Friday, October 25, 2013
Earlier this month, I was invited to do a painting demonstration for Mrs. Bess Jernigan Desta's class at Huntsville's Grissom High School-- thoroughly enjoying group presentations as I do, and relishing an opportunity to answer students' questions, I quickly set to work designing a composition for the class. The above photo of Bess and me shows the painting by the end of the presentation. . . the lines of the composition were established, and I had begun to block in some of the darker areas for contrast.
During the middle stages of the painting process, I added complimentary colors and continued to establish highlights, mid-tones, and shadows. An abstract of this kind relies heavily on composition, line, color balance (a science in and of itself), and contrast. . . while the composition is based on a row of buildings with balconies and a courtyard setting, I wanted to convey atmosphere rather than individual objects or "realistic" architecture. Moreover, as with all of my abstract pieces, I wanted it to be stylized enough to be a world of its own, a catalyst for imaginative exploration.
For me, adding finishing touches often means cleaning up or reinforcing lines and colors, brightening areas, blending mid-tones or softening transitions between shadows and highlights, smudging brush strokes as I see fit, or even adding areas of thicker paint for texture.
The completed piece [above] will dry over the next few months in a cool room, away from dust and humidity, then I will apply a coat or two of protective varnish (which also further brings out the colors and gives paintings a lovely sheen). Daytime in the Courtyard, painted with a mix of water-based oils and acrylics, makes a bold statement with its warm orange/mustard base, splashes of electric green and tranquil blue, and large size (30X40). If you are interested in this piece or any other featured on my blog (or if you have any questions regarding my work as an artist in general), please feel free to contact me via E-mail or the Christina Wegman Fine Art Facebook page!
Friday, September 27, 2013
Having seen many famous depictions of the Roman Forum, I have come to understand painting the Ancient world to be a kind of artistic Rite of Passage. Add a dash of Romantic poetry, and the picture is complete-- bone-white columns, a dusty green and gray landscape, a mild, aloof blue sky tinged with Classical nostalgia. . .
Yet "faded" and "melancholy" were not at all the words that came to mind when I walked through the Forum Romanum this year during my recent trip to Rome. Rome is a wild tapestry of past and present, ever bustling, ever spilling over with waves of tourists from every corner of the globe hoping to experience the oft-celebrated mystique of the city. On a late afternoon in early summer, the Forum is fragrant with the abundant chamomile and sage entwined with poppies on every hill, and the scenery is electrified by brilliant pale greens, dusty roses and vibrant pinks and oranges, alive with the voices of young and old walking along the same cobblestones as Cicero once did.
The above painting, a 30X40 simply titled Forum Romanum, is my first completed piece directly inspired by my trip. Trying to find the perfect balance between my angular, stylized approach, the rounded elements of columns, and intricacy to be found at every turn in Rome is an interesting challenge, as is expressing the life and modernity to be found even in the well-worn paths of the Forum these days. Rome has surely given me many new things to ponder, and one of the lasting influences that I am beginning to see in my work as a result is a revitalized approach to color (I am sure that my painting of Adrianna and Hel also owes its color scheme to sunny Italy).
The Forum Romanum painting has already sold and is sure to look stunning in its new home (enjoy, Jerry and Jenn!), but a new Rome-inspired piece is already in the works if you, dear reader, would like one of your own, and I now have many pictures lovingly taken by me and happy memories to sort through for reference if anybody would care for a more custom piece!
Monday, September 16, 2013
Last week, I dropped off two new pieces at the Arts Council Gallery in the Von Braun Center. If you are in downtown Huntsville, be sure to have a look at Terra et Caelum [above] and Romantic Arabesques [below] as well as all of the other wonderful artworks on display and available for purchase!
Friday, August 30, 2013
Earlier this year, I created a portrait for my friend David based on a character from one of his stories. The experience and results were thoroughly enjoyable, so I was thrilled when one of our conversations led to a new commission. In one of the story concepts David is working on, Adrianna, goddess of storm, and Hel, goddess of the underworld, both fall in love with the protagonist; they are rivals for his affections, yet must be allies in order to help him become what he is meant to be. It is a wonderful tapestry of fantasy, allegory, mythology, and religious and political commentary that could easily fill multiple volumes, and I wanted to portray the two goddesses in a modern and original way-- stylized faces, electric neon colors, nods to David's love of comics and cartoons (without losing the daring touch of fine art or becoming stereotypical). It was thoroughly refreshing for me to work on Adrianna and Hel [above]; I hope that David will enjoy adding this new piece to his growing art collection!
Monday, July 29, 2013
When I first began offering commissioned portraits last year, my friend Michele was happy to pose for a portrait that I could keep in my collection to show prospective clients [below]. This year, a few friends pitched in so that we could present Michele with a smaller portrait [above, 16X20] for her birthday. I like to think that this second piece gave me the opportunity to present Michele in a more personal, less theatrical light. The first piece is far more glamourous, the second focuses on Michele's sweet eyes and impish smile. My color choices for the second piece were influenced heavily by the neutral browns and beiges of Michele's house and her love for Ancient Egypt. In fact, the pattern in the background was inspired directly by designs on Ancient Egyptian columns. Since Michele also prefers realism over abstraction, I kept the piece fairly illustrative, taking it as an opportunity to use back-lighting to keep Michele's charming features soft. I hope that she will enjoy her new painting for many years to come!
