Monday, 28 February 2011 at 23:52

Family Portrait – How do we start?

Since I am in the midst of painting a portrait of a really nice family, I thought it might be interesting to document the process, or at least show the development. I asked Mike, what ideas he and Megan may have regarding the portrait. He didn’t really think abut it much and deferred to his wife. I posed a series of questions that can to my mind, such as, what do you want everyone wearing, what environment can we place the family in? Do we want the dog in the portrait?

Mike was familiar with my work through the studio website and he’d been over to the house and saw some of my work live, experienced, like all artwork should be.

My approach is to work from remembrance and photo reference. Mike made a date for me to visit he and Megan’s house and family to set everyone up for a photo session to get some good reference shots to work from. The kids were adorable and the dog was old. I brought over a couple of hot lights on stands and a tripod. The portrait as it turned out, wanted to be very casual, everyone in their Saturday cloths. A small cozy couch was placed even with a window, something I was looking for, beautiful outdoor natural light. I set the family up sitting on the couch, close, intimate and natural. I set up one of the lights on the fill side. From there the family of four moved around here and there until they appeared totally comfortable. The small boy and wispy girl look of porciline...very delicate and cute. After I felt I got a good expression for each of the family members, although not on the same shot, I took some shots of the dog, separately. Prior to shooting the reference I decided to use the best representation of each person (and dog) from whatever photo took. I could also draw the dog into the set up as well. It makes such a huge difference in something like such a painting for me to have stood before the family and have taken the reference material. After I leave, and head back to the studio, I have a solid mental impression of spirit of within of the people. The photo is like a cue to tap into that impression. I am now ready to begin to develop the drawing


Friday, 18 February 2011 at 15:28


Once again delving into reflections on images gathered through photos, sketches, bits and pieces, I created this portrait. The graphite drawing was developed from photo reference I took of my wife at the kitchen table after a 12 hour day at the hospital. As a beautiful woman, she is repealed by the focus on the unglamorous and unpretty in the portrait. I can appreciate that. I do think women have a ton of pretty pressure on them all the time When you around an art person, you become viewed from a  different view, a different lens than perhaps you are accustomed. When I set out to make this drawing, the motivation was to capture the hopelessness and defeat one feels at the end of a long energy sapping day. I saw beauty in the human struggle, the dignity of effort and work and struggle. To my mind, the character reveled in such a moment informs us all about the resiliency and endurance of the human spirit. Beauty in character. To say this is a portrait of Deb is probably unfair. This is a portrait of hopelessness, but only the temporary hopelessness one feels at the end of that long day where everything has been given, and the body and spirit are spent.


Monday, 31 January 2011 at 22:36

Pencil Drawing Mini-Portfolio

Trying to capture a piece of the spirit of a person in a simple pencil drawing always seems fascinating. Perhaps its the simplest of means to reveal complexity. Here is a small portfolio of such drawings. Click on each to enlarge to see some of the pencil work.






















































Friday, 03 December 2010 at 17:43

Eastman New Wing Painting

I was commissioned to create a painting for a poster to commemorate the creation/addition of a new wing to the Eastman Theater, a Rochester treasure. The request was for more of a graphic or abstract approach. I relied on my instincts as a graphic designer as much as a painter. The other issue was a tight deadline, a long distance approval and the fact that I was going to create an oil painting for the final. I guess I create more trauma for myself by wanting to include the human touch but in the end,
I still think its worth it.
The first step was to t ake reference photos. Even though the request for a somewhat of an abstract approach, the subject was a new building that everyone is very excited about. There had to be a balance between it being a portrait of a building and an abstract form. I developed pencil sketches to find an appropriate angle. I also had to keep in mind to represent the, current very classic structure, while featuring this new wing.
After pencils sketches a color sketch was requested. I did a little color study from the approved pencil drawing digitally for speed. The challenge always is to show a study that creates an expectation of a piece done in another medium. Folks get locked on to what is in front of them, usually.
Once the color study was approved I began to layout the painting onto the canvas. I redrew it a coupe times to make sure it created a pleasing spacial arrangement within the perimeter square and included the old and new constructs of the building. Once the drawing was firm. I laid down a wash of a warm sienna brown. I wanted this to shown through some of the cooler colors in the over painting. This makes the canvas glow a little. The interesting comment form our client was it had a Southwestern feel. I didn’t see that while painting but can definitely see it now. Some other useful feedback while doing the painting was a call for looseness on some of the edges which really helped. It makes the piece more active and feel more spontaneous. After I worked on the painting and feel its time for a view, I take it from the table to the little photo set up I have in the studio to take a digital photo of it. I then tweak it a bit in Photoshop and email out for approval. This way our creative team was able to work through distances and turkey dinners and deliver the project, approved and on time.
It was a great project to be a part of.
























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