Gallery Opening Tonight and Tomorrow

Preview Reception: Oct. 5, 5:30-7:30PM
Public Opening, First Thursday: Oct. 6, 6:00-8:00PM

New Paintings by Thomas K. ConwayPulliam Gallery
929 NW Flanders St.
Portland, OR 97209.

I posted images on my website as well. Though a couple of them need updating– There’s a terrible glare on the Vermeer in that photo and the anatomy lesson is unevenly lit (bottom right is too dark). So come see them in person!

I’ll post detail shots soon.

Vermeer in Progress

This is a photo taken while working on The Last Judgement painting in the background of Vermeer’s Woman Holding a Balance. (And please keep in mind that everything in my painting is still very much in progress at this point.) As I’ve mentioned previously, working from reproductions is difficult because you don’t know which one is accurate. Vermeer's Lady Holding a Balance, trompe l'oeil in progress by Thomas ConwayWhen I started this series I decided to simply pick whichever version I thought looked best. Since I haven’t seen these paintings in person, that was really the only option.

A helpful trick, I’ve found, is to use a few different reproductions, each with varying contrast. Some pictures being lighter than others gives me the most information possible. I figure, if the reproduction can pick up details in one version which are absent in another– clearly, those details are present in the painting. Though they may exist only subtly in my finished painting, I feel that their presence lends a sort of authenticity which would otherwise be missed.

Brushes (a retraction)

I previously recommended two brushes, Blick’s Master Kolinsky Sable and Dynasty’s Mongolian Sable. While I still very much enjoy Blick’s Master series, the Dynasty brushes are not what they appeared to be.

Dynasty Mongolian Sable

Dynasty Mongolian Sable: New vs. Two months of use

Dynasty’s Mongolian Sables are nowhere near the quality of Blick’s Master series both in terms of longevity and consistency. The Dynasty brushes began to shed pretty severely after only a few weeks of use. Because the brushes performed well initially, I ordered more (before they started falling apart). The new shipment, five brushes of the same size, was wildly irregular. Each brush was a different length– both in terms of hair and handle –and some of them were slightly bent at the ferrule in such a way that they that they were only usable on one side.

Fortunately, Dick Blick‘s customer service being what it is (amazing), they replaced the whole order. Unfortunately, the new brushes were no different.

I apologize to anyone who may have purchased these brushes on my recommendation, hopefully you have better luck with them than I did. But I’m happy to report continued satisfaction with Blick’s Master Series. I have several of the sables, which are excellent, and I picked up a few of their synthetics which quickly replaced the Dynastys.

Nerdrum Can’t Paint in Prison

This thing keeps getting worse and worse.

August 19th, 2011. Odd Nerdrum Not Allowed to Paint in Prison


Caravaggio's Cupid: Trompe L'oeil by Thomas Conway

Cupid is just about finished. A few refinements are needed in the torso but the end is very near.
(A proper photo will follow.)

This trompe l’oeil series of master copies is very informative, as expected, but also a lot of fun. Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Vermeer are included. While I hesitate to pick favorites, Caravaggio has been particularly eye opening. (Vermeer, unfortunately, is proving the least forgiving.) I intend to collect my observations and share them here afterward.

…Back to work.

Nerdrum Sentenced to Jail

Odd NerdrumApparently Odd Nerdrum had some paintings fall apart, for which he set aside monies in case any buyers needed to be refunded, and has now been sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion. Reports say he will likely appeal. Nerdrum claimed it was the Norwegian state trying to destroy him and “push [him] towards suicide.”

Read the stories from the Norway International Network:

August 17th, 2011, Odd Nerdrum Sentenced to Jail
August 4th, 2011, Odd Nerdrum Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ to Tax Evasion
March 17th, 2011, Odd Nerdrum under Indictment

Cupid, in progress

Trompe L'oeil in progress by Thomas ConwayThis is a small 12 x 12″ trompe l’oeil of Caravaggio’s ‘Sleeping Cupid.’ These pictures were taken on two consecutive days. The first picture (with the full painting and the reference photo above), shows the warm base color for the flesh. Once dry, abbreviated lights are laid, as seen in the second picture. The next session will be glazing (correcting color) and restating the lights. A few corrections remain (I forgot the bellybutton) but that’s the gist of the technique I’ve been using for the Caravaggio paintings. I find it to be pretty effective at capturing something close to the luminous effect of the originals.

Trompe L'oeil painting (in progress) by Thomas Kenneth ConwaySpeaking of the original painting… When I was searching for a good reproduction I came across this painting (link) from the Indianapolis Museum of Art. At first I thought it to be a clearer photograph of the other, housed in the Pitti Palace (in Florence), but upon closer inspection it’s a completely different painting. A lot of the differences are subtle (likely to be overlooked if only casually viewing), but the big changes such as the lower hand and the contour of the upper wing obviously can’t be attributed to different lighting. Plus, if you have any experience with Caravaggio, the paint handling just doesn’t feel right. But– I don’t pretend to know better than the museum housing it (they attribute it to Caravaggio and date it about ten years before the other one). It’s a curiosity. For what it’s worth, I think the location solves the mystery; I don’t mean to be unpatriotic but seeing that one is housed in Italy, and the other in Indiana, the Italian version somehow seems authentic by default.

Lucian Freud dies at age 88

Lucian Freud, a wonderful painter and grandson of Sigmund Freud, died yesterday at  age eighty-eight. Lucian was a very important figure for me during my college years; I learned a lot studying his work.

Read more from The Guardian, and the obituary here.

I came across this website today:

It seems useful. Lots of high-resolution, public domain images (of old paintings).

Trompe L’oeil with Caravaggio

Here’s a look at the finished Caravaggio Trompe L’oeil painting. (I’ll update with a better image once it’s varnished.) You can read more about this painting in previous posts here and here. This is the first in a series of work and as such I learned a lot while painting which will benefit the rest of the series. There are some discrepancies in the copy, and a couple issues relating to value compression, but overall I think it’s a fine painting and I’m happy with it. Hopefully those discrepancies are only apparent while making a direct comparison to the original.

The remaining work in this series, including a large Rembrandt print of The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp use measured drawings to ensure a more accurate copy.