Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Unconventional

My eldest needs ears. Tomorrow.

Dan Kent said I've shown this painting so many times, he's dreaming about it. He didn't say if he was having a nightmare or not--but he will soon. I intend to drive Dan and you all crazy. I have found out what excites me in the studio: the unconventional.

Yesterday Steve was my nightmare. His head was huge-- not from his considerable accomplishments in life--but from his mom getting carried away with an orangish flesh tone.  Today his image came back under control and even advanced a bit via intensifying colors. My other guys have yet to be so brutally attacked. Achieving total freedom in painting takes time, recognizing what excites you,  abandonment of the shoulds, no thinking, just doing  and total assertion of self.

 I am a slow painter, a deliberate painter who appreciates firm structure and at the same time, the  looseness of gestural brushwork.  Unconventional color gives me a high too. I realized all this this morning when I looked at the original reference photo.  It WAS the colors in that photo that prompted me to paint My Guys. (Aside from getting them together on the same canvas).  I liked the garishness of them. That garishness is bringing this painting to life. 


From the looks of this oil sketch, unconventional  lighting and
coloration may have been brewing in my head two years ago in 2012.  I didn't
accept the idea though--too hung up on what a portrait should look like no doubt.




 

25 comments:

  1. Painting is transformation. Transformation of every day that changes our hand and even our eyes ... my loved watercolor does not allow a transformation so stratified in time ... but the oil paint is the ideal way, along this road of discovery, transformation and research.
    I love to see how thrilling your own daily transformation in your thoughts and on your painting .

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    1. I am tickled by my epiphany. It took a long time to recognize what excites me. I really feel revved up and anxious to see what lies ahead. I always knew my first impressions expressed gave me the best results, but not till recently did I know I had to stop thinking so much and let myself go. Yes, I'll over-do, but with time, i won't. Trust yourself is key.

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    2. Wow- talk about feeling alive. It comes accross in your work.
      Colorful, energetic and expressive. I am truly looking forward following your progress.

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    3. Thanks Julie. I keep thinking of your palette knife and your inventive tool. How easier those would be. But the canvas is too large and I'am trying to avoid building a thick impasto. I feel close to done soon--but then there's the isolation period where the truth of the matter shows up.

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  2. haha...Dan is dreaming about your painting...that is funny! How do you rate? I do not believe he has dreamt about any of mine.
    Well, I know two really great pastelists and they would both teach this cool exercise. They would have you choose only 12 pastels (in light, medium and dark) of random colors....then the idea was for you to draw the picture using only those 12 pastels. Oh my gosh...the results are fantastic! (and...as you say "unconventional"). The exercise really taught that "value does all the work, but color gets all the credit". I love both of these paintings!

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    1. oops..forgot to mention that in the exercise you worked from a black and white photo...does any of this make sense? I loved looking at the class work, because often times a face would be done with unexpected colors like green and violet. :)

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    2. It makes a lot of sense. Years ago I noticed that colors straight from the crayon box, (crayons don't smear) have spacial qualities or their own values. For example' yellow ocre is a great middle value, or a #5 on the gray scale. A #2 might be Flesh. A #9 could be Paynes Gray. The gray scales from black and white photography is a wonderful tool for color selection. Excellent black and white photographs should have a full range of grays. These grays can be translated to colors. Johannes Itten covers that in his marvelous book called, what else, Color. When I print a reference photo, I print it in both color and black and white. The black and white shows clearly if the photo is a good one. The one I am using for this triple portrait is clearly not a good photo. It sucks. The flash killed it. But the flash produced some interesting colors like cyan and violet and yellow orange. That's what got me excited. My subjects, being loved ones with no prayer of ever escaping being used as my models, were perfect for going after the unconventional. I missed the unconventional boat by attaching their heads to their bodies. My first idea was to just paint three heads spaced evenly across the canvas and to greatly exaggerate the colors. I missed on that with this one. Next try will be closer. I had trouble mutilating My Guys. Maybe if I had used unknowns, distortion wouldn't have been hard? :-))

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  3. WOW, I love it!.... U took it to another level...Love your selfie... the colors are vibrant

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    1. Thanks, now to carry it through. Push and pull, the artist's dance. :-))

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  4. Two great and strong portraits that are special also because of the unconventional colors ...I love unconventional colors !

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    1. Thanks Jane. It took a while before I knew what I wanted to do. Painting is about color and expression. Trying to dlicate reality, well, how expressive is that? Take a Photograph-- but even that is unrealistic. :-))

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  5. For me the best paintings are the one where I can feel the movements, admire the bruskstrokes and appreciate the mixes of tones and colors. I love both portraits! :) Happy weekend Linda!

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    1. Thanks Helen. I agree. Shame portrait number 1 will now need some adjustments. But I'm not going anywhere. :-))

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  6. Hi Linda,
    Bravo! I don't see the need for more ear(s), but Mom knows best. :) Truly painterly, a quality I admire above all others AND he's still recognizable. Unfortunately, I'm still awaiting such a breakthrough in my own work. Seems whenever I get away from slavish precision, I'm unhappy with the result and immediately return to being little more than a copier of photographs.
    I believe most of us who take up brushes and paint have a strong desire to be artistic in our work and find our own voice. You seem to be "speaking" in sentences now and your voice is coming through ever more loud and clear. Well done.
    Sincerely,
    Gary.

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    1. You do such a terrific job though. People do think "this would make a great painting" when they have a photo they especially like. They do not think of seeing themselves unconventionally portrayed. That's why I'm using my sons for experimentation. Color is an expressive tool. What colors we choose is telling of how we are. I'll never forget my portrait of a fellow student who agreed to sit- in when the model was a no-show. My portrait went from realistic to Dekooningistic the longer she sat. The vibes she was sending off were anger. She was restless and in the end resentful she was spending her learning time modeling--and without compensation. I did mention this to the instructor. He took care of the situation and we stared a new painting with a new professional model. Interesting experience

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  7. Your colors and brushwork are working to transcend the subject with a style that is all yours. It's what serious painters strive toward.

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    1. I hope so. Time is ticking. Serves me right for saving the best for last. Thanks Susan. Your encouragement means a lot.

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  8. A really fantastic self portrait, and I'm enjoying the ongoing painting of your sons.

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    1. It is on going Hallie, but if I can't push around my relatives who can I? Only my men would let me fuss with them till I'm happy; I'm taking advantage. That self portrait was the first portrait I did in oils after a very conventional commissioned portrait pushed me into portraiture. I was so exacting with the commissioned piece, I had to see what happened when I let loose with color. I enjoyed it and the painting became more of a painting than a copy of a photograph.

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  9. I agree with Hallie! you painted an amazing self-portrait, Linda.... I never get tired of WIP so I will look forward to seeing your next post on your sons...

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    1. Thanks Hilda. I didn't think so at the time, but I didn't trash it either. I was just getting reacquainted with oils and pushing the envelope as they say.

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  10. simply WOW!!!!! Unconventional lighting and color is YOU!!! This is your best work ever, Linda.

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    1. If it's not going to be fun, I don't want to do it. Painting is serious fun and my men have been very understanding in letting me use them to see where I want to go.

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  11. Hienoja Töitä kauttaaltaan...
    Katselin ja ihailin...
    Eko
    Suomi/Lapland/Kuusamo

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  12. I really like your style. Not to mention the way you narrate the process :-)

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