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
What strikes me most about my last three commissions is that they are completely unrelated. When creating custom pieces, I must be prepared for any number of different requests and challenges, and I tend to believe that my work actually thrives on this level of variety. Painting the above three-panel divider for my friend Jennifer P., for instance, was a wonderfully liberating experience. Jennifer was smitten by the free-flowing, colorful abstract patterns on the divider I keep in my studio (I enjoy wiping my brushes off on it), and picked out a color scheme that would match her home for a divider of her own. She wanted a random-looking abstract composition, so I starting to play with washes, drips, and splatters, imagining branches in the rain as I plotted out the direction and balance of each element. Because the panels are thick paper, I made sure that the runny acrylic would bleed through to the other side [see below]-- no matter which way she turns it, she will be able to enjoy it!
Phil's commission [below right, beside the painting that inspired it] was based almost entirely on one of my abstract color studies. . . he very much liked the composition, but needed a color scheme that would match his interior. While at first glance the second painting may simply look like a copy of the first in different colors, I softened the lines and made a few subtle changes to make sure that the minty greens would not be overshadowed or become too jarring. It is a much smoother rendition overall. What does not show in the image is that I also employed the use of soft metallic copper paint in the new piece. I met Phil at a local Hackerspace melting down aluminium cans, so I thought this metallic touch appropriate!
My third recent commission was a portrait; Janeil [below] was based on a photo taken of my client Rick's wife at camp in the 70's. I know that Janeil likes to work on scrapbooks and make greeting cards and that her favorite color is purple, so I tried to incorporate all of these things into the composition. As with a portrait I completed last year of Eugene and Georgia Baxley, my main reference photo was a scanned image of a small family snapshot. I had to use a few school portraits of Janeil as reference to get an adequate likeness. I find portraits of this kind to be incredibly difficult to do well because the reference material is often blurry or discolored, but it is also incredibly rewarding to be able to bring a cherished but faded or blurry snapshot to life in this manner!
Thursday, June 20, 2013
At last, Rome! I have painted the Eternal City in the past, studied Latin, and many of my friends have travelled to Italy before me, yet it was not until this summer that I was able to see Rome with my own eyes (as well as Avezzano and Alba Fucens in Abruzzo). With blue summer skies above and buildings as softly-colored as sherbert, ornate marble, ancient monuments, and throngs of excited people milling about, I wound up snapping 1,513 pictures by the end of two weeks. Here is a small selection of my favorites!
The Colosseum by Night
The Colosseum by Day
The Theater of Marcellus
Wild Poppies and Summer Wheat
In the Shadows of the Pantheon
Traces of Ornamention Behind the Pantheon
A Chance Encounter
The Many Who Wish at the Trevi Fountain
The Dying Gaul and His Modern Mourners
The Crypt of Pope Hadrian
Nuns Leaving the Rose Garden on the Aventine
A Roman Bee
The Basilica of Maxentius
A View from the Hills
The Temple of Saturn
The Roman Forum
View from the Palace of Domitian
Chairs for a Papal Event
Light Streaming into the Lateran Cathedral
Beauty Among the Ruins
A Rose in the Late Afternoon
The Aurelian Wall
Tombs Beyond the City Walls
An Ancient Amphitheater in Alba Fucens, Abruzzo
Thursday, May 16, 2013
One of the many interesting facets of painting commissioned portraits is the opportunity to illuminate a person's or pet's character, what matters most to one, one's most valued relationships. In the case of two recent portraits, I was given the chance to create pieces which featured much-beloved furry companions. In Joseph and Casey [above], Joseph Baxley hugs his little cat protectively (never have I seen such a bond between a man and a feline). Sassy [below] was painted for Jessica Garcia to commemorate the long life and personality of her dog; Sassy has always loved to stop and smell the flowers!
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
If you find yourself in the Von Braun Center between now and July, be sure to have a look at the new selection of paintings on display at The Arts Council Gallery, including my own Art of Conversation [above] and First Cup [below]. Both pieces are currently available for purchase through the Huntsville Arts Council.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
My natural exuberance for color became a more intense subject of study many years ago when my Mom advised that I read books on color by German-born artist/educator Josef Albers and Swiss painter/theorist Johannes Itten. As I flipped through page after page of multi-hued squares and fascinating optical illusions, I was soon astounded to learn that the perception of any given color could completely change from one context to another, that there was more to color than merely finding aesthetically-pleasing combinations. It is no wonder that by the time I had begun to paint, I had grown enamoured with the abstract work of Wassily Kandinsky, and as part of a quest to develop my art, I had started to take in-depth notes on his writings and to find inspiration for color studies in his ideas about color. Since those early days in 2007, I have often set aside a week here or there to make new color studies to refresh my thoughts and my work. To some, abstract art may seem daunting, but I find that there is something liberating about the pursuit of pure color and form, expressions of pure ambiance and thought, that is as worthwhile as any other artistic approach. I began my first two spring color studies during the final week of March and had a series of four by the end of last week. Terra et Caelum [above, 18X24, $200] is the expression of the otherworldly colors of dusk, our poignant awareness of the universe as the sun sinks beneath the horizon. Greenway [below, 22X28, $300] is based on colors I observed by walking along my favorite creek recently, abstracted and reformed into a dreamscape of my imagining. . .