Categories
Landscape

Landscape: … Hot On The Trail…

Ulfer Park Trail
8”x10’”Acrylic on canvas panel

Visited Ulfer Family Park in Sarasota and found this trail…

The light and shadows invited me to do a small painting…

South Florida is in a wet tropical climate zone…Wanted to capture the feeling of the mid afternoon heat… and the humid, hazy sky… Pleased with the effect…

Florida flora… native grasses, plants, shrubs and trees… don’t change color much with the seasons… but do offer a wide range of greens…

Deep greens, blue greens, yellow greens, red greens, orange greens, violet greens, brown greens… in all manner of tints and shades…

In this painting, the variety of greens and time of day begged for a bold warm shadow… readily achieved mixing Cad Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Burnt Umber…

3 hours total… Golden Open Acrylic paints… RayMar canvas panel…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Painting

Great Art Explained: … Mona Lisa…

If you are an artist who paints or you simply love great art… and you haven’t seen this video… it is worth 33 minutes of your time… Enjoy…

Categories
Plein Air

Landscape: …Twin Oaks

“Twin Oaks”
Trinity Series
8”x10” Acrylic on canvas panel

Found a Plein Air painting group here in Sarasota… Light Chasers… and joined them for their inaugural 2021 session… Their season is October through May… when temperatures are cooler here…

The group met at Twin Oaks Park… and I quickly found my subject… the Twin Oaks… while others gravitated to the ponds…

These two oak trees… with hanging Spanish Moss… and a few low, meandering twisted limbs… formed a huge canopy… and cast a large shadow on the rolling lawn… in front of towering white clouds…

I see God in nature and thoroughly enjoy painting plein air… experiencing communion with my Maker for a few hours…

Hadn’t done any plein air since arriving in Sarasota in 2018… or any acrylic painting since studying with Yuri Yurov 2017-2018… Been painting exclusively in oils… Neither Yuri nor Dave Henderson have much regard for acrylic paints…

Must say, what acrylics lack in range and complexity… they make up for in ease of use and drying time…

Golden Open Acrylic… a slow drying paint… is perfectly suited for plein air painting, especially here in Florida…

Total 3 hours… Two on-site; one in studio…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Uncategorized

We Remember 9/11

An artist friend sent me this painting today… America will never forget…

Categories
Painting

Sarasota Shore Bird: … Roseate Spoonbill

“Roseate Spoonbill”
Trinity Series
24”x30” Oil on linen

Will call this painting finished…

If you saw the prior post, the Trinity cloud formation has been reconfigured to better keep the viewer’s eye inside the painting…

Decided to add grass to the peninsula… and touched up the lily pads with a dash of red and yellow…

Reflection and ripples below the bird are clumsy… but they support the image without competing with it…

When pondering whether to scrape them and go back in… I heard John Singer Sargent whispering in my head… “The painting is not about the reflection and ripples… It is about the Roseate Spoonbill”…

Here is the reference photo sent to me by Sarasota Artist and Photographer, Pat Donnelly… She is skilled wildlife photographer…

I draw and paint by observation… Got the likeness… and prefer my imagined natural setting rather than the column on the bridge… It’s my world, after all…

Progress not perfection…

Note: My Trinity Series incorporates three interconnected clouds symbolizing the Christian concept of God, the Holy Trinity… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

Nature is God… All around us…

Categories
Painting

Pretty Bird: … Nearly done…

“Roseate Spoonbill”
Trinity Series
24”x 30” Oil on Linen

A photographer in my community sent me a photo of a Roseate Spoonbill… preening atop a column of a small walking bridge near her home… For my painting, imagined a more natural setting on a pond… taking an idea from Sargent…

Find it helpful to photograph a painting near completion to decide on finishing items…

Needs more work on the reflected clouds, the shallows, and the peninsula… some muted colors…

Finish the feathers and soften the edges of the body…

Add variety to the light on the ripples and add slight shadows for depth… without drawing too much attention…

Been working on it off and on with a few other paintings for a couple months… Want to finish it this week…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … Kevin…

Kevin
9×12 Charcoal pencil on toned paper

This drawing started as a quick, “end of session” 30 minute portrait with Kevin posing…

Usually, portrait drawings take me 90 minutes with a model… and some later finishing time… My attempt to short-stop my process was a fail… No likeness… No life…

Couldn’t let that stand, so used the reference photo to make corrections and finish the portrait the next day…

It is difficult to correct errors in the foundation of a drawing after proceeding into details… Better to get the structure right before making too many marks… There were plane and aspect errors in the structure of my quick effort that were mostly corrected…

After an hour of erasing and correcting, was able to get a very good likeness and salvage the drawing…

Laughably, even my initials had to be erased and moved… They were too close to the portrait and a distraction… There is a lesson in there…

Materials: Borden & Riley Pastel & Charcoal Paper #410, Generals Soft Charcoal Pencil, TomBow Mono Zero Erasers and Generals Gum Eraser…

The paper has a gray tone and a deep laid finish…Given a choice, I prefer Strathmore Series 500 Charcoal Paper with a more shallow laid finish…

90 minutes…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … Dre…

Had the second Life Drawing session with a model in my home studio today…

So happy to be drawing from life again…

Beautiful young woman, who had done some light art modeling previously and wants to do more…

Dre has a goth look… Purple hair, nose and lip jewelry, and tattoos… I do not draw jewelry or tattoos… Will ask Dre to sit for a future portrait or figure painting and include them then…

Had her sitting on a new settee I just got for the studio… under overhead warm lighting… with a slightly elevated pose…

Got a good likeness today… Placement and use of available paper was good… Mark making just ok…

Model has great flowing hair… Didn’t do it justice… Though any more attention to her hair would detract from the portrait… Balance in all things, I say… Still, it is wanting in representing the shape, flow, and depth of her hair…

Drawing is on Strathmore Charcoal Paper with a laid finish… Stabilo CarbOthello 1400/645 pastel pencil…

90 minutes…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … Kevin…

Had the first Life Drawing session with a model in my home studio today…

Used to attend an open session at least once a week a few years ago in NJ… Want to restore my rusty skills… Plan to have a model in for portrait or figure work a couple times a month…

After several portrait drawing classes a decade ago… and attending weekly life drawing open sessions for several years, I draw from sight without any particular approach…

Pleased with this first effort… Got a good likeness… Placement and use of the available paper were good… and my mark-making is ok…

Want to move to the next level to capture other dimensions from a live model… My stretch goal is to convey more attitude, humanity, and life force in my portrait and figure drawing…

Drawing is on Strathmore Charcoal Paper with a laid finish… Stabilo CarbOthello 1400/645 pastel pencil…

This was a three hour Long Pose session with the model… Spend the first 45 minutes or so getting to know each other, getting Model Agreement signed, and testing poses and lighting… 20 minutes in pose with 5 minute breaks… Total drawing time 2 hours…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Painting

Self-Portrait: …June 2017

Self-Portrait June 2017
18×24 Oil on canvas panel

Set up a mirror for this monochrome self-portrait a few years ago. Burnt Sienna and Titanium White. Edge light from a window behind me and fill light coming from front and left on the short side of my face.

