Friday, 06 May 2011 at 14:26

Finally Finished Portrait

I was finally able to finished the family portrait I began a while ago reported on this blog. In between I developed a brand identity, assets, and a usage guideline, created art for a poster for a not for profit, created spot illustrations for a clean energy initiative agencies social media communications and a bunch of other projects. Its good to get busy!



















I tried to keep the under painting and some of the pencil lines visible in the finished piece. One of the things I am always interested in is the change of pace within a painting or drawing — finish contrasted with unfinished. — tightly rendered areas against loose under painting and hand drawn line. It makes for evident of the hand done or human touch. — very critical in all of my work. I really like the young boy’s face in terms of painting fluidity. I like the glow of the young girl’s portrait as well. Its tough doing 4 people and a dog and getting them a right.


Monday, 14 March 2011 at 21:10

Family Portrait – Underpainting

Now that I feel confident in knowing each face, each person, by spending time with their individual image, face, countenance, I can begin to consider the imaginary scene I am about to put together. I say imaginary. I’m sure many would feel this was simply copying a photo bit nothing could be further from the truth. Just as say Vermeer, Maxfield Parrish, of even Degas has used photography as a tool for a piece of the greater vision; I follow in that grand tradition of picture making. Once the composition and drawing have been established. I now get to step into the world of atmosphere, color, and texture. I have assembled, though visual reference, an articulation of each part of the overall image. Now I need to consider light sources and angles. I did think of this as I lit the family during the photo session, with window light to the right and a hot light to the left.
I start the grisaille with a warm Burt sienna and lamp black. I use a little Windsor green behind the couch for the plant plus to create a little cool area. I work the color as I thin out the painting with turps. I use brushed rags paper towel etc. to get the surface and tone right. It dies relatively quickly so I have to work fast. After the underpainting is established, I add turps to a clean brush and paint, this time touching the areas of form struck by light. I let it set up a minute then lift it with a rag. It like painting in reverse. This is like sculpture or creating a relief. The form shape and solidity and begin to take form. It rises up out of the flatness of the underpainintg. In the end the entire painting will be complete in a monochromatic way.








Sunday, 06 March 2011 at 13:57

Family Portrait – The Prep

I drawn and redrawn the faces or countenances of each of the family members…including the dog. Painting and drawing is for me the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. To try to capture something so fleeting in a stroke or in a little detail as spirit, light moment really keep me so fascinated it’s hard to describe. It probably cannot be described by words. As I work and rework the drawings I continue to build the vision of the image in my mind. I move from reference to personal vision. At the same time I prepare the physical elements that I will have to contend with to make some kind of magic happen. Touch the sky

I have purchased cradled hardwood panels that are really nicely put together. I would love to get into making the panels and frames, for that matter, but for now I can only afford the time and money to create the painting and drawings and hopefully prints at this point.

I get the panels un-finished. I like to create my own gessoed surface, particularly after I have worked up the drawing. I can make the direction of the gesso strokes work with the image. I love surface quality. It pulls me into a painting. I give the panel several coats of gesso, using sort of a dry b

rush approach on the final layers to kick up the ridges in the gesso. Once that dries, I am ready to begin to work up the under-drawing for the painting.

I can work and rework this part as it establishes the overall design or composition of the painting as well as provides an opportunity to take all the visual mental

information I have logged in my brain and create a final more poetic version of the drawing. I can focus more on the emotive quality of the shapes as I have worked out many of the issues of convincing turning of form, proportion, balance and dare I say, good drawing. I love when a painting is not only stunning in terms of color and tactile application, but exhibits strong drawing fundamentals and a great understanding of light quality and expression.

Drawing and re-drawing, this process takes some time. All the while I’m thinking about color. I’m excited to begin the first oil wash to establish light, tone and composition and drama.


Thursday, 03 March 2011 at 16:15

Family Portrait – A Little Sketchy



I survived the photo session with the family and came away with reference I could actually use. From the photos I have shown on my last post, one may wonder about that. What is really cool about doing a portrait painting is I do not have to have the definitive perfectly lit photo to do a really nice job. As I mentioned, the photos represent something to me a bit different than they do to a portrait photographer. My great and inspiring


painting professor at Kent, Doug Unger, once told me some photos are finished, in and of themselves. Looking for, creating, or using photo reference is different. One is looking at images as pieces of something larger, different than any one image itself. What I look for, in this case, is the look in the eye, the expression on the face, and most importantly, the way the light strikes the subject to

reveal all of it. Here are sketches I made in preparation for the larger pieces. Each one is meant to try to capture the emotive quality I am looking for with each of the individuals. I’m trying to real the character and personality of each of the sitters. After I fell I have a handle on that, I develop the overall drawing that will provide a roadmap of the composition of the entire pieces.

With each time I draw my subject, I get a deeper understanding of the subtleties of the form. The human face is fascinating in the small nuances the make up, say a smile or the wetness and translucence of the eye or the softness and suppleness of flesh. One must be confident in the structural lines that make up the likeness, to get to the subtitles that give the painting life in the end.  These preliminary drawings for me are like studying for the final. Once I can draw the person with ease, I can now more on to deal with the overall composition and think abut the nuances of light and atmosphere on the entire scene. I decided to make this a bit more of an environment as well as a likeness of 4 people (and a dog). I want to get the comfy feel of the small couch and the softness and strength of the light as it cascades itself throughout.


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