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Head sketch, oil on linen, 25cm x 35cm

Head sketch, oil on linen, 25cm x 35cm

Participating in the Grand Central Academy’s Portrait Sketch Competition was very positive.  The energy that New York City embodies along with the American ‘can do’ idealism was a welcome change to a cynical and culturally languishing Europe.

It was great to meet fellow artists and not only compete but observe the different approaches to creating art.  Everyone was very nice and the group was solid, talented and extremely competent.  I look forward to keeping in contact and following there work in the future.

Sketch head, oil on linen, 20cm x 25cm

Sketch head, oil on linen, 20cm x 25cm

The experience gave me certain insights into the contemporary american approach to figurative oil painting.  Definitely it can be said that the nineteenth century, impressionism and the golden age of american illustration greatly influence its philosophy towards image-making.

Living in Italy for the greater part of the last 20 years, I have followed a different route building directly upon the works that I admire from the ancients, the Renaissance and the seventeenth century.  My interests included the large decorative cycles that are only found in Europe, Italy in particular.

Detail

Detail

A painter’s philosophy is ultimately his technique.  Through which his/her vision is articulated.  I was the only artist in the competition that prepared his own colors, medium, and supports.  In fact I was the only one who used a historic medium.  (There may be some validity to that as my medium didn’t quite work as I had wished.)  My palette was much more limited than the others as well.

I adjusted my usual medium so it would work more rapidly, i.e., set up more quickly.  It worked perfectly in Italy.  Unfortunately, I never even took into consideration the air conditioning in the US.  The temperature change slowed down the medium considerably.  My brushes didn’t even dry overnight.  Despite these setbacks, I enjoyed the intense schedule.

I did make a couple of other observations on my fellow artist’s work.  Everyone almost uniformly did not attempt to go for the full value range in nature.   The tonal variety was always compressed.  There also seems to be a sketch style where the artist, very cleverly, leaves out information altogether or hides parts within very active and attractive brushwork.

It is interesting and important to note the differences in approach.  As strongly as my fellow artists in the States look to emulate and learn from their post enlightenment heros, I feel there still is plenty to learned from the Masters that predate the nineteenth century.