DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2010/03/15

Top Ten Countdown

Back Study #1: Convex, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Today, March 15, 2010, this blog turns one year old.  (Above, the first illustration from the first post, “Variations”.)

I have long shared my work with others largely through underground, alternative, and community-based venues.  In many ways, the blog has been my ideal gallery – virtually cost-free, accessible to all both near and far, open 24 hours, a place where I can share the full range of my work, my process, and my passions, without concern for whether anyone will buy, or whether a dealer thinks I’m diluting my brand.

I have long tended to put all my energy into producing work, rarely finding the time to edit and present that work, much less to sell myself or promote my career.  Feeling the need to post something here once a week or thereabouts has been a much-needed self-imposed deadline for me!

I thank those of you that post comments.  A sense of dialog sustains me.  It’s also been gratifying to pick up some fans in far-flung places, where they would have been unlikely to encounter my work in an exhibit.

In reverse order, here’s a listing of the top ten posts from the first year of Drawing Life.  These are the posts that have gotten the most hits, continuing to attract readers after they’re no longer on the front page of the blog, with a sample image and quote from each.  The titles link back to the original posts.

10:  Opening the Closed Pose

“The human body is as expressive when it is turned inward as when it is expansive or active.  The guarded nature of the crouch or fetal position shows vulnerability in a different way than the open pose.  The upper and lower parts of the body are drawn together, and the energy pattern becomes circular rather than vertical.”

Hanging Head, 2009, by Fred Hatt

9:  Shapes of Things

This post featured stereoscopic photographs, presented as anaglyphs, to be viewed with red/cyan 3D glasses.

“The compositional dynamics of a flat photograph are simple, their impact immediate and graphic.  A stereo image is more complex.  Looking at it, we feel we are looking through a window, perhaps into a world that has been miniaturized and frozen in time.  The eyes caress the forms or penetrate the space of the image.  Enjoy these images, then go out and revel in the spatial complexity of the world.”

Framework, 1993, photo by Fred Hatt

8:  Fire in the Belly

“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.”

Botanic, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

7:  Painting with Light

“I first started experimenting with light painting in photography of models in 1990 or thereabouts . . . I was interested in the process because it bridged the gap between photography and painting or drawing.  As in painting, the image is created by manual gestures over a finite period of time, but instead of making pigment marks on paper or canvas, one makes light marks, through a lens, on a photograph.”

Smoke, 1996, photo by Fred Hatt

6:  Negative Space

“Clearly seeing negative space is about shifting the focus from presence to absence.  Finding the figure by looking at the negative space is one of the many artistic applications of the Hermetic principle  ‘As above, so below’ or ‘As within, so without’.  All reality exists on the cusp between interior and exterior, between past and future, or between any polarity you care to examine.  To draw is to surf on the points of contact.”

Stanley Folded, 2008, by Fred Hatt

5:  Anatomical Flux

This post featured drawings made at an artists’ sketch night event at “Bodies: The Exhibition”, a show of polymerized anatomical specimens.

“My favorite room in the exhibit is the one where blood vessels have been preserved and all the other tissues stripped away.  These figures look like my most manic scribbly drawings multiplied and exploded into three dimensions.  The arteries branch out treelike, the veins meander vinelike, and the capillaries are fuzzy like moss.  This quick sketch comes nowhere near the actual complexity of the specimen.”

Torse Vessels, 2009, by Fred Hatt

4:  The Spirit of Weeds

“In our uncertain time, everything seems to be breaking down.  Industrial civilization defines prosperity only as growth, but the limits to growth are looming everywhere . . . Such times will be hard for vast monocultures, and for hothouse flowers (and I do intend those as human metaphors).  Such times call for weedy spirits, for those that can find their earthly grounding even in the decaying manufactured world, and who burst with green power, determined to reassert the forces of life.”

Blue/Yellow/Green, 2002, photo by Fred Hatt

3:  Meanings of the Nude

“The image of the nude reminds us that we are our bodies, that sexuality and appetites and mortality are our very nature, and that the beauty of our animality cannot be separated from the beauty of our spirituality.”

Gustav Vigeland, figure from Vigeland Park, Oslo, c. 1930, photo by Simon Davey

2:  Pregnant Pose

“The roundness of the pregnant form is quite unlike the roundness of obesity.  The skin of the swelling belly and breasts is drum-tight.  The entire body is surging with life-force and all the muscles are toned.”

