Making Introductions

I’ve been interested in art since I was small. I used to sketch all the time but when I got to college, I focused more on drawing and found my niche. I studied under Michael Molnar, Susan Sponenberg and George Schelling, to name a few.

Molnar gave me the direction to pursue fine art. I studied under Anthony Waichulis for more than two years, gaining a solid foundation in traditional realistic representation. I’m currently a graphic designer for The Citizens? Voice newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.

I’ve been in various group shows in New York City and Richmond, Va., as well as many local venues. In 2002, I won an award at two group shows and in 2003, had a solo show and a three-man show. I was recently awarded an invitational exhibition from at the Art Association of Harrisburg, Penn.

A number of media?charcoal, pastel, watercolor and oil?can be manipulated to create my style of work. I mainly paint still lifes and trompe l’oeil, but am starting to study portraiture and landscapes.

Tye One On (below) was a commissioned piece that I had free rein on, as the patron merely wanted something dealing with saltwater fly-fishing. So I researched the subject and learned that fly-tying is an art within itself. It gave me an appreciation for it and all that’s involved in the various methods.

I started the piece with a drawing in graphite on a neutral ground. Using both photo reference and actual pieces of the still life, I examined all the aspects and problems that could occur. Next, I set up my palette using broken color. I get more flexibility that way, but sometimes I do prepare premixed colors.

For the background, the main color was lampblack and raw umber. Mixed together, they created a nice flat background and also dried faster than mixing straight lampblack. Next, I mixed the smaller spots of color that appear in the background. I used two layers for opacity. Since the background was out of focus, I painted the midground slightly more in focus. Later, I returned to the background for some touch-ups and to soften the midground. I was able to create abstract shapes and shadows to make the aerial perspective work in this piece.

On the plastic case for the lures, I worked with a white and raw umber mixture. On the second layer, I used more of a straight white and thinned some of the whites with Liquin to create the look of clear plastic. I also used some raw umber for shadows in and outside of the case. To create the look of black metal on the reel I used a mixture of lampblack, alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue. I used alizarin crimson on the outer rim of the highlights and titanium white on the inner part.

I created the fur by building it up using combinations of burnt sienna, raw umber and yellow ochre. Then using a kolinsky brush, I moved the paint ever so lightly to mimic fur. When this area dried, I applied a thinned white to the highlighted areas. For the fly vise I used ivory black, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and burnt umber. This gave the vise a more realistic appearance and helped contrast the lamp. It also took the longest to dry. I then used titanium white for the highlights and alizarin crimson on the outer rim of the highlights.

For the foreground of the tabletop and where the vise is holding, I used a mixture of raw umber, titanium white and yellow ochre. It took longer to build up the whites for the tye itself and also the strains. I had to really understand what was going on, the way it spread out from the tension that starts in front or nose end of the tye.

On the dangling spool of thread, I used a thinned out white. For the body of the spool and for the thread, I used yellow, yellow ochre and burnt sienna. The highlight was done with titanium white and the shadow was done with raw umber and some thinned-out lampblack.

The difficulty in painting this work was mostly creating fur, feathers, plastics, blued metal and other small details. I also had to deal with the black drying too slowly in some areas. But overall it was a very good way to learn new techniques for softening edges and creating an illusion of space.

Paintings like Tye One On might remind the viewer of a part of their life, a memory. My goal in creating art is to either introduce the viewer to something or to reintroduce them to it.

I’m currently working on harvest still lifes for autumn and a hydroponics still life involving spider plants. Most of the pieces I create have a story or two about them. Some have historical insight, while others describe life in its odd and sometimes funny ways.

Tye One On (oil, 11×14) was a finalist in the still life category of TAM’s 2003 annual art competition.

Juliette Aristides is teh classical atelier instructor at the Seattle Academy of Fine Art.

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