Seeing it again is motivating me to paint a new self-portrait…

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Landscape

Sarasota Landscape

“Palm Across the Pond”
Trinity Series
30”x30” Oil on canvass

Note: Changed my WordPress Theme and this post from May 2020 was corrupted, so reposting today…

This is the view from my Florida Room… Been working on this off and on for a few months… Needed to get it off my easel… As Da Vinci is quoted, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” This painting is on my dining room wall now, with a window view of the actual palm across the pond… Birds are daily visitors like this small flock of Ibis… I can always take it down if I see something that needs attention…

My Trinity Series paintings include three connected clouds representing the Holy Trinity… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… To me, nature is a divine gift to man…

Pleased with the composition, key, and values… Fronds got too fussy… but the painting conveys a sense of calm… The orange strokes in the blue skies creates a violet hue… my Hat Tip to the Impressionists…

Still progressing as an artist… finding my way with materials and techniques… Long journey ahead…

About 60 hours total 

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Figure Painting

Figure Painting:… Work in progress… Imagined…

“Dawn Dreamer”
16×20 Oil on canvas panel

Started this painting in an open figure session at Ivan Bratko’s Livingston, NJ studio in 2015…

Back at home, imagined and added the dawn beach setting… Put it aside…

Brought it to Sarasota in 2018…. Took it out of storage recently… After looking at it for a few weeks, decided to add the sheer nightgown…

Still needs minor light, shadow, and color corrections… May revise the cloud line and make it part of my Trinity Series… We’ll see… Putting it aside for now… Will finish it this spring…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … ЖEHД

ЖEHД
9×12 Pastel pencil on paper

First portrait drawing in months… Wonderful model… A neighbor who lived through the years after the Bolshevik Revolution before emigrating to the USA…

Expressive face… full of character earned over a lifetime… A joy to draw… Got a solid likeness…

Will ask her to sit again with different head positions… hoping to capture emotions conveyed in her eyes and face…

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel 645 pencil and General’s White pencil on Strathmore 500 Series paper…

2 hours…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Painting

Sarasota Landmark… Re-imagined…

“Unconditional Surrender… Re-imagined”
Trinity Series
24”x 36” Oil on Linen

Started this months ago… Put it aside… Would keep working on it… but it is finished for now… 

It is a tribute to Seward Johnson’s iconic sculpture “Unconditional Surrender,”reimagined by me…

My version depicts a less aggressive posture, a more loving welcome home between a WWII couple… in an imagined open field on Sarasota Bay… with a hat tip to the Surrealist Magritte and a floating Tree of Life… Hockney stylized branches… Turner harbor ghost ships… and to Monet with small pink clouds floating in the blue sky…

It is also part of my Trinity Series paintings… each with symbolic three clouds representing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…

God is all around us in the natural world… We just have to learn to see… like an artist…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: Tone It Down…

“Geralda”
11 x 14 Pencil on paper

Been awhile since any portrait drawing… Rusty skills… Need to keep my Eye-Brain-Hand connection sharp, so will be doing more drawing…

Mechanical pencil on Strathmore toned paper…

Happy with the composition… Drawing is just ok… Overworked… Too many marks and erasure… Let’s give it a 6 for my skill level… Too much line work on the hair… Could have handled the legs differently… Also relearned toned paper is not the best choice for graphite pencil… Buff paper next time… Will use charcoal or pastel pencil on toned paper…

120 minutes… Model sat for 20 minute segments… 5 minute breaks… First portrait session in my home studio… Worked out great…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Uncategorized

Home Studio

 

Relocated to Sarasota in 2018 and, after nearly a year as a renter researching communities, bought a condo late last year. Remodeled the place, including converting a small den into a home studio…

 

A Tueller Wall Easel, handcrafted by Jason Tueller at Paper Bird Studio, makes working on both larger paintings and multiple pieces much easier. Also, put caster wheels on a butler side table. Spray painted one side of a double-paned beveled glass with a dark gray, installed and sealed it on the wooden tray top. Now have a nice mobile neutral palette…

Small work and storage area, and 5 drawer cabinet on casters, make it easy to keep the area organized and clean. Keeping it simple lets me quickly find what I need…

Removed closet doors, expanded the space, and installed spotlights for lighting and shadow effects. Had a sturdy platform built with locking caster wheels so it can be moved to the other side of the room to also get natural southern light when desired, next best thing to northern exposure.

Use the chair for portrait work, the settee for figure work, and a table for still life set-ups. removing those not in use. Put locking caster wheels on my stand-alone easel in the top photo and use it so I can look directly at the model or still life and sight-size when drawing or painting…

Have a utility sink within 15 feet, and mounted wall shelves within 20 feet in the garage for unused canvas storage to complete the set-up…

All in all, pretty good use of space for a hobbyist and aspiring artist…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Painting Uncategorized

Oil Study: A Little Kitsch… Can Have a Rich History…

“Welcome to Sarasota: Hat Tip to Seward Johnson”
11×14 Oil on Panel

All moved into my condo… Home studio is nearly finished… so happy to be painting again.

Seward’s sculpture “Unconditional Surrender” is a Sarasota bay front landmark… It was a natural to paint… Plan to do a 30×40 oil copy soon….

This is part of a Sarasota Trinity Series… (Three connected clouds will be in each painting)… Why??… Easy answer… Living in Sarasota… is like being in Paradise!!

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … Muse

Geralda
11×14 Trois Crayon

With no open studio nearby and preoccupied with finding a new home, needed to do some drawing to test my portrait skills after a year.

Geralda is a lady friend who emigrated from Brazil. She has the most beautiful skin. After some coaxing, she agreed to sit for a couple portrait sessions. Geralda has a calm beauty I hope to capture in future drawings and paintings…

Geralda
11×14 Trois Crayon on toned paper

90 minutes…

Progress not perfection…

 

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait: … Drawing after the drought…

“Geralda”
11×14 Trois Crayon on toned paper

Haven’t done any drawing or painting since October 2017… Packed up my SUV with art materials, some clothes and photos… relocated to Sarasota, FL… Between getting my home ready for sale in NJ and distributing my possessions, didn’t have the attention or desire to make art…

Still waiting to buy in Sarasota… Not comfortable doing any painting in the condo rental… Cleaning brushes, etc… Miss attending Yuri’s open sessions… Did find an atelier here that offers open sessions, so will be checking it out…

Met a couple recently down here who asked if I would draw their portrait… Hmm… needed to see if my portrait drawing skills were still up to the task!!… As a test, asked a friend if she would sit for a portrait…

About three hours.

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Still Life

Work in Progress: Put Aside…

Still Life
36×36 Oil on canvas

This is a still life painting set up by Yuri Yurov when I was studying with him in 2017. It needs corrections in the shape of the wine glass, the pottery piece, completion of the vine, and overall finishing effects.

Here is an early version…

I moved from Morristown NJ to Sarasota FL in 2018 and have taken a break from my art. When I get settled here, will take this painting up again.

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Landscape

Special Request: Oil Sketch

Birdhouse 16x20 oil on canvas panel Birdhouse
16×20 oil on canvas panel

Birdhouse in my backyard done at request of my darlin’ and gift to her. More fun illustration than fine art. Looks like it belongs in a children’s book : )

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Plein Air

Plein Air: Dover NJ Church

Trinity 11x14 oil on canvas panel

Holy Trinity Church
11×14 acrylic on canvas panel

Spent a couple hours on-site… Finished in studio…

Progress not perfection…

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: … Learning to Paint… #10

18″x 24″ Oil on canvas

A still life set up by Yuri Yurov for my training…

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint… #5

Still Life #5
18”x24” Oil in linen panel
Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint …#9

Still Life #9 18 x 18 Oil on canvas
Still Life #9
18 x 18 Oil on canvas

Categories
Uncategorized

Still Life: …Learning to Paint… #7

Still Life #7 18 x 24 Oil on canvas panel
Still Life #7
18 x 24 Oil on canvas panel

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint …#8

Still Life #8 18 x 18 Oil on canvas
Still Life #8
18 x 18 Oil on canvas

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint #4

Still Life #4 18 x 24 Oil on canvas panel
Still Life #4
18 x 24 Oil on canvas panel

Categories
Figure Painting

Open Figure …Work in Progress …

Work in Progress 18 x 24 oil on canvas Work in Progress
18 x 24 oil on canvas

Has been awhile since I posted, but I have been painting, mostly on previously posted work.

