Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Flower Paintings: Part I

Cutting my peonies down while preparing the garden for the long winter ahead, I am reminded how much I love their lush, colorful blossoms.

I planted varieties specifically with intention to paint them and have tended them to maturity. The vibrant pinks are spectacular and have inspired many oil paintings. Several examples are pictured below.

Pink Peonies II
24" x 30"
oil on canvas

Mixed Peonies
30" x 36"
oil on canvas

I enjoy brilliant color. Often bold blocks of color have been used as under paintings to provide surprising color interactions and contrasts with the blooms' hues. However, I find the challenge of making paintings of white flowers vibrant a particularly interesting endeavor.

White Single Peonies
24" x 30"
oil on canvas

Pink Peonies III
30" x 24"
oil on canvas

24"xx 30"
oil on canvas

White Double Peonies
24" x 30"
oil on canvas

Pink Peonies I
30" x 24"
oil on canvas

I will share more of my floral oil paintings in an upcoming post to brighten the dark months ahead.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Moving into a New Painting Studio

The university where I teach art courses has classrooms and research facilities in a remodeled industrial building. I am excited to receive a key to an art studio in this beautiful building! 

Kenilworth Square, built in 1914, was originally a Ford Motor Company factory where Ford Model T cars were produced. 

Wisconsin Historical Society's records reveal that the building was a Ford assembly plant until 1942 when it was sold to the US government to be used for wartime production.

Kenilworth as it looked in the prior to the 2006 remodeling.

As I take a first peak at the studio, the helpful maintenance staff offer to move the furniture and polish the concrete floor.

Wow, these windows provide wonderful light -

and a view of a lovely Art Deco building across the street.

I can't believe now how great the shiny sealed concrete floors look. 

Installing the sound system is a priority.

Work surface set up. 

Brushes and pencils organized.

Canvases stretched. Ready to start a new project!

But first I must prepare to ship twenty paintings to Colorado for my solo exhibition.

I am fortunate to have a place to work.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pastel Figure Drawing: Part III

The pastel figure drawings featured in this post  are drawn on white paper directly without a colorful underpainting. For this technique burnt umber was used for the value study because it would blend well with colors of the flesh tone.

22"x 30"
chalk pastel on printmaking paper

Marquayla (detail)
22"x 30"
chalk pastel on printmaking paper

The same model also posed a year later for the session recorded in stages below.

A gestural line in sepia conte crayon measures proportions while creating volume and structure. Tones are rapidly placed. Here placed brown PanPastel tones rapidly with a makeup sponge.

Next warm and cool colors are added.

Finally highlights and shadows complete the image and detail.

Marquayla II
22"x 30"
chalk pastel on printmaking paper

Marquayla II (detail)
22"x 30"
chalk pastel on printmaking paper

We see the same stages of this technique used again for a drawing of another model.

A dark blue line gives specific contour and contrast.

Capturing this model's curls were unusually challenging. 

A glimpse of the setup -

The white sheet looks crisp against the vibrant colors on the body in the finished piece.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sifting: A Collection of Work by Nirmal Raja

A few days ago I had the opportunity to see Sifting, a solo exhibition at UW-Parkside of work by Nirmal Raja, my friend, fellow RedLine Milwaukee artist, and mentor.  Raja is an interdisciplinary artist holding an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who exhibits nationally and internationally.

Born in India and based in Milwaukee, Raja explores themes of cultural negotiation in this inventive body of work utilizing a variety of materials and media including printmaking, photography, drawing, and installation art.  

The Artist's Statement
"The intangible and the ever-changing are fascinating places to explore in my work. I often feel like I am a porous membrane through which experiences are filtered, absorbed and digested. My work is a response to life experiences that are distilled and strengthened by research in the studio and through reading. I approach my practice as a process of sifting and communicating sensations and ideas with varied materials and processes. 
As a transplanted individual living between two cultures, I am constantly trying to identify where and how I fit into a place and I find myself constantly translating. Liminal concepts like memory and perception of time and space are natural extensions for this exploration. I approach remembrance as transitional: how we add to, subtract from, and refract our memories. These fleeting and ephemeral moments are activated and brought to the present through material explorations and installation strategies. I implicate the audience in my installations by employing cast shadows and reflections to facilitate unexpected encounters that question what is imagined and what is real. In some work, notions of time, rhythm and music are explored, while in other work, different aspects of language - script as form, legibility and illegibility - are explored. I ask the questions: is communication possible beyond and outside of our conventional understanding of language? What is lost in translation?"

