Sunday, October 21, 2012

Portraiture and Construction Know-how


The Blond Kid still in progress, (side of her nose was still wet when photographed).
As in construction, a portrait slows down as details become more and more important to establishing  a likeness.  Foundations are poured in a day. Stud walls and roofs  are raised in another few days, then windows and doors, after that the mechanical systems are installed. Sheetrock comes after that with mudding and taping and before you know it you're down to the details. The homeowner thinks,' Wow, this isn't going to take as long as I thought,' but he's wrong. It's the details that turns the structure into a home. It's the details that slows down the building  process. Same with painting a portrait. A rough of a girl, becomes a specific girl when the details are observed closely and added slowly. This is where I'm at. This is why portraiture suits me.

I fell in love today with the brushes Vyonna Szabo recommended for her workshop this last summer. They were synthetic and inexpensive. I had only used one of the three I bought. The details I wanted to paint today made me use all three. I got them from Utrecht, a local art store and one that's online. They are priced at four dollars through eight depending on the size you need.  I'm using filberts size 2, 6 and 8. They handled beautifully this morning. and went back to their original shape just like that with cleaning.
Two and a quarter inches are needed to allow
total access to a canvas panel. 

I also got rid of my phony,cutting corners, cheaper than Silicoil,  brush cleaning jar, albeit 'tank,' with the mesh insert. It was really gross. It was also killing my brushes. The coil is meant to part the bristles to thoroughly clean between them. The one I had, had a piece of rough screening material in it and frazzled the bristles; they lost their shape almost immediately. Cheap is cheap. Why would I use a cheap cleaning tank when I have found  wonderful brushes?  As you can tell, I am getting very serious with regards to the quality of my materials.

To accommodate the canvas board this little girl is painted on, I had to fluff up my easel.  Prior to her, I was painting 8 x 10s mostly while I held them in my left hand. This stopped backing up as much as necessary and having one hand free to hold a mahl stick to steady detail strokes. It took a boxed roll of freezer paper and three 8 x 10 x 1/2" stretched canvases plus my  3/4" piece of plywood to bring that canvas board up front  leaving its bottom accessible for an uninterrupted (by easel ledge) brushstroke.
Construction know-how definitely facilitates the life of this artist.




36 comments:

  1. It's brilliant. Very much love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Casey. Your comment means a lot given your wonderful sense of color. I'm entering your world of pastel formally this Wednesday. Up until now, I've only played with them. Vyanna Szabo is teaching 'Painterly Pastels' at the art association. I am looking forward to it. Pastels have always struck me as a better medium for me than watercolors given my affinity for charcoal. I do like immediacy. I suspect however, I didn't buy them right. Once again I went for the inexpensive figuring I was just learning. By the time I assembled a respectable amount of colors, I could have bought Terry Ludwig soft pastels that Vyanna suggested.I was penny wise, pound foolish once again. Life's not over.

      Delete
  2. Dear Linda, It,s really dificult to get an easy expression from a child. I,d tell it is impossible. They always change their expressions every time. However you captured the expression and the candy face. Felicitations. Warm regards

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's children's quirky, spontaneous expressions that inspire me. The little guy struggling with the giant pumpkin photo I posted a couple of days back is on my mind. Amazement,worry, discovery is written in his expression. It makes me laugh. It challenges me. You might see him further down the road. He would keep me interested long enough to do a good job.

      Delete
  3. The girl portrait is coming along nicely, am really enjoying the progress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad somebody is. :-) At this point, it gets tedious. Lots of step backs. Lots of sit downs and scrutinize. Lots of measurement and measure again. Thanks Roger. I really like where you're going with your new moves--especially your fine line playing against the thick. Nice contrast.

      Delete
  4. The Blond Kid comes out with a strength and a special grace!
      The smile , between the eyes and mouth, blocks my eyes!
    Blond Kid born to be admired!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And she has great lips too! No Botox for her. I think her grandmother will be surprised when I send her this painting for her birthday next month. She thinks I'm mad at her for not following my blog. She's right.--But life's too short and her grandkid's expression was too intriguing not to give it a whirl. My objective at this time is to challenge myself and learn from the experience. Blondie has an interesting expression on her pretty face. I'm wondering where the photo was taken?

      Delete
  5. She's wise beyond her years ... oh, and so is The Blond Kid :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you kid! You could turn a girl's head with your blarney. So how about that speck of red? Did you think I had a hell-of-a-lot of nerve? You wouldn't be the first.

      That's a long drive your daughter is taking. I hope she manages to squeeze in the Brooklyn Museum and Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, the MOMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Frick on her way past New York plus the statue of Liberty. Don't bother with Plymouth Rock. It's a rock--a little one at that. Then there are the war battle fields in and around Gettysburg and lots of good stuff. We've got a lot of good stuff to see in this country in the East, the West and You can't beat Chicago for beef and Detroit for automotive history. I hope she's taking her time? I'd take a year if I were her.

