eric ortega


Building a new website is not my idea of fun.

Eric Ortega

However, revisiting paintings and drawings created over the last few decades has turned out to be both entertaining and enlightening.  I am surprised by the work that still makes my heart sing, like the portrait of Eric Ortega.  I am also surprised by the work I thought was so splendid and I now see as quite dreadful.

Maybe I should create a new website every five years to rediscover where, as an artist, I’ve been and where I want to be going.

I just pushed the button to publish the new site as well as redirect my domain name chriscarterart.com to the new site.  It can take up to twenty four hours for the links to work.  Please let me know if you have any trouble loading pages.  All feedback is welcome.  The direct link to the GoDaddy site is chriscarterartist.com.  By tomorrow, both should get you to the same place.

Painting:  Oil painting portrait of dancer, Eric Ortega

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I came upon a gesture painting I did a couple of years ago of Eric Ortega dancing.  Ahhhhhhh what a thrill it was to watch him dance.

Eric Ortega in Motion, Watercolor Sketch

These little watercolor gesture paintings mean more to me than the more elaborate studio paintings I have done over the many years I have been painting.  I love moments that steal my breath away.  The little paintings I do during live performances of dance and music capture those special moments of stolen breath when the air is filled with the expression of emotion through movement or music.

I don’t know how my life will unfold during the next thirty years, or even during the next three years.  My hope is that I will be able to spend my time nurturing the energy of creative people through my own expression, in drawings and paintings, of the energy they release through their music, dance, poetry, film or any other method of expression.

Eric Ortega, Oil on Paper

When the landscape and everyday objects around me begin to look different in a measurable way, I know I am on a new plateau, one that I’ve been working steadily to reach.  I am finally beginning to reap the rewards of a recent return to the study of color and value scales.  Knowing that my surrounding are now looking different, I evaluated older paintings to see if I can understand why I am either pleased or displeased with them.

The portrait of Eric Ortega continues to be one of my favorite paintings in spite of the fact that it falls into the realm of realism.  In fact, it hangs on the wall, rather than filed away on a storage shelf in the basement.  Until recently, I have not understood why I continue to enjoy viewing this painting.

The shapes are varied in both size and contour (straight, curved, jagged).  There is a clear delineation between color values of light, medium and dark.  The subordinate values within each of these ranges stay within the appropriate limits of the range.  For example, the darks in Eric’s pants are still lighter than the mid-value of his arms and face which fall into the medium value range of the entire painting.  The darks in his flesh are still much lighter than the mid or dark values in his hair, shirt, shadow or floor.

The dark values in the entire painting connect in one way or another.  The lights and mid-tones in the painting also connect, allowing the eye to move freely throughout the painting from one shape to another.  This supports the feeling of Eric’s dance movements.  He does not appear to be frozen in space like a cut-out against the floor and wall.

Warm colors and cool colors play against each other adding to the sense of form and dimension, creating the depth of the space Eric moves through.

As I review more of my completed paintings, I am creating another pile of paintings to be sanded down and painted over.  About ten percent find their way back onto the storage shelves.  I find it refreshing that I can let go of so many canvases and feel good about it.

The energy and movements of Eric Ortega have been an inspiration to me since I began painting him four or five years ago. He inspired my spontaneous Zakar Art work and now the first oil painting of him. The exhibit Reflections of a Dancer opens next weekend at Wings Conservatory in Chester, New Jersey. Along with a selection of my watercolor paintings and Zakar paintings, a series of color studies created from the photographs of Elayne Wishart will be presented. This study of Eric is one of the paintings that will be on display. The exhibit is a fund raising event for the Butterfly Project. For more information on the Butterfly Project, click here.