Sunday, July 29, 2012

Art School: Summer Term Week Three.

Zara (Oil on canvas board, 10x14"). Painted from live model in ~2 hours.

I wish I would have had more time on this one to add nuance to a few areas.  In a local art store, I found a canvas board measuring 10x14" and used it for the first time for portrait painting.  The aspect ratio works really well.  I always have a difficult time painting Zara, but generally speaking, I like how this turned out.  I find that the colors have harmony.  I tried four different approaches for painting the face.  I began by tiling (laying small tiles of paint of different color and values next to each other), but found that I started to lose the form and wiped it out.  For this same reason, I don't particularly like the way Renoir paints women because his impressionist tiles don't render nuanced form very well, leaving all his women's heads looking like balloons with eyes.  My final tact was to cover the entire face with a thin glaze of its relative color (like a watercolor) and then followed the form with longer strokes.  I then used small tiles and accents to add transition values/colors.  Many thanks to my instructor Meadow for her help.

Here is my initial lay-in:

It was drawn with a mixture of transparent maroon, sap green, and ultra-marine blue.  The drawing came together quickly -- around ten minutes.  I spent another ten minutes using a Q-tip dipped in turpentine to remove structure lines and clean some edges.  I also found it to be an effective tool to create a wash and develop shapes for the darker areas.

Elyssa (1710B Conte pencil on newsprint, 18x20").  Drawn from live model in ~2 hours.

Curly hair is always difficult to render in a short amount of time so I had fun with it, indicating the curls with a few loose, squiggly lines and wavy scribbles.  I'm relearning how to use the Conte 1710B pencil so there is some ramp-up time with that but it's starting to come back to me.  I often have trouble creating an attractive transition shape when the shadow on the side of the face runs into the cast shadow of the neck.  I treat them as two separate shapes.  My instructor, Stan, gave me some great advice when he said to combine them into one shape and fill the entire area with a single value.  Then go back and add nuance to the jaw-line.  That helped a lot.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Female Portrait On Newsprint.

Female Portrait On Newsprint (1710B Conte charcoal on newsprint, 16x20").

When designing the hair, I was inspired by Gustav Klimt's painting, Mermaids (below).  I love how their hair envelops their face and becomes its own entity, providing a safe sanctuary.  It protects them.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Art School: Summer Term Begins.

It's the beginning of my summer term at Watts Atelier.  I usually only take one class a term, but decided to double down over the summer and take a whopping two classes.  I'm taking a portrait painting class and a drawing class titled, "Head, Figure, and Quicksketch."  I take this latter class at least once a year.  It helps me to reconnect with the basics while also developing better design and nuance.

My first portrait class of the term was yesterday and this was the result (Oil on canvas board, 9x12")...

Many thanks to my instructor, Meadow Gist, for her help.  Overall, I like the construction and flesh tones.  But it needs some refinement and shapes need to be better designed.

Until I find my rhythm a few weeks in, I feel like I'm in survival mode when painting a portrait from a live model in two hours.  Abandoned in the woods, you worry about establishing a shelter, getting food, and making fire.  After that is settled, then you work on building a hammock and decorating the cave with some fresh cut flowers.  In painting, I'm trying to get the drawing and flesh tones accurate, then I want to establish solid value ranges, identify key plane changes, and get all of the canvas covered.  And once all that is done, then I'll add the flourishes.  As I progress this term, the survival aspects happen quicker, and I'm able to spend more time on the fun stuff.  I still always battle with the "grass is always greener" aspect.  If I paint thick, I wish I had painted thinner.  If opaque, then transparent.  If looser, then tighter.  It's a conflict I will never win.

I struggled with the far eye.  I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get that far eye to read in a way I found pleasant.  I pushed and pulled.  The angles and edges have to be perfect.  I went to the San Diego Museum of Art today and investigated how other artists negotiated the far eye.  To my dismay, they all kind of sucked in their rendering.  At best, they downplayed it so that attention wouldn't be brought to that challenging area.

I looked at one of my favorite paintings in the museum... one by George Dawe titled, Portrait of a Dignitary in Turkish Costume.

And then I zoomed in on the eyes....

Egad! The far eye is huge and looks closer to the viewer than the near eye.  Since this was a commission, it was unlikely that Mr Dawe painted the eye exactly as he saw it since a bulging eye would have been unflattering.  I guess a few of us struggle with that part of the painting.  Although if you're going to error, perhaps it's best to go with non-distinct rather than bulging.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Now... With Backgrounds.

Experimented with adding backgrounds to the previous drawings...

Julie With Rectangles (Watercolor, gouache, acrylic, and ProWhite on illustration board).  A little homage to Klimt.  It doesn't show up well in the photo, but I used metallic paint so it flickers in the light.  Originally I had inked the creases of her dress with a nib and lots of directional lines but it created an odd pattern that didn't work so I covered it with a simple gouache rendering.

Cori (Watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, acrylic ink, and spray paint on illustration board).  Had some interesting times with this one.  I kept covering the surface with different materials (gouache, oil pastels, ink, etc.) and scrubbing them out.  This final version is blue acrylic ink as the background base.  I then covered it with white spray paint and scraped out parts to reveal the blue underneath.  I like the textutre and random patterns.

Kate (Watercolor and ink on illustration board).   I went with a simple background.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Four Figure Studies (In Progress).

I took a 15x20" piece of illustration board and quartered it for some figure studies.  My goal was to get some reps in before Summer term begins at art school and to experiment with rendering and backgrounds.  Each image is a 5x7" cropped version using pencil and watercolor.  I've been sitting on them for the last day, trying to figure out how to create an unconventional and interesting background.  I also want to find new ways to heighten the intensity of the figures.  Hmmm.  In progress.

Clockwise starting from top left: Julie, Tamara, Kate, and Cori.