Friday, June 29, 2012

"father and son": continuing efforts

i have been at it for about three hours now and i think that is about all i will have in me today. i will post the photos of my progress in about 20 minute sittings. what i usually do during the 15-20 breaks is get clean water, clean off the palette, rinse the brushes, and play a few tunes (or learn) on the guitar. lately i ahve been working on some jim croce songs namely "you don't mess around with jim," and "it doesn't have to be that way." i actually used to know these and regularly played them but after a hiatus of 12 years my mind and fingers are not as nimble as they once were.  so, here are the steps with a little commentary.

first 25 minutes
here is mainly work on ben's hair, chin, neck. i thought his lip was pulled up on his *right* and was about to change it when i looked at the photo and realized it IS pulled upward by sollie's head. so, i will leave it alone. his *left* eye is a little high but i think i will leave it alone for now and assess when i am closer to done. it might not prove to be that big a deal.

the second session was used mainly for work on sollie's face and head with the steps about the same for his face as for ben's (or any other one's for that matter).

the third and last session today was spent refining sollie's face, neck, hair (what little he has at this stage), and adding a small negative shape off the *right*head to define the lateral extent of his head.

second 25 minutes
last 20 minutes

Thursday, June 28, 2012

father and son: change of plans

drawing and initial wash for "father and son"
for a number of reasons i decided to put off re-painting "catch me, grandpa." instead i am going to attempt a portrait-type painting of our son ben and his young son sollie while on an outing. the paper is a cold press, fabriano artisitico, 140#, sheet measuring 20"X16" but i am using only 19" of the height. the drawing was with HB graphite using a semi-contour approach. i hadn't done a painting with a baseline initial wash lately so i laid in a light value wash over the whole sheet making the center over the baby a more saturated, warm color using cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale. everything receding from that was cooler, bluer, and less saturated. i used a 1" flat kolinski sable brush.

detail of face on "father and son"
when this was good and dry (tested by the absence of coolness when touched with the back of my hand) i started with the features. ben's nose was the first object of my attack  using the same colors i usually mix for caucasian skin, namely cadmium red light, raw sienna (it's in shade), and cerulean blue. putting in the underplane shadow and drawing the color both up and over the top and down into the upper lip using a clean, damp brush. this was followed by the *left* eye and then the *right* eye. the sequence i used is documented in numerous previous posts. the top of his forehead and temple areas were framed with burnt umber and cobalt blue with the lost edges on the *left* temple and *right* upper forehead near the part. i painted on an initial wash over the lips and shadow below the lower lip for the last of the work today.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"catch me, grandpa" : lessons learned and redux

after looking a the final result of the last painting more and more of it began to bother me but i couldn't quite put my finger on the problem. in an attempt to resolve these issues i posted it on the brush with water (bww) forum to get some good feedback. which i got. eyes too high, not enough under chin showing for an upward gaze, foreshortening not correct, color temperature of receding shapes too warm.....i could go on and on.

this experience brings out a good point that, at least for me, i can't emphasize enough. in order to improve at almost anything, but especially at art, one must seek the opinion of others who aren't afraid of offending and speak their mind. to be sure the requester must have thick skin, but eventually one becomes inured to this sort of thing in the spirit of improvement. many sites where one posts end up being more of a mutual admiration exercise which serve little more than to "stroke" one's ego. i don't think this leads to change or improvement but only more of the same....which may or may not be good. an opportunity has been lost. to be sure, bww is not such a site and proof is in the results of the posting of this painting which garnered much good commentary all of which was helpful and for which i am thankful. these folks care about each other, their craft, and helping each other improve. what more could one want? so, if any bww-ers are reading or have read this, kudos and my undying gratitude.

i will start version 2.0 later today after a workout and lunch.

Friday, June 22, 2012

catch me, grandpa: finishing touches

after sleeping on this overnight i decided to "straighten up" the dark shape on the right side so that it more or less paralleled the diagonal of the one on the left, but i tried to make the sides where it touched the edges to be of different lengths. this along with finishing the checks on her gingham dress and placing a few more strands of hair over her torso and shoulders pretty much finished this off. if i am being honest i did noodle around with some niggling little things around about her face but they amounted to little and i managed to stop before i made a mess of things.

