The Making of a Painting – Leon

 

An artwork starts with an idea – what to convey.  Since I strive for ambiguity, I think Leon (above) achieved that goal.

Then decisions about how best to convey that idea.  In my case, it comes down to paint on canvas, color choices, close up or full body image of the figure, placement in the rectangle, whether tools will be brush or palette knife, shiny or matte finish…

All decisions affect the outcome and feel of the artwork.  These choices – i.e., the process – become mere means to an end.  The critical issue remains, “What is the goal?”

I always start with a quick cartoon on blank canvas. Expanding on that, I then add background color on the figure to integrate the figure with its surroundings, and spend the rest of my efforts working on an overall unified piece that results in a stand-alone, wow image never seen before.  In between sessions there is time to dry.  But, I find that overworking can kill an artwork, so less is more.

 

Why I Paint Figures — Bob

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Washington DC artist Leslie Nolan’s “Bob” 18″x14″ acrylic on canvas

I spent 33 years doing national security work for the federal government, travelling and working abroad in unstable, sometimes unsafe locations.  These experiences continue to directly impact my figurative paintings.

As described by Associate Curator Erica Harrison, Greater Reston Arts Center, the figures “seem to be on the fringe of existence, evoking distant thoughts of fleeting memories or dreams.”  It’s inevitable that my life experiences would evoke a general vulnerability of humans, as well as a celebration of resilience and the will to survive.  I find that regardless of culture, education, ethnicity, and social status, people all over the world have the same needs and desires.  They want safety and security. They desire a better life for themselves and their children.  My artwork reflects this universal concern of modern life.

Place a human figure in an image and immediately the picture takes on relevance.  It becomes personal.  It suggests a narrative. It’s open to questions – who, what, where, why, when.  For me, evoking these feelings and questions transforms the image into a deeper exploration of what it means to be human.

 

 

 

 

Rafe and Joao

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Rafe 30″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas by Washington DC-artist Leslie Nolan

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Joao 30″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas by Leslie Nolan, Washington DC

During our cold snap here in Washington, DC over the holidays between visits and dinners and Santa I was able to get in some studio time to do these handsome young men.

Each has style and attitude.  Going for a hip, cool urban vibe, I tried to imbue the subjects with relaxed confidence.  These would be perfect for any home or office setting that needs refreshening.  Happy 2018!

Just Finished Artwork

Gallery

This gallery contains 2 photos.

  Two acrylic-on-canvas paintings with completely different feel and affect.  One, young vital, upright and confident — the other, a study in motion and instability, tentative and anxious.   The colors remain the same, only reversed.  But, gestural brushwork and pose … Continue reading