Friday, July 20, 2012

of demos and all the fixin's

status after the demonstration
i had the opportunity to demonstrate painting  a portrait at a meeting of the la crosse arts and crafts society this last week. aside form a mini demo i did for eastbank artists with but 3 people in attendance this was my first attempt at a demonstration. what i learned was that this is a great way to meet fellow artists and have a good exchange of ideas....but... it is a lousy way of making good art (at least for me) as the distraction of talking and painting proved too much for me. the main problem was a lack of concentration at getting the correct ratio of water to paint in the brush. i was continually blotting, adding more concentrated paint, etc. so as you can see mainly a problem of too much water and too little paint. none-the-less i brought the painting home after an hour's work at the meeting and decided to see if i could save it.  i really liked the pose and drawing  and i didn't want to redraw it on another sheet if it could be avoided.  the first photo is the painting after the demo.

first steps in correction
the other things i noticed other than the watered down color was that the paint i used for the red (brown madder) kind of formed "blotches". i'm not entirely sure what caused this but i had noticed it before when using yellow ochre so it might be a characteristic of some pigments. the first thing i did was smooth out the wash on the near cheek by lightly brushing over a slightly more than damp 3/4" flat synthetic brush and lightly blotting with a tissue. while i waited for this to dry, i strengthened the value on her nose. to try to avoid the same problem as before i switched to burnt umber and carmine for my pigments and glazed over the near cheek after the prior "even-ing" had dried. some of the creases around her mouth were not quite the right shape so i scrubbed these out with the same brush and re-painted them in a better spot and with a better shape to convey her somewhat fun loving mood. her far eye was a little misshapen and i corrected that by flattening it out a bit. i added some more hair and changed the colors i was using from burnt sienna and cobalt blue to cerulean blue and ivory black. this produced a brighter color from the somewhat green-gray of the former. i started defining the top of her t-shirt and neck with dark splotches of violet produced by mixing ultramarine blue and carmine on the paper.

final steps of the day

some of these changes are not evident until the last photo at the left. i wanted a complimentary background for her shirt but more analogous for her face so a chose quinacridone gold toned down just a little with raw umber. for what i was attempting i think this is okay for a start. i will probably make it more violet as i move right.

despite the somewhat shaky start i think this is going to come out okay. its a little more "worked" than i like but not overly so. i just realized that the whole page is never shown and i will have to do that next time. as a spoiler, it just has her hands out stretched as she is relating a story so that the face is at the far left of the paper and her *left* hand is at the far right side of the paper.

despite the poorer quality of work that i produced i was overall pleased with doing the demonstration and there were many more pluses than minuses. i suspect that i would get better with practice so i won't shun another opportunity should it arise. that's all for now.


  1. Bob, this is really wonderful! I think it is right up there with some of your best work. I'm looking forward to seeing the finish.

    1. thanks, dena. i'm working on it and another, not too fast. i think the heat has gotten me down. i shouldn't complain as you probably have a lot more than we do.