Ellen Altfest


I am working on the painting The Bent Leg with my model, Tom. I chose this composition because I liked the way the leg in the painting acts as a framing device. Each of my paintings takes between three and fifteen months, six or seven days a week, seven to ten hours a day. I make the entire painting from observation, which means that the model is there the whole time I am working on the part of the painting he is in, and I sit very close in order to be able to see all of the small details. The paintings are one-to-one scale, so I literally measure what is in front of me. I work with natural light, so the days of the week and the hours I work on a painting vary with the weather and time of year.

My models and I talk during the day and listen to music, and I have become close to some of them. Tom is a young painter and has a really calm presence. I really enjoy working with him.