Saturday, April 24, 2010

Study for Mr. Howard's Mail

8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

Recently a lovely lady asked if I would compose a painting with these elements in the the following order of importance - A mailbox with her late father's name, roses, a rustic fence, a cardinal, a path and maybe a birdhouse! Since it was impossible to know what she was "seeing" in her mind's eye, a few pencil sketches were presented from which she chose this particular fence and an open mailbox...We decided the bird house was not needed and I tried to work in all her other elements plus a few glads for flower variety. She has now approved this composition and I like it too! Challenges such as this one keep studio days interesting! For her painting, the colors will probably be muted, but it was fun going bright and bold with this little one!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Big Bad Bruce Finished (or not?)

8 x 10 Oil on Canvas

The second Wednesday of each month our critique group, a number of serious award winning artists sharing helpful hints and suggestions, meets for an informal review of the each others works in progress. All intermediate artists are invited and newcomers are given more gentle positive critiques than those of us who want to be hit with all suggestions as to areas that are working and those that might be improved upon. Each artist must evaluate suggestions and decide whether or not he/she agrees and take it from there.

I was aware the circled areas were really bothersome before the critique group got hold of Bruce. First of all, the green is "foreign" to the painting but wanted that color reflected in the glasses. The shape of the green color lined up with and repeated the shoulder shadow shape. Baaaaad...however, I waited to change it until after critique in case there were other needed fixes I didn’t see. My solution - for the moment at least - has been to paint out the green and maybe that draws more attention to Bruce’s face? He enjoys riding in the country exploring back roads and I felt the green expressed that... so it’s still in the glasses. And, know what? Maybe I would like a little of it back in the painting may see this one more time! I will be more careful of the shape and the color! Am thinking about painting this "larger than life" - 24" x 30" just for Bruce and for the drama!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Big Bad Bruce wip

8" x 10" oil on canvas

This is Bruce, our son in law on his Harley enjoying some time off! Doesn't he look like a B-AA-DD dude? Bruce is a teddy bear - but I think he enjoys looking kinda mean! Still have a long way to go and trying not to get carried away with detail.

A fellow blogger emailed to ask if my methods for detail were "secret" - absolutely not! I am always willing to share and feel that's what blogging is all about! If the email had come before starting this one, I would have documented from the beginning. My steps are to first find a photo I really like hopefully with lots of high contrast, "play" with the photo in Photoshop Elements until it's the way I want the painting (or think I do), print the photo to size in black and white, trace it onto tracing paper and using graphite, transfer to canvas or board. Sometimes the support is toned - sometimes not. Bruce was started on white canvas after a couple of extra coats of gesso had been applied and sanded to smooth out the canvas bumps.

Another in the "Shades Series" notice - no eyes, no teeth, no ears! Yea! Can a portrait subject get any better! I knew the fine lines in the rims of the sunglasses would be difficult so started there using the Prismacolor Verithin Pencils. What wonderful tools they are and totally compatible with oil paint! Next the hair on the face - I LOVE painting mustaches and beards! Every color in the painting is in those hairs but you may or may not see all of them. I worked the dark patterns with the pencils and then started painting. Later going back to the facial hair, the sharp points on the pencils were used as brushes to apply paint and then scratch into it. I'm not "afraid of the dark" even though the really dark areas (no tube black paint is used) tend to give the piece a photographic look which may or may not be desirable. Was the little crease on his neck necessary? Probably not - but this is an exercise for me and I wanted to see if I could do it!

I do not follow any formula for fleshtones unless you call "hit or miss" a formula! I keep the photograph on my monitor as I paint and try to match the colors I see, but am more interested in the warm and cool tones and value shifts. The Sandin ProMix set is helpful. I don't use any of the tube colors alone but do use some of them in mixes. The three tubes shown are favorites. Neutral 3 is helpful in achieving good color for teeth. I was introduced to the Rembrandt oil transparent oxide colors brown, red, and orange by David Darrow and will always have these colors on my flesh palette. Love them!

Our critique group meets Wednesday and it will be interesting to see what suggestions are made. I will then finish and post again. I don't always work this way but for these small family portraits, it's a fast way to get past the drawing and to the easel!

Linda, I do hope this has been helpful and I appreciate your interest! Please let me know if you have more questions.

Bruce - whadda think?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stephanie - Quick Study

10" x 8" - oil on canvas

This is a study in shapes. I really tried to stay away from detail and look at shapes rather than features. Another in the "Shades Series" - this is daughter, Stephanie, painted from a photo taken on a hot day at the Great Smokey Mountain Railway Station in Bryson City, NC. The challenge was in playing with the light and shadow, and in contrasting her soft skin and hair against the rusty rail car. I'm not happy with the hair (Sorry Steph) ...but this was fast work for me and I'm pleased with most of it! There was a cast shadow in the photo that fell across her head and ear and down her back. I didn't include that at first but decided it provided an interesting way to break up shapes so painted it in and I think it works.