DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2009/06/29

Moonwalk & Sequined Glove

Filed under: New work,Photography — Tags: , , — fred @ 23:10
Moonwalk & Sequined Glove, 2009, b&w version, photo by Fred Hatt

Moonwalk & Sequined Glove, 2009, b&w version, photo by Fred Hatt

I’m working on a big drawing post but it’s not ready yet, so perhaps I should join the throng and post my tribute to Michael Jackson, my generation’s incandescent performer and tragic lonely man.  Ever since New York City put up these new LED pedestrian signals, I’ve been reminded of Michael’s iconic glove and dance move.  Farewell, blazing one.  Let no one say our civilization has renounced human sacrifice!

Below, a color version of the same shot.

Moonwalk & Sequined Glove, 2009, color version, photo by Fred Hatt

Moonwalk & Sequined Glove, 2009, color version, photo by Fred Hatt

2009/06/22

The Beauty of Rain

Filed under: Older work,Photography — Tags: , , , — fred @ 01:24
WTC Plaza, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

WTC Plaza, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Those of us who live in the Northeastern United States have experienced one of the wettest Springs on record, and the rain has continued through the solstice season.  Perhaps as the climate changes, the regions that depend on snowmelt for water are becoming drier while those that depend on rainfall are becoming wetter, or perhaps it is just an unusually wet year.  Either way, it’s a good time to appreciate the beauty of rain, so here’s a collection of my photographs from past rainy seasons in New York.  Above, from early 2001, the plaza of the World Trade Center.

Storm drains in the city are easily clogged, and in a hard rain the gutters become rivers.

Submerged Curb, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Submerged Curb, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Rain Gutter, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Rain Gutter, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Bus Stop River, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

Bus Stop River, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

In a sudden heavy downpour, you take shelter or in minutes you can be as wet as though you’d gone for a swim fully clothed.

Don't Walk, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Don't Walk, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

LIC Downpour, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

LIC Downpour, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

Bodega Rain Shelter, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

Bodega Rain Shelter, 2005, photo by Fred Hatt

In the photo immediately above, notice the cataract pouring into the storm drain.

After the rain, everything is shiny.  Trees are diamond-encrusted.

Tree Diamonds, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Tree Diamonds, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Rain beads up on cars, especially if they’ve been waxed.  Under streetlights at night, an ordinary car glitters like Liberace’s rhinestone Roadster.

Bejeweled Car, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Bejeweled Car, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

And even if there are no sunbeams to make rainbows, oil slicks on asphalt will give a little chromatic thrill.

Oil Slick, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Oil Slick, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Every street and sidewalk becomes a rough mirror, and a whole reflected world opens up beneath our feet.

Stripes, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Stripes, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Green, Red, Yellow, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Green, Red, Yellow, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Wine & Liquors, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Wine & Liquors, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Colored lights are everywhere in the city, and wet streets turn them into fantastic, dramatic alarms.

Tail Light, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Tail Light, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Water manifests fire in red brakelights.

Fire and Water, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Fire and Water, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

The neon extravagance of 42nd Street becomes downright psychedelic.

Iridescent Crosswalk, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

Iridescent Crosswalk, 2003, photo by Fred Hatt

But even a relatively minimalist display takes on a new splendor.

Reflections in Green & White, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Reflections in Green & White, 2001, photo by Fred Hatt

Rain produces different but equally ravishing effects in a more rural environment, and it is as important as sunshine in producing foliage and flowers.  Celebrate rain!

2009/06/18

Sunburst

Filed under: Older work,Painting — Tags: , — fred @ 00:29
Deity, 1989, painting by Fred Hatt

Deity, 1989, painting by Fred Hatt

This Sunday is the Summer Solstice, in the Northern hemisphere the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.  It’s one of the primary holy days in all the pagan traditions of the North, celebrated by bonfires and revelry.  Shakespeare’s magical comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream captures something of the spirit this season carried in an era less demystified than our own.  Check this link for Arthur Rackham’s gorgeous, bristling illustrations of the play.

In honor of this time, here is a painting I made twenty years ago.  In a videotaped interview made at an exhibition where this painting was included, I described it as “an embodiment of creative force.  One arm is flowing like water, and the other arm is putting out roots like a tree, there’s the head in flames, and the second head, a baby’s head, is emerging down below. The whole thing is in a ball of fire, which is held in a big blue hand, suggesting that even the god you can conceive is contained within something bigger yet.”

Deity (detail), 1989, painting by Fred Hatt

Deity (detail), 1989, painting by Fred Hatt

It’s a celebration of the Sun, the ultimate source of energy for us on Earth, that makes the water flow and causes plants and animals to emerge from raw matter.  Sun the illuminator, the invigorator, gentle warmer and harsh scorcher, source of all yet an insignificant one among billions of stars.

The original painting is acrylic and mixed media on paper, 38″ x 50″ (96.5 x 127 cm).