This is a new painting started at Yuri Yurov’s open session last month that I put aside and got back to this morning in my home studio. The model is a beautiful young woman from Columbia who has golden brown skin. Wonderful opportunity for me to work on painting skin tones and atmosphere; still have work to do on both. Looking at it now, think I will also change the color of the pillow so it is less distracting and better supports the figure.

Yuri said the image was too small and didn’t utilize the available canvas. He also didn’t like the skin tone palette on the left. Points taken. Although the image is not as large as it might have been and the palette is not part of the setting, both work for me in this painting; the palette is part of the composition as information for the viewer.

8 hours total so far.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint …#2

Still Life #2 11 x 14 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel
Still Life #2
11 x 14 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel

This is the second still life Yuri Yurov set up for my instruction. Looks simple enough, but I struggled with it. The ellipses and the forms were not the problem; it was the colors and tones on the kettle, the cup and saucer, the lemon and the fabric. Did I miss anything?? Yuri gave me his detailed critique and said it was okay, and I learned from the experience, so decided to move on to something else.

9 hours at Yuri’s and 3 hours at home; total 12 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to paint …#3

Still Life #3 18 x 24 oil on canvas Still Life #3
18 x 24 oil on canvas

This is the third still life completed under the instruction of Yuri Yurov. Overall it is okay for my level of experience.

The yellow brush handle could be better and the colors and tones of the brush heads could be made more interesting. Think I did okay with the atmosphere, light and shadows. Was painted in late fall afternoon natural light. Much attention to the combination of warm and cool temperature of the paper notepad, the folds and fabric. The fabric had a monochromatic paisley-like texture pattern. Don’t have the skills to mimic pattern yet. Tried to create interest with the illusion of texture. Yuri said he will show me how to create the illusion of pattern using a fan brush in a future lesson.

For now, my focus is on process: seeing, composing, drawing, defining shadows, applying color and brush work. Within the process I am trying to advance my execution of creating an illusion of reality using light and shadow, values, color and temperature.

12 hours at Yuri’s and 6 hours at home. 18 hours total.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Painting

Open Session: …Portrait …One Model …Two Grisaille Oil Sketches

“Mike”
18 x 24 oil on canvas

Yuri Yurov suggested I do oil sketches on canvas at the Wednesday Night open sessions to give me more practice on my values and my brush work. Must say, I do get great pleasure using paint and a brush. Bought a 10 sheet Frederix canvas pad; real canvas, medium texture, primed and ready for painting.

Before beginning, lightly applied poppy oil with a rag to facilitate movement of the paint and allow me to wipe away paint to achieve tonal variations. Used Burnt Sienna for the sketch.

Great model. Fantastic facial features. Was able to get a very good likeness.

Toward the end of the session, I introduced Titanium White to modify some of the existing tones. Mistake. Forgot when mixed with Burnt Sienna it creates a cool gray color. If I use Titanium White and Burnt Sienna for oil sketches in the future, think I will mix five values in advance. It is more work than using a rag to create different values, but it has its own charm as a grisaille. Will be a little more observant of the atmosphere as well. Those dark marks behind the head are distracting.

As a prelude to the session, did an oil sketch from a photo Yuri sent out announcing the model and changed the direction of the eyes. Gave me a chance to try out the canvas. It accepts paint readily. Will put a second coat of gesso on before beginning a sketch next time to see if it makes any difference in moving the paint around. Yuri uses Canson Canva paper to paint his oil sketches. It is paper, not canvas, but he puts on a coat of gesso before painting. I will buy a Canson Canva pad after I use up the Frederix canvas pad to test it out.

About 2 hours on each sketch

Progress not perfection.

 

Categories
Painting Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint …#1

Still Life #1 18 x 24 oil on canvas
Still Life #1
18 x 24 oil on canvas

Started taking painting instruction with Yuri Yurov, twice a week in three hour sessions. What an opportunity!

This is the first still life set up by Yuri. Worked under his instruction for three sessions, and finished at home. Think the set up reflects his classical training and sensibilities. I aspire to learn to paint realism and hope to achieve my own “signature” style with experience.

There are a few issues. Placement on the canvas is too close to the right edge. The drape is velvet and I didn’t quite achieve the illusion (“Close”, as they say in the south). All the edges in the image are soft and in looking at it now, I could have used some sharper edges on the objects, especially the apple and tea cup in the foreground, to create a depth of field and focal points. Otherwise, pleased with the effort and result for my level of experience. Especially like the reflection of the teacup and saucer in the vase.

Total 12 hours.

Progress not perfection

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Open Session: …Portrait … Bigger is not always better

James 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper
James
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Have drawn this model a couple times in other sessions. Flowing salt and pepper hair and beard with strong facial planes make for a great evening of drawing. The model was sitting with his right arm resting on top of the back of his chair. Took a position to do a profile portrait. Liked the composition with his arm in view.

Yuri has been talking with me about not drawing so small and using the full paper. He said there is a perfect size for every image (or canvas) and you can see when it fits its space perfectly, so made a conscious decision to draw this portrait bigger setting the outside envelope closer the the edges than I have in the past.

After establishing my placement, started building the big shapes – face, hair, beard, arm – then moved to find the facial landmarks – forehead, brow, eyes, nose, mouth, chin – checking and correcting the proportions. As I added shadows, a nice likeness emerged on the paper. The rest of the session was spent refining and finishing.

Yuri came by at the end of the evening and suggested the head might be too big. He took his hand and spread his palm in front of his face. “The face should be no larger than your hand.” Told Yuri I learned that from Ed Sprafkin and spread my hand in front of the image to show him it was in fact the same size. Think the foreshortened arm, shoulder length hair, and beard give the impression the face is larger than life.

Yuri took his dark pastel stick and followed my line on the forehead profile saying it was an important line and needed to be accentuated. He also said no two shadows are alike, and lightly touched my facial shadows with the side of his dark stick. Using the side of a crayon to shade creates subtle differences as opposed to shading and blending; a valuable lesson here.

Pleased with the drawing. The model liked it as well and took a photo.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Draped Sitting Nude

Draped Nude Study 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper Draped Nude Study
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Good session at Yuri’s last night. Drawn this model many times. She is a real professional who knows how to pose.

Spent a couple minutes thinking about my composition. Had a nice vantage point to draw the full seated figure, so decided to do it. At my stage of development, I prefer to draw and paint the full figure to practice anatomical proportions, structure, and planes.

It also gives me an opportunity to practice my pencil lines – lines that follow the anatomy using both pressure and the width to describe light and shadow and express the “life inside the figure.” To me, this is the art of figure drawing and a skill I aspire to learn and master.

Yuri nodded his approval during a couple breaks and came by after the session to compliment me on the composition. He said I almost made optimum use of the paper, and that my figure could have been slightly larger. He said composition is critical – if it fails it doesn’t matter how good the details are done.

He also encouraged me to think about how to bring the viewer “inside the drawing” instead of the drawing projecting itself on the viewer. Think it is all about depth and atmosphere and something I still need to learn.

Total 2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Reclining Nude …Foreshortening Exercise

Reclining Nude 18 x 24 charcoal and white chalk on toned paper Reclining Nude
18 x 24 charcoal and white chalk on toned paper

Same model. New three week pose. Crowded studio, so took a position others avoided. Always up for a challenge. You can see the ghost lines – evidence of plenty of correction : )

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Trois Crayons …Resting Nude Study

Resting Nude Study 18 x 24 trois crayons on toned paper - 2 hours -from life Resting Nude Study
18 x 24 trois crayons on toned paper – 2 hours -from life

Been experimenting with acrylic sketches at open figure sessions, so this is my first drawing in awhile. Decided to attempt a “crayon trois” using a charcoal pencil and red and white pastel pencils.

