I braved the ticks of New Jersey by laying naked in the grass.

Moonstruck

When I entered my paintings into the 6th Annual Naked in New Hope Exhibit sponsored by Sidetracks Gallery, I didn’t know I would be asked to send them a naked portrait of myself.  Five of my paintings have been accepted!  Fortunately I live in a somewhat secluded. rural area where Tom and I could tackle the challenge of capturing an acceptable photograph of my less than youthful body in the buff.  Tom’s idea was for me to lie in the overgrown grass beneath the dead tree limbs (scheduled to be turned into wood chips later this afternoon).  As other options, he had me pose beneath the pine tree (where I ended up covered with sticky sap) and in the cornfield where the leaves stuck to the sap on my bare body.  The overgrown grass and dead tree branch option is the one I’ve just sent to Sidetracks Gallery.  You’ll have to attend the event to see it.  Though I thought we would stick with just a shoulder shot, Tom did a great job of deception and the final photo is full body.  Oh my…….  what we do for the sake of art……

Painting: “Moonstruck”, 24″ x 39″ Watercolor on Arches Paper

The struggle to describe form on a face continues….  still working from photographs …. ugh!

linking light shapes and dark shapes

Everything I’m working on right now relates not only to human figures, but to masses of trees and landscapes, too.  Returning to plein air painting made me realize I need to sharpen my eye and brain to organize the shapes of reality into strong patterns of abstraction.  I thought, after so many years of painting movement and abstraction that I would have broken my habit of duplicating reality when it is sitting still in front of me.  I was wrong!

Slowly, very slowly, I’m making progress.  Every ten minutes I want to stop this discipline and toss or platter a bit of paint, swirl a bit of ink and simply play with color and shapes.  I can feel myself tighten when I reach the limit of my ability in realistic drawing and painting.  I want to return to something I am comfortable with.  I want to do an ink drawing of the hollyhocks in bloom and color it in with gorgeous pinks and greens.  I want to dash off to a music festival with my dip pen and watercolor box.

My mother before I was born, great hat!

It’s hard to believe, but I worked on this little 5″ x 7″ sketch for four hours!  It looked fresh and alive after about half an hour, but the forms on the face were wrong.  I went back and forth with watercolor, then gouache, to bring back lights, to correct values of shadows, to simplify, to capture light falling on the different planes of the face.  It ended up an overworked mess, but I am satisfied with the head looking like a solid form that might actually have a skull inside of it.  In spite of knowing my anatomy, there is a glitch in my hand/brain/brush when I attempt to paint realistically.

V. D. King at the Grisly Pear

This is how I love to paint.  Why do I bother struggling with painting from photos, stiff and boring?  Because I want to bring the skill and knowledge I gain from that discipline into my plein air and moving figure paintings.  They will become more consistently stronger.  And ….. I want to keep breaking through my limitations.  Until I can paint from a photograph successfully with the result being as lovely, loose and descriptive as the portrait of V.D. King, I will not be satisfied.

Grumpy Chris as a toddler

I am as grumpy this morning as I was when the photo I worked from was taken.  What is it that makes a face look old?  look young? look middle-aged? When does the balance of hard edges and soft edges work in the composition of facial planes?

Top image: ink brush or ink brush and copic markers

Middle image: watercolor and gouache

Bottom image: watercolor

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

Posting this image after returning from Robert Wood Johnson Hospital is oxymoronic, yet in many ways quite appropriate, though only a very few, older folks might understand.

Pumpkin Disguised as Female Nude

The phone rang at 2 pm….

Sad news.

I stopped working on my new website and drove to the hospital.  KLA and I met when we were eleven years old.  Our friendship was sporadic, but true.  As I sat holding her hand, alone for an hour, I focused on the better memories.  I let go of her hand to draw her … a drawing I will never post.  I held her hand again.  When the nurse asked me leave, I said bid farewell.

The plug will be pulled at 5 pm tomorrow evening.

She would have liked this post.  She was an amazing photographer who lost track of the path she once walked.

Image: Watercolor and pastel

I went home with twenty paintings from last night’s performance at SteelStacks Cabaret.  Boyertown High School Jazz Band opened for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  I imagine there were many proud parents in the audience.  What an honor to open for the likes of the New Orlean’s based Jazz Band.  I was eight years old when I saw the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for the first time.

Rickie Monie playing ‘His eye is on the Sparrow’

I ended up with more ink drawings than ink and watercolor drawings.  I liked the lines when I felt they captured the character of the musician.  I didn’t feel the impulse to dip my brush into the watercolor.  Instead, I grabbed a clean sheet of paper to capture the next moment in ink lines.

