Friday, August 24, 2012

My Camouflage Painter's Coat.


l.w. roth dressed for action in the studio

If my smock falls on the floor, I hardly notice it.

Mostly my shorts and a tee shirt. And when I remember,which sometimes I do and sometimes I don't, I wear the doctor's coat Zac's dad gave me. The decorative band, of a million paintings, across the front, matches the floor of my studio to a tee. If I laid down, my grandkids would have a hard time finding me during hide and seek; I blend right in. I wore my coat today. I'm trying to be more professional on the job and protect my tee shirts. I thought I was real lucky the other day when just a little mineral oil got out the offensive red oxide on the one shirt I like with my white shorts.

Zac is definitely Zac. Now, his hair, the background, his shirt. Then back to Steve.

 Just a half day, I got a lot further with Zac. I'm down to fine brush work on his features, making him "sit right" in the background and painting his shirt. Then I'll turn my attention to Steve. I know his features better than Zac's, being that I watched them form as he grew from infancy to manhood.

 It's a long process painting a portrait, gestural or formal. I think formal may be easier--not in the painting of it, but in the set up.  Under formal conditions, the artist is in charge of the lighting. The sitter's pose is carefully adjusted along with spotlights and keylights and controlling the natural light. Doing a portrait from a "snapshot," the lighting is what is was in nature. The reference photo of Zac and Steve was taken near noon out-of-doors on a sunny day. Warm white light is definitely on the palette and the shadows are--or should be--dark. This lighting is what has caused me problems. But I've got it now.

The left eye needs to be more piercing. This society dame knows who she is
and the power she has.  I'll bet Sargent knew it too.  High society was the
source of his patrons. That's why he was a known social climber .
Warming up with Sargent, is interesting in figuring out what the artist used. There's definitely white pastel. Perhaps black pastel? And charcoal sticks as well as pencils. In my copies, I've only used charcoal sticks and my knead eraser. Pastel pencils would be handy too. I'm just too lazy to get them out. Getting too exacting would push the drawing beyond warm up into actually copying the master. I'm not interested in that--although there's probably some big money to be made for an original "Sargent drawing."

Edwin's glass eye needed adjustment. I couldn't resist
a go back in this morning. Learning how to see is
the major payoff of copying the masters. 






27 comments:

  1. I love the idea of the hide and seek game. You are right, the coat would render you invisible.

    Great work.

    One exercise I have done, which definitely takes longer than the warmups, is to make a copy that's the same size as the drawing being copied, and gridded (original and copy) so I am drawing the same proportions, with as close to the same materials as I can come in modern times. Line for line. Tough but instructive.

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    1. And that's fresh out of the dryer:-) Hopeless.

      Thanks. It's coming and I'm enthused. I feel hot on my pursuit.

      I don't want to be exacting in my copies. I just want to explore the how, the what and perhaps sharpen my eye. I used to use grid systems for graphite portraits, but I'd rather sharpen my own free hand drawing skills and develop my own way of putting things down. Besides grid systems are tedious and often the results are stiff.

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    2. I didn't mean as a substitute, just as another possible exercise.

      I have done both, and learned from both. Though truthfully, with the exception of the freehand drawing of a sculpture that I made recently, I haven't done either in a couple of years. Probably time to do a few more.

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    3. I say go with the music. I got this book of Sargent's drawings. I was revved up by the WS. A lot of them are in pencil, but some are in charcoal. The charcoal ones interest me--they follow the paint the light, not the details. So I thought I give it a whirl. I don't expect to make a regular practice of this. I'm just doing it to reinforce the new approach I picked up.

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  2. I am amazed over the work you put into it, how much preparation you do and your enormous patience. Can I borrow some?

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    1. Absolutely. I am dogged in my pursuit of knowledge when it comes to something that intrigues me. Portraiture does--it's akin to drafting, which is my forte. But today, I might work on my pastries and finish that triptyck, just to lighten up. OR I might just carry on? I feel hot and I'd like to be on to the next. I figure I need a lot of these under my belt--now whose impatience is showing:-)

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  3. Art everywhere... art in words, on a painter's coat, on the floor, definitely with oil and charcoal plus pastels. But, the greatest art is the artist herself! Lovely to see you Linda, on this photo :)
    Warm regards.

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    1. You are so kind Konstantina. I should have titled this post My Coat of Many Colors--I may just edit, or not? I've tried soaking in bleach, but nothing moved. So I wear it proudly. It's my flag.

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  4. I am glad you just freehand the Sargent drawings...that seems like the right attitude--he certainly could draw about better than anyone else on the planet..he made it seem so effortless. You look good no matter what you wear. I have paint on lots of my clothes. I never wear anything "good" in a painting session. Your double portrait is looking amazing. You should be very proud of it--it's splendid!

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    1. I wouldn't think of copying the master any other way. The idea is not to mimic, the idea is to get the gist of his drawing and absorb whatever you can to add to your own drawing skills.
      I would prefer never to have to use the grid system for laying out a painting. I just want to sharpen my eye/hand coordination, albeit instant comprehension of proportions.

      The portrait is looking good. And it's small, something I had a lot of difficulty with. So it seems I'm moving on. After pastel exploration for quick value studies, I'm thinking formal portraiture workshop--or class (easier on the body). Looking at Sargent's portraits, as loose (gestural) as he was in the clothing of his subjects, their faces are done tighter, more formally. Anyway, it would be a logical addition to my year of portraiture study.

