Sunday, May 25, 2014

L.W.Roth, Head Hunting, Alla Prima, Portrait Painter and Weekend Gardener

Trevor's tongue and golden complexion were a first for me in paint. 

Most everywhere I went this week I toted my camera. I've become a head hunter. My new project, a head a day painted in the Direct Painting method, Alla Prima. It's not enough to paint eight hundred plus squares of the colors derived from a palette limited to twelve colors, one must apply what they've learned to canvas.  My subject of choice are untraditional facial expressions--no three quarter poses with a Mona Lisa smile and hands folded serenely on a lap.  Candid shots are what I'm after. I like the challenge of smirks and teeth and frowns and laugh lines, the expressions life's moment provoke. Trevor's tongue caught my attention  and, together with what I learned from Max's wipe out and Sharon's mugging, taught me a lot more about the Direct Painting Method and working oils wet-into-wet:

This is the first time I've actually used my palette as I should
have been using my palette: organized.
1)   Because I must paint standing and totally free to move around to assess the drawing, the composition and the values, I require two two hour painting sessions a day to complete a head.

2)  Wipe outs are to be expected when painting  free-hand with no preliminary underpainting. I'm not Degas.

3)   The smallest format I can use is eight by ten. Both Max and Trevor exceeded my original six by eight plan with one hearty brushstroke. 

4)  Big brushes, 1 inch, 1 1/2 inch,  work best when laying in a painting directly.  A more reasonable size support for those brush sizes would be twelve inches by sixteen inches, especially working from photographs. Measurements are facilitated printing reference photos in the 6 x 8 ratio.

5)   Mineral Spirits and paper towels must be bought in bulk!  Lint free cotton rags wipe canvases clean better than paper toweling. Ellis had better put a guard on his underwear drawer.

JD came out of storage and is getting
 a work-over with a freer hand and a more educated eye.
6)   Brushes must be constantly cleaned OR one must have ample clean, duplicate brushes handy.

7)   The palette must be of ample size to mix up the right quantity of the primary colors in the color scheme.  An eighteen inches by thirty to thirty six  area would do nicely. It does not have to be glass.

8)  The primary colors of the painting must be mixed in at least three gradations, but five would be  better.

9) A small refrigerator is a smart addition to the studio for storing Alla Prima paintings and their palettes when the work goes longer than expected. The cold keeps the paint workable.

10) You must have a mahl stick. While details are minimalized in the Direct Painting, there is some close up work that requires a steady hand.

I hope you all are having as relaxing a holiday weekend as we are. There's no better way to pay tribute to the lives of the service people who gave their lives for their country than planting flowers. May they rest in peace and God bless their families. 

MY FAVORITE AMERICAN FLAG PAINTING AND ITS PAINTER: CHILDE HASSAM

Avenue in The Rain, 1917 by Childe Hassam, American Impressionist,
born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1859. This painting hangs
where it should, in the Presidential Oval Office.   
The oval office is redecorated as US Presidents come and go,  but this painting remains where it has been for years, on the wall to the left as you  face the Presidential desk.













    

20 comments:

  1. Hi Linda,
    Nice painting and great lesson on the art of oil painting. I have a feeling you'll be teaching classes and workshops around the country and publishing a book soon. Enjoy the remainder of the holiday.
    Sincerely,
    Gary.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gary. This has been a fruitful year for me. Between reading Richard Schmid, Van Gogh's letters and his biography, Robert Genn's newsletters and watching all the videos I could find on Direct Painting and the alla prima technique as used by the masters, I feel like I've finally started painting. The journey has been a blast--and the joy is it's still going on.

      Delete
  2. I agree with Gary! And I agree with you - that painting is magnificent!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Susan. It came a little easier than previous heads. Hopefully that trend will continue--but I doubt it. There's always the danger of a wipe-out around the corner--if you get cocky and sloppy. :-))

      Delete
  3. Wow you are going places with your portraits, Linda. The colour work is playing off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carol. It is nice finally figuring out what I like to paint how I like to paint and then pursuing virtuosity vigorously. Only took flirting with it for three years when it was there all the time.

      Delete
  4. wonderful portrait! I love the tongue and the glasses...fantastic! "no Mona Lisas" for you--- this is very cool. (Love that Flag painting too)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. It looks like that workshop you went to would have been right up my alley. Instead, I'm ferreting out the how-to on my own. I haven't come across another Gestural Portraiture workshop since the one I took two years ago.