Fertile Structure, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

And finally – drum roll, please – the number one post, the one that went viral on StumbleUpon and got twice as many hits as any other individual post of Drawing Life in the past year:

1:  Visual Cacophony

“New York City is like the rainforest, dense with competing and coexisting lifeforms . . . This kind of visual excess has an energizing effect on me, like wild music that’s dissonant yet exuberant.”

Doll Window, 2004, photo by Fred Hatt

Thanks to you, my readers, especially to the commenters, and stay tuned – I’m just getting started!

2010/02/12

Events

Blacklight body art at a party at Collective Unconscious, NYC, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

I’m involved with several events over the next few days.  Click on “Calendar” for details.

Sunday the 14th:  Opening for Spring Studio 18th Anniversary Show, featuring hundreds of artists.  Spring Studio, NYC, starts 6:30.

Sunday the 14th:  Blacklight Body Painting Dance Party at St. George Healing Arts, Staten Island, 6 pm on, donation suggested.

Tuesday the 16th:  KAMI, live music by Gregory Reynolds and butoh dance by Mariko Endo with video and light by Fred Hatt, part of a multi-media program also featuring Ben Miller and Orin Buck, at the Gershwin Hotel, NYC, 8 pm, $10.

Monday the 22nd:  New choreography by Jung Woong Kim, featuring special light effects by Fred Hatt, at Movement Research at Judson Church, NYC, 8 pm, free.

2010/01/15

Textural Bodypaint

Filed under: Body Art — Tags: , , , — fred @ 01:08

Vivid Dust, 2000, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Looking through my personal library this week, I came across an old book called “Design by Accident” by James F. O’Brien.  It’s full of ways to incorporate chance and natural phenomena into visual arts and crafts.  Just the Table of Contents makes me feel inspired, so I’ll share it here:

Tree Forms:  trunks and branches formed by the movement of pigments and liquids

Cracks and crackle:  layers in tension

Crawl:  rejection of paint by an incompatible surface

Drip, Dribble, Drop:  Pollock’s discovery and random patterns

Splash and Run:  designs formed by vigorous impact and gravity

Flow and Swirl:  “marble effect”

Wrinkles and Folds:  folding and bending of surfaces

Flowers:  patterns formed by drops of pigment on a coated surface

Max Ernst’s frottage technique and Pollock’s drips, Rorschach’s psychoanalytic ink blots and Hans Jenny’s Cymatics are among the well-known examples of this kind of thing in recent culture, but scenic painters, fabric artists, faux-finish decorators and craftsmen have always used these methods.  It is impossible to control the outcome tightly, but letting go of such control allows the magic of physics to impart its inimitable majesty.

For much of my own work the human body has been my playground, and I’ve used some of these techniques to create textural effects in body painting.  In this post I’ll share several examples.

Splatter, 1997, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Squeezing paint from squeeze botttles and letting colors run into other colors produces beautiful effects.   In the 1990’s I used to do this kind of body painting as a cabaret act in collaboration with performance artist Sue Doe, using fluorescent paints that glowed under blacklight.  One of our performances at the Blue Angel Cabaret was featured in the HBO series Real Sex episode 25.  I’ll do a whole post about the blacklight performances some day, but for now here’s one image of the squirting technique under blacklight:

Green Snake, 1998, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

And here are the beautiful fluorescent colors running thin as they are cleaned off in the shower:

Rinse, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Handprints have been used since the stone age to make dynamic patterns in paint:

Handprints, 1992, bodypaint by Fred Hatt and Jen S., photo by Fred Hatt

When tempera paint dries, it cracks and flakes off.  The crackled texture adds an air of antiquity to this freeform painting:

Fresco, 1996, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

And here, a coat of paint on the body has been rewetted and worn thin, drying with a marbled effect:

Marbled Belly, 1991, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Sculptors’ clay smeared onto the body dries in a patchy way, depending on local thickness, making fleeting textural patterns:

Wet and Dry, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In this one, clay was applied first for texture, and then paint was applied over the rough, earthy surface:

World Egg, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In this body painting session, done for a cover illustration for Lauren Stauber‘s haunting CD, Solarheart, the first layer was yellow and red paint, with clay applied over it.  The colors subtly bleed through the dusty clay surface.  Dried flower petals are scattered on top of the body:

Petal Strewn, 1998, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Here, the model is covered with the dry powdered pigments used in the Hindu spring festival called Holi.  In the festival, which is celebrated in many places in India, and here in New York in Richmond Hill, Queens, celebrants plaster each other with hurled vividly colored powders and liquid colors.