"catch me, grandpa," 16"X20
i am pleased with how this came out both from the perspective of the likeness but also the planning regarding the background that i did up front. although it made the painting process much less exciting and less of an adventure, it made a better painting, i think. i really don't need more excitement right about now.

i hope you enjoyed viewing as much as i enjoyed painting. off to tackle a little more "you don't mess around with jim". who knows? i may even dare to "spit in the wind."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"catch me grandpa": a bit more but not quite done

first 20 minutes
i think the jet lag has abated at this point so i ventured back into the studio this morning. these photos of the progress represent about 20-30 minutes of successive work. i think the brush work and colors are somewhat self-evident so i will keep the description to a minimum.

i mainly worked on her face and upper torso and anterior neck flesh colors during this initial 20 minutes.

second session: 30 minutes
in the second sitting after a change of water, brush rinsing and a few runs-through of jim croce's "you don't mess around with jim," (indeed) i came back and almost finished her face and modeled the far hand and near arm. i painted little bit of her hair that drapes over both her near and far shoulders at this time as well.

last 20 minutes for the third sitting
during the last session again after a rousing rendition of continuing not to "tug on superman's cape" and refraining from "pulling the mask off the old lone ranger," i tackled the background. this thinking about and actually painting some of the background in a more or less planned manner rather than a last minute splash and dash is something i really need to work on. to set off the figure i decided to paint the areas around the door in front of which she is leaping. those areas are deeply recessed and therefore in shadow so that gave me the perfect opportunity to put in some darks. i purposefully put in the diagonals representing the planks in the door to give a sense of movement and tension. after doing that, i finished painting her hair by wetting portions along the contour of the waves and then dropping in burnt umber and quinacridone gold. the scrapes with the palette knife came last. the tress over her forehead is too dark so i will have to lighten it at the next setting

i think that it is starting to come together. just a few more details in the background and finishing the pattern on her dress should do it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

back at it : "catch me, grandpa"

i tried to paint a little yesterday after we arrived home on the "red eye" from seattle on sunday (?monday). yawn. the operative word here is "little" closely followed by "bad idea." so here is the place at which i stopped. more tomorrow after i am better rested and not prone to as many ill-thought-out brush strokes.

next steps, "catch me, grandpa"

Saturday, June 9, 2012

seattle interlude: sketchbook work

i do a bit more sketchbook work than i have posted here on this blog. working in the sketchbook allows one to work on ideas as well as technique without the fear of failure on a larger and more costly scale.

we are currently out in seattle visiting the kids and decided this morning to do a sketch of a painting i hope to do on a larger sheet of real watercolor paper when we get home. this is inspired by a photo by steve evans, known as babasteve on flickr, who has graciously and generously given me permission to use his photos as "models." this elderly madagascan woman seems full of life and wry humor. i love her hands, knotted and calloused.

no steps just the finished project. it was done on a 12"X9" aquabee sketchbook that has 93# paper that is between hot press and bristol in finish. it takes wet medium pretty well but the paint soaks  in a little too fast to produce finished work in watercolor. i really like the pose and the subject so i will definitely paint a full rendering of this in the studio back in la crosse.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"catch me, grandpa!": next project

i have had this photo of our grand daughter sophie for quite a while. it is evident when i realize she just turned 11 years old. i guess it is just me that hasn't aged. i decided to use the upper part of this for my next painting. in keeping with the focus to get as many faces/figures for the show as possible this will mainly be a portrait (with action!).

drawing and initial painting

as i am doing now i enlarged the face to be about 8" from hairline to chin to make it "real size" to the painting. this to make the drawing part easier. i used a 20"X16" piece of 140# fabriano artistico hot press paper. after the drawing was effected i started the painting process at the nose. i used a #8 faux kolinsky (dick blick) brush which is remarkably like the real thing for 1/10th the cost; points well, holds a lot of water and snaps into shape with a flick of the wrist. the colors were cadmium red light, cadmium yellow pale and cerulean blue. i  have done this so many times here it will not reiterate the individual steps.
 after drawing this out up, down, and sideways i moved on to the near eye. shadow under the upper lid, iris, medial socket, pupil, lateral socket, blending into the hair line. all this to make these shapes connect (connect, connect). i finished work today with painting the large cheek shape starting at the nasolabial fold inferiorly and drawing the paint up out and down. this later using relatively more of the red than the other pigments.

close up of initial washes

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"horse, lakota artist": intermediary and finishing steps

next steps
while looking at this painting and its status to date i realized that there wasn't too much more to do; perhaps an hour or so. since i had decided that this would be a flat wash background in large part very early on i knew that i couldn't avoid doing something about it very much longer. taking the "bull by the horns" i mixed up a small puddle of raw sienna/raw umber/yellow ocher ( not sure how much of each as i have them all in the same well on my palette) and taking my 1" flat sable brush i started in the upper left. i painted a flat wash using the usual technique of working across the paper leaving a bead of paint at the bottom and then picking it up on the next swipe. as i moved down the sheet i varied the ratio of the three colors and even added another yellow (quinacridone gold) down near and over onto the jacket. when this was done i had covered all the background and jacket with more of less the same color(s).  while that dried i worked on the tuft of hair in his pony tail at the back of his head using ultramarine blue and burnt umber. you are familiar with my ubiquitous scraping by now. the hat was next using ultramarine blue, brown madder, and mineral violet and a #10 round sable. by this time the background/jacket wash had dried and i put in the rest of the colors (ultramarine blue/burnt umber) and the cast show from the *left* collar with burnt umber/quinacridone gold and a touch of blue. the t-shirt was the same mixture and put down as a flat wash. i thought that the *left* cheek needed a bit more shadow so i strengthened and enlarged that with the same flesh colors as before. now that i see it here i think i was a bit exuberant, but will leave it as i think only a mess would result if i stated fooling with it.