To view more of the drawings and paintings visit the RiverJazz album on my facebook page: Chris Carter Artist.

Drawing:  drawn with dip pen using Waterman Havana Brown ink.

This drawing was found in a small frame in my father’s house last fall when we emptied the house.
We called her Gram
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I drew this sometime during the last 70’s. My grandmother wore fancy hats, sparkly costume jewelry, long gloves and elegant dresses. I never saw her eat more than a dozen peas and a few bites of meat. She signed cards and letters “TOA Gram” (The Old Antique)

Drawing: Pencil

A Call for Artists came through in an email last night.  To my surprise, the exhibit (in a hospital gallery) will be of nudes.  As far as I can tell the “no breasts”, “no cracks” restriction does not apply!  I have entered two, large watercolors.

Autumn Nude, Acrylic on Canvas

At the end of the month I’ll sift through my studio, saving the strong work and disposing of the weak work to make room for new explorations.  Seeing Autumn Nude was like crossing paths again with an old friend.  The opportunity to return to full-time painting is a bit overwhelming.  My approach to the business of art will be quite different this time around.

Painting: Autumn Nude – Acrylic on Canvas – 22″ wide x 28″ high. Technique: Thrown Paint, Drips and Line Drawing

How ironic.

Figure to inspire the body to heal.

My intent has always been to enable the healing of body, heart and soul through the images of my art.

Along the way I became known, through solo gallery exhibitions, for the somewhat abstract images of breasts and buttocks.  That was not my intent.  Eventually, I also became known for brilliant color in the simple images of my Yoga Art and the quick paintings of musicians and dancers during live performances.

Put a thought, a dream, a goal, into the universe and it will begin to manifest.  Just as parents cannot control the result of their spawning, I can’t control the result of the seed planted by my hopes and thoughts.

I’ve been commissioned, based on prior work,  to paint ten paintings to be hung on the walls of a new hospital.  Perfect!

However……. there can be no breasts, no cracks and no bright colors!  Well….. alright then……

I can still do it.

The thought of anyone, any one single person, viewing my art in the hospital and finding inspiration to heal themselves, to the best of their ability, makes this a challenge I’m willing to accept.

An added stipulation is that the paintings must be large!  The yoga art, the zakar art, and all the paintings of musicians painted live have been quite small due to the fact that I paint them in the yoga studio, a dark theater or a bar.  When enlarged, all of the inaccuracies of anatomy scream rather loudly from the paper.

And then there is the issue of color.  I have worked non-stop for three years to bring my color to brilliance…. and I will continue to work on that as soon as I meet the demand of creating “acceptable” figure paintings in browns and neutrals to match the walls of the hospital.

So far…. I have painted twenty, twelve of which are acceptable (in my mind).  I plan on painting forty and picking the best fifteen to twenty from those. From those, the client may pick the ten to frame and hang.

I ask you….. what is a body without breasts and buttocks?

Don’t expect too many postings in the next few weeks.  I have only two to three weeks to meet this challenge.  Wish me luck!

During the last eight months I never focused on the reflections of the musicians in the stage floor.  They screamed at me last night, begging for attention.

Maria Woodfore, Todd Wolfe and Rob Fraser

The night inspired eighteen paintings.  I find it difficult to pick a favorite this time around.  If I have to limit it to two, I will choose the portrait of young, Mike Lefton and the painting of Bill Lance playing saxophone.  I love the simplicity of both.

Portrait of Mike Lefton at the Blues Jam

Bill Lance playing saxophone at the Tuesday Night Blues Jam

I’m thinking that I should try the same approach with a landscape to see what happens.  I think, without the music, the lines and the color will not spill onto the paper.  I’m visiting a dear friend in Ashville next week.  I might be bold and give it a try. A new environment always makes change a little easier.

Paintings: drawn first in black ink with dip pen, followed by watercolor washes.

My two, palm leaf paper sketchbooks are going to be a challenge to complete.  The paper is too slick on one side and too bumpy on the other for pencil or pen.  It works better with the Ciao Copic Markers, but I still feel as if I’m fighting with it.

Justine Gardner playing bass at the Blues Jam

I miss my ink and watercolor.  If I stick with the markers for about a month, I may be able to work with them more intuitively.  The brush end of the marker allows for expressive lines and variation in marks.  I can see adding two markers (medium and dark value) to my cargo pants “walking studio” to add values to my extremely quick “on the go” line drawings.

First drawn lightly in pencil, followed by value scale rendering in Caio Copic Markers.