Wonderful model at Yuri Yurov’s open session last night- same model who has been posing for the sitting acrylic painting I’m doing and will post shortly – working at a different open session. Her hair is down and her face is hidden in the figure painting, but her hair is up and her face is revealed here. Beautiful girl.

Spent a little time deciding on the composition and happy with my choice. Yuri came by during a break and talked with me about the importance of composition. He said my composition was strong. He said if the composition is weak, the drawing (or painting) cannot be great regardless of the skills of the artist. He emphasized the process: concept and composition first; then big shapes in relation to each other to achieve accurate anatomy and proportions with special attention to light and shadows; finally finishing with artistic details guiding the viewer to the focal areas that support the concept.

He took my pencil and followed my lines of the face and shadows, checking my proportions, corrected the position of the right shoulder, neck and chest line, and moved the right breast up a bit and reduced the size. He gave me the pencil and left me to correct the left breast, the arms and hand. The message was clear. Check the proportions and positions early and often when drawing the big shapes and get them right before moving on to any detail. Really a privilege to be coached by a master artist.

I’m a little heavy handed with the red and white pencils, but for a first effort at crayon trois, I’m pleased. Will make some refinements tomorrow and repost. Need to work on my mark-making, especially in shadow areas. Ray Heinz has talked with me about being more cognizant of making marks that follow the shape of the form.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Painting

Open Figure: …Kneeling Nude Study

Sitting Nude Study 8 x 10 artist grade acrylic on canvas panel Kneeling Nude Study
8 x 10 artist grade acrylic on canvas panel

Getting back to attending open sessions. Decided to start painting sketches at Riker Hill using Golden Open acrylics.

Cad Yellow, Cad Red, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White, and Carbon Black.

60 minutes.

Progress not perfection

Categories
Figure Painting

Open Session: …Reclining Nude Study II …Grisaille

Work in Progress 11 x 14 Oil on Belgian Linen panel Work in Progress
11 x 14 Oil on Belgian Linen canvas panel

Same model and pose as last week at Ivan Bratko’s Studio. Took the same position.

Last week used Burnt Umber and Titanium White acrylic for grisaille. Used Mars Red and Titanium White oil this week.

Prepared the linen canvas by oiling out with 1:1 mix of Stand Oil and Gamsol. This stopped the paint from being absorbed into the canvas and allowed me to move the paint around on the surface and wipe to subtract and correct without staining the linen.

Something about this pose I just like. Elegant and rhythmic lines.

Didn’t do it justice. Get one more chance at it next week.

2 hours

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Figure: …Reclining Nude …Exercise in foreshortening

18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Last night Yuri decided to move the model to the middle of the room. From my position, it created a challenging foreshortening problem. Yuri came by and looked at my vantage point before we started and said, “This is very complicated.” I responded, “I am fearless.” : )

First determined my placement on the page – top, bottom, and sides – then blocked in the big shapes with light lines. Working from the top, checking proportions against angles and landmarks, began to define the form with light lines, finding my way, correcting with my kneaded eraser often. Resized the head and legs a couple times to achieve the foreshortened illusion. Finished the drawing by creating the lines on the front leg as a focal point and carrying a line up the left side of the model with lesser pressure.

The other artists gave me good comments on the result. Happy with the outcome for my level of experience.

2 hours

Progress not perfection

Categories
Figure Painting

Open Figure: …Reclining Nude Study …Grisaille

Work in Progress 11 x 14 Acrylic on Belgian Linen panel Work in Progress
11 x 14 Acrylic on Belgian Linen panel

Started this yesterday at Rikers Hill open figure session. This was the first of a three session pose. Knowing in advance this would be a reclining pose, took a position behind the stage before the model arrived. Every other artist positioned themselves in front of the stage, save one who joined me later. As the model established her pose, I was delighted with my vantage point.

My method is to use Burnt Umber acrylic paint to do a grisaille underpainting to start a figure study. Keeps me focused on the form, light and shadow. I first wet the panel, apply a fairly thin wash of paint with a broad brush, and wipe out the envelope of the figure with a paper towel. Then, using a brush, I begin to define the form, correcting as I go, focusing on anatomical landmarks. Finally, I introduce shadows. In future sessions, I switch to oils to advance and finish the painting.

Really like this pose. Instead of advancing this painting, I may use the two remaining sessions to do similar grisaille studies. Then again, I need to work on skin tones. What a conundrum.

90 minutes.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Open Session: …Portrait …and a lesson in finishing

"Zaghara" 18 x 24 pastel pencil with white highlights on toned paper
“Zaghara”
18 x 24 pastel pencil with white highlights on toned paper

Decided to draw a portrait of our model at Yuri’s last night. Just didn’t care for the full figure pose from my position in the room.

Throughout the evening Dave Henderson, Ray Heinz, and Yuri Yurov stopped by during breaks and checked my progress. They all liked the composition and drawing. Was able to get a good likeness.

During the last break, Yuri came by and took my pencil. He showed me how to finish a drawing. Through the weight of his line, he made small refinements to the rhythm of the center line – brow, nose, lips, and chin. and darkened the eye to create a focal point. He also shaded the jaw line and cheek with lines over my lighter shadows. You can see my default method of shading on the neck, for example. I make light marks and blend with my fingers. After a few minutes, he left and I added white highlights.

It is so instructive to watch a master artist work. In this case, Yuri demonstrated how to take a good drawing through to a fine finish.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Uncategorized

A Resource for the Aspiring Artist…

One of my artist friends, Ray Heinz, sent me this article, The Painter’s Primer: A Survival Kit, published in LINEA, a print publication of the Art Student’s League in NYC.

Hope you find great value in it as I did.

The Painters Primer: A Survival Kit

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint II

Been studying once a week over the past 8 months with Kevin Murphy at his Art Academy. Taking a break for the summer. Worked the first few months on value drawings in charcoal. Then moved to still life set ups in grayscale with oils. Recently been painting in color. Each represents 3-4 hours at his studio. Forced me to focus to get as much done as possible given the time constraint. Wasn’t able to finish any, but probably a good thing given my habit of over-working. Trying to tame my perfectionist nature.

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Here are the last of the grayscale paintings.

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And below are the initial color paintings, the most recent at the bottom.

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IMG_2646

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IMG_2647

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Still working to learn and use a repeatable process to make a painting. Need to overcome my tendency to move around a painting randomly based on what attracts my attention instead of working intentionally through stages to completion. Bad habits are hard to break. Once I own my process and it is intuitive, I can adjust it to meet my needs.

Will start again with my lessons in September.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Painting

Portrait Painting: …Using my imagination

If you asked me what my ultimate goal is with my art I would tell you it is to create narrative figure paintings and portraits. The human form and the human spirit are the subjects that interest me the most, and present a formidable challenge as I learn to draw and paint.

“James”
16 x 20 oil on Belgian linen panel

Those of you who follow this blog may recall this image painted last summer during an open session at Yuri’s (click to enlarge). The model was James, a friend of Yuri’s. I put this aside and have been thinking about how to proceed, if at all. Decided on a plan of action yesterday and got started.

Work in Progress 16 x 20 Oil on Belgian linen panel
Work in Progress
16 x 20 Oil on Belgian linen panel

Without the advantage of putting the model in a costume, pose and setting of my choice, I plan to create a narrative with my imagination. James at an indoor venue of some sort, a theater. Behind him, I’m planning a silhouette with ghost images of orchestra players and a conductor with a baton. In front of him will be a small number of audience members. Painting this as a grisaille with Burnt Umber and Titanium White. Keeping it simple…

Yesterday I blocked in a rough approximation of the orchestra form without any detail, created the audience members in front of the stage, added a couple of balcony forms, and cleaned up the facial features to achieve a likeness of James using a reference photo.

