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Monday, September 26, 2011

Jennifer At Profile

This is a study in oil completed in a single sitting from a figure drawing night at UALR.  I liked it where it stopped.

Friday, September 23, 2011

New Video: Time Lapse Portrait of Krista, video

Here is a new time lapse portrait of my friend Krista. With Broccoli.  The painting is still in progress.  Watch more videos on my youtube channel.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Palindrome Reclined

I spend a lot of time noticing how form repeats itself in nature.  When I look at the human back I often notice that the overlapping muscles of the lower and upper back are nearly a mirror image.  I wondered if I could fool the viewer at first glance that this was a normal reclined figure, the pelvis on the left functioning as the upper torso and shoulders.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the Easel: No Title Yet.

I'm using my imagination a lot more in my process recently in my interpretation of form.  How can I take  my impression of the movements of the figure and push them to where I make you see what I see?  



 Much imagination is also employed here in the placement of shadows too.  



This is a composition I'm working out currently for a painting.  I'm doing a lot more of this lately, which to my surprise I've found extremely gratifying.  It's one of those things you know would help but it sounds boring.  Actually I'm flying through loads of paper just throwing my ideas down and pushing things around.  It's so much fun I've hardly thought of painting in the last week.



Two of my favorite stories as a child were Rip Van Winkle, which I took as literal history (as well as Greek Mythology.) and "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.  Both are definitely in there.

From "Where the Wild Things Are", Illustration by Maurice Sendak


A little help with shadow arrangements using some of my kids' toys.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New Crank Easel



 Someone I don't know literally gave me the easel of my dreams for free.  A friend of my in-laws had it sitting and doesn't seem to have been used.  It was waiting there in Chicago for me where I happened to be going for the weekend.  It was like the movies in which the kid who stares at the guitar in the store window finally gets it.


 It's a Cappelletto Renaissance beechwood crank easel, and came with a special linseed oil for oiling the fancy wood.  It has a palette and paintbox that box that both clip onto the front.  Thank you God, I'll try to do something decent on it.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Laurel Magnolia




"Laurel Magnoilia" began as a response to the painting "Laura" also known as "Portrait of a Young Bride" by Giorgione. I found this portrait strange and captivating. The laurel branches seems to sprout out of her back. At one glance there is strength in her eyes and at another she looks entranced. Researching the painting a bit I learned that the laurel was a reference to Daphne and a symbol of chastity, the exposed breast a sign of her potential for motherhood. On trying to reinterpret the theme, however, the results felt stiff and weak. It just didn't work emotionally for me as a portrait of my own wife. As I reclined her in her feather coat and she struggled to clutch the lapels together she began to look more like Rubens than Giorgione.

"Laurel Magnolia", Oil on linen, 30"x24"

"Laura" by Giorgione, 1505

I have always been a huge fan of the portraits Rubens painted of his wives. He is clearly enraptured by his subject, and the emotion would be unbridled if not for the self-consciousness in the hands. In the Giorgione the gesture of the hand opening the coat is countered by the the disinterested stare away from the painter. Rubens' ladies gaze fully into the painter's eyes while the arms deny full access to the viewer. To me this was a more exciting solution.


"Isabella Brant" by Peter Paul Rubens.  Isabella was Rubens' first wife


"Isabella Brant" by Peter Paul Rubens
While keeping the symbolism of the laurel branches, laurels are native to the mediterranean. It does happen, however, that a "laurel magnolia" tree grows in my front yard in Arkansas, named for its similarity in appearance to the laurel. The magnolia's tough, waxy leaves stay unchanged during the cold months, making it also a symbol of strength and endurance.

"Venus (Helene Fourment) in a Fur Coat" by Peter Paul Rubens.  The second wife of Rubens.
"Portrait of Suzanne Forment" by Peter Paul Rubens.  This is a portrait of Helene's sister, but bears many of the same qualities of his wives' portraits.




Thursday, April 28, 2011

A 1940's Portrait of my Grandfather, Artist Unknown

This is a painting of my dad's father, Carmine Cefalo, known to me as "Grandpop".  It hung on the wall at my grandparents' house from the 40's until very recently, and my uncle now owns it.  I was fascinated by the portrait growing up, and it was an inspiration to me as a young kid who dreamed of becoming an artist.  I always wondered if I could some day paint something like it.  

