Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Washed Out, But Not Done In

Nothing washed out here. Pitch black hair, dramatically made up, smokey eyes and bright red,
sensuously full lips is Taylor's look at eighteen. 
My studio is a wash out for me today. Carpet cleaners took over the place and I can't get there from here. The floors are cold and wet and I have to go barefoot. The guys came in like gangbusters, zip-pity-do-da, give me the money lady and they were out the door, leaving me with clean carpets and couches, but no where to sit and few places to walk.  But I'm thrilled. All the acrylic blobs and charcoal shards  that had walked out of my studio on the bottom  of my shoes are gone and with those smears, my guilt for not wearing studio-only shoes is gone too. I will change my ways. --I hope I can change my ways.

Before I was locked out, I  did manage to  explore Taylor's current look with a dark/light little portrait exercise in charcoal.  I found the reference photo on her FB page, along with quite a few other portrait shots that might make interesting paintings after I tackle JD crowing. My granddaughter is a knock out in her Goth get ups. The doorbell stopped me from soften her chin and darkening the shadow of her lower lip and... but there's a resemblance that needs just minor tweaks.

My reference photo
About three minutes into the charcoal, I reached for black pastel and as soon as I used it was convinced Sargent definitely used black and white pastels in his charcoal drawings.  Charcoal alone does not get you the dramatic values that you see in his black and whites or that I needed for Taylor's hair.

With no studio and no art supplies,  I wiled away the afternoon cleaning a cupboard in the kitchen where I found art pads. It seems I like to draw in them only so much, then I abandon them for new ones.  The drawings in the older pads were early blog stuff when I was still  just trying to establish  regular drawing habits. In the ones  from last year, portraits started to show up. There was one sketch in particular that I found interesting.  I was studying the subject of my first full figure portrait, Ellis, in value patterns, the way I learned in the workshop I took this last month. So why didn't I pick up on that approach then? Why didn't I didn't trust myself? I obviously needed someone more authoritative than myself.  Each year, we grow. Looking back, over the last couple of years, I've grown a lot.

2010 sketch for portrait in progress of Ellis--and JD at age six or seven. It's the sketch of Ellis that's important.

In the Ellis sketch, I'm thinking in values;
the JD sketch I'm thinking details. Both
sketches have value in evaluating how to
best present a subject. Perhaps using both methods?


I tried another approach to portraiture with Ellis: The Alex Katz flat color approach. This was done in 2010 also as a study for the full figure painting. Prior to this, I had only used pencil.  Jd's portrait was done in pencil from the sketch above.

There's a pencil under-drawing in this one. I never did finish it;
I don't know why. But this too is an interesting approach to
portraiture especially with acrylics.
And this is the final result of my first painted portraiture endeavor.
It's okay. Not great. But a definite sign of a genre that  would eventually interest me.

33 comments:

  1. You captured Ellis well in that sketch! I recognize his stance which is in the other sketches/paintings u have done before... I love the Taylor painting. Gorgeous eyes and so deep... You even included the ring below her lip- amazing how jewelry can make the person... btw- have u painted your front door?

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    1. No. I'm hung up. The door needs moulding repair --or we need an entirely new door--in which case, I'll get to finish it whatever color I choose. Our door man is coming out "when he gets a chance."

      But I could kick myself for allowing them to put that color on in the first place. I ran into a neighbor at the lake who said she let them paint the door her color and supplied the paint. She also told me that her next door neighbor did the same. I was the only one who didn't stand up for my door. All because last time I said no and sent them away, we got a dunning letter and the threat of a fine and Ellis got mad at me.

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    2. that threat is an empty one.. they can't do anything to you... the gal who works at our management company said they can only fine you if you break a CCR rule.. anything else they can't touch you... btw did u see my email???

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  2. MY BAD! I should of said sketch... Very distracted w/Mr. King's book! :-)

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    1. I love Dumas Key. I have to rebuy it. I had a paper book copy; so I threw it away when I finished it. I shouldn't have. It had the best thruths on making art I've every read.

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  3. There is an Indian prayer asking God to protect each of us from our own worst enemy, ourselves!
    It 's true that real artists are never satisfied and so do better ... But you do such beautiful work,Linda, and it seems that you do not appreciate their true value ... I really like the portrait of Ellis.
    If tomorrow I meet him I recognize him and the portrait says many other things in the gesture you have chosen.
    The girl
    comes off the screen! What else...