      I figure if you can paint every facial contortion imaginable, you can definitely paint the Mona Lisa smile--and that smile combined with the look in her eyes said more than the smile for the camera smile most portrait patrons choose. Maybe we should call the Mona Lisa smile something else like "Say cheese?" In portraiture and photography, I think candid shots are the best. Painting the model from life, all you can expect is a straight face, for no one can laugh or grimace for longer than a second or two. Photography is most definitely an important tool to portrait painters and reference photos are the norm with a couple o live sittings thrown in for color.

      Delete
  5. Ik doe het je niet na en zeker niet met die snelheid super gedaan lieve groetjes Daniëlle

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's what Danielle wrote: I do not think you and certainly not well done dear greetings Danielle.

      What do you think she meant to say? Dutch is very difficult for me to understand--something about the order of verbs and adverbs? I really would love to figure the language out if I could just talk Ellis into a trip to Amsterdam then Bruges and Ghent via London. I'd like to see the Van Gogh Museum. My son thought it amazing and called to tell me so immediately after his tour. That call really told me how amazing seeing Van Gogh live was--though Detroit did have a Van Gogh show when I was a teen. I saw the exhibit every day it was here. Why do all artists love him so?

      Delete
  6. Hi Linda! Alla prima is really my favorite way of working and I find a lot of people, artists included, regard that type of work as unfinished, lazy work. On the contrary, I find the emotion is already on the canvas and what's undone is just unnecessary. Nice looking little fella!
    I think Van Gogh is so popular because of his dramatic sense of colors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think they're wrong. Alla prima is the hardest. It requires great knowledge and skill. Each brushstroke has to be on the mark. Each color value must be accurate. The loose appearance of these strokes may give the impression of laziness--but laziness in what way? The artist didn't have to lay down a grid system? Didn't do a detailed underpainting? Didn't cover ever inch of canvas with a layer of paint? Foolishness. Gestural paintings done alla prima have a fresh look to them, a liveliness that indirect paintings lack.

      Delete
  7. Love the portrait! Great idea to do one a day. Be fun following along. Thanks for the list. I use the white cotton sport socks for wipers. Collect them from friends as they decide to get new ones.
    Another great post. Thanks for taking the time on the learning as well as the entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It'll be hard following through! This Holliday cost me a couple of heads as I whacked myself out in the garden planting and could hardly move afterwards. But back to work today.

      I hope that what I've learned may benefit someone else trying to get back into painting. That's why I listed what I noticed along the way. No instructor ever discussed the size of a palette. No one ever said how to lay out your paints, how much you needed ready for use or how to mix a number of gradations for each of the main colors in addition to some grays from that selection. No instructor ever discussed sizes of for mates as a consideration based upon subject matter and your work process. This information seems very basic when planning a painting. All of my thoughts come from my experiences in sculpture and then in design and building. Planning was the key to a successful outcome. Why did I ever think it didn't apply to painting? I wanted to play. Now I want to work.

      Delete
  8. A gorgeous and joyful portrait , sunny and full of life, you really nailed it !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jane. Thankfully Trevor came a bit easier thanks to Max who will definitely get another try. Meanwhile what I didn't put on my list was studio size tubes are the tubes to buy--especially for these early efforts where wasted paint is the norm. :-))

      Delete
  9. This portrait of Trevor is absolutely fantastic...You're getting better with every portrait you do!!! You should have a workshop, Linda! How I would love to look over your shoulder to see how you work!!! You caught a wonderful expression and perfect skin tones and of course LOVE the glasses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very kind of you to say, but I regard myself as a beginner with this medium. I have a few more failures in front of me before I can land a Trevor with utter confidence. Until direct oil painting comes easy, thank you for your encouragement.

      Delete
  10. Love Trevor! You are one rocking artist Linda! Your portraits are fantastic!
    I also love the USA flag painting by Childe Hassam! Also a favorite of mine! Check out his "Boston Common at Twilight!" It is a huge work hung in Boston's MFA. I have the magnet on my refrigerator!
    Keep on posting your wonderful art and words!
    Take care buddy!
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are improving with practice, but thank you Michael for your exuberance. I will check his Boston Common at Twilight. I'd love to see it. I don't think we have one of his works at our museum? You too buddy!

      Delete