Monday, October 4, 2010

Realist Art Around Philadelphia -Martha Mayer Erlebacher at Seraphin Gallery

Cycle of Life, Air : Childhood by Martha Erlebacher
Oil on canvas, 64 x 64

Martha Mayer Erlebacher was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1937. Trained originally in Abstract Expressionism, Erlebacher (along with her husband Walter) broke from this school in the late 60’s and quickly became recognized as one of the leading representational figurative and still-life artists in America. She regularly shows her work nationally and internationally and her work has been featured in many books and periodicals. Erlebacher’s work examines the deep metaphorical and social themes of contemporary culture through her painterly and aesthetic images. She currently works and lives in the Philadelphia area.

The Cycle of Life, Fire: Youth by Martha Erlebacher
oil on canvas, 64 x 80

The Cycle of Life, Water : Old Age by Martha Erlebacher
oil on canvas, 64 x64

Flora by Martha Erlebacher
oil on canvas, 22x22

"Flora (2004), is an allegorical portrait of a beautiful young woman with folded one hand, Flora holds a white vase-like calla lily, in the other, a sheaf of long, green, spear-like leaves, which she formally presents to the viewer. For the artist these symbols represent both the destructive and vital powers of nature. The calla lily is the symbolic flower of death.... The formal pose of Flora and the heart-shaped face and the iconography suggest a source of inspiration in Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera (c. 1482) and the goddess Flora, clothed in a flower-covered gown. The image is both pagan and spiritual, neoclassical and organic, reflecting the twin themes of Erlebacher’s oeuvre of the last forty years. Throughout her long career Erlebacher has sought to connect her art to what is lasting and timeless. Through her devotion to realism she approaches nature and the human figure; through carefully composed neoclassical compositions and mythological narratives she reconnects to the Western cultural tradition. Flora is a successful fusion of the two themes" ( Newington-Crospey Cultural Studies Center).

Looking at Erlebacher's show at the Seraphin Gallery, I was amazed at the ambitious scale of her pieces and I immediately wanted to paint a really large canvas with images from my entire life. Her paintings brought to mind an unusual combination of feelings and references for me: Odd Nerdrum, Bo Bartlett, Gustav Klimt, Greek and Roman Friezes, Freud and Jung, dreams that I can't quite remember. Images of people and stages in my life filled my thoughts as I marveled at her paintings; my childhood, marriage, my own children, my parents getting old; I also felt an overwhelming combination of emotions while looking at her "Cycle of Life" series: hope, passion, love, pain and loss. I couldn't decide, as I stood there mesmerized, if I felt young or old. I felt connected to something bigger than all of us, that continues in spite of us. I wonder what reactions other people have her work. If you've seen this or any of her other shows, I'd love to hear what your reaction was.

Seraphin Gallery
1108 Pine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 923 7000
Show Ends October 31,2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Inspiring Figures: American Women & Figurative Art -Philadelphia artists

Judy by Ellen Cooper
46"x32", oil on linen

Claude and Pamela Frank by Alexandra Tyng
52" x 48", oil on linen

Several Philadelphia artists, in addition to Studio Incamminati artists Leona Shanks and Lea Wight (see previous post), are also in this exhibition currently at the Butler Institute of Art in Youngstown, Ohio. The show runs through October 31, 2010. Lea Wight and Ellen cooper will be participating in a panel discussion on Saturday, October 8, at 10:00 am.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Realist Art Around Philadelphia

"Feather Dusters" by Carlo Russo, 18" x 38", oil on linen

Fan Gallery at 221 Arch Street in Old City Philadelphia is currently featuring the work of local artist Carlo Russo. The show is primarily still life paintings.

Carlo Russo
Recent Paintings
September 3rd — 25th, 2010
Hours: Wednesday — Sunday 12-6 p.m.

"Still Life with Green and Gray", 19" x 29", oil on linen

"Still Life with Miao Garments", 26"x38", oil on linen

Carlo was recently a featured artist in the spring edition of American Painting Video Magazine. To see more of his work visit

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inspiring Figures: American Women in Figurative Art at the Butler Institute of American Art

The Hero by Leona Shanks
Oil On Linen
30 x 40

The grand prize for the juried competition went to Studio Incamminati co-founder Leona Shanks!

