Passions of an Odd Chick

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Seller of Purses in Athens

I loved the streets of Athens, Greece. It is the most vibrant city. I have never lived in a city of any size, so visiting there and experiencing the energy and restlessness made me breathless, really. When I saw this older man hanging his purses in his shop, I had to stop. I knew he would make a good watercolor. In fact, I said out loud on the streets of Athens, "That's my watercolor". I have had a photograph since March. It has haunted me. I knew somehow, with much more skill than I could muster, my photo should translate into a beautiful painting. But I didn't want to paint it, until I could paint it the way I needed to. I wanted an old world style. But I had no idea how to bring that about. But I couldn't wait any longer.
What I would give to have a mentor. No one in my family paints or in my close circle of friends. I belong to an art guild but sometimes I feel like they keep their comments tight and close and are afraid that they might actually teach me something.
Is anyone out there willing to teach me something with this painting and my reference photo? It would be invaluable to me. I will paint it again and again if I have to. .... geez, I sound so pitiful.. surely someone will help...


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

What do you mean by an "Old World" feel?

When I think Old World, I think Renaissance masters working in oil.

I also think of rich colors and a lot of contrast between light and shadow. Looking at the photo and at your watercolor, what I long for (and this is subjective so dismiss me if it seems off base), is more of a sense of darkness and mystery within the shop. Having the purses pop out by their bright-colored contrast. Also the shopkeeper will gain prominence because he too would be standing against that dark background. You come close to that with the dark shadow around his head. In what I imagine, there would still be colors in the interior, but darker and more muted that those on the outside. (But not muddy. I know, that's a tall order for watercolor.)

I don't know if I'm making any sense. I'm not a painter. That's just what I see as a possible painting in my mind.

BTW, I love that you are so vulnerable with your work on your blog. You have my admiration for that.

linda said...

first off, I adore your colors. (forget old world masters) second, I NEVER paint from photos, don't know why but it does not work for me. To me, to paint from a photo is a little like trying to paint the wind on a clear day. It does not move from the photo to the paper for me because my colors, my mind, my process is always outside of what I generally see and if I see something I want to paint, well, I can't because it is what it is all by itself... I don't think I am making sense here about this. I am a little like the old native american saying, "only God can make it perfect." So I paint from memory and trust the process to become what it will.

I think you have a lovely painting going on here and what distracts me from the loveliness is the reality of the man standing there. He doesn't quite fit for me somehow although I know he is supposed to be part of the whole...can he be there and not be so in front in his rather boring clothes? is that making sense? I think if he was showing skin, tan and brown, with something bright on and bald, you know? like your imagination might speak to him better...and thus your brush? obviously mine would anyway, if I were to attempt this.

well, now that I have insulted you with my pathetic attempt at trying to describe what cannot be described, I will stop :) I know you will forgive me.(I hope)

Odd Chick said...

Thank you Ruth and Linda!! I felt the same thing, that I must go darker, but I was nervous about that - Linda, of course, you would help me think outside the box. We really should paint together for a day- I bet you would help me loosen up and teach me divine color skills and design. I know you are interested and your help will be a big part of what helps me grow up in this stuff.

Steve Emery said...

Odd Chick,

First - I like this - and it's a good representation of the photo. I think you made some good decisions about the composition and the details.

I agree more with Linda, I think... I like the more watercolor feel and color scheme, rather than the darker tones of a grand master. But I love watercolors... You have some significant darks in the top. I get a Paris street painter feeling from parts of this, and I think maybe that's what you meant by Old World? Or the very different style of handling his merchandise and setting up a store? It doesn't feel like America.

First - I like the top of this best. Right down through the hanging purses, you handled the paint with a confidence I envy. Then I think you froze up on the man himself. The green in his hat works for me, though a lighter color might have "popped" him into the foreground more. Then I agree, again, with Linda - he is sadly drab compared to his shop. And you painted him so he looks more transparent than anything else - tentative. A ghost of himself. If you were more tense while painting him, we can feel that.

I think you made the right move to lose all that chatter on the left hand edge of the photo - but while I personally have a thing for orange, that band of orange on the left edge doesn't quite work for me. I want some other color, and something more definite. Otherwise you might as well just change the composition so you don't even have that strip outside the shop. Maybe that's an answer.

And the other thing that I wish were different is the chairs in the shop. I can't think how to make them look better, as they are, and If I were the painter, I'd have considered losing them, just like you did the clutter outside and to the left in your photo.

What I did, too, was cover the bottom half of the painting. I love the top. Then I covered the top, and I just don't like the bottom nearly as much. The photo reads the same way! If I do that to the photo, I get the same feelings! So I think you'll have to take some liberties with the bottom half, to make it stronger, and to get an opportunity to use the same kind of confident wet-on-wet, and contrast and rich colors you used on top.

I hope this isn't too forward of me. I hope it helps.

And remember, nothing you paint will seem just right to everyone. we all want something a bit different. So how does this look to YOU, now that you got some likes and dislikes from some of your audience? Do you also want to change some of the things we do? Or not? The important thing is to know what you are really going after, I think. Where did you get it the way you wanted, and where not? Why and why not? Maybe our comments will help you figure that out. That's what matters.

I'd be happy to give more details on this or other paintings, if it's helpful. My e-mail address is on my website (the "Contact" link).

Thanks for your fearlessness. It's inspiring to me.

"JEANNELLE" said...

Wow.....that's neat you've been to Athens! And, this photo you took is unique....good eye.

I know nothing about painting of any kind. As I look at your rendition of the photo, I wish for a bit more detail inside the shop. But, that's just my personal opinion, not anything art-like.

Kimmie said...

This is absolutely beautiful! That you got so much texture and color from that photograph amazes me! I wouldn't have thought to create a painting from it - the photograph is actually a bit drab - but you have breathed life into it! Wonderful, wonderful work!!!

Kathleen said...

Hey you don't sound pitiful you sound frustrated - I think you have done wonderful job of this - I do a lot of work from photgraphs - I believe you learn more from pieces you consider failures - Your on your way don't get discouraged - my advise is take any workshops or classes you can - each one will teach you something -

liz elayne lamoreux said...

i just want to share that i love how you shared this and asked for support from the people reading your blog.
that is really fantastic.
and the comments are wondrous.
you all inspire me today as i read this.

i wonder if you might ever want to come to an art retreat weekend like artfest or art and soul or squam. you have the opportunity to spend time with really caring, open teachers and learn and experience community of like-minded souls. i have the same feeling sometimes about wishing for a mentor, and then i go to one of these weekends and soak in all the wisdom and joy...(maybe you have been already...)

just a silly thought.