top of page
  • Writer's pictureHelen C


Saturday, I went to a Modigliani exhibition at the Barnes with some friends and was excited as I've never really spent time truly looking at his work before. When I asked my other "art history impaired" grad school friend if she knew who he was she responded "oh the guy with the long faces". So that was also my base line knowledge of his work as I was walking in. I began to analyze the way he painted facial features as that is all I think about right now, was trained to think about this past summer. Yellow on the forehead, red in the cheeks, blue on the chin. From bottom to the top of the face: light, lighter, lightest. Finding the right proportions in the face, down and across, and making sure regardless of which way the face is turned, all of the features are parallel (eyes, nose, mouth) to each other. Proportion wise...he definitely doesn't follow any of the academic rules. His noses are hilariously long...and I'm guilty of making my noses on people too long. I have to actively plan to make them too short as I start sketching them out because I know they just start to get longer as I begin to paint. I really liked this first portrait they had in the exhibition when you walked in. Modig (as my friend called him) contoured his face really stylistically with some harsh drawing lines (didn't blend too much which I hate) and had a lot of bright colors, warm and cool, throughout the planes of the face which activated my mind and made me almost less interested in who the person was and more so how the face was painted and all the colors! Oops. Where my mind is at now.

Also, before grad school, in one of my representational painting classes, we had to begin each class by priming our canvas with a mid tone grey acrylic paint. This was for balancing out the value so when we began painting, the darks didn't seem to dark on a white background and then on a grey background, you could see how light a white/light value actually might not appear as powerful on a white background. When reading the plaques, I found it cool that he did the same thing. An age old technique. I don't know if I'm going to keep priming my canvases with these midtone greys (I've been on and off doing it during grad school, but when I go to teach, I think it's a great way to introduce value to students in painting)

Also, I've been curious about how "weird" I want to get with painting body parts...proportions. Some parts of my figure and faces look fairly accurate and some are wonky. I appreciated how strangely he painted hands (they kind of look like the hands I painted in a recent piece).

That's all for now. This is a song I was listening to yesterday in my studio when I was working on an animation project. Animation is definitely not my go to medium, but I figured...hey, I'm in grad school. Try something new! So here I am. making paper puppets and working on the weirdest project I've indulged in while in grad school. But maybe it will inform other decisions I make in the painting process? I love the violin and get to play the background track for the video which I'm stoked for. But here is the song I had on repeat:

35 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page