I am still in the basic learning stage with several years of work ahead of me before I can get serious about producing narrative art. That said, I’ve got to start sometime, so this is an early attempt at exercising my imagination, employing the knowledge acquired to date about composition, the human form, and oil painting, and proceeding to address the problems involved in creating an interesting narrative painting.

4 hours total so far.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Painting

Self-Portrait or “How I Spent My Holiday”

Self-Portrait May-June 2015 9 x 12 Oil on canvas panel - from life

Had our season opening Memorial Day BBQ the day before, so used the Monday holiday to do a self-portrait. Trying to advance my portrait painting skills.

Set up a mirror next to my easel with the light source angled slightly in front from the upper left.

Grisaille using Burnt Umber and Titanium White.

Working my way up to full color portrait once I get enough experience mixing and painting skin tones with light, shadow and temperature.

Undecided about atmosphere with these monochrome portraits. Need to experiment with some color combinations.

6 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Note: Keep tweaking this portrait. Getting close. Still needs a little work. Call it a work in progress.

Categories
Painting Still Life

Still Life: …Cognac and Coffee

“Coffee and Cognac”
16 x 20 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel

Finally finished this second still life started in a painting class with Elaine Kurie last fall. Kurie incorporates reflections in her recent work, so no surprise she set up a still life for the class that included this element. It was an interesting challenge in the first still life she set up for the class as well.

This painting went through stages. Grisaille underpainting to block in the forms, then a couple subsequent levels of correction, color and refinement before finishing.

“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on MDF panel

“Work In Progress”
16 x 20 oil on linen canvas panel

“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on belgian linen canvas panel

Changed the shape of cloth form to lead the viewer into the painting and cut the length of the wheat stalks to bring them nearer to the glass forms and allow a close up of the overall still life.

Background of the set up was an off-white wall, so decided on a mix of Alizarin, Burnt Umber, and Ivory Black as a dramatic complement to the green fabric. Table top was a sheet of white paper I modified to a slightly creased white tablecloth in shadow. Pleased with the composition.

Tried to use more expressive brush work than the strokes I used in the first still life. Discovering I am not a good fit to precision painting. I am an eldest child, cursed to be a perfectionist. Only late in life am I learning to just let it go, and even now it is a struggle.

While I greatly admire the technique and product of precision painters like Elaine Kurie and other American Neo Realists, I am most attracted to the post Impressionist realism of Zorn and Sargent, and to contemporary painters like Richard Schmid and Daniel Gerhartz, among others.

12 hours total

Progress not perfection

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Learning to Paint

Been studying once a week with Kevin Murphy at his Art Academy since last fall. Worked the first few months on value drawings in charcoal. For past quarter been working on still life set ups in grayscale with oils. These are some recent efforts, each representing 3-4 hours at his studio.

IMG_2484

Not any one of these was finished; simply ran out of time.

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Most recent works show better efficiency, so had time to add some refinement.

IMG_2481

My primary goal in studying with Kevin is to learn a repeatable process for starting and progressing through an oil painting.  Also want to learn as much as he is able to teach me about the methods and techniques of representational painting.

IMG_2480Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Open Session: …Portrait …You are pressing

18 x 24 charcoal on toned paper
18 x 24 charcoal on toned paper

Same model as last week. Same pose. Decided to leave my comfort zone and put aside the pastel pencil. Used soft vine charcoal on gray toned paper.

Yuri suggested my portrait was too small last week and didn’t take advantage of the paper size, and he was right. Made a larger drawing last night with the face – not a head and shoulder pose – the focal point. Much more powerful drawing than last week and more appropriate for a portrait.

Yuri came by and suggested I was pressing too hard on the charcoal – to use the side of the charcoal as well as the point and make soft marks. You can see his mark on the lower right side where he showed me how to make a dark mark without pressing hard on the point.

Made a nice looking drawing of a woman in a pensive mood but didn’t capture the model’s likeness. Was so focused on moving the charcoal around the paper and getting comfortable with the medium again, didn’t get her bemused expression either.

As they say in the south, “I was close.”

2 hours

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Work in Progress …4th Quarter about to start

"Work in Progress" 16 x 20 oil on belgian linen canvas panel
“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on belgian linen canvas panel

Spent a couple more hours working on this second still life set up created by Elaine Kurie for a painting class last fall.

Finding it difficult to get motivated to finish it. Get distracted by my own work. Promised myself to give it more attention this month.

The patience required to achieve hyperrealism is not a strength of mine, so this painting style is ill-suited to me. Prefer a looser and more expressive approach to painting. Trying to incorporate some of myself into this still life. Hope you can see it in the silk cloth, the three vessels, and the wheat stalks. Realistic but not so exact in the execution as the first Kurie still life set up I did last fall. More expressive brush work with softer edges in this painting.

Materials are Winsor & Newton oil paints. RayMar panel. Rosemary Brushes.

Palette is Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Umber, Ivory Black (background); Viridian, Light Green, Burnt Umber, Titanium White (silk cloth); Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black (bowl, shadows and tablecloth), Titanium White and Yellow Ochre (wheat stalks). Will add some cool color to the shadows, a warm glaze to the wheat stalks, and a raw sienna to the whiskey cap to simulate gold.

Still need to accomplish several things in the finishing stage:

Finish modeling the green silk cloth.

Finish the standing glass and add a slight ellipse at the lip.

Continue refining the top ellipse and modeling of the bowl, both interior and exterior.

Finish the whiskey bottle.

Refine the whiskey label and cap forms and add color.

Refine the cast shadows of all three vessels with attention to temperature.

Create reflections of color on the whiskey bottle, tall glass, and bowl.

Glaze color onto the wheat stalks.

Add highlights and accents.

8 hours total so far.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Open Session: …Portrait … Francesca

"Francesca" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper
“Francesca”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper

Our model was clothed last night so I decided to draw her portrait.

Last week Yuri suggested I watch him get started this time so he could demonstrate how he approaches his drawing. He moved his easel up next to mine. He was planning a portrait painting. Using what looked like a burnt umber and black mix, he made a few small brush marks around his canvas to serve as landmarks. He then made a big sweeping curved diagonal line from the bottom right side of the canvas up to the left top. This turned out to be the brim line of the hat; he planned a close-up composition.

He then started a grisaille underpainting to establish the form, values, shadows and light areas. He worked on the big shapes, correcting as he went without any attention to detail. Once he was satisfied with the oil sketch, he started to add color and deepen the values. The detail he did add was focused on the triangle capturing the expressive eyes, the nose and lips to achieve the likeness and spirit of the model. He only suggested an anatomically correct hand with no definition of the fingers save for a loosely drawn couple of shapes. A few color placements and the red hat in an otherwise low key value painting produced a quite dramatic and powerful portrait.

When Yuri looked at my drawing during a break, he said it wasn’t big enough. He meant that I might have made the face the focal point instead of making the pose the focal point. Looking at his portrait in comparison, he was right. He produced an artful portrait. I produced a stock illustration. Okay likeness. Lifeless expression. No atmosphere. Failed portrait. I started a new drawing in the remainder of the session.

What did I learn? To not start working until I have thoughtfully considered the compositional options. To find and project the drama and power of a pose. To use the full drawing area and not draw so small. To make the focal point of a head and shoulder portrait the facial triangle. To make the portrait subject expressive with special attention to the eyes and mouth. To keep working at it because I have a long way to go before I produce artful life drawings.

90 minutes. Used Stabilo CarbOthello 1400/645 pastel pencil on Canson 1557 Classic Cream Drawing paper.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life … Roll with the punches

18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper
18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper

This was to be the last session in this pose with our model. As the fates would have it, our model was unable to make it, so we had a substitute model with about the same body shape.

Although she was put into the same pose and lighting, the posture and form were different, as were the cast shadows, head shape and likeness.

Decided to not chase the major changes too much and spent my time modeling the form with light and shadows, and adding some detail to the hair, face and hands.

