Thursday, June 29, 2006


ink and pastel
8.5" x 6.1" (21.6 cm x 15.5 cm)

Johanna Toth. June 19, 2006.

After recently looking at some restrained work by William Nicholson a drawing by Winnipeg artist and illustrator, Johanna Toth, might be in order.

A friend, when he saw this drawing, asked, " What's happening with that blue leg?" What indeed?

The model for this drawing is the same model who appears in several other posts:

Woman with Glasses, May 15
Standing Figure, May 12
Body with Tattoos, May 9
Dragon, March 11

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Man Sleeping
11" x 15" (27.9 cm x 38.1 cm)

At least the sofa's not blue.

By the way, is it a sofa, a couch, or a chesterfield? And does anyone but
Canadians use the word "chesterfield"?

The model didn't seem concerned what we called it, as long as he got to use it. The pose was actually the artists' choice, not the model's, although he made no objection.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Here are two more works by William Nicholson, Sir William Nicholson, 1872-1949:

The first is a lithograph of Sarah Bernhardt. Apparently Nicholson first made his reputation with graphic work, and it is easy to see why. The litho is simple, strong, and graphically appealing.

The second work is a portrait. Nicholson's portraits, especially his later portraits, are probably his best work. This portrait of J.M.Barrie, author of the play, Peter Pan, is an early piece painted in 1904.

Nicholson was obviously a very competent artist, and yet there is something just a little dull about his work, even his best. In this regard his work reminds me of that of many of the leading illustrators of the period - wonderfully skillful, but somehow not as exciting as it could have been. Competence, or skill, or rather the desire to be seen as competent or skillful, might be part of the problem. It may have played too great a part in Nicholson's life and art, and while we admire competence and skill it is not everything in art. A little lack of competence might have gone a long way.

Sarah Bernhardt

lithograph on paper
9.37" x 9.25" (23.8 cm x 235 cm)

1899. From Twelve Portraits. William Nichloson (1872-1949).

Portrait of Sir James Barrie

oil on canvas on board
12.9" x 16.1" (32.7 cm x 40.8 cm)

1904. William Nicholson (1872-1949).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Check out two new links for the fashion conscious or unconscious, A Dress A Day and The Sartorialist. Also, for the fashion conscious, William Nicholson's Miss Simpson's Boots (1919), the first of Saturday, June 24th's posts.

I thought that it might be interesting to compare what Nicholson was doing in 1919 with something that Picasso was also doing in 1919. A still life by Picasso is the first of Monday, June 26th's posts. The Nicholson looks several decades older than 1919 in comparison to the Picasso, which looks, well, like 1919. Still, I think that I prefer the Nicholson, and this despite being a great admirer of Picasso.
ink and oil
6.58" x 13" (16.7 cm x 33.0cm)

The model seemed determined right from the beginning of the session not to put in a hard evening's work. She proceeded straight to the blue sofa, which she prepared much in the way a cat prepares an area before lying down, fluffing the sofa up until it met with her satisfaction. Then it was lights out while the artists struggled to do whatever it is that they do.

Nature morte devant une fenêtre

tempera on paper
6.9" x 4.3" (17.5 cm x 11 cm)

Paris, 1919. Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973).

The On-line Picasso Project has an extensive archive of Picasso's works covering his entire career.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Man With Arms Raised

graphite, ink, and watercolour
12" x 9" (30.5 cm x 22.9 cm)

This is very much a studio drawing or painting, which developed without a plan into this almost monochromatic study.

The model is one of Winnipeg's best, someone who can hold a pose for a long time without moving or complaining, as well as someone who brings enthusiasm and what can best be described as professionalism to the job.

Poses such as the one in the drawing are never comfortable. The cloth, on which the model is standing, is covering a small pillow. The pillow is there to relieve the pressure on the foot.

Miss Simpson's Boots

oil on canvas
20.5" x 28.25" (52.1 cm x 71.8 cm)

Painted 1919. William Nicholson (1872-1949).

I know little of Nichloson, except that he could certainly paint boots.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Model Wearing a Hat
graphite, ink, and charcoal
7.625" x 11.67" (19.4 cm x 29.6 cm)

For something different, the model decided to wear a big floppy hat. The hat combined with the simplification of the face give this drawing the look of some fashion illustration, although in this case there is no fashion to illustrate, except the hat.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Man on His Back
graphite, ink, and charcoal
14" x 17" (35.8 cm x 43.2 cm)

Nothing too exciting about this drawing. A fairly quick study.

The model seemed to particularly enjoy the experience of modelling. If the model enjoys the experience, chances are that the artists will as well.

This is the same model as in the drawing posted on June 6th.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mark Reading

graphite, ink, and charcoal
14" x 17" (35.8 cm x 43.2 cm)

The model is Winnipeg artist, Mark Kosatsky.

Mark does some wonderful work. I particularly like his portraits, "charmingly naive" as Mark describes them, or disarmingly good as I describe them. Unfortunately, I do not have as example of his portraiture, but I do have one of his landscapes. It is shown below.

The Abandoned Land

acrylic on paper
17.5" x 16" (44.5 cm x 40.1 cm)

2005. Mark Kosatsky.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

E. on the Blue Sofa
11" x 15" (28 cm x 38.1 cm)

The blue sofa strikes again.

Although it does not show in the painting, the model looked very much like a young Audrey Hepburn, and she reminded you of the type of girl Audrey Hepburn used to play in her early films, such as Funny Face or Sabrina.

