Friday, July 18, 2014

A Week of Scumbling and Mumbling (Edited)

Sunday Nap, a scumbling exercise in progress
My eldest son was unaware I took his photo while he napped along with his dad on Father's Day. This is a get acquainted sketch in preparation for a full body painting.  Lots of scumling is going on. Lot's of notes being taken on what brushes do what well. I still have a tendency to want to whip the brush, but I still lack the control needed to stop the swipe at the proper length.  Practice. Practice. Practice.


JD, still in progress, is moving more under the shade of the canopy.
There are soft and lost edges on the light side and hard edges on the dark side in back lighted situations.


Here's what JD looked like last January before reading Schmid:



JD, January, 2014 when I put him aside
for later.  Later came this week.
In January JD was little more than a drawing.  This week he became more of a painting with a lot more analytical consideration given to the values in his face and clothing.  The difficulty I'm having with this one is the backlighting.  In January, I had him  lighted as if he was under the open sky instead of under a canopy in heavy shade. The brilliance of the background lighting at two in the afternoon made him look too dark in the reference photograph; the fact that the photo was a candid shot and the boy was moving and talking as he hopped up on that fence added a slight blur. While I darkened/detailed the background this week, I plan to bring it back up to how brilliant it was.

 It will be difficult  trying to figure out the right balance where his features are appropriately lighted AND visibly  recognizable.  He is really a challenge in skin tones.  I stopped and put down my brushes this morning to prepare a canvas for one more color chart.  I was finding Sap Green incredibly helpful in cooling down his flesh tones--Steve's too.  I must add it to the Flemish palette Schmid suggests.   I'm particularly interested in seeing how it mixes with the red family.

I am also anxiously awaiting the figurative open studio session to begin. I need a lot of work on fabric.  Till then who do I call upon? Sargent, of course--though he painted no cotton jersey T shirts.

[I edited JD's picture after I published. I thought I had over photo-shopped it.]



18 comments:

  1. I admire how you can get those sketches down, to have a good start is important. I tried a few faces myself, not as successful as you. I got to learn to get that start, right now I don't have the right approach and failing in a big time. Loosing up my style have also meant that I have lost some patients. But, like you said, all one need is practice.

    I am looking forward to see the progress.

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    1. You just keep at it; that's all you can do. The difference between these two paintings is amazing. JD I started last year with apainfully constructed proportional grid system and a painfully slow cartoon drawing.Then I colored in more or less. I just started Steven with a free hand line/mass block-in, which seems to suit me. It's the scumbling that's new, after all those years with acrylics where a full brush load was the normal approach. Of course, with acrylics I mostly did landscapes; likenesses were never a concern. Getting a portrait likeness demands a lot of measuring and re-measuring of strategic points. With landscapes, you can make them up as you go. Right now I am concerned with credible likenesses. I'd like to get to the point where I can push the likenesses a bit out of whack via exaggerated form and color. I've got a ways to go before I can be that free. I must say though, that I am having a wonderful time pursuing that skill.

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  2. I completely agree, Linda. The thrill of learning is the best feeling in the world. Your pleasure shines through. It makes me happy too.

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    1. Thanks Julie. Curiosity is key. It never did kill this cat; it's what makes the engine hum. --Metaphors are great fun they pop out just like that.

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  3. I like fluency with which it is painted the portrait of your son sleeping . The composition is very interesting ... it's like inside the closed space of the painting, as if there were nestled inside ... a particular emotion comes out the painting so spontaneous and strong ... this is art.

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    1. Thank you so much Rita for your kind words. Your encouragement is appreciated. I watched a video last week on the curse of the artist. The curse is supposedly that we all think our work never quite makes it. I disagree. Our dissatisfaction with most everything we do, (the so called curse), is exactly what keeps us doing the next one and the one after that, forever reaching for perfection. Richard Schmid discussed this too though he said nothing about the drive to make pictures as being a curse. He said we just keep working and doing the best we can with drawing, values, edges, color, composition and leave the art of it to others. Thank you for your very kind decision. :-))

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  4. I love the painterly study of your son. It's a great composition too!

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    1. Thanks Helen. As soon as I peeked in and saw him deep in slumber in his bright yellow shirt, I knew he was a painting.

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  5. fun to see both paintings. Your "after Schmid" is really great--it is really coming together. I am looking forward to seeing the next version of your sleeping son too!

