Shane, In the Grand Manner . 70 x 60 cm
There are some paintings that are so inspiring. The one above by Shane Wolf (http://www.shane-wolf.com/) sets my inner artist on fire. To me it has everything you'd ever want to see or feel in a portrait, and the fact that it's a self portrait makes it even more fascinating and lovely. I keep this portrait in a file on my computer and pull it up to marvel whenever I need a dose of art "goodness" and an ideal to strive for. To see this up close and hi res is really quite incredible and you can truly appreciate Shane's masterful touch. He was kind enough to do an e-mail interview with me, and here's a little something wonderful about Shane Wolf and his work:
What did you learn from your self portrait?
This self portrait was only the 3rd portrait painting I had ever painted (the 1st was a van Dyck copy; the 2nd, was of a friend of mine), so I was still very much learning the basics of how to paint a portrait (and still am). It was an assigned project (while I was still studying at the Angel Academy of Art, Florence) to teach one how to paint in the Grand manner: dark background, dark clothes with a white touch under face, strong illumination. Aside from basic technical learning, I remember becoming very distanced from "the model" . . .it didn't seem as though I was painting myself, but rather someone else. It was only as I was approaching the finishing stages that I would step back and think, "Hm. . .that's me." I've experienced this exact same thing with self portraits I've done since then.
Tell me about your painting space.
I share an awesome studio with another Realist painter in Paris: north light; 15 ft ceilings; 900 sq ft (half is dedicated to figure space, and the other half still life space and a salon); hot in the summer, cold in the winter; in an old factory building that now houses about 14 studios. Beginning this October, I'll be hosting figure drawing & painting and portrait drawing & painting workshops there.
What does it take "every day" to create - do you need quiet, calm, people, noise?
In the studio, when we have a model in pose, there's usually classical music playing, and several people drawing and/or painting from the model. It's a very serene ambiance, conducive to intense study. Outside of model time, we usually switch to some rock, or chill music, or just plain silence. The only music that won't be heard in our studio is country, techno and anything gospel or cathedral sounding!
I usually do my best work when people are around (like the model). Though I also like my alone time to be able to blare the music and really attack my canvas!
I'm a very consistent worker, and I need that to keep moving forward. In Paris, I usually draw/paint 9-10 hours a day, 6 days a week. My intense concentration mode (ie: working with the model) normally lasts for a good 4 hours before I'm totally beat. After that I switch to less intense activity (ie: canvas preparation, anatomy study, sketching, composition, research, etc).There's always something to be done!
Do you have blank canvas fear?
I used to. The feeling still pops up every now and then, but I know myself well enough now that I can push the feeling aside. It dissipates as quickly as it arrives.
Alla prima or layers? Preference?
Finished paintings: layers. Sketches: alla prima. Each is an excellent tool with strengths and weaknesses. The decision is often dictated by the time: only 3 hours with a model. No time for anything BUT alla prima. For my long sustained poses (30 hours of model time), there will be multiple layers throughout the painting. In this self portrait, the only areas that remained from the initial lay-in are the clothes (a few retouches on the edge of the scarf were added though).
Is it "process" or end result for you?
Definitely a process, with a mere "idea" of the end result. As most of us must experience, the end result is hardly ever what you anticipated at the onset. I've always been intrigued by that: the never-ending artistic roller coaster of love-hate, control-abandon and all those seemingly opposing emotions/feelings that come with it all. Good fun!! :-)
Are you a midnight owl with your painting, or do you do your best work in the morning?
I'm a late-morning, late-evening kind of painter. I've never painted a sunrise, and likely never will! My day starts by 9:30 or 10, and I aim to leave the studio around 8PM. I've definitely done the 3AM crunches before, and I don't mind them. . .so long as they are very rare.
Where do you find inspiration?
Paris. When I finished my studies in Florence in 2009, I could have settled anywhere. A valuable lesson I learned while in Florence was that I couldn't be an artist in a city that was living in the shadow of its past. I chose Paris for many reasons, one of which was its fantastic combination of immensely rich art history with a bustling city-vibe that's always on the move, looking for new ideas and challenging the status quo. Paris has proven to be the artistic catalyst for which I was hoping. there are endless art exhibits, concerts, posters, fashions, peoples, etc...and I thrive in it all.
Any shows coming up?
I'm working towards my first big show; the details of which will be forthcoming. I've been developing a large-scale figural series (7.5 ft canvases, larger-than-life nudes) that I hope to complete by Spring 2011.
Thank you Shane for the interview and I'll be looking forward to the announcement of your show.
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