Thursday, May 30, 2013

new present.

original photo

our daughter and her beau are avid hikers and backpackers, spending as much of their off-time trekking around the cascades, wasatch, and other sundry rocky mountain and cascade ranges. one summer they spent some time in the mountains of southern utah and sent a bunch of photos to us. the inspiration for this painting is from one of those. amanda tells me that the sun was so bright that they had to keep their eyes closed while the photographer framed the shot and quickly open them on his cue for the photo. this led to a rather wide-eyed stare that i had to sort of correct for the painting. i think i am going to save this for a christmas present if it turns out okay (if either are reading the cat's out of the bag.)

 as usual i am anticipating that the background will
cropped for composition
be a challenge for me. i want to suggest the location without making too big a deal out of it and detract from the portraits. we'll see what i come up with.

i actually did the drawing for this last fall prior to the ted nuttall workshop i attended out in seattle while visiting the subjects. i never got around to painting it so decided now was the time. as sort of an experiment i decided to use two different combos for the flesh colors. on david i am going to use cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale (or raw sienna if in shade) and on amanda i am going to use scarlet lake and cadmium orange. for both, cerulean blue will be the cool.  so, i put down a light, varied wash over much of the surface and let it dry. when this was dry to the touch i started on the features using a #16 round cosmotop brush and more or less the same colors as the underlying wash. 

first washes and features
at this point i am thinking, "so far, so good."

this quickly moved to the point that i definitely got too dark on david's tan. even george hamilton would be shocked! i decided to sleep on this overnight. when i came back in the morning i still thought it was too dark....its even more so than this photo below makes out. so, with more than just a little trepidation i sprayed a light mist over his face, let it sit for about a minute to loosen some paint and gently blotted the surface. i did this three times and ended with the result at the bottom which i think i can live with. as i darken the surrounding background i think this will make his shadows appear even lighter.

value too dark on man's face
i am actually fairly happy with the value of the shadow on amanda's face. i guess i did learn something from the debacle of the last shadow! a little bit of noodling with the background, having decided to put  some mid value pine trees in the mid ground behind the figures, brought this session to an end. more probably tomorrow if this insistent rain continues as predicted. the sun in this painting looks very inviting just about now.

after a wash off or two and more painting

apologies regarding the painting photos. my decade old compact digital camera is finally giving up the ghost and about half of the pixels on the sensor have dropped out. i first noticed this when the file size dropped in half when up loading. then i noticed the fuzziness. a new camera is in order i which one? i am definitely not photographer (as if that needed saying!) and dslr's are not my thing. so a compact, point and shoot with enough megapixels and good stable zoom. any suggestions????

portrait(s) finish: " so...what's for dessert"

i put the final touches on the portrait commission yesterday, but was too lazy to post it. there has been very little more of substance sine the last posting. i darkened the vertical shapes and added a bit of charged color here and there...mostly turquoise blue and a mixture of cadmium red light and alizarin crimson permanent after two separate glazes of prussian blue and alizarin crimson, respectively. i painted around the intricate design on the woman's dress with a desaturated ultramarine blue (raw sienna). i think that's it. just awaiting final decision about matting (yes or no) by the client then off in the post.
"so...what's for dessert?" (14"X20")

Monday, May 13, 2013

finish up of "geronimo" sketch

i decided to take a break from the double portrait for at least this morning and instead noodle around with the painting of geronimo that i think i started back in january. it was on bristol board and i wasn't happy with the surface and how it was reacting to the paint. so that seemed the perfect thing to experiment with some things i had been thinking about.

the two things that i tried here on the background were using stencils of lettering and stamping paint on using a number of objects,s found and made. i found some pictures of apache pictographs and drew them on a piece of foam core. then i put a liberal line of "tacky glue" and let it dry. my first go showed that the paint softened the glue enough that it needed sealing. i sealed it with a spray or krylon acrylic coat and tried it again. seemed to work. the ones i chose were mainly for their shape but represented raiders, earth, and sadness.
"the swan will soon sing geronimo's song" (14"X12")

the letter stencils were just a plastic sheet i picked up at a local chain art/craft store. i daubed paint on the openings with a small (#8) round brush mixing up the colors a bit. the whole thing seemed a little rigid to me so i liberally spattered clear water over some of the figures.