"horse, lakota artist" 20"X16"
i defined the upper back with a negative shape of some dark value of neutral grayish color and blended it into his hair and collar. some texturing, folds, and collar seam on the t-shirt was next with just darker values of the same colors. likewise for the folds and shadows on his jacket but with the burnt umber/quinacridone gold/blue paint. he has rather severe acne scarring which i tried to represent by the spatters on his face and although i like them i don't know if they really do look like scars or freckles.a few more touches on the face that were really fussing to the max and were only serving to make it look more rigid rather than better so i forced myself to stop that nonsense. lastly, i thought that the composition needed something along the left edge so i painted a long rectangle (stripe) of the face colors from top to bottom . i wish i had softened some of the edges  but all in all i think it did what i wanted.

 i am beginning to like working on this hot press finish and the resultant wet, watery, raw look that  it produces. indeed it is harder to get blending, but unless someone has a technique special to this paper i think that is the nature of the beast. love it of leave it!  here is the finished version of a talented lakota artist thurman horse (website with some of his work). when i next journey to pine ridge i will take a print out for him.

Friday, June 1, 2012

horse, lakota artist

drawing and inital painting on "horse, lakota artist"
a prominent lakota artist thurman horse is the subject of the next painting project. he and some friends allowed me to take their photo a while back while on a visit to pineridge reservation in south dakota. one of his friends jim was the subject of a painting back about 5 months ago or so, "pineridge jim."

i started by enlarging the photo of thurman to the size i wanted for the painting (about 8" from cap to chin) to make  drawing to proportion easier. i then drew his likeness onto a piece of 20"X16" 140# hot press fabriano artistico paper using a modified contour technique. once that was accomplished the rest of his torso and clothing was relatively easy. i started the painting at the tip of the nose by painting the shadow on the underplane. i used a #8 round faux kolinsky brush (dick blick) and the colors were brown madder, raw sienna, and cobalt blue throughout all these steps. after the paint was put down i rinsed and shook out the brush and then drew the first application up and over the top and sides of his nose. the wash was released into the upper lip with a dab of cobalt blue. in order to get some reflected light on the underplane of the nose i put in a dab of quinacridone gold and then when this whole thing dried overpainted the shadow on the upper lip. this gave quite a bit of depth  (or prominence) to the tip of the nose.

close up detail of "horse, lakota artist"

i next moved onto the *left* eye. i started with the shadow under the upperlid, the iris with burnt umber, and medial dark shadow and moved up over the brow area. i drew some of this over the upper lid to make the "fold" shadow. when the iris had dried just a bit i added the pupil wet-in-wet with an undiluted dab of ultramarine blue being careful to avoid the highlight. the iris was released into the lower lid and the folds/ bulges of the lower lid to complete this area.

following this i painted the nasolabial folds and *left* cheek losing the later into the dark hair (adding ultramarine blue/burnt sienna) and bottom fold of his cap (mineral violet). he has prominent acne scars (as do most of the lakota from a type of severe acne unique to native americans) and i experimented with some fine spatters on the cheek. i think that will work if i decide to add the scars....which i think i will...for the sake of accuracy. the same sort of treatment was given to the *right* lower cheek, hair and hat. the hair strands were scraped in with the palette knife as the wash dried a little.

next steps in "horse, lakota artist"

the *right* eye was completed the same as the *left*. i next moved onto the mouth which was brown madder with some cobalt added. the shadow over his teeth was darker at the corners and just more cobalt added. the prominent shadow under his lower lip was painted with a dab of pure cobalt blue and then drawn out with the rest of the "flesh" colors laterally and slightly inferiorly. i treated the chin sort of the same as the nose putting some reflected light under the chin using quinacridone gold and then painting the rest of the colors around it. this was carried up over the lateral cheek on the his *right* and down onto the neck. lastly, on the face/figure i defined the *right* jacket collar and neck with a dark wash of ultramarine blue/burnt sienna releasing this shape into some shadow fold on his jacket. i am going to try to put a rather flat wash on the background and am going to go for a grayed complement to the major face colors. so, i think some raw sienna/yellow ochre-based wash. i put a bit down on the upper left just to get an idea how i might look, and how the paint would handle on the hot press finish.  that's all for now. more later today.