A real El Niño style rain today – great for hanging out in my studio but not so good for photography – the color is definitely off in these pictures. I’m excited about how the painting is coming along though and I may have even come up with a title – I’m thinking Menagerie sounds right.
Fresh on my easel and soon to join my People In My Neighborhood series…
…and yes I see that I need to make the arms more proportionate, I’m just glad that there is room on the canvas for the change!
I love starting a new piece first thing on a Monday morning, with whole week stretching out before me for miles and miles and nothing on my schedule but a paintbrush! I feel a fresh sense of ease and possibility!
I’m so excited to be working on this painting! It’s a portrait of a singing man, wearing the wreath of wildflowers his daughter had just made.
I