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    1. THANK YOU RITA! I did think finding that sketch was interesting. It showed me that I knew what I knew before I was taught it at this last WS. Obviously, I lacked confidence back then. I'm getting stronger everyday now though. I gained confidence by going out into the art world and painting with others.

      I chose that pose for he's held it many times as I have said, on our early morning walks, "STOP! I want to take your picture by the pool." And he reluctantly does and looks tolerant as I hold him back from getting his breakfast. It's a typical Ellis attitude. He hates the painting. I love it. It's him. the workmanship could be better, but the likeness is great.

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  4. I was thinking how it would be fun to put up some of my early work on the blog too---some of it is really good and some...not good. I think you are correct..that you knew a lot early on. It is interesting to think how we sometimes hold ourselves back somehow. Love that painting of Ellis and your g-d is a looker! I'm glad you have such a nice place to live--you must love it when it is all cleansville!

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    1. Then get your carpets cleaned. When you confined to your kitchen and you happen to have a disgracefully disorganized cupboard filled with partially used sketch books, it is an invitation to trip back to see where you have been. There are hints of genius, but mostly OMGs--and you think maybe you should burn your horrendous past? But I didn't. Sewn seeds.

      Well I don't remember when we put in the carpet, about four or five years ago maybe? It's off white and that choice was risky knowing me. But after cleaning up four years of winters and sloppy weather, it looks a lot better now and maybe I'll make some rules--like shoes for the house only (house-slippers) and shoes for the studio only (mules are good)--and if I will honor those rules, maybe we can keep some of the grim out that we track in from the sloppy seasons. Funny think is I usually walk around barefoot or in my socks.

      I used to have clients that made everybody take off their shoes when they came into their house. I obliged , but I didn't like it. They didn't give you anything to wear on your feet for warmth or grip. They didn't provide a bench to take off or put your shoes back on. If you're going to make a rule, you have to make it people friendly. They did not.

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  5. Dear Linda. Here they are a very good jobs. The portrait of the girl seems like original. You captured her youth in spite of the Makeup of her eyes, and you captured the sweetness of her little face in spite of using so dark colours. There is Obvious you have force and security painting portraits. Congratulations dear.

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    1. Thanks Eva. I appreciate your endorsement of my choice. I was hoping I hadn't just made up that I did have some ability to capture likenesses with paint. It's nice to be seconded.

      She does have a sweet face in spite of all the make up and piercings. I don't remember what I did in my teens to state my independence--or if I did anything that looked so far out to my parents;I just left the nest. At nineteen, I got married and became Sadie, Sadie, married lady as sung by Barbara Streisand. When Taylor's father was born a year later was when I grew up.

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  6. I think you nailed that portrait of the "Goth" girl. I think black and white suits her perfectly, well done.

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    1. Me too. I was thinking of blowing this one up and three more head poses on a large canvas, 36 x 36, alla Andy Warhol for her apartment. I promised her a house gift by Thanksgiving. I think black, white and red (lips) might be "cool"?

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  7. One day you will realise just how good your work is, m'lady! I've been looking back at all I've been missing - everything is awe inspiring - honestly. This one of Taylor is going to be a knock out ... 'piercings' as well :0)

    I've just returned from London Airport (400 mile round trip)putting Giselle's boyfriend on an aircraft back to Australia. He's been living with us for 2 years. Immigration & Border control 'kicked him out' - they were returning from Disney Paris, and the Immigration Officer took a dislike to him ... he has lip piercings and an Emo hairstyle. He was given a month to get his things in order and leave. Such a gentle lad, brilliant artist. It's like losing family.

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    1. That's so sad. This weird look (to us older folk) is no more weird than the Beatles' long hair back when. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I do feel like I'm coming into my own. --now what do I do with it? I'm not as ambitious as I used to be and the art business is a tough one.

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    2. I'm not in the position to advise ... but ... talent will 'out' and you have plenty of that ... just do your thing and enjoy!

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  8. Off and distracted with Phd days... but it's never too late, is it?
    I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time during weekend with the reunion; I had an equally wonderful time reading about it. The photos of your grandson's trip are telling a story of a great (and a little scary, to my eyes) adventure!!!
    I agree with Rita... (I'm brainwashed, can't help it) You see, George always tells me that I'm my own worst enemy and I'm starting to believe it's true. Reading other bloggers and seeing their work, while they express how unsatisfied they feel about it, although most of the times it's a great work, I tend to believe what Rita said is a common symptom of creators. Your old sketches and drawings are a very beautiful work!!! And the portrait of your granddaughter -who IS a knock out, you are a family of beauties- doesn't simply has 'a resemblance', it's a great work. Of course needs details and all, but she's all there, not just about, all of her!
    Hugs my dear Linda.