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    1. I'm still going after Schmid with JD. It isn't easy to loosen up after the tightest of starts, the grid system for accurate measurement. But, the least I can do is to get the lighting right. I am anxiously awaiting Schmid's third book on technique and materials. It should be arriving this week. If you do invest in his book ( and old age pension) get the second book, Alla Prima; Everything I Now About Art and More. It is his first book greatly extended. As for my son.i'll give him a mouth and a few more darkening dry brush strokes to his shirt and on to the next.

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  6. I'm glad I wasn't around when your son woke up....!! although he probably knows you by now!!! lol. I love his pose...lots of wonderful shadow work, Linda. And of course, JD is coming along beautifully!!

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    1. No worries. This son and my youngest are willing. My middle son would have balked. Thanks Hilda. I have almost gone as far as I can go with JD though given the start I used. I might have to have another go at his pose some time--but you know that will never happen . You lose the freshness when you do a do-over. Though the grid system cost me freshness on this one.

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  7. God you're good.
    Your paintings are so alive.

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    1. THANK YOU! while studying Richard Schmid this summer, I'm giving serious thought to his claim you have to paint from life. I know that's been shouted through the centuries, but they didn't have the cameras we have today. It's through the camera we can capture the spontaneity of people's reactions to life in all of nature's lighting situations. That is what puts the life in painted portraits. spontaneity of pose and lighting. Candid shots taken during a get together for some other reason than a portrait shoot is what I like to use for a reference. As for painting from life, that's what still life's and landscapes are for.

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  8. Wowee! Love the sleeping portrait, Linda - it reminds me of Sargent. You are making progress in leaps and bounds. Try painting the human figure from life if you can. I think you may be surprised at how addicting it is and how it can add to what you accomplish when painting from photos.

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    1. I plan to come Fall, but reference photos will still be an important tool for me. I do like catching poses that are fleeting and not easily held for three hours let alone three minutes. My son's nap was an hour at most. By the time I set up equipment, and laid in the initial drawing, he would have been waking up and I would have lost that look of deep sleep that made me want to paint him. JD's exuberant perch was also fleeting; the train was coming round the bend and we were going to be on it.

      Painting from life goes hand in hand with painting from photographs. Figurative painting from a model is very valuable for honing drawing skills. Photographing the model in the pose records the pose and gives you the means to finish the work after the model's time is up. Learning how to use photography as a tool and paint from your photographs is as important as painting a live model in an open studio session. Candid poses are not available in an open studio session. Candid poses are rarely in an ideal lighting situation. Learning how to translate photographs to painting terms is a skill to develop. JD is still a bit ridged, but that isn't due to using a reference photo. It's due to using a reference photo and using a grid to enlarge the figure to the size of the canvas and not having the Schmid experience. In this expanded version of Schmid's Alla Prima, Schmid does recognize photography as an important tool that has been used by such artists as Sargent and Van Eyke, but he still looks down his nose at photo realism as do I. And we all should shun those who resort to using the projector. The bottom line: paint from life and photos. Learn how to "read" your photographs. Use only your own photographs. Take as many shots with your professional grade camera as you can and bracket. Painting from life is invaluable. The more you do , the better your painting from photographs. It just makes sense.

      I am looking forward to the open studio sessions starting again. I have a lot of experience in life drawing drawing nudes, but now I want the models clothed. I got the anatomy background, I need background on drapery--in particular tee shirts. :-))

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  9. Love the candid study of your son! And JD is really coming along so very, very well!!!!! The depth and richness you are achieving with his clothing and skin tones is fantastic! Appreciating your determination, I know you will figure out the backlighting effect ... and then I can come back and ask advice for my portraits :)
    Kathryn

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    1. Thanks Kathryn. Steve was fun to do. And JD who was scary, is no longer. I know a lot more now than I did when I started him. I am having an enlightening summer at art camp with Schmid. I just finished his expanded edition of Alla Prima and am anxiously awaiting the companion book on technique and materials. Glancing through his recommended reading list, I saw immediately why this man "spoke" to me. I had every book on his list! Highly unusual. --You know, the way I talk about this guy's book, you might think I was getting a cut of the profits, but alas no such luck. What is fortunate is that everything he writes about applies to all the painting mediums, not just oils. Schmid does watercolor too in his enviable gestural style.

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