Monday, May 03, 2010

Work In Progress #1 - Tree Bark

Tree Bark by Lon S. Cohen. Pastel on paper. 19 3/4" x 25 1/2".

This is part 1 in a Work In Progress.

This is a work in progress. I'm tackling a pretty complex piece (at least for me). It's going to be a close up of tree bark that will fill the entire paper. There's lots of details and color changes. At this first step I'm sketching out the small sections of bark. There's a lot of detail. I know I'm going to use the sketch as a guide only. I want to get a feel for the transitions between sections of bark and how it flows on the tree. I'll probably cover most of this with the underpainting of pastel but I like to have this as a guide to where the color changes will be.

In the printouts of bark I did from my online research and from observations I made on trees in my backyard I am starting to envision that there will be a lot of color in this painting. There's gray, green, blue and pink in the bark. While most people will think of brown for tree bark I'm trying to do more with the color. In the end, there will definitely be a lot of brown, no doubt, but I want to bring out lots of other natural colors that emerge.

We will see. It's a pretty complicated design and I'm already kicking myself for attempting it. At some point, I will probably want to quit in frustration but I will have to push through to see it to the end. With a project like this there will be a lot of working at it, reworking when something is not coming out and then ultimately complete satisfaction when I suddenly resolve a problem that seems difficult and daunting. That's one of the joys in the process and it's well worth tackling a piece that pushes you out of your comfort level.

If it doesn't turn out exactly as I envisioned, that's OK too. I will have learned something and probably improved my technique. Every painting is an opportunity to learn, even if in the end you're not totally happy with the results, you can use that experience in the next project.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pastel Painting Of A Lion

Lion by Lon S. Cohen. Pastel on paper. 19 3/4" x 25 1/2" 2010.

I did this one from my usual source, a book that is basically an encyclopedia about animals. I love leafing through the big book for ideas on my next animal to paint. I usually support the image with others I find on the internet or pictures of my own that I've taken at the zoo.

Available for sale.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Drawing From Almost Nothing.

Imagine having to sketch a creature by description only or worse yet by fossil evidence and a best guess. A very hard thing to do. That's what scientists have asked a couple of artists to do, draw what might have been based on some old bones and genetic leftovers. It's one thing to let your mind play when creating fantastical creatures that are amalgams of real life animals that you can visit or see in a book or on the web but it's another to be commissioned to draw a thing that hasn't lived in millions of years and no one knows what it looks like.

A New York Times article, "Artists Mine Scientific Clues to Paint Intricate Portraits of the Past," describes just that. Scientists enlisted artists to give life to their discoveries, helping to communicate visually what they have discovered scientifically. A good read.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Anyone who knows me or has read one of my many rants on Twitter or on my blogs about this subject knows it's near and dear to my heart. The New York Times ran an article about legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby's family suing Disney and Marvel for rights (and profits) from his artistic output. You know, little known characters like Iron Man, Hulk, Fanatstic Four and X-Men who have made a little money for the Marvel entertainment recently. (Perhaps you've heard of them?) Anyway, Disney's huge purchase of Marvel Entertainment meant that Kirby's lawyer sprang into action. He's the same lawyer who sued DC for the Shuster and Speigel families for rights (and money) from their iconic creation, Superman.

It's my pet peeve: Artists who are not fairly compensated for their work especially by big corporations making $billions off said artwork.

Read the article here.

Thirty Something Curators Are Helping To Define Art For A New Generation

A good multimedia article on The New York Times website highlights four young curtators who speak about their careers and the influences in upcoming shows. Of course, my favorite is Rejendra Roy, curator for the Museum of Modern Art talking about his Tim Burton exhibit. Anyone who knows me knows I think Burton is a genius designer and movie maker. But the point of the story is that these curators, in their thirties are now influencing the way New Yorkers view art through their lens. There's a special magazine section story that goes along with the short audio and slide show. What I like most is to see people of my generation now affecting how millions view art from a not so standard background and defining art for the next generation of viewers.