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    1. Thank you Konstantina . I think with all artists the next painting will be their best. We're not dissatisfied with our work; we're striving to improve all the time.

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  9. I think the house gift will be much appreciated. Lucky granddaughter.

    It is funny how we circle around things sometimes. But the circles do turn into spirals, as we go on.

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    1. It's nice to have a position of importance in the family circle that's right up my alley. Official Portrait Artist to the House of Roth is my formal title. On informal occasions, they call me mom, or nana. I come however, whatever they call me--even "Hey you!"

      I've looked at an awful lot of art over the years and have definitely made some sub-conscious notes--which unfortunately, don't always surface till we write a check to be taught what we already know. we underestimate our knowledge.

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  10. Wowweee! Powerful stuff. Taylor is gorgeous, just my cuppa, and Ellis is masterful. What a terrific portrait, such personality! You are awesome and it's about time you knew!

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    1. We have a mutual admiration society going on here. Thank you Konsyantina. I do know that I have natural talent. That's what these last blogging years have been about: nailing it down. This has been a very successful year, and a little sad. I discovered via my son's commission that portraiture does fascinate me. I love the challenge of it. It holds my interest.I also think oils and portraiture go hand in hand. I have found a genre specialty and a medium! But then, I'm a little late to the party. What do you do with portraiture at this stage of the game?

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  11. LOVE the sketch of Taylor - her smoldering eyes and the range of values are fabulous.

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    1. Thank you Susan. Pastel black does take charcoal a step or two darker--as would pastel white take it lighter than the value of the paper. The trick is to be very careful not to mix the two, in which case, I think, a charcoal drawing would step over the line and become a pastel painting.

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  12. Hi Linda, what a great post and a great way to end the summer by cleaning up your studio! It's like a fresh start for your fall creativity.

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    1. Yes, the opposite of Spring cleaning. I started talking about have the rugs cleaned in Spring, but I hate being descended upon by guys doing something that's going disrupt my life for a few days. I put it off till those pathways were getting gross and the job was so big, doing it myself was out of the question. Now, I'm holding back from going back into the studio before I figure out how to handle my shoes. I need them in the studio, that floor is really the pits. I sweep, I wash, but I still manage to walk out with some medium smeared on the bottom of my shoe. Next week I got a guy coming to cut a piece of matching carpeting to lay between the studio entrance and the bathroonm door, on top of the freshly cleaned stuff. At least I won't have to take my shoes off to take a bathroom break.

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  13. Linda, you have grown by leaps and bounds ... and you were good to start with! The charcoal is perfect for Taylor's Goth look [and she is a very striking young woman]. I do at least two sketches before a portrait, usually more - as you say, a detail and a value sketch. Your portrrait of Ellis is truly great! I hope you nurture this style - love it!!!

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    1. Me too. I like to get acquainted--familiarize myself with the subject's features. with Ellis, I did his head more than once. I did his hands separately. I did his shoes--and his pants many times over. His pants were baggy and his body shape was completely lost in detail in the reference photo where he was standing in deep shade. In the portrait, I changed the shape of the pool, simplified the background by pulling out people and trees and changing roof lines.
      Took me a long time with this one. For a first, it came out okay. I think I could have stuck with the Alex Katz approach flat shapes, colored values. I went astray when I added shading to his hands and face and hair to his arms:-) But it wouldn't have been Ellis with out the hairy arms.

      Hopefully I can finish Taylor today and get back to Steve and Zac. The carpets are taking forever to dry.

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  14. Great painting of Taylor and a very interesting post.
    Love the A Katz influence and the final, full body painting is great.
    Full of movement.

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    1. Thank you Julie. Her chin does need softening, a swipe of a finger should do it. Then some specks of white soft pastel to highlight the piercings. My doorbell rang and interrupted the finish.

      Alex Katz's portraiture style is true to the medium. That's what makes his work great. Acrylics are a graphic paint and his portraits are graphic. But he's mean man. His books are a couple hundred dollars, steep prices for students. He is giving nothing away for nothing. Portraiture is about business with him--and unfortunately, he's right. Portraiture is a business. Unless...and that's where my mind is now.

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  15. Wow, Taylor's very charismatic... and you captured it :-)

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    1. Is that what you call it? She is full of life and having a great time. She's dramatic, but it runs in the family. I lean towards the dramatic.

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