Waiting by Lea Wight
Oil on canvas
42 x 38

Waiting by Studio Incamminati instructor Lea Wight was also juried into the exhibition.

Two additional images of figurative work by Leona Shanks are included below. To see more of her work, visit her website at

Self Portrait by Leona Shanks 26 x 18

The Guardian by Leona Shanks 28 x 26

Sep 12, 2010 Through Oct 31, 2010
Inspiring Figures: American Women & Figurative Art

Work by American female artists past and present will be exhibited together in a celebration of American women portraying the human figure. Organized by the Portrait Society of America, the exhibit features Butler historic works as well as works by acclaimed contemporary artists in combination with artwork selected from a juried competition. Inspiring Figures is an educational exhibit with programs includes podcasts, films, workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and family programming.

Watch the video on Inspiring Figures by clicking here

The show is sponsored by the Cecelia Beaux Forum of the Portrait Society of America and the Butler Institute of American Art. The following activities are planned in conjunction with the show at the Butler Institute:

Women & Art Series:
Free Family Day:
Sunday, September 19, 2010 • 1:30 pm FREE, no reservations needed
Portrait Academy with Judith Carducci & Dawn Whitelaw:
Friday, September 24 and Saturday, September 25 • Registration needed
Friday, 1-4 pm portrait painting demonstration – Dawn Whitelaw (Zona
Saturday, 9 am-4 pm all day workshop and instruction with Judith Carducci &
Dawn Whitelaw, portrait painting from live models (Butler North)
Cost: $159 for Friday and Saturday or $45 for Friday afternoon demo only
Registration: Call toll-free 1-877-772-4321

Friday & Saturday, October 8 & 9 • 1-4 pm each day • FREE, Pre-registration
Friday, 1-2 pm Guest Lecturer (TBA) followed by film "Who Does She Think She
Is" (Zona Auditorium)
Saturday 10-11:30 am panel discussion, 4 artists from the exhibition (TBA)
11:30 am-1:00 pm break/view exhibition/lunch (Winslow’s CafĂ©)
1:00-3:30 pm portrait painting demonstration - Judith Carducci (Zona Auditorium)

For more information contact the Butler Institute
524 Wick Avenue,
Youngstown, Ohio 44502

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Darren Kingsley wins drawing competition

Darren Kingsley: Grand Prize, Apelles

Congratulations to Studio Incamminati instructor Darren Kingsley for winning the grand prize at Grand Central Academy's first annual drawing competition in August. Participants were juried into the competition, and spent one week drawing a long pose in graphite.

Eva by Darren Kingsley 20 x 16

A graphite drawing demonstration by Darren is currently featured in the summer edition of Michael Klein's American Painting Video Magazine. The video magazine, available quarterly, features two hours of interviews and demonstrations by various prominent contemporary artists, and is downloadable online at the AVPM web site.

Melissa by Darren Kingsley 20 x 16

Self Portrait-Winter '07 14 x 18

Mark 14 x 18

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Identifying and Understanding Your Creative Intentions

During our Advanced Portrait Workshop Teaching Fellows Lea Wight and Stephen Early gave a wonderful evening presentation about their work. They used their artwork and personal experiences as professional artists to address issues vital to every artist, including transitioning from student work to personal work, identifying and understanding your creative intentions, and recognizing when a painting concept is revealing itself and when an idea is transforming. This post shows work that Lea presented and some of her ideas.
Lea presented her work in categories, beginning with "People". She included the following pieces, and included an excerpt from a song by Susan Vega:

"Bound up in wire and fate
watching her walk him up to the gate
in front of the ironbound school yard.

Kids will grow like weeds on a fence
She says they look for the light they try to make sense.
They come up through the cracks
Like grass on the tracks
She touches him goodbye."

"Waiting" 42 x 32

Lea talked about her inspiration for the painting "Waiting", as that time in a young adult's life when they begin to really be independent, and are doing adult things such as going to appointments and making adult decisions and yet, the model in this painting is wearing gloves that are attached by a string, which is something a child would wear. She is able to wear something childish because she has, in fact, become an adult and is not feeling vulnerable to being thought of as a child. Lea said she was inspired by her own children's lives and their transition into adulthood. To me this painting brings together personal significance for the artist with universal significance by describing the passage that all children go through as they transition into adulthood.