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  5. Beautiful work, Linda! Wonderful sketches!

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    1. Thanks Hilda. I'm thinking I'm showing work in progress too much and boring the hell out of the world. But successful people are boring for they are totally submerged in their work, honing their skills and reaching for the stars. I would like to be as successful as you. Your portraits are amazing.

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  6. I'm off to the printers early, Linda ... but I must spend a lot of time with your blog ... I'm missing so much really good stuff ... not to mention your humor (humour). Life is getting in the way again!

    You look a million dollars btw (Federal tax excluded)

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    1. Aren't you a lucky duck. I hope business is booming. Here I can hear a faint tapping in the background as construction is slowly coming alive. I wish I didn't have as much time to blog as I do, I'd rather be at the drafting board and off to the printer's too. Ellis is less retired than he was and is joyfully back managing the travails of joinery on several projects. But the whole world and this household too will be a much happier place when this big gun is back drafting the more involved and lucrative projects. May the real estate business boom and may everybody have fluid, liquid cash flow to support the arts. May the merry-go-round go round and you be going to the printer's daily. Enjoy your business.

      How bout your prince Harry. What a devil. What a good boy! But Grandma, what about his bodyguards and collecting guests' cell phones? That was the conversation at our dinner table last night. Not much of a scandal if you ask me. Just boys being boys and girls being girls.

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  7. Linda, your keen-ness and zeal is so inspirational! :)

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    1. Thank you madam, but you're pretty inspirational yourself. It's just a shame that I am all thumbs when it comes to watercolor:-)

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  8. Wonderful progress...and I love the Sargent warm-ups! Never do that myself, perhaps I should. It's paying dividends for you....

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    1. His painterly handling of the charcoal is what intrigued me. Henry Yan is supposed to be very good too. I haven't bought that book yet--Henry Yan's Figurative Drawing Techniques and Tips.
      I like painterly.

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  9. I love everything you do Linda! Today I especially love your painters coat. From the looks of it the coat makes me think you are a very action orientated and very high energy painter who can't stop or won't stop to clean the paint brush with a cloth when your smock will do just fine. I am wondering if your followers will begin to post images of their "painting gear". Could be very interesting. I may post my " very colorful and paint covered" apron soon! We are lucky to be artists who blog!
    (I enjoy your blog and look forward to viewing it every day. Thanks for all you do.)
    Take care and peace.
    Michael

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    1. I do splash around and wipe hands, not brushes on my coat. All of that is acrylics; I'm getting neater as I'm working with oils. Oils are tighter. I do use cloths incessantly. And I do meticulously clean my brushes--to the point I am now thinking about clamping them with paper clips to keep their shape.

      I'm one of those who knows that out of chaos comes order. If the studio is too spic and span, I know nothing is getting done. I call the state of my studio organized mess. No one is allowed to clean it but me. And that's usually in between projects. Problem is: with painting, that's never a convenient in between time.

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  10. Dear Linda, nice to see you at work! Studying a oil painter has more charm! The easel with the work above,
    the stained apron ... so artistically! Get your rhythm on days with Sargent and YOURSELF (the hardest part of the game).
    The search for each artist about his work resembles a birth.
    And sometimes ... also to
    a rebirth. I think that something like this has already been done at you
    and your work!

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    1. All the paint you see is acrylic. Oils are a bit neater. I don't have the inclination to splash them around as I do with acrylics, a much more fluid medium. I should get a new coat, but my son, the doctor gave me this one when he had just graduated medical school and was in his residency. The name with the initials of accomplishment on the pocket make it very special to me.

      The longer I work with portraiture, the more I feel at home with it. I think I have found my way--a bit late in life, but what the hell, I found it and have been revitalized. When I'm painting portraits, I feel what I'm doing has purpose--probably due to how strongly I feel about family ties and how sad I feel that family ties are weaker in this evolving global community of ours as our children scatter miles away finding their way in life.

      Thinking of family ties. That first grandchild of yours is taking his/her sweet time to enter our universe. You must be on pins and needles. But when you hold that child for the first time, waves of love sweep through you as she implants herself in your heart and soul. I'm thinking of you. Hugs. Linda

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  11. I truly believe your double portrait (no mean feat in itself) is your best one yet, Linda. You have shown us just how valuable attending and learning from a workshop can be. Your subjects are part of the background giving the work a reality and softness that is lovely. I also like your skin tones very much. I wish I could paint like that - I always end up with way too much color in my portrait attempts.
    When you retire your painting coat, you might consider framing it - the colors are wonderful. I use an apron which looks much the same as your coat except the color is confined to the right side - go figure!

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    1. Very funny Susan. You know, I did use half of my most favorite paint rag in a collage quite a few years ago. Would you believe I still have the other half?

      Thank you. Your compliments mean a lot to me. I think you are a very accomplished painter and love your work. It's so vigorous. I hope to come somewhere close.

      After three years of fiddling about and finally coming across the genre I find most challenging and most intriguing, I did decide to get some formal schooling. The WS was my first venture. I've got one lined up for October through December; and after that, I have another one in mind in for Spring. I'm on a mission.

      Suddenly, I seem to know what I'm missing and I love knowing it. I feel like I've finally found direction and will find my way to my ultimate destination. Sounds corny I know, but it's been years that I've been wandering the desert not knowing what to do with the talent I had. Now that I do, I am totally relaxed when I go into my studio. Good, bad doesn't matter. All will be fine.

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