Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Change is good, layers build character.

BIG changes happening with the tall figure painting I started a few weeks ago.  While I loved the pose and really thought it worked well for the panel size, it just didn't capture the qualities I was looking for to emulate the inspiration phrase provided by my client... "Amazing Grace".  The pose seemed a little too dance-like, and I was searching for something more elegant and introspective.

So I sketched out some new pose ideas asked our lovely model if she would allow me to photograph a few of them, and I have painted over the previous painting.

The lighting is beautiful, and the colors on the drapery are fantastic.  These are photos from my phone...better ones will follow.

Change can be good, and it can be hard to fathom changing a six foot tall painting with 8 hours of time already invested in it, but I think this will all be worth it.  There are beautiful layers of color peeking thru in lots of places, and  I am hoping the surface will be filled with beautiful moments.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's all about environment

I'm working on a couple of figure paintings, both started during some wonderful sessions centered around my friend Matt's newest sculpture of the standing nude female.  I'm working on a tall painting, and I started out with a very blue-purple background.  But as I kept working, I felt like the blue was too strong, and I wanted to surround her with a more sophisticated purple.

This is not a great shot for showing color, but you can see that most of the blue has been covered, and I can now get a better sense of where I need to work on her flesh tone as well.  (Doesn't the sculpture look awesome!? If you've followed the last few posts you can see subtle changes in the pose from day to day. )  It's difficult to make a change like this on such a large scale, but it will be worth it if I can achieve the right balance between her flesh tones, the drapery, her hair, and the environment.

But that's not the only painting that got an environment make-over.

I started this back study during one of the live sessions, and added the dark red background later on.

While it was dramatic, I thought it was too obvious: like I was trying too hard to make it look sexy by painting it red.  So I went completely opposite, and tried a green.

Again, not a great photo, but I like the palette much better.  Her flesh tones are complimented by the green background, and the chair that she is sitting on is not getting lost in a dark background.

And as I continue working on the model in the garden, I keep adjusting values in the background and on the figure.

There is so much information in this painting, and each little puzzle piece needs to fit with the one next to it. 

I also did this nice oil study last week from the live model, and I love the way the environment and the figure work together.

Because it is a small painting, 8 x 10, I was able to work the environment and figure at the same time.  By keeping a limited palette of warm pinks, peaches, and purples, it helped to unify the entire piece.

And, speaking of great environments...while Matt worked on his sculpture over the weekend we both brought our kids to the studio (our very understanding spouses deserved a break!) and it was SO cute to watch our little line up of artists hard at work!

A good environment for Creativity.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Figure Sculptures and Paintings

This may be one of the most exciting projects I've gotten to work on in my studio so far...working on a tall oil painting of the figure while watching a very talented sculptor build a piece at the same time.  As Matt (the sculptor) explores different angles and searches for the perfect s-curve on the figure, spontaneous outbursts of "YES!" resonate from his corner as he realize he has gotten it Just Right.

Watching Matt build from the inside out, consistently measure, build, re-check, shout "Yeah!", build some more, measure again...the search for information, the translation of figure to clay, makes me stop and think about how I translate the figure to paint.  Comparing landmarks, thinking about the lines, searching for form, checking proportion.  It's really a treat to watch two interpretations of the figure come to fruition side by side.

Matt's stand, covered with notes and measurements for reference.

Matt measuring the model with calipers. 

I'll be adding drapery to the painting, pushing the beautiful flow around the figure.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sculpting and Painting from one Beautiful Model

I count myself as one of the lucky ones when it comes to studio space, because I get to create in probably one of the most beautiful studio spaces I've ever seen.  Wide, rich wood floors, exposed brick, high ceilings, great light...not to mention it's several miles away from the dirty dishes, laundry, and general cleaning that await me at home :)

(one of Matt's smaller pieces with my drawing in the background from a previous show)

What makes the space even more wonderful are those times that I get to create alongside some very, very talented artists.  A few weeks back a local sculptor and friend, Matt Lewis, asked if we could plan some sessions with a live model so that he could build a new, large sculpture.  That sounded like a good idea to me!  So we found a lovely model and invited our fellow artists to come and work with us and the model.

And then a surprising new twist came when a friend of mine approached me with a new commission project - she wants a tall painting of a female, inspired by "grace", that would lean up against the wall in her new home. So I had just planned a series of live model sessions with a sculptor needing a standing pose AND I was about to create a large painting with a standing female nude...ah...can you say PERFECT!

The beginnings of the 6 foot tall woman...

The hardest part of working on something so tall is keeping the proportions consistent from head to toe.  I like the change in her foot towards the end of the first day - the stretched out foot is a more elegant line.  I'm also thinking of extending her hand instead of having it bend at the wrist.  She'll be holding drapery as well.

And of course while I'm painting Matt was building his sculpture in clay.

He knows the figure from inside out, building the bones and finding major landmarks on the body before adding the mass.  It's really interesting to watch him work, to see what curves and lines a sculptor finds on the form.  He is sensitive to every curve and relationship, and doesn't just dive in without a plan: he meticulously measures and documents proportion throughout the entire process.

Another artist created a small sculpture during the same session which was also really nice

And there were several other artists drawing and painting on this lovely Friday morning as well.  We meet again soon and I will keep you updated on all of the beautiful work!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

I am trying my hardest to use all of my available art supplies before I go out and buy new stuff!  The other day I went to Blick Art Supplies and told myself "Just get printer paper! That's all you need!" and still left with a new box of vine charcoal.  And masking tape.  But that's it.  I swear.

Anyway, this commitment to use what I have has led me to be pretty critical about the paintings and drawing around my studio - what is worth keeping, and what needs to be painted over?

I have had a couple of watercolor painting around for a while that I started during one of our group paint-outs in my friend's garden.  I was working in watercolor, and really was not pleased with the progress - the colors were not as deep as I wanted, I was having trouble with the aquaboard, just not getting anywhere, so I never did anything about it.

So, the first one in the purple sweater...I gave up on that one and covered it in gesso.  It will be painted over in the future!

The second one, I decided to use a semi-transparent layer of gesso/glaze and paint right over the watercolor in oil.

I am already so much happier with the painting.  I had to allow myself to let go of the previous intention of painting it in watercolor and find a way to make it work in a media that captured the colors better.

I also gessoed over a bunch of old charcoal drawing on watercolor paper mounted to foam core.  With a fresh pile of surfaces at the ready, I grabbed one for this 25 minute charcoal sketch from last night.

What's great about this surface is that it already had a bit of texture, color, and history, creating an interesting environment for the model.   

I also washed off an old aquaboard with another watercolor painting that I was never 100% happy with.

I liked parts of the painting, like her profile and neck, but never cared for the awkward hand on her chest.  So...I washed off the painting and primed the surface for oil.

And last night I painting from the live model on this panel.

I started with a quick sketch of the whole figure and the large shadow shapes.

Then I worked on the flesh tones and a little bit of background.

And to help make sure she was sitting solidly and I could establish the light source I continued with more flesh tones and blocking in the drapery.

I'm glad I am finishing up worthy pieces and brave enough to paint over others.