Holi, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Here, powdered pigments and bronze powder are used on the body, blended with massage oil:

Jeweled, 1999, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Here, the front of the body is painted with oil and powdered pigments, and the back with clay and red paint:

Agate, 2002, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In this one, the first layer is blue paint, with clay applied over that and bronze powder blown across to adhere to the wet areas when the clay is in the patchily dried state as seen in the black and white photo above:

Lapis and Gold, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Here’s a combination of the bronze powder with the powdered Holi pigments:

Painted Desert, 2000, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

An important focus of my exploration of body painting is the experience of the person who is painted.  Being painted is often experienced as a bodily transformation, an external experience of the skin that reflects or enables an internal shift of consciousness.  This ritual aspect underlies the importance of body art in shamanic and theatrical performance.  The stark white body paint associated with butoh dance originated with butoh progenitor Tatsumi Hijikata‘s experimentation with using plaster on his dancers’ bodies.  He wished to intensify their movement by making them conscious of the entire expanse of their skin through tightness and discomfort.  Oil, clay, powders and cracked tempera on the skin are tactile sensations that may be experienced as being one with earth or finding one’s wild animal nature.

Animal, 1997, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

I’ll close with a dyptich of textural legs.  In the upper image the paint is done not by the scattering or dripping methods used in many of the pictures above, but by tracing the blood vessels visible through the skin.  The legs in the lower image are painted with blue powder over oil:

Vessels, 2007, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Gateway, 2006, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Other body painting, most of it more painterly in approach, can be seen on my portfolio site, or on other posts on this blog under the category “Body Art“.

2009/09/17

Pregnant Pose

Seaborne, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Seaborne, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Claudia Citkovitz is a Staten Island based acupuncturist with a specialty in childbirth and delivery.  Recently she arranged for me to make some sketches that she may use in promotional or educational materials.  One of Claudia’s friends and clients posed for the drawings above and below.  These two are a kind of yin and yang of the pregnant figure.  Above, the relaxed body is treated like a landscape, while below the standing body actively projects its fertility.  The extra weight in the abdomen often seems to cause a compensatory drawing back of the shoulders, giving many a standing pregnant figure a proud air.

Stride, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Stride, 2009, by Fred Hatt

Several years ago I painted a pregnant belly at a music festival, emphasizing the aqueous and ovoid elements of the condition:

Belly Crescent, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Belly Crescent, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Another festival painting of a pregnant torso, expressing the flourishing life force:

Garden, 2007, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Garden, 2007, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

I also had the opportunity to do a full body painting on a pregnant woman.  Here is the earthiest manifestation of the human body, in one of the most grounded poses:

Fertile Structure, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Fertile Structure, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

This is an intuitive painting responding to the sensation of life energy coalescing within, as in the fetal image in this post.

Supine, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Supine, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Side, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Side, 2001, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

In 2007, Shifra, one of the renowned artist’s models on the New York scene, posed for a drawing session at Figureworks Gallery at about eight months pregnant. The roundness of the pregnant form is quite unlike the roundness of obesity.  The skin of the swelling belly and breasts is drum-tight.  The entire body is surging with life-force and all the muscles are toned.

Shifra pregnant pencil sketch 01, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant pencil sketch 01, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Below, the sharp angle of the elbow balances the rounded belly.

Shifra pregnant pencil sketch 02, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant pencil sketch 02, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Poses that show both the back and the belly convey the strength and vigor that a pregnant woman emanates so strongly.

Shifra pregnant pencil sketch 01, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant pencil sketch 03, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Shifra pregnant pencil sketch 04, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant pencil sketch 04, 2007, by Fred Hatt

Shifra pregnant pencil sketch 05, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant pencil sketch 05, 2007, by Fred Hatt

This pose has great openness and an upward thrust that convey the vigor of the life force burgeoning within.

