One of a series of photorealist self-portraits that Rudolf Stingel based on photographs taken by his friend, the artist Sam Samore, Untitled (After Sam) depicts Stingel slumped on a hotel bed, fully dressed. His body language and expression suggest a moment of melancholy, self-doubt, or perhaps total exhaustion. But the moment depicted may not be as spontaneous as it seems—Stingel stated that the work is not a self-portrait but a depiction of him playing a role. The series is, he said, “paintings of photographs of me posing. Like movie stills.” Explore more works on view in Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection.
I wanted to share some work in progress shots from one of my paintings (sorry for terrible cell phone quality). This is ‘View from the High Line - 26th Street’, completed late last year.
The painting is based on photos I took from the High Line park, which is a repurposed elevated railroad track that runs through parts of the Meatpacking District and Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan. I love the High Line because it is covered in lots of interesting plants, but the views are pretty great as well. From this vantage point, you can see the Hudson River and Jersey City at the end of the street in the far distance. The large building at the end of the street with the horizontal bands of windows is the Starrett-Lehigh Building. Built 1930-31, it is an interesting early example of International-Style Modern architecture in an industrial building. This was historically a very industrial area, but it is now the heart of the Chelsea gallery district. The buildings on the left and right foreground, along with most of this block, are home to several high-end galleries.
For the painting, I worked on Arches Hot Press 300lb watercolor paper. The size of the art is roughly
18 x 26 inches. I start with a detailed perspective drawing of the entire scene in pencil. As you can see from the progress photos, I worked from left to right, nearly finishing each section of the painting as I go - but always going back and polishing previous sections as needed. This strategy of moving across the painting helps me keep track of how much progress I have made, but i do not focus in on each little section and mechanically copy inch by inch from the photo. As with all watercolor, the painting generally starts light and the darkest colors and finest details are added last by necessity. I use a mix of watercolor tubes, most of which are Winsor Newton brand. I didn’t use any gouache or opaque white. I usually use a small amount of masking fluid and masking tape but I don’t think I needed much for this painting.
From start of the drawing to finish, this painting took about one month to complete - working on average a few hours a day.
I approach the overall process of a painting like this as if it were a traditional landscape painting. I am most concerned with balancing lights and darks, color vibrancy, warm/cool, etc. throughout the whole painting so that the final product is harmonious and compostionally pleasing. Balance was incredibly important in a composition like this one, which is so dramatically split down the middle.
Sorry for rambling on, hopefully someone finds this interesting!
This July has been a stormy one here in New York, and even more so in my hometown of Jackson, Ohio which was hit hard yesterday with over five inches of rain. I found myself revisiting this painting from last summer, in which I captured one of those big summer storms rolling in over Main Street. I took the photo that this painting was based on with my phone - one shot that luckily captured the dramatic sky - and I later decided that the composition seemed perfect for a painting. I normally using my DSLR for photo reference, but I wasn’t planning on painting Jackson and didn’t have it on me that day.
As you can see from the in-progress shots (cell phone photo quality not as impressive here, sorry), my process was pretty much the same as with my ‘View from the High Line’ painting. Check out that post for a discussion of my process that I won’t go into detail repeating here.
I started with the sky, carefully masking off the silhouettes of the building shapes with tape and the intricate telephone poles and streetlights with masking fluid. Once the sky was sufficiently ominous, I painted the street up to where the cars begin, and then began painting the building on the left and marched across the page from there. After painting several photo-realistic scenes of Manhattan, this simple street lined with two story buildings seemed like a relatively straightforward proposition, and it was a lot of fun to paint. This is still one of my favorite paintings - it helped me see a place that I had never considered very interesting or beautiful in a new light.
I’ve always heard the advice “Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.” The implication being that you’ll buy a bunch of food that you really want to eat right now and end up spending too much money, or overstocking your kitchen with food that will go bad before you can eat it, or both. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” Etc.
As a narcoleptic, I have to apply that same basic principle to… everything. But with energy.
Don’t make plans when you feel good. Don’t agree to a weekend friend date on Monday wide awake after a shower. Don’t schedule a day out a day in advance after a nap. Don’t fill out job applications on a caffeine buzz.
When I feel good, I feel great. I feel like I can write a book, clean the house, cook a three course meal and take up photorealistic painting. I feel that way for anywhere from five minutes to a few hours and then it’s gone.
That feeling used to trick me into thinking it was going to stay forever, thinking that I was finally “cured” or “over it,” but now I know better. I can even tell sometimes how long it’s going to last. I had a ten hour stretch of it and made myself a Wordpress site that would have broken me down into a crying mess at any other time. Usually it’s closer to ten minutes and I can get some clothes put away. Or ten seconds, and I can get into the bathtub.
I don’t have a conclusion here or anything. This is just something I deal with and I wanted to try expressing it in words.
Happy 75th birthday to Chuck Close, known for his photorealistic paintings. Early in his career Close shot black-and-white portraits and reproduced them in large scale on canvas. Here, you can see his system at work in this study for his iconic 1968 self-portrait.
in a generation a visionary comes along, a visionary whose skill transcends the
simplistic concept of light and dark and instead manages to harness the full
power of the human condition. Capturing the many facets of what makes us human,
tumultuous, glorious. That artist is Nicola Samori.
life as baroque inspired photorealist oil paintings, Samori’s works are then
flayed with a palette knife or applied with layer after layer of oil paints.
Subsequently creating works that fuse together the figurative with the
abstract, revealing a raw intensity and truth that would not be apparent in the
Happy birthday Chuck Close! This study for a self-portrait shows how he developed his photorealist paintings. Starting with a photograph, he drew a grid on top, and proceeded to paint each square on a large canvas.