The model has since abandoned Winnipeg. She pulled a Kafka on us, and is now lost in Prague.

As an antidote to my own nudes and the nude study by Alfred Munnings posted Monday, June 19th, immediately below is a nude by Jean Dubuffet.

Corps de Dame--Château d'Étoupe

oil on canvas
45.062" x 34.437" (114.4 cm x 87.5 cm)

1950. Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985). Allen Memorial Art Musuem, Oberlin College, Ohio.

How can you not love a nude like this? It's interesting that Dubuffet called this work Corps de Dame as opposed to Corps de Femme.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Orange Girl
graphite, ink, and gouache
9.9" x 17" (25.1 cm x 43.2 cm)

Below, in the previous post, there is a painting by Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) which I came across by accident. It is an academic study, but a good one, probably done from life. It is the sort of thing that was required of art students in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The study of the human figure and how to represent it is still a part of most higher art education today, although intensive study, the kind Munnings probably went through, is rare today.

A study of a male nude in Julian's atelier, Paris
oil on canvas
32.4" x 26" (82.4 cm x 66.0 cm)

Painted 1902. Alfred Munnings (1878-1959). The Sir Alfred Munnings Musuem, Dedham, Essex.

Munnings seems an odd artist. This painting is about as good a piece of work as any he produced, and yet it was done when he was twenty-four and still a student. As he matured, he devoted most of his time to painting sporting scenes, hounds and horses, which made his reputation and his fortune. Stanley Barker and the Pytchley Hounds (below) is typical of Munnings' sporting paintings. Munnings was knighted and for a while President of the Royal Academy. Perhaps it was getting married in 1920 that did him in. His wife said of him,
"He was never such a good artist after he married me. He had establishments to keep up and more expenses to meet. It meant painting for money."
Pity poor Alfred.

Stanley Barker and the Pytchley Hounds
oil on canvas

I do not know the date of this painting, but I would guess that it was done in the 1920's or 1930's. After Alfred married.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Blue Sofa
11"x 15" (28 cm x 38.1 cm)

This sofa is a favorite of models, as are sofas the world over, any sofa, wherever there are artists and models and sofas. The sofa is not actually blue, but a dirty white. It is covered with a blue sheet.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Below is another of Alice Neel's portraits.

Linda Nochlin and Daisy 1970
oil on canvas
55.5" x 44" (141 cm x 111.8 cm)

Alice Neel (1900-1984). Musuem of Fine Arts, Boston.

Alice Neel was born in 1900 in a small town outside Philadelphia. In 1921, she enrolled in the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art and Design). In 1925, Neel married the Cuban painter Carlos Enriquez; the couple lived in Havana, where Neel gave birth to their first daughter, Santillana, who died of diphtheria one year later. Neel and Enriquez moved to New York in 1927, where she bore her second child, Isabetta. The next few years brought a series of hardships, including the end of her marriage, separation from her daughter, a nervous breakdown, a suicide attempt, and the destruction of her work by a jealous lover. In 1938, Neel moved uptown to Spanish Harlem, where she raised two sons--Richard, born in 1939, and Hartley, born in 1941--and where she lived and worked for the next 20 years.
Details of Neel's early years in Cuba and New York City have, until now, remained obscure. Employed by the W.P.A. during the Great Depression, Neel painted scenes of the city streets, including the impoverished and the homeless. Her paintings of the 1930s also initiated a lifelong exploration of portraiture, the form for which she is best known. Her evolution over the next five decades reflects a commitment to depict the world with compassion, acuity, and freedom.Neel's revelatory paintings from the decades between 1930 and 1960 shed new light on the body of work for which she is most famous: the portraits created in the last two decades of her life. Many of these portraits document the vibrant art world of which she suddenly found herself a celebrated member. She painted the poets, artists, performers and critics she knew, including Frank O'Hara, Robert Smithson, Faith Ringgold, Marisol, Jackie Curtis, and Meyer Schapiro, as well as her famous and haunting portrait of Andy Warhol (1970), whom she depicted shirtless, exposing the scars from the attempt made on his life. Neel's keen observation and sense of the uncanny are equally powerful
in her still lifes and interiors, such as the unexpected image of a capon defrosting in the sink (Thanksgiving, 1965).

In the 1970s, Neel became a celebrity, an enormously popular public speaker, and appeared twice on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. Her paintings continued to present a disconcerting blend of intimacy and monumentality. Referring to her portraits, she paraphrased Gogol, and called herself "a collector of souls." A few months before her death in 1984, while discussing her portraits with Henry Geldzahler in Interview, Neel responded to the description of her as a "translator" by saying, "That's what I really am, yes. A sympathetic, or sometimes not so sympathetic translator.

"The Art of Alice Neel", Whitney Musuem of American Art.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Man Looking to the Side
ink and charcoal
11.5" x 8.4" (29.3 cm x 21.3 cm)

A fairly academic looking drawing, except perhaps for the pronounced cowlick of the model. The pose was twenty-five minutes.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


graphite, ink, charcoal, and conté
12.25" x 11" (31.5 cm x28 cm)

The model for the drawing was a young student.

The drawing was done on watercolour paper, which is rather unsympathetic to charcoal and conté. This accounts for the rough appearance of the shading.

The foreshortened hand and forearm were a particular problem, and still do not look quite right.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Beer Bottle

11.25" x 6.43" (28.6 cm x 16.3 cm)

This painting was done using inexpensive poster paint, which accounts for the chalky appearance. These paints have their limitations, but they can be fun to use.