2009/06/12

Fire in the Belly

Filed under: Body Art,Older work,Photography — Tags: , , — fred @ 10:39
Ignis, 2005, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Ignis, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

When someone is driven by passion or ambition we say they have fire in the belly.  It’s one of many idioms that describe mental or spiritual states in bodily terms.  These common sayings reveal our sense that the whole body, not just the head, is the vehicle of the soul and a field of clashing forces.

Body painting is an ancient art of transformation, to make the warrior more terrible, the young mate more enticing, or the shaman more of a dream creature.  I have used it as a medium of discovery, exploring the landscape of the body and finding the forces that lie beneath the surface.  In the type of body art shown here, there is never any preconceived design.  As the paintbrush follows the natural curves of the body, it becomes a kind of divining rod, finding the quality of energetic pools and flows and manifesting them in visible form.

The images in this post are all frontal torsos, painted in my studio in private sessions between 1999 and 2003, in which I used a free-flowing but symmetrical form to express the internal forces others have traditionally described in terms of chakras or internal alchemy.

White Strike, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

White Strike, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

A kind of lightning bolt centered on the heart or sternum, above, becomes a dancing Nature spirit in the example below:

Shaman, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Shaman, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

A colorful approach to the body’s structure becomes a festive celebration of the life force:

Botanic, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Botanic, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Arch, 1991, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Arch, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In these, the body is wrapped in veils of more subtle color:

Cathexis, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Cathexis, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Dragonfly, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Dragonfly, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In these examples, the belly becomes a vessel, containing and transforming energy that is projected upward and outward in the chest area:

Flask, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Flask, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Phoenix, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Phoenix, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Power Stance, 2003, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Power Stance, 2003, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Bright Seed, 2000, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Bright Seed, 2000, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Projection, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Projection, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

We all have a clear sense that acting from the gut, acting from the heart, and acting from the head are three entirely distinct ways.  Those who study yoga or martial arts learn to experience the internal force fields of the body in terms of chakras or dantiens.  My approach is loose and intuitive.  I hope it reveals the dynamic nature of the human body as structured energy.

2009/06/04

Christophe’s Expressions

Weeping, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Weeping, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Christophe Nayel is an artists’ model with a specialty.  He has a remarkably expressive face and can hold facial expressions for a long time.  He did the pose above this past Monday morning at Spring Studio‘s three-hour session, twenty minutes between breaks.  He squeezed a wet tissue over his eyes to simulate tears, and made the expression real enough that his nose and eyes reddened.

Quite a few professional models develop the ability to hold challenging poses, and some of them can stay in stressful positions while maintaining a placid expression, but Christophe is the only one I know who contorts his face this way.  For an artist, it is both a treat and a challenge.  Most artists trying to capture facial expressions refer to photographs.  That’s how Norman Rockwell did it.  Getting it down directly from life is not so easy.  Some of the artists in that Monday morning class really got the feel of it, but many others weren’t even getting close.

Here’s Christophe in a more typical artists’ model’s pose, full-length and with a close portrait made during the same pose, showing a relatively neutral face:

Triumphant, 2005, by Fred Hatt

Triumphant, 2005, by Fred Hatt

Triumphant face, 2005, by Fred Hatt

Triumphant face, 2005, by Fred Hatt

In the standing figure above, his hair was being blown up by a fan, which somehow makes that drawing.

Christophe is from France.  Like many models, and like myself, his creative interests and efforts range broadly.  He’s a singer, songwriter, actor, painter, and film editor.  As a musician, he uses the stage name D-XRISTO.  He began modeling in New York on September 10th, 2001, a time that imparts a fateful aura to any kind of beginning.  You can check out some of Christophe’s work on his MySpace and YouTube pages.

Here’s one of my first detailed portraits of Christophe, from 2002:

Ruminating, 2002, by Fred Hatt

Ruminating, 2002, by Fred Hatt

In the above image he’s not contorting his face, but you can see how much feeling comes through anyway.  At a 2006 session he held a grin for three hours:

Smile, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Smile, 2006, by Fred Hatt

Christophe also models with costumes and props.  On Monday he mentioned that for an upcoming costume session he’ll be bringing his genuine NYC Police Officer’s uniform and his saucy French maid outfit.  But it is his expressions I find so compelling.  Here is a quartet of sketches from a session at Figureworks Gallery, showing a range of faces that is both hilarious and terrifying:

Crying, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Crying, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Sneer, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Sneer, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Stupor, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Stupor, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Cracked, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Cracked, 2007, by Fred Hatt

I can tell you these aren’t easy to draw.  When I was working on the set above, I remember feeling my rendering of the sneer failed to capture the level of acidic disdain Christophe was conveying.

Christophe should have posed for Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, or maybe Goya or Bacon or some other artist specializing in the extremes of the human condition.  But I value him because as a model he brings something unique, difficult and engaging.  When Christophe is the model, I know I have a chance to make strange and compelling images.

All drawings in this post are 70 cm x 50 cm, Caran d’Ache aquarelle crayons on Fabriano paper.

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