All anyone knows about it is that it was painted in Italy during World War II, and that my he payed for it with a carton of cigarettes.  Nobody can make much sense of the signature past the first few letters.  It's pretty well painted anyway, and it's great to have a small treasure like this as part of our family history.


The orange light and aloof gaze away from the viewer are interesting to me.  It's fun for me to imagine my grandfather as a young wisecracking tough guy in the Navy.  The eyebrows are great too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An interesting Delaroche Comparison, more Lange Photos

A while ago I posted a few interesting comparisons I've noticed between my painting, "Mother and Child", most notable were some unintentional similarities between my painting and the famous photograph "Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange.

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While looking at some Paul Delaroche paintings online  I found this one called "Young Mother With Children".  I don't believe I've ever seen it, I doubt personally that Lange knew
about it, and I'm certain that Delaroche (1797-1856) didn't know about our work.

This is further evidence to me that the motifs are inside of us, woven into our DNA maybe.

Isn't it interesting that both Delaroche and I decided to light the head and arm the same way?  Both rest their heads on their wrists in a weary, almost mournful gesture.  Both babies slump backward in white clothing in a death-like motion, making the pose at once resemble a Madonna and Child and a Pieta.  All three of our mothers gaze off into an unknown the left disconnected from the child at the breast.





The positioning of the older children on either side of the mother also create a parallel between Lange and Delaroche.  




Since the last post I've come to realize  that the migrant mother is not a single photograph, but part of an entire sequence of photos.  I've posted some more of these below.That's probably an obvious fact to a photography person, but as a painter I forget that in photo a different set of limitations applies.





 All of these Dorothea Lange photos are public domain, and are available here for hi resolution downloads on the library of Congress archives.




Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rembrandt Copy


I still copy the masters now and then. It's a great way to push past the limitations of what you think you know, and an excellent way to work yourself out of an inspirational rut.


This is a copy of a Rembrandt self-portrait I did last year in attempt to learn the way he used heavy impasto with flake white.  In the process I also learned how far he really pushed value progressions for extreme contrast.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coffee Sludgescape: Descent Into an Abyss

Light seems to be emanating from a pool at the bottom and even casting shadows from some of the figures, revealing the craggy brain-like patterns on the walls of the cave. Is the pool the destination or an obstacle they've encountered on their journey?



Friday, January 21, 2011

Braids

One from my extreme color phase, done very soon after a Shanks workshop. It's quite simply a study of light, color, and human skin, and nothing else. It's fairly captivating nonetheless.

Drawing: Old Outsider

More graphite with chalk highlights. A quick study for a Sebastianesque figure that's part of a nine-foot composition that I'm currently working out.

Figure Study

A sketch from the Art Academy of Cincinnati that I did as a demo. I need to work with this kind of directness more often. The fluidity and chunkiness in the paint is delightful.

Drawing: Kelsey

I think this is a graphite drawing with white chalk for highlights. I find it emotionally interesting in the expression and the wisps of hair.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Man Covering Eyes

Another study for "Iconoclast", my Abraham and Isaac interpretation. Again, I'm borrowing strongly from the Roman sculpture "Laocoon and His Sons", part of the Vatican collection.



Laocoon, The Vatican

Lauren Standing

One of my favorite drawings from my old Cincinnati sketchgroup. To me there is a very old world expression in the head that I love, as well as a directness and economy of line. It's a graphite on two sketchbook pages which I later glued together.

Blindfold Sketch, Iconoclast, and Cupid Chastised

Here's a sketch for the Isaac figure in my painting, "Iconoclast". Although I didn't realize it, I was most certainly drawing from the memory of my favorite painting at the Chicago Art Institute, Bartolomeo Manfredi's "Cupid Chastised".


Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cupid Chastised (detail)

Bartolomeo Manfredi, Cupid Chastised

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I am a painter. www.StephenCefalo.com, http://twitter.com/#!/CefaloStudio