"The Muse" 30 x 30

"Au Pair" 26 x 42

The next category she presented was "Home". Included was an excerpt of the following poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

THE ROOM is full of you!—As I came in

And closed the door behind me, all at once

A something in the air, intangible,

Yet stiff with meaning, struck my senses sick!—

"Running Out" 18 x 24

Lea talked about her feelings about her still life paintings, and the idea that a still life is about the people who are not there. This feeling is described in Millay's poem.

"Guest Room" 24 x 18

"On the Porch" 18 x 18

"The Bed" 14 x 18

"Last Summer" 18 x 18

"The Arrival" 32 x 24

She included her painting "The Wedding", a painting of fellow instructor Robin Frey's wedding dress. Lea talked about the symbolism of the rack the dress is hanging on, and how this reflects aspects of the attachment of marriage, and the shadow behind the dress, and how its shape reminded her of a dress that a young woman might wear, in a stage of life before she is married.

"The Wedding" 50 x 30

"Duckboat Shed" was the last category. Lea talked about the personal nature of inspiration for this painting; her family's involvement with boats since her childhood, her personal experiences going to this boat shed near her grandmother's house when she was growing up, and her brother's boats which were kept here. This painting is layered with personal meaning for her. I found that although I did not know all of this, I could feel the depth of feeling that the artist experienced with this painting, this comes across to me. Maybe this is an expression of the universal in the personal.

"Duckboat Shed" 20 x 22

To see more of Lea's work to

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Still Life Workshop with Kerry Dunn

This five day workshop explored the building stages of a painting from beginning to finish. Still life is ideal for this type of study because it provides a subject and a light source that are constant. The first day students set up individual still life arrangements and executed painting thumbnails in order to determine the composition for the final painting. On day two students begin the final painting which they had four days to develop. Each morning Kerry worked on a demo painting from 9 to 10:30 A.M.

The first painting stage consists of the initial grisaille where drawing and proportion are strictly observed. Here is Kerry's demo of a grisaille and color block-in. Notice how the grisaille is painted gesturally, with energy and freedom.

Subsequent stages move into the full color block-in where abstract value and color relationships are established and adjusted. The larger-to-smaller shape principle is observed as we move through this process.

Demo of the beginning stage of the painting: color block-in. The shapes are simple and clear.

Here is an image of Kerry's set up with his demo painting. There is one light source, a simple clip light hidden behind the painting.

The demo set up has a clear separation of light and shadow on the objects and background.

Class discussions centered on the concept of light on form, establishing value and color parameters, edge development, paint handling, focal points, and determining when a work is considered complete. Above is a demo of a ball illustrating the effect of light on form, and the component parts. The lights on the ball are conceptualized as bands, which become broader as they are nearer to the light source.

These two images show students working on their still life paintings.
To see more of Kerry Dunn's work, go to

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Form Painting with Steve Early and Darren Kingsley - week two

Here are some images from the second session (week 2) of the Form Painting Workshop at Studio incamminati. Students worked on two figure studies during the week; one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Instructor Darren Kingsley (right) assisting a student.

Instructor Stephen Early assisting a student with her painting.

To see more of the instructors work, please visit their web sites,,

"Terrill" by Darren Kingsley

"Emma" by Steve Early

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Form Painting with Steve Early and Darren Kingsley

In this workshop students learn the principles essential to transform abstract flat shapes into fully dimensional forms and create a sense of light on the figure. Students concentrate on painting the figure with a full range of values and on developing the ability to make accurate value calibrations. The focus is on structure, anatomy, proportion, light direction, edge conditions, abstract movements through the figure, composition and an understanding of form on the figure. These concepts are executed through an application of opaque and semi-opaque paint in the light and shadow areas. This also enables the student to develop painting skills such as scumbling, feathering, and texture. Control of the paint is a priority and is essential to achieving the required goals.

Steve and Darren demonstrate daily during the workshop. This is the beginning of their demo.

Paints used include burnt umber for the grisaille (initial monochromatic painting), and a mixture of cadmium red, cadmium yellow, titanium white and a small amount of ivory black for the light mixture (closed grisaille). The main color used for the lights is adjusted and varied to create value changes and to develop form.
Steve's demo in progress (above), and completed demo (below.)