Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Good Week In The Life Of A Recovering Painter

Figures properly positioned on the canvas, painting over the pencil lines with very fluid Burnt Umbra is the next step,

Over a week of trying to build up energy  with regular strength building stretches  and cardio sessions, my painting sessions were limited and slow-going but regular, AND happily, my daily drawing sessions picked up.  It pays to be active.  And active I was in the studio and with my sketchpad.

This is my third exploration of the Venetian start method, but I did something differently. I reached for a Q-tip and began noting the shading around the heads.  I am expecting this extra bit of work to be obliterated when I wash the canvas down with Burnt Umbra and mineral spirits, but I will have familiarized myself with what areas are important in shaping the forms to emphasize their expressions.  It was slow going as usual; there's little difference between a pencil point and a  pointer brush.  Each head took about an hour, but the slow pace allowed me to put some thought into how to handle the background? Throughout this slow painting method, I am always correcting the drawing and weighing the importance of this or that detail.

Off time, I explored a reference photo I was given for a portrait and afterwards turned it down.  I didn't like the composition. I didn't like the look of the dog. And, after doing this get acquainted sketch, I was certain the reference wasn't something I wanted use.  I rejected the project.  The patron wasn't  happy, but when energy and strength are a priority and the project that's already on the easel is challenging, additional  projects must be considered carefully.

The puppy wasn't happy; the camera flash had destroyed her nap and  the photographer was given the evil eye.
 Rude Awakening,  a get acquainted graphite sketch, 4" x 6".

Then I explored figurative forms dancing--the Jitter Bug and the Swing.  These dances from the forties and fifties had as much to do with figures in fast motion as they did with the clothes the dancers wore.  The fabric lines emphasized both the body forms and the speed at which the figures were moving.  While I spent years of drawing nudes and learning anatomy, I spent little time watching fabrics in motion--and it's the fabric that makes these figures lively on the page--his pants in the first sketch and her skirt in the second.

Jitter Bug, graphite pencil sketch, 4" x 6"

You Ain't got Thing If You Ain't Got That Swing,  graphite pencil sketch 6" x 4"

Then, I was out of ideas.  But, there was my breakfast coffee cup, juice glass and eyeglasses on the table beside me.  Not terribly exciting, but still exercising the eye/hand and loosening up  the arm while drawing from life, instead of a photo.  Important stuff. It was a great week!  I hope you all had the same my friends. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Always Drawing

For starters:  a pencil drawing using the grid system for enlargement.

Usually I start a painting free hand using Burnt Umbra on a rag, but for portrait type paintings full of details like this one, I chose to use a reference photo proportional grid to facilitate placement of the figures and their baggage.  The grid worked fine for a while, but as I got into the woman on the right, I switched to freehand and depended on my eye. Grids are great, but they have a flaw:  it's about the width of your pencil line--and that measurement keeps increasing and throwing off the accuracy of the enlargement. The inaccuracy in this start drawing showed up when I got to  the head of the woman on the right.  Her face is too narrow. Her chin too square.  And her mouth is totally wrong.

Now, if this was a portrait painting where likeness is all important, I'd be in trouble.  I'd have relatives of the subjects complaining;  but this is a painting about two women who are  strangers to me. I don't care about them as people.  I can let her disfigurement go--except I can't.  The expression she has on her face makes the painting work. It makes the first woman's expression make sense-- and us curious about what they are talking about.   I will correct her when I paint in my pencil lines, stage two of this start method.

Painting for me has always been about drawing and figurative drawing is about accuracy.  The boy on the upper part of the sketch below was my first attempt at drawing the boy who kept demanding, "Draw me"! It looks like him, but lacked a personality, a story. So I did another sketch right below.  Here I got the intensity I saw in his face.  His expression is explained further by including his hand.  This is the drawing to develop.  I showed it to my young friend and he agreed. Then he downloaded the game app I like to pay the most on my iPad.

Draw Me!  Graphite pencil sketch, 4" x 6"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Slow Start, Slow Process, Perfect Winter Project


Everything about this realistic painting method requires patience, from proportioning the photograph to an appropriate size canvas, to painting the underpainting to glazing over it with color, a step I haven't taken yet.  I will with these two women Waiting At The Gate.

I took the photo a year ago or so?  Though I couldn't hear what they were talking about, their conversation was highly animated.  Looked like gossip.  The dark haired woman seemed to know the dirt--and it must have been one juicy story she was telling,  for the woman sitting next to her was aghast!  I took the shot with my iPad trying to look like I was reading


Then played with the subject off and on just for fun.



Fun turned serious, as I realized this subject was curious enough and challenging enough to hold my interest while I further explored the slow, but mostly calming, Venetian Painting Method--going beyond the grisaille stage into color glazes. I did a couple of graphite head studies and will probably do a few more paint studies to work out what counts, what doesn't in the composition.



 My continued interest in these women over past months revealed something more I want from my portraits:  I want them to pull the viewer in.  I want them to arouse curiosity, imagination--mine--and the viewer's so that they are more than a visual record of a person's existence.  

WHAT WERE THEY TALKING ABOUT?  My first thought was that the mouthy brunette was recounting a dreadful argument she had with her husband and that's why she walked out, bought a ticket to Taos and was going to spend the rest of her life painting.  Others might think something else?