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large installation titled Cloud Palace. As we enter we are immersed in an etherial environment of floating fabric indigo prints suspended over a reflective surface. The effect is breathtaking. One rarely sees contemporary installation art this aesthetically pleasing.

On closer inspection, we notice that the artist has incorporated  4th century poetry.

A wall of long, loosely rolled mixed media works on paper are displayed hanging from pegs.

Experiments in Time and Music, 1-7
Mixed media on paper

The rolled scrolls tease us with glimpses of the hidden layers of painting, drawing, and printed word. There is a feel of mystery in what is not revealed to us.

Long rolls of paper unfurl as they hang from ceiling to floor. Here Raja addresses ideas of measurement and proportion in relation to the human body.

In this beautiful photo-transfer work the artist deals with concepts of time and memory.

In Scribed Series, Nirmal Raja engraves on palm leave scrolls and intaglio prints on paper, referring to ancient book forms of Southeast Asia.

The works in the Scribed Series are small, intimate objects that beg to be handled.

Screen prints and hand-cutting on ledger paper

Other works in the exhibit include embroidery, and watercolors on player piano rolls.


The exhibition in the UW-Parkside gallery runs August 10- October 12, 2016. It is well worth the trip to experience this installation. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Pastel Portrait Drawings by Cynthia Hayes

Recently I received a new friend request on Facebook. Soon  after that my new friend shared a photo I had posted a few years ago with the comment "That's me, love it."  His compliment was really encouraging especially because it is often difficult to meet a portrait sitter's expectations. 

I hadn't immediately recognized my new Facebook friend Aaron, but certainly remembered the drawing session he had modeled for. Aaron posing with the work in progress is pictured below.

I've had extensive years of experience figure drawing, but this was the first "portrait" session I ever attended. I tried to capture the essence of a noble spirit with the upward, optimistic, determined gaze.

30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

An artist working at the local Utrecht's Art Supply Store had organized a series of portrait sessions. He'd ask interesting looking patrons of the store if they would be willing to pose. An exciting variety of people agreed to model. Our models ranged in age, ethnicity, gender, personality types, etc. 

30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

One of my favorite portrait models was this gentleman named "Flame". So much fun to study all of his long grey hair and beard with its loose spiraling curls. Flame held his faithful friend for the entire 3 hour sitting. Amazing how patient this little dog was!

In this photo, we see the setup. Temporary foam core walls were propped up to give a backdrop, and to block the art supply store shelves. The model was raised high on a tall stool so that everyone could get a good view. Gallon buckets of gesso were stacked to the right height to give a place for the feet to rest, and also to hold the chair in place. The ambient overhead florescent store lights were the default lighting situation which was not as dramatic as is often preferred by figurative artists.

Portrait of a Young Woman
30" x 22.5"
chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

Bringing several sheets of painted paper to the session, I select one with colors that may work with the model's clothing, skin tone, or even mood. The underpainting greatly influences color choices as the  work progresses.  

I covered many sheets of printmaking paper with oil and enamel house paints years ago while living in the Caribbean. Nonobjective, brightly colored paintings were prepared to be used as under paintings. In this drawing much of this paint remains untouched. Shapes inspired by orange coconuts and green palm leaves mingle with a turquoise color paint ubiquitously used on island homes.

There was no color in the model's clothing or backdrop. Rather than filling in a black background, I utilized the vivid color, and created a blonde, beach wave hair style to match the imagined environment.

A few more examples of chalk pastel portraits on painted paper -

chalk pastel & oil paint on printmaking paper

The following images are of chalk pastel portraits done on 30"x22.5" white printmaking paper. 

For this final portrait, my friend Kristin posed outdoors on her patio one beautiful summer evening while the sunlight faded into sunset. The changing light made the process challenging, but added drama. Kristin's eyes appear closed because she was looking down at a book she was reading. I wish I had asked her to look up for a few minutes so I could get her eyes. 

chalk pastel on printmaking paper

I hope you enjoyed visiting my blog.
Some of the drawings pictured are for sale online at my Etsy Shop CynthiaHayesArt. Prices for the others are available upon request. If inquiring, please email me at Cynthia.S.Hayes (at) gmail (dot) com