Shifra pregnant crayon sketch 01, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant crayon sketch 01, 2007, by Fred Hatt

The side reclining pose, viewed from above, is a rarely seen view.  I had to stand, balancing my large drawing board against my belt with one hand, to draw this angle:

Shifra pregnant crayon sketch 02, 2007, by Fred Hatt

SG pregnant crayon sketch 02, 2007, by Fred Hatt

A few months later, Shifra returned to pose with her child.

SG and child pencil drawing 5, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child pencil sketch 05, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child crayon sketch 01, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child crayon sketch 01, 2008, by Fred Hatt

Of course, a baby won’t hold still for a portrait.  This is one of the many situations where speed is an important asset for an artist.

SG and child pencil sketch 03, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child pencil sketch 03, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child pencil sketch 06, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child pencil sketch 06, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child crayon sketch 02, 2008, by Fred Hatt

SG and child crayon sketch 02, 2008, by Fred Hatt

The pregnant figure and the baby are both constructed around predominantly round forms.  Both share a quality of growth so concentrated it seems to color the air around them, but the baby has a vulnerability in contrast to the pregnant woman’s manifest power.

The crayon drawings here are all 50 x 70 cm, aquarelle crayon on paper, and the pencil drawings are in 14″ x 17″ (35.5 x 43 cm) sketchbooks.

One of my large scale drawings, of a pregnant couple, is seen at the bottom of this post.

2009/09/05

Personal Painting

Filed under: Body Art — Tags: , , — fred @ 21:42
Victory Back, 2009, body paint and photo by Fred Hatt

Victory Back, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Back in July I posted some of the body painting with woad, or indigo, that I did that month at the Sirius Rising festival at Brushwood Folklore Center in Sherman, New York.  This post will feature selections of my work with regular cosmetic body paints from this year’s festival.

At Sirius Rising, and sometimes at other festivals, I teach workshops and will paint on anyone who will offer their body to my brush, charging no fees but accepting donations.

As I am not a naturally outgoing person, this works well as a way to get to know people.  They approach me because they appreciate my artwork.  When someone undresses and allows me to paint on their body, the barriers that might otherwise divide us are down.

I think of it as a mutual gift:  I get to enjoy the pleasure of painting and the pleasure of physical contact, while the person I paint gets to experience the visual manifestation of their own inner essence that I draw upon in the act of painting on their body.  Then, of course, they get the experience of being noticed and admired by others, and a few of those others may approach me to be painted themselves.

In doing this work, I try to see each person’s own particular beauty, to honor their spirit and enhance their presence.  The paintings above and below are the back and front of someone who just survived a bout with cancer.  I see the painting as representing the victory dance of her life force.

Victory front, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Victory Front, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Next, two paintings made on another woman’s back on two different days, a flower of potential and a bird of aspiration:

Flora, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Flora, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Upward, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Upward, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

People at pagan festivals love nature imagery.  A green moth:

Green Moth, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Green Moth, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

A tree goddess:

Dryad, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Dryad, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

A traditional green man:

Green Man, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Green Man, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

A fiery breast:

Flames, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Flames, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

The young man below, Mihael, wrote about his experience being painted on his Facebook page.  A friend of his took this picture with Mihael’s camera:

Fred Hatt painting Mihael, 2009

Fred Hatt painting Mihael, 2009

Mihael writes, “The brush tickled at times and sent goose bumps all over my body. . . It only took about 30-45 minutes for him to create this work. . . Fred said this was the perfect image for me.  He took all the energy I had within me to make this a great creation.”

Phoenix, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Phoenix, 2009, bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Mihael continues, “I had already started to burn before the image was complete. . . I spent all day without a shirt and now my cancer is in the shape of a phoenix. . . After the paint had been washed away, a negative of the work was still as impressive as the final painting.  I couldn’t believe how many people commented on it as well as my sunburn which I’m still suffering from.”

Phoenix Burn, 2009, afterimage of bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

Phoenix Burn, 2009, afterimage of bodypaint and photo by Fred Hatt

That must have been a bit painful.  I would certainly recommend using sunscreen before being painted and walking around in the sun all day.  This was Mihael’s first visit to this kind of festival, and I think the burn served as a kind of initiation for him.  There is certainly something appropriate about the image of a bird that rises from fire imprinted in the form of a burn.

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