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Monday, March 12, 2012

New Week, More Portraiture Agonies



Right after I finish the laundry:

Above is a charcoal, twenty minute more-or-less impression of my number one son and most cherished technological adviser. I'm getting tired of scrutinizing my aging image. He will be my next portraiture victim for the sake of art.

Art wasn't the big deal over the weekend; Honey's computer was. Honey's monitor gave out--screen went nearly black. Our tech adviser flew into town to his dad's rescue and analyzed the situation. He pronounced the laptop obsolete and took us to Best Buy where, with his expert guidance, we got a shiny new one with a new operating system and larger monitor screen. We took our hero to lunch. Then the rest of the day was spent nervously watching him set up, hook up and the transfer files to the new machine. I served the wine. When our guy rode off into the sunset, everything was humming softly, particularly Honey.

In spite of computer problems, progress is being made on the unknown kids' portrait. I am slowly zeroing in on the wee one's tiny hands. They were easy in pencil, not so easy in oils. Not having acquired a mahlstick as yet, I have to watch out for my palm touching the big kid's wet arm and my nose from touching her wet nose. I'm not totally happy with the skin tones--pink. And the painting is still looking like a copy of a photograph, which disturbs me. The client thought it was going well though, when she popped by, and that's what counts.

Looser strokes with no blending would make me happier. In the shower this AM, (my thinking place), doing another painting intuitively--my normal approach to flowers and landscapes--might be what I need to get me excited? Reviewing Frans Hal's work moved me--even though my third son asked when we spoke on Sunday, "Who's the clown with the wild hair in your blog."

POST SCRIPT: I read an interesting thing in Victoria Lisi's book, Vibrant Children's Portraits. She uses colored pencil for very fine details--like eyelashes and eyebrows. That never occurred to me. I tried it on the older child's eyelashes and the pencils did nice things. Of course the paint must be totally dry. --Victoria's portraits are vibrant--not in brush stroke, in color. Orange seems to be a favorite skin tone or the photography of her art wasn't good enough? Nonetheless, the book is worthwhile. She discusses children's physical proportions as compared to adult's thoroughly, spacial information I needed to review.

20 comments:

  1. That's the problem with laptops.. My son's monitor went out and since he had a desktop all we had to invest in was a monitor.. Transferring files is such a tiresome p.i.t.a.
    I love your charcoal and watercolor work... I may be in the minority on not liking oils... Its the effect they give off that doesn't appeal to me..

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  2. So did you have to do WV to get comment? I'm replying via another computer--the new one--to see for myself, if I was successful turning off the WV. --Oils were right for this portrait--or acrylics done in the manner of Alex Katz, with a finish coat of semi-gloss varnish.

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  3. In this portrait, you fooled me.. Doesn't look like oils at all.. more like watercolor.. What turns me off about oils, is the heaviness it can give off.

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  4. Sounds like you had a productive few days.

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  5. Ah, happy that your Honey's new computer is up and running thanks to your "Hero" (haha). Young people must feel so smug...coming to our rescue like they do. Well, your hero is a handsome lad and I think your baby and Mother portrait is coming along great! (A double portrait AND one of them is a baby--What a challenge!) You are doing a fantastic job..I'll check back to see what you do next :)

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  6. Very beautiful...I like it
    Ciao from Italy

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  7. Fabulous work! looking forward to seeing what you do next :)

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  8. I think your mother and child are coming out beautifully - and they don't look like a photo to me, though I understand what you are saying. It is really cool to see all of your references and thoughts in seeing this piece to completion. I really enjoyed your weekend artist features though I had no time to comment.

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  9. Oil paint can seem heavy if it's darkened and yellowed with age or done with a thick impasto texture, Chris. Today if you're doing thick impastos textured painting would be acrylics by themselves, or with a thin oil top layer. What's nice about doing portraits in oils is they have a lovely semi gloss finish and do not require matting or glass--or even a frame if the stretcher bars are thick enough. This painting will require a frame--it's just that kind of sentimental, old time painting.

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  10. Two heads, one on top of the other, is indeed a challenge--more than I was ready to take on using oils. But oils are right for this, so I struggle on. I like my idea of doing another painting for myself where I can be myself and see what happens. The time factor says finish this one and get it out of the studio. --but next time at the art supply store, I wouldn't be surprised if I picked up another 12 x 16 canvas and just went at it. On commissions using the parents' photo, I don't think there's much play allowed. They want to see as close to what they gave you as possible.

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  11. It was a full weekend Evelyn--too full. Computer problems make me edgy. Doing a painting with no artistic license makes me edgy. Having my son take over the computer installation was a joy.

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  12. ME TOO Kyla. Everyday a little bit more.

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  13. Dan you're scaring me. It's two kids--one an infant, the other older--maybe five, maybe three--looks like five. There are no mothers in this painting and if the head is looking like a mom's, the paint needs to be lifted and the head needs to be redrawn. Reference photos must be taken by the artist who is going to use them for whatever subject. I didn't take this one, the parents did. That's why I have no artistic license to screw around--pardon my French. Worries me.

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  14. One other thought, forgot to ask - wouldn't there be a steadfastness problem with pencil for lashes?

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  15. The clients are always right.

    I really enjoyed your earlier blogs with self-portraits; I had no time to comment, though--I could only nod in approval.

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  16. That's what I thought too Dan, but then I thought it's nearly impossible to erase colored pencil off paper without picking up the paper too. Colored pencils are tough and waxy. Then with oils, there's a final varnish coat and that would seal the deal. So I tried them. They did well.

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  17. A nod of approval means a lot coming from you Hallie.

    I hope things are going well with your husband. These are treacherous waters we're in in this quarter. My Honey is having his cataracts removed in April--two ops lined up OMG! He's nervous and doesn't believe, it's nothing. Back ailments and back operations are not nothing. My best wishes for your husband's full recovery and your return to your very unique art. Your imagination is wonderful.

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  18. Sounds like the death of Honey's computer was a blessing... you got a new computer AND an awesome visit :-)))

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  19. I thought so Agnes. Plus with the money our consultant saved us by saying take the less expensive model; it's just as good, I bought a 32" flatscreen for my studio. That was a best buy. My techy who installed all is a perinatologist on week days; it was very kind of him to come to our aid.

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