Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The subject matter that I like the most, the nude human figure, is the one I seem to have the most trouble with and it is my weakest area. I’m pretty good when it comes to drawing the figure but when I go to paint the figure it seems to fall apart on me. I keep going back and forth over how I should approach it. I have a vague sense of what I want to achieve but I still haven’t figured out how to get there. In a way, I don’t know what it is but I know what it isn’t!

This vagueness probably comes from admiring the figurative work of many different artists with varying styles and wanting to emulate them somewhat and to incorporate pieces and parts of their styles into my own work but not quite knowing how to make it work. At the same time it needs to be all of my style. I struggle with keeping the compositions and shapes simple yet giving richness to them.

The painters whose figurative work I admire the most are very different. I have always loved the work of Richard Diebenkorn. The whole Bay Area Figurative movement in San Francisco was still going on when I was in art school. Diebenkorn was the master but Elmer Bischoff was no slouch. In the second generation of that school was Nathan Olivera whose work bordered on the abstract while just retaining the figure. There was also the work of Wayne Thiebaud. His work was bright and bold yet controlled and he laid the paint down in a very luscious way. There are two contemporary artists, Milt Koboyashi and Joseph Lorusso, who both capture contemporary scenes much the same way that Degas and Lautrec did in their time. Both Degas and Mary Cassatt created wonderful works of the human form using pastel. The multiple layers, richness of the colors, and the simpleness of the forms. In the case of Cassatt, I think that her pastel work was really her strength. With Lautrec there was directness and a boldness that I really admire.

These are the artists who have influenced my own figurative work. They are the ones that I come back to over and over again. Still, there are others whose work I enjoy seeing. Lucian Freud, Egon Schiele, Edvard Munch, the German Expressionists, the Fauvists, and many more. The list is long and varied.


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