the end of an entry or email me at BarbBlumer@gmail.com.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Matisse Cut-outs

Coming to NYC in October 

Henri Matisse's Cut-outs are very inspiring.

I recently saw the show at the Tate Modern in London, and the good news is an expanded version of it is coming to MoMA.

In New York City, the show will run from 12 Oct 2014 until 5 Feb 2015 at MoMA.  Here is a link:


The Matisse Cutouts are impressive and the show includes some of his most popular works like the Blue Nudes.
Henri Matisse Making a Cut-Out

The cutouts are so much bigger in person than I imagined they would be. The work is covers entire walls!  They seem to be overflowing with energy.

Unfortunately we weren't permitted to take photos.

Why was it so inspiring?

Matisse never seemed to lose his passion, even when he was old and debilitated physically.  Most of this work was created after he was 72.

I have always enjoyed them as reprints as photos in books, on notecards.

We even had a dinner party last fall and made mini-cutouts to scatter on our table and as a party motif, based on this book cover.

But to see them in person was fantastic.  If you like his work, then I highly recommend you see the show if you can.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs’ is at Tate Modern, London, from April 17 to September 7, tate.org.uk, and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, from October 14 to February 9 2015, moma.org. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

National Portrait Gallery in London and the BP Portrait Award 2014

The 10 Million Pound Acquisition:  Self Portrait by Van Dyke c. 1640 

With my new interest in the world of portraiture, we checked out the National Portrait Gallery when we were in London in June.

The museum is free. I recommend that you check it out, if you have any interest in portraits, history or famous British people.  It covers the late Middle Ages to the present day.
In a weird way, it was liberating.  We saw such a vast variety of styles and levels of techniques --- almost anything goes.
A John Singer Sargent Portrait

The main purpose is of a portrait is to immortalize the subject.  The painting styles and techniques reflect the trends of the period when they are completed.  Portraits can be drawings, paintings, photographs or sculptures.

The BP Portrait Awards for 2014 were going to be announced on June 26 the day after we left.  A few days ago, I remembered to go to the website to see who won.

A prize of 30,000 pounds (about $50 grand) goes to the winner.   Of the 2377 entries, 55 were chosen to be shown.

Here is an example, but not the winner:
Engels by Patrik Graham
Here are the 55 chosen:  55 BP Portraits

Here are the winners:  Top 5 BP Portrait Winners 2014

There are three interesting short videos showing the selection process:  3 minute videos

I watched the videos first and then went through the individual images of the portraits.

One of the judges said that "you can tell incredibly quickly which portraits are more about the person who painted them than about the person who is sitting for them."



Monday, July 14, 2014

"New Hat" Oil Painting -- almost finished

"New Hat" Oil Painting

In June, I was procrastinating.  I was telling myself I should be doing a portrait.   It had been 3 months since I had gone to Lea Wight's portrait workshop --- and I knew that if I didn't try soon I would not remember what I had learned.

One of the barriers to attempting a portrait is the "rule" that we are supposed to paint portraits from life.  I was too chicken to do it, i.e., ask someone to sit there in my studio for hours while I practiced my new skills.

I have always had an issue with the making of portraits ---photography or painting --- because you have to actually interact with your subject.  (I prefer street photography where the subject doesn't know you are observing them.)

Then I saw that a painting friend, Molly Preston (click here to see her colorful work)  posted a photo on FB of her husband who had just bought a new hat.

I liked the idea of being connected to my subject through Molly but not actually knowing him--- I have never met her husband-- and because it was about the new hat.  This painting would not be about capturing a likeness, per se, but the pride of owning a new hat.

So, I printed out a copy of the photo and taped him to the wall as if he were sitting there.
as of June 9
I made myself do the underpainting and then add the facial skins tone before we left on vacation.

In the workshop we had learned how to use the shadow side to create form.  I was happy to start to see him come alive.  Nonetheless,I am still painting too small.  His head isn't life size.  I did this in the workshop and it is a habit I'll have to break.   But I was able to create reasonable colors for the skin tones.
as of July 7
When we got back, I fixed the drawing of the hat, tweaked the grin, and added his shirt.  Next I am going to work on his eyes and try to add the twinkle in his eyes.

The visitors to my studio were very interested in the progress of this painting  People have lots of opinions on portraits, I learned.  It was fun to hear their advice.