to finish up i put a loose darker wash over the top and let it drip down with a little coaxing and direction.

all in all, i think that there is some merit to these techniques and i will do some more experimenting with them on another painting. i think making some small stamps with both pictographs and even some abstract shapes on a linoleum block might give a little more even paint distribution than the "tacky glue" deal....but i must say that the randomness of the paint application with the "glue" approach appeals somewhat to me.

that's all for today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

continuing on with "so...what's for dessert?"

i haven't much time today as i have a tee-time in about an hour but i thought i would post the work from yesterday. about 45 minutes of painting mainly on john's face and the background. i think these are the before and after photos, the last just as i ended work for the day. more tomorrow.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

new commission: just a start

i actually received this commission a bit before we left for borrego springs, but because of the trying conditions out there i put it off until we returned home. there are a couple of challenges here for me. first of all i not only know these folks i am also related to them by marriage. the woman connie is my wife's sister and the guy john is her husband. so i know that i am going to put quite a lot of stress on myself to get a good likeness. that may not all that difficult but to keep it fresh at the same time will be the trick. additionally they wanted a landscape format which for the source photos they sent me was not ideal. lastly, they are a pretty conservative couple and any quirky compositional or technique things will probably not work well with their sensibilities.

i finally settled on the composition you see here. at a life painting session last fall i was struck by how vibrant and glowing the skin tones were when framed by a darker purple-ish gray neutral. i changed mush of the darker background in the reference photo to this color and made some geometric shapes to frame the figures. all this was drawn and transferred to a 300#, 15"X22" piece of fabriano artistico hot press paper.

i will just put up the stage photos as i moved along. they are more or less about 30 minutes of work between each. as it is a new "color" for me i will note that the dark background is a loosely mixed combination of cobalt blue and cadmium red light. so far the likenesses are coming along okay and i am liking the dark strips of color behind the figures. i am struck by how little detail is necessary in john's profile to get the effect that i want. it is mainly driven by the outline of the front of his face. that's good as there is a paucity of half-tones (or the whole thing is a half-tone) in the photo i am using which means that if i am going to put them in i will have to make them up. that was a challenge for connie's face. that is the trouble with a flash photo.

so far so good

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

"the betrothal of miss victoria": wrap-up

starting point for background
i tweaked a few of the features on the lady's face and finished the fellow's face. i didn't a huge dark all alone down in the right corner so i let the clothing sort of fade out near the bottom and right. the main thing was the background. still struggling somewhat with this. i am going to have to have a long talk with ted nutgall when he is here in a few weeks about his ideas and how he decides what to do. right now i think that the backgrounds along with composition are the major things that i need some work on.

to get back to the background, i painted on successive glazes of yellow, and a variety of blues looking for just the right tint. the first was ultramarine blue which because of the red in it left things a little dingy and grayer than i wanted. the second was cobalt which was pretty pure , transparent blue which brought it back toward the freshness i was looking for. the last which i am going to stick with was a light value wash of peacock blue that i found in my "blues" drawer waaaaaaaay in the back. it may be just a little too "sweet" but i am already just a bit darker than i intended to go and i opted to leave it at this stage rather than search for the perfect hue only to have too dark a painting.

here is the beginning point for the background and the end after a few the stages as i went through with each of several washes each done with a #26 round brush. of note, i did apply each glaze over the *right* or shadow sides of the figures to "plant" them into the scene and to help that recede a bit. i then went back after each wash while it was still wet and softened the hard edge. all in all, i think this came out pretty close to what i was striving for.
"the betrothal of miss victoria" (15"X20")