Friday, May 31, 2013

Drawings and Paintings from the Live Model

I will say this again, because I believe it to be true, and vital to your success as an artist:  draw and paint from the live model as much as possible.  Yes, you can learn a lot from copying master works and photos as well. But from the live model, you can chose so much more - what to leave in, what to leave out, what to emphasize, what to soften.  As you perfect those skills from the live model, you can take that knowledge to a photograph - because an Artist should not just strive to copy from a photo, but should always be trying to lead the viewer to a new point of understanding.

Male nude, oil painting on oil primed linen, about 90 minutes

Crouching male nude, oil on oil primed canvas, about 90 minutes.  I was trying to avoid creating any hard edges.  This pose was particularly difficult for the model, the balance that was needed, and so I could not lock any element into place - he was always making minor shifts (and I say that with great respect for this model - who can hold almost any pose!   See the next drawing...) But as you draw and paint from the live model, you learn to be flexible, because it WILL change over time - the model breathes, takes breaks, shifts weight - even the lighting may change.  You have to always be open to change.

So...this is our interpretation of the "Flashdance" pose...all we needed to do was splash a bucket of water onto our model as he struggled to breathe for 25 minutes....

I'll post this one just as a teaser - I do have some progress shots and I fixed the dark spot by her chin.  But this was how far I got in about 115 minutes.  Oil painting on oil primed linen

I think this was about 90 minutes.  I loved her earrings, and tried to leave the earring on our right behind - drawing the negative space around it - instead of outlining the shape.  Charcoal.

Charcoal sketch, about 25 minutes.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oil Painting Portrait on Panel, The Woman with Dreads

A couple weeks ago our figure drawing group was working with one of our fabulous models, who has multiple tattoos and a head full of dreadlocks, ribbons and beads.  She posed for a couple portrait shots for me.

I worked on a panel that had already seen a couple of failed paintings, and got a fresh coat of oil primer.  When I primed it, I didn't worry about going all the way to the edges - I let a little bit of the previous layers hang around.

This is the "alien" stage...just a quick indication of the size of the head and starting to mass in shadows.

Blocked in some large areas of color.  I wanted the first few layers to be a bit more bold - I know I can always tone down the color, so I intentionally chose a more saturated orange

Considered the background, started playing around with blues and greens.  Very little detail in the eyes. Mostly shadows.

A few indications of the dreads on the rights

I like this stage, where there are transparent and opaque layers of paint.  Also, working on an oil primed panel, I can still wipe away a lot of paint

Getting a little closer to the skin tone, deeper shadows in the hair.  The shadows and light across her forehead were difficult.  I had to rework the area several times.

Deciding on a background color, and blocking in the rest of her shoulders.  I am using just oil paint and a touch of thinner, no other medium.  Rosemarie brushes all the way.

More interest added to the dreads, including some of the blue ribbon she has woven through her hair. I also toned down the highlights above her eyebrows, focusing more on the highlight on top of her forehead.  Three highlights was too distracting

(20" x 16")

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Portrait Painting Step by Step

I know!  Two posts in two days?!?! Crazy!

This is a recent oil portrait on acrylic primed canvas (I only mention the acrylic primed because I am trying to pay a lot more attention to my surfaces...trying new types of canvas and seeing what works best for me).  I think the size is 16" x 20".  The young man in the photo was walking into a restaurant near my studio just as I was leaving.  Much to my husband's delight I walked up to the young man and asked if he'd be interesting in modeling for a portrait sometime.  Well, he was incredibly nice, and turns out he is a very talented musician as well.  (I also took several shots of him playing his guitar - I loved his relaxed stance as he started to sing)

Anyway...this shot was great - taken against the antique stone wall in my studio, just out of the light from the window.

I started by blocking in the large shapes - no under painting really - just right in with a close approximation of value and color.

A little more pushing and pulling on the edges - does the hair have to move to the left? does the chin tilt down more?  Big shapes and detail.

Starting to define the end of the nose, the eye (keeping all of the details in the shadows - the eye should not pop out of the socket) and the mouth

Considered the background more at this stage - deepened the shadows, added more color to the shirt.  I wanted to be sure the value of my skin tone was correct in the context.

Finished blocking in the background, re-evaluated the highlights on the face, started to define the dreadlocks

To be product coming soon :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wrapping Up and Catching Up - Casey Baugh's Workshop and A New Painting

The end of April to the middle of May has disappeared in a whirlwind of activity.  Spring is normally my favorite time of year - the warmer afternoons that finish with cool evenings by the bonfire, the budding of the trees, the inkling to clean out all of the closets and drawers.  However, this spring has had a totally different feel to it.  The weather in GA was stuck in some kind of twilight zone, hanging on to cold temperatures and rain like winter was never going to end.

The crappy weather has impeded my progress on my summer tan, but has not hindered my process in the studio.  Of course, how could I not be inspired to be productive after spending a week with Casey Baugh teaching in my space?!?

Once I got over the shock of Casey actually walking through the door and standing in the center of my studio...I settled back in the comfy couch in my studio and just watched as he held court, talking about his painting philosophy and connecting with his students for the week.

The first day demo did not disappoint.  Casey spends a great deal of time on the set-up, settling into his surroundings, adjusting (and creating!) the perfect type of lighting scheme and posing the model until he can visualize the complete painting.  While this process may seem drawn out to those who just want to watch the magic when his brush hits the canvas, it's this mental process that Casey credits with much of his success.

The rest of the week was equally inspiring and insightful.  Casey demonstrated with two paintings based on photographs.  Watching him select the perfect shot, edit it, and again - visualize the complete painting before picking up his brush - was incredibly helpful.

Of course, the signature is a part of the painting - Casey has refined his signature and always places it with great care.  Often, this is before the painting is "finished" - considered part of the process, not the final touch.

Casey was so generous with his time, and hosted a more social gathering one evening where he completed another fabulous demo in more of a party setting...the vibe was much more relaxed as we talked, ate, drank, and heckled Casey as he created this masterpiece.

We also took some time to admire the sculpture that Matt Lewis has been working on in the studio.

On the final day, Casey arranged our lovely model against one of the fabulous 100 year old walls in the studio.  The lighting, the red dress, even her hair color were perfect together.  

Tucked out of everyone's way, I worked on a painting from a photo of the same pose.

Hearing Casey talk each artist though their painting, and watching him make adjustments, was incredibly helpful and I tried to keep two things in mind as I worked - push the full value range that I want to establish, and value is more important than color.

This is almost finished...I have since resolved the hand.  I will post another picture soon!

Great news:  Casey Baugh will be back at Studio 81 in August of 2013 AND in June of 2014.  If you are interested in getting on the waiting list for 2013 or signing up for 2014, please contact me.