      Delete
    2. She takes 3 months over there, every year. Her 'fella' is from the Windy City, but lives in Detroit.

      I think it would take a lifetime and then never see it all. I used to get a coffee, doughnut and ticket to a Broadway show FREE every time I was in New York!

      Delete
  6. I like the under-lighting very much.
    Her eyes are alive, but I am in total awe of the way you handled her hair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Julie. The tangled hair is most challenging. I'm finding myself vascilating between subtraction and addition--pulling at threads.

      Delete
  7. I think it is great! I second the comment about the hair, and I love her gentle, bemused expression.

    So what kind of brushes are they - Ultrecht brand? I read the other day that Ultrecht has some of the best brushes, who knew? I figured that store-named brushes wouldn't be as good.

    And that is some contraption on your easel. I figure if your customers so that, you'd never get a contract again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dan. Yes, Ultrecht, 239 series. Very nicely made brushes. Good with oils and acrylics.
      Store brands have to be tried. You don't really know what manufacturer is making them for the store--it's like at the grocery store or the drug store--CVS brand could be being made by any of the big drug companies. Store brands are like generic brands. Cheaper, but they perform as well. --I also got my info from a very informed artist.

      Improvise, improvise. Another easel is out of the question, as are these store-bought panels. Making one's own out of foam board and a higher grade cotton seems to be a possibility--though wrapping corners on gifts has never been one of my talents. I would be counting on finding wrapping painting surfaces more important that gift wrapping. For gifts, I like those fancy shopping bags with lots of colored tissue great.

      Delete
  8. wow wow and double wow...could NOT be BETTER! ..................BRAVO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Celeste. Wows are great coming from you, the painter of that spectacular Back Stage ballerina.

      Delete
  9. Holy Cats!!! Linda, Blondie is looking fabulous! her expression is wonderful, and quite mature - love it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you hardly believe it! Slow and steady with lots of observation. The kid is soaking in whatever she is experiencing. I'll have to find out what?

      Delete
  10. She looks great! I love your comparison with building a house, very true! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Roughing in a painting might be the most pleasurable part of the process, which gets increasing harder after that. Maybe that's why finish is so hard to decide and often achieved falsely? Unfortunately we live in fast times.

      Delete
  11. Ik vind het een hele mooie gelijkenis goed gedaan lieve groetjes Danielle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Danielle. It was a surprising discovery for me.

      Delete
  12. Starts with a great analogy and gives a super introduction to another interesting post. On top of that you give us a really striking portrait. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mick. Ellis thought it was odd that I was refreshing my memory as to when the plumbing goes into a new construction, but as I worked on this little girl I kept thinking there was a connection between what I had been doing for twenty seven years and what I had decided to do the next few years. I sensed the similarity. I was attracted by the similarity. Choosing portraiture (and soon figurative work) came naturally. I was pretty dumb not catching the signals earlier on.

      Delete
  13. I'm using masking tape all day on a wall, because I want to make a certain decoration when I paint it. I fixed a four-drawer bedside table, of course it came with instructions and with numerous-all kind of screws (thank god no screw remained unused at the finish, because that's the way you know you did it wrong and then it's too late). I've changed few wall plugs, but that's about all I know about constructions. So I won't pretend I understand :)
    The portrait though, I understand. It proudly demonstrates a good and hard work of a skillful artist!! Well done, Linda, is wonderful!
    Hugs and smiles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Konstantina. You know more than you give yourself credit for if there were no more screws left unused. You know how to read directions. No guy I know knows that.:-)

      Delete
  14. Fantastic portrait! i love her expression.. hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hugs back Mari. Children are irresistible to me.

      Delete
  15. Her expression is marvelous.

    I was curious about which brushes, found the answer in the comments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was sure I had written the series. Sorry about that. Thanks. I find it appealing to--enough so to get to the #2 brush for details. :-)

      Delete
  16. this looks really super already linda ...i like it as it is .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a touch here and a touch there from here on Jane. The neck needs some formation strokes.

      Delete
  17. I love seeing the brushstrokes in a painting, even in portraits. This little girl's skin is already glowing and what about that splash of red in the right shadow! Can't wait to see the finishing touches. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Helen. There's reflective light in that red. The violet of her shirt warms up as it is shaded by her hair and the shadow of her face. I like it; it shakes up the palette of the painting and brings it to life--spots of pure colors theories--and all that.

      Delete
  18. I've been out of the cyber loop for a few weeks and missed out on a lot! Just scrolled though the progress posts of this one - I love seeing the changes and reading your notes as you went. And then there is the easel-reconstruction shot - I love it! Yes, artists have to be creative not only on the canvas - it is a call to holistic creativity:-)

    ReplyDelete