2 hours today. 4 hours total. CarbOthello 1400/642 pastel pencil on Strathmore Drawing paper.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …Cease and Desist

"Ashleigh" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper
“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper

As the session was starting last night Yuri said to me, “You pick complicated positions.”

Our model was in the same pose as the previous week, and I positioned myself at an angle looking up toward the head. The drawing would require a foreshortened thigh, forearm, torso, neck and face. I like challenges.

Used Stabillo Carbothello 1400/642 pastel pencil. It has a softer color – almost mauve –  than the 645 burnt sienna color. Ray Heinz said it looked more flesh-like.

Spent the first 20 minutes creating the envelope, using angles and landmarks (head to shoulder; elbow to forehead, ear to knee, breast to ear, etc.), and finding the center line of the head and torso, and the foreshortened position lines of the eyes, nose, lips, chin. Blocked in the hair and ear.

In the next segment, I marked the shadows: the cast shadow on her shoulder under the chin, the breast, forearm, knees and calf. Blocked in the hand. Then roughed in the foreshortened face, paying particular attention to the nose. Spent some time on the neck, throat, mastoid muscle.

For the remainder of the evening, modeled the form, defined the face, and made some corrections. You can see the ghost of the fingers indicating the position of the forearm changed.

And I destroyed the beauty of the drawing.

Never intended to define the hand and fingers to the point of distraction or to emphasize the eyes and eyebrows with such dark marks. But I did.

I got lost in the details.

At the evening’s close, Yuri came by and studied the drawing. He said the foreshortening wasn’t correct. As examples, the calf should be larger and the knee is too small in relation to the face. He said I spent too much time on the details and not enough time correcting the form during the session.

Yuri was right.

He said the goal of a figure drawing or painting is not to create photographic detail. It is to find the beauty of the pose. He suggested that next week I stand behind him and watch how he starts and proceeds through his oil sketch. What an opportunity to learn! Will be taking plenty of notes in my sketchbook.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …”Good start…”

"Work in Progress" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper
“Work in Progress”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on drawing paper

Attended Ivan Bratko‘s weekly open figure session this morning; hadn’t been there in quite a while.

Ivan is a Ukranian-American artist who was classically trained in Russia, like our friend Yuri Yurov. As a matter of fact, Yuri was in the group today working on a painting he started last week. Ashleigh was the model, someone I’ve drawn several times at Yuri Yurov’s studio.

This was the second of three sessions in this pose, and I missed the first session, so with only one additional session in this pose, decided to draw; not enough time for me to paint at my stage of development.

Used Stabilo Carbothello 1400/642 pastel pencil on Strathmore Drawing paper.

After the session Yuri stopped by and said I made a good start. Usually at Yuri’s on Wednesday nights, we only have 2 hours to draw before the pose changes the following week.

In the final session of this pose next week, will focus on the face and torso – creating a rhythm of marks using line and tone to develop the values, the lights and the shadows – with a goal of bringing the drawing to life – one of my challenge areas.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …Ashleigh

“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

This model has become a favorite of my drawing groups, so I get to draw her often. An art student, she understands how to hold a pose, re-establish her pose after a break, and how to present focal areas of a particular pose.

During an early break Yuri came by and said he liked my start. He encouraged me to imagine myself as a conductor, leading an orchestra of form, line, tone, value and atmosphere to create a drawing that pleases both me and the viewer. It is a useful analogy.

In the pose last night, tried to invite the viewer into the drawing at the feet, to the lower leg and knee, up to the abdomen and rib cage, shoulder and elbow, hair and face, top shoulder and arm, hip and hand. Most people read left to right, though, so many will start at the head, down the shoulder, arm, hand, hip, calf, feet, and back toward the head along the lower side of the model. Either works for me.

Dave Henderson liked my use of tone to define most of the form, and reminded me value changes define the inner body.

Both Yuri and Dave complimented my treatment of the hand on the hip. Went for an anatomically correct suggestion of the hand and a few visible fingers.

Used a Stabilo CarbOthello 1400/670 pastel pencil on Strathmore Series 400 toned tan paper.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Open Session: …Portrait …Zaghara

"Zaghara" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper
“Zaghara”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

This young model posed for us previously unclothed and returned last night with a new haircut and colorful striped dress. As the fates would have it, only a few artists had color palettes.

With an interesting profile view, decided to draw her portrait with my drawing medium of choice: Stabilo Carb Othello 1400/645 pastel pencil on Strathmore 400 toned tan paper.

Lightly started sketching the big shapes, and after several minutes decided to move the image to the right to capture the right arm. It forms a nice anchor to the triangle of the head, and left elbow.

Worked the figure with light marks trying to find the right lines to shape the envelope using my kneaded eraser. Once satisfied with the general form, moved to the shape of the head and facial planes to achieve her likeness.

During a break, Yuri came by to remind me lines closer are darker and lines farther away are lighter. Continued to develop the form and added some details of her dress.

Dave Henderson came over during several breaks to compliment my progress. He suggested bringing out the belt by creating contrast with the dress rather than making darker lines. Took his advice and modeled her bosom and abdomen to follow the form and added shadow. It did define the belt.

Pleased with the composition. Achieved a spot on likeness. Dave said it is a really nice drawing. High praise from a master.

Total 2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …Rescue Me

"Ashleigh" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper
“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Same delightful model and challenging pose last night as the previous week. Decided to take a slightly different position and perspective; focus on the face and torso.

After the first break, Yuri came by and liked my start. “Don’t just draw what you see, though. Decide on your emphasis. Invite the viewer in with something interesting and lead the eyes around the drawing with thoughtful lines. Don’t press so hard on the pencil.”

He talked with me again about line quality. Took my pencil and demonstrated how to achieve line rhythm with slight weight and pressure changes. He has shown me this many times; I am a slow learner.

Toward the end of the session, Ray Heinz asked me how it was going. “I’m on a rescue mission, Ray” I said with a laugh.

Struggled with the face and you can see the battle lines. Her face was slightly elevated and the jaw line, chin and neck were challenging. Needed to put some emotion in the eyes; the blank stare is a fail.

Think the hair highlights work and convey volume and the hair in shadow above the shoulder attracts the eye to the head.

My intention was for the torso to co-star with the face, but it is flat and lifeless and subordinate. Just spent too much time on the head and needed to create more focus on the calf, thigh and hip with line weight; needed to better model the thigh, abdomen and breasts to show suppleness. It would have balanced the attention between the head and torso. Ran out of time.

Will get to draw this model in a new pose next week.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life…Ashleigh

“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Opportunity to draw this young woman again last night at Yuri’s. Our host bought a big leather couch at a local auction and it made a comfortable setting for the model. Expect we will see a lot of reclining poses in the future.

After changing the model’s position several times to make sure each artist had a decent pose, we began.

During the first break Yuri looked at my drawing and said I didn’t take advantage of the paper size. It was a nice block-in with correct proportions and setting, but of course he was right – my initial drawing was more of a mid range landscape than a figure study. So, I started again on a new paper.

Perhaps should have handled the feet like I did the hands with a loose impression, but they were in the foreground and at a challenging angle, so I went for slightly more definition in support of the calf line that leads the viewer to the thigh and into the pose.

Ray Heinz talked with me about drawing the facial “likeness” of the model in figure studies. He did a powerful pastel drawing with magnificent skin tones adorning the gesture, with no attempt at a facial likeness. A likeness would have distracted the viewer from the beauty of his piece. In contrast, my tendency is to draw a facial likeness in my figure studies, perhaps because of my portrait drawing experience. Will try to be more conscious of my tendency to make sure a facial likeness supports my figure drawing and doesn’t compete or detract from the finished work.

2 hours

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Painting

Portrait: …Self-Portrait …in Grayscale

Self- Portrait 9 x 12 oil on linen canvas panel
Self- Portrait
9 x 12 oil on linen canvas panel

A decade ago took a few basic drawing classes with Patricia Bretano, a gifted artist and teacher; got distracted by life and didn’t do any art again until the past few years.

Have since taken several portrait and figure drawing classes with talented artists like Ed Sprafkin and Joel Tidey. Have taken a few plein air painting classes with Ed Sprafkin and a couple still life painting classes with Elaine Kurie. Spent a year as part of a now disbanded weekly portrait drawing group, honing my observation and drawing skills. Been fortunate to attend weekly open figure drawing sessions the past couple years with Yuri Yurov, a classically trained Russian artist, and work alongside talented professionals like David Henderson, Ray Heinz, and Peter Allen, among others, each of whom has generously given me feedback and coaching as a beginner artist. Keep several anatomy books around the house; regularly study the anatomy and do anatomical sketches on occasion.

But truth is, the more I work, the more I realize the gap in my art education: painting fundamentals.

As part of my self-directed training, been studying with Kevin Murphy at the Hillsborough Art Academy one day a week for the past few months. This is a successful school attended primarily by children and adolescents interested in art and careers in art. Many are preparing portfolios for admission to undergraduate art schools. There are a several adults who attend as well. My objective is to study oil painting fundamentals with Kevin, with a concentration on portraiture. Want to master this foundational training before moving on to study with other practicing artists.

Presently, working in grayscale doing a new still life each week. Attention is on form, values, edges, gradients, light and shadows, accents and spectral highlights. Paint for less than a handful of hours in class, so have yet to finish one fully.

Last week Kevin did a quick grayscale portrait sketch from his imagination to show me how gray scale works with the human head. Decided to try a self-portrait at home.

Used a six value grayscale for this oil sketch; working from a limited grayscale made seeing the different values easier. Set a mirror next to my easel and worked from life in natural light. Values are a challenge area for me, so this is great practice.

Pretty good likeness. Both eyes could use either a slight shadow under the eyelid or some light on the lower half of the eyeball; some better modeling around the cheekbone and orbital bone on the left face in shadow; and too much light under the lower lip on the left side in shadow. Otherwise, happy with the result.

3 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Portrait Drawing

Portrait Practice: …Mug Shots

My weekly portrait drawing group disbanded some time ago, and I miss the regular practice.

Always prefer to draw from life, but in the absence of a live model, I use publicly published mug shots to keep my observation skills sharp.

Great practice drawing gender, racial, and ethnicity differences. Trying to capture the subtle – or not-so-subtle – facial expressions that convey the emotion of the moment is a fun challenge as well.

Use a mechanical graphite pencil in a 9 x 6 spiral sketch book.

About 45 minutes each.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Painting Still Life

Still Life: …Work In Progress … Back At It

"Work In Progress" 16 x 20 oil on linen canvas panel
“Work In Progress”
16 x 20 oil on linen canvas panel

This is the second still life arranged by Elaine Kurie for her painting class last fall. Put it aside after the final class and just getting back to it using a reference photo. Posted the block-in last October a few posts back.

Find it useful to photograph and examine work in progress. Helps me identify problems with composition, form, color, et al and plan next steps.

Background color is Alizarin, Burnt Umber, and Ultramarine Blue. Cloth is Cerulean Blue and Zinc Yellow Hue. Table cloth and bowl are Titanium White, Ivory Black, and Yellow Ochre.

Need to check symmetry and finish the decanter form.

Straighten tabletop and lines on tall glass.

Correct ellipse on bowl.

Rework the green cloth shape to improve the composition and add shadows and highlights.

Develop the refracted light and reflections in the whiskey decanter and tall glass.

Create the cap on the decanter.

Refine the shadows cast on the tabletop by the forms and create some depth in the dark background.

Add a couple wheat stalks in the tall glass.

At least this is what I see now.

Total 6 hours to date.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …Ashleigh … continued

“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 charcoal pencil with white highlights on toned paper

Holidays over, we were drawing at Yuri’s last night after a two week hiatus. Our model returned and took the same pose, so I was able to continue work on my drawing.

Yuri had talked to me about making lighter marks, so I softened the drawing with my kneaded eraser and restated some of the form and shadows. “Let the drawing emerge,” he said, and used the analogy of developing a print in a darkroom chemical wash. He reminded me to emphasize the image foreground and not its background – in this case the right forearm, hand and thigh and not the left side of the abdomen and left arm. “Lead your viewer into your drawing.”

Used shadow lines to define the forearm, hand and fingers, and pleased with the result. Maybe my marks are too light here as the lower half of the drawing looks washed out compared to the upper half. Could have given the viewer a stronger invitation into the drawing…

Strengthened the robe with white charcoal and restated highlights on the figure. Perhaps too strong on the face and clavicle. Lightly added to the draped atmosphere, and ran out of time.

2 hours. Total 4 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: “Lantern Flowers”

"Lantern Flowers" 16 x 20 oil on linen canvas panel
“Lantern Flowers”
16 x 20 oil on linen canvas panel

Been painting but not getting any paintings finished. With the holidays over, need to get back at it.

This still life was set up by Elaine Kurie for her painting students last fall. It evokes a quiet, stark serenity.

It is my attempt at a kind of realism achieved by applying paint in thin layers and glazes with special attention to precise form, light, shadow, and reflection, as Elaine Kurie does in her flawless work.

This type of painting is challenging, but probably not a way I will want to work. Beyond subject matter, as I am learning to paint, am discovering what my tendencies are and how I apply paint and how I respond emotionally to what I lay down on the painting surface.

Added several lantern flowers, strengthened the reflections, and widened the standing vase. The narrow vase just didn’t work for me. This makes for a better composition to my eye.

Focal points are the black vase, three orange lantern flowers at the mouth of the vase, and the lone fallen flower on the left, supported by the shadows and reflections in the standing vase. The soft edges of the tablecloth in the foreground and background create a ephemeral depth of field that surrenders to the focal points.

Thought about dropping a couple more flowers on the table cloth behind and to the right and far left of the standing vase – and may still – but for now I’m calling this finished. Need to move on.

20 hours total.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life …Ashleigh

 

“Ashleigh”
18 x 24 charcoal with white highlights on toned paper.

New model last night. Worked in black and white charcoal pencil.

Pleased with the result – good proportions and composition, but hand still needs work. Yuri did say my effort was the basis for a good drawing, but needed to be finished. He said an artist has to know where a drawing or painting is going before even making a mark. He said at any point when the goal is achieved, “like writing, you need to put a period at the end of the sentence.” Think this relates to the emotional message of a drawing or painting as well. This is a challenge area for me. Rarely am I committed to an emotional message before picking up pencil or brush.

He also suggested my rendering of the hair was akin to “screaming.” I took a kneaded eraser and made a few swipes too reduce the offense. He said I tend to put too much pressure on the pencil, and he referenced the face and lips, as another example. He’s talked to me about this before, about making lighter marks, so I need to be more mindful of this instruction.

We will have the same model and pose at our next session, so I will work on it then.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

 

 

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Life ….Francesca

“Francesca”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

New model at Yuri’s last night. Patterned top, black skirt, lots of hair.

Composition is okay. Got a likeness, but face is overworked and clumsy job on the forearms and hands. Got distracted early with detail. Beginner mistake.

In talking to Ray Heinz about it, he suggested to think about “working toward the details” starting from the envelope and big shapes and allowing the level of detail to be defined by the overall drawing. Great advice

Will get another chance to draw her again next week.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Lesson from a Master

“Lesson from a Master”
18 x 24 pastel pencil with white highlights on toned paper

This drawing isn’t just my work, so it isn’t signed and won’t be posted with my figure drawings. No finished drawing, but I got something much more valuable. A lesson from a master.

After an hour, I had a decent composition with the proportions and figure in place, and a very good likeness of the model. Yuri Yurov came by during the break and complimented the progress. Told him I was still learning to use “line’ to breathe life into my figure drawings. He asked for my pencil and eraser.

Over the next 10 minutes, he demonstrated and explained to me how this is done (he has talked to me before about this and will again, I hope. I am a slow learner). He enhanced a few landmarks with anatomical shadow lines (the knees, the shoulder, the breast, for example) and created a rhythm of line down the figure. He said in drawing the profile of the hand, often delineating a single finger on the larger shape is enough to suggest the illusion. He added the white pastel to the robe telling me it was not too early to begin creating a finished look as I progressed with the drawing. It was a great lesson from a master artist.

He came by later and and nodded his approval. I told him the head was too small, that I tried to correct it once already and it was still too small. He said it could be fixed. I erased the face. He used his fingers to measure a correct head – from the chin to the middle of the chest – and proceeded to adjust the top of the head and the chin. Then he drew a profile line down the face. He gave me the pencil and I finished the details. When I later told Ray Heinz the story, he suggested my trouble making the correction to the head size might have been the likeness was “too dear” to me and I wouldn’t let it go. He was right – and this was another good lesson from a professional artist.

This morning, I added the seat. Worse than clumsy, but the values balance the hair.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Work in Progress… Near the end

"Work In Progress" 16 x 20 Oil on MDF Panel
“Work In Progress”
16 x 20 Oil on MDF Panel

Added more lantern flowers, straightened and softened the edges of the horizon lines, and reshaped the black vase. Also added orange reflection from the flowers to the side of the black vase and lip of the white vase, and more yellow ochre to the background wall and blue to the top horizon line to create a better balance of light and depth.

Still need to fix the cast shadow of the white vase and the fallen lantern flower, create an interior cast shadow for the black vase by adding some lightened yellow ochre to the far end of the existing shadow, clean up the lip and base of the black vase, further model the flowers, and add white highlights to the flowers and enhance the white highlights on the forms.

Pretty much decided against adding any additional fallen flowers to the table top, but I reserve the right to change my mind. It’s my world, after all : )

2 hours. 16 hours total.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Work in Progress …1st Session

"Work in Progress" 16 x 20 oil on MDF panel
“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on MDF panel

Started a new class with Elaine Kurie yesterday. Haven’t finished the still life painting done in her previous class, but will soon. Elaine’s still life set up for this class is once again simple and well composed. This class will give me some experience painting light on glass, refracted light, and reflected light.

After toning the panel with gamsol and Yellow Ochre, used a mix of Ivory Black and Titanium White to draw the forms with a size 10 flat Rosemary & Co brush to start the grisaille underpainting.

I was in the back of the class and 15 feet or so from the set up. Elaine came by and suggested my scale didn’t use enough of the panel and suggested I enlarge the forms. So, I wiped the panel and started again allowing my eye to “zoom-in” on the set up. The result is a more intimate composition.

My tendency is to draw and paint what I see on my retina. Taking time to compose with a “mental viewfinder” before beginning is a habit I’m trying to build in my drawing and painting. Failed yesterday.

Need to clean up the shape of the whiskey bottle, and the ellipse and shape of the vessel on the right. Also need to straighten lines on the table top.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Figure …Tom

"Tom" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper
“Tom”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Have drawn this model several times. Real professional. He is very easy to work with and holds and re-establishes his pose with no difficulty.

Trying to build the habit of thinking about my composition for a few minutes before beginning to draw. Too often, my instinct is to draw what I see on my retina – like a camera snapshot – with no thought to the structure of the drawing, focal points, atmosphere, and expression. Have a long way to go…

Got a very good likeness. The shading values are off a bit, but happy with this drawing. Several of the other artists complimented my effort and commented on my progress over the past couple years. Yuri approved of the work as well.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Painting Still Life

StillLife: …Work in Progress…Advancing the painting

“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel

This is the current stage of the still life I posted last week. The final class session was this week, so I took reference photos and will finish the painting in the studio.

Oiled in the dry (to the touch) painting with a thin film of equal parts poppy oil and turpinoid. Straightened the horizon line. Could still use some blending below it in places. Added a front to the table in shadow. Think it improves the composition. Cleaned up the shadow line under the low dish in the foreground.

You can see I decided to add some of the orange lantern flowers to the branches. To balance the strength of low value vessel in the foreground, imagined a dropped lantern flower to the left on the tablecloth. It works and I like the intensity of the fully lighted flower against the shadow of the vase, a kind of Rembrandt Effect. Will add a thin yellow ochre glaze to the outside of the flower shadow and some orange to the interior of the shadow nearest the flower.

Thinking about dropping two more flowers on the table to add interest and guide the eye into the painting- one below the black vessel toward the front of the table – and another behind and to the right of the tall vase. Maybe even a couple close together in the background above and to the left of the black vessel – all with radial shadows. The radial effect would be interesting, I think. Will chew on it for a few days.

Need to model the lantern flowers and add some details.

14 hours so far.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Figure…”Morgan”

"Morgan" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper
“Morgan”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned paper

Another opportunity to draw this model last night at Yuri Yurov’s studio. Yuri stopped by before the first session started and suggested my sight line. He agreed a vertical placement made sense. “It’s a complicated pose.” he said with a smile.

During the first break, Yuri took a look at my progress and suggested my image did not take full advantage of the paper, and it could have been larger. He has been encouraging me to use larger paper and do larger drawings. At least I got the larger paper part right.

Managed to solve the problems of representing her hands without getting lost in too much detail, and the feet were challenging given the foreshortening. Yuri gave me the thumbs up on my effort.

After the last session, I mentioned to Ray Heinz one of my challenge areas is in breathing “life” into my figure drawings. Ray suggested one of the keys to bringing life to a line figure drawing is to break up the weight and intensity of the lines based on both what you see in the pose – the model, the light, etc. – and what you know about anatomy. Will keep working on this.

Yuri took a look at my finished drawing and nodded his head in approval. “Looks like her, ” he said.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Painting

Open Session: …Figure Painting

“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel

This painting was started in an open figure session. Attended two additional sessions with the model, and have since worked on the painting in the studio.

My first attempt at placing a figure painted in an open session into an imaginary setting – in this case a young woman asleep on a blanket on a sand dune as the sun is rising.

Pleased with the composition and the feeling of the narrative. Need to work on the skin tones, dawn sky, horizon line, atmosphere, and depth of field.

Palette is Titanium White, Ivory Black, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Green, and Sap Green.

9 hours to date. Six hours with the model and three hours in the studio.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Still Life

Still Life: …Work in Progress

“Work in Progress”
16 x 20 oil on Belgian linen canvas panel

Taking an oil painting course with the contemporary realist painter, Elaine Kurie. Interested in learning how she approaches atmosphere, light, reflection, and transparency.

Had never painted a successful still life and have time to ball this one up, but pleased with the progress so far after five classes. Only one class remains.

Palette is Titanium White, Ivory Black, Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, and Sap Green.

Need to straighten the horizon line and clean up its soft edge. Also need to revisit the black shadow under the vessel on the right. There are orange flowers on the stems. I may or may not include these as I do like the sublime composition as it stands, though the color would balance the low value of the vessel on the left. Also, the empty space above the vessel looks wanting. Will think about how to solve this problem.

10 hours so far.

Progress not perfection.

Categories
Figure Drawing

Open Session: …Figure…”McKenzie”

"McKenzie" 18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned pape
“McKenzie”
18 x 24 pastel pencil on toned pape

New model at Yuri’s this week. Beautiful young woman who did a wonderful job holding her pose and re-finding her pose after breaks.

The composition works for me. Got a good likeness and pleased with the effort. Perhaps a bit too much emphasis on the face for a figure study, the hairline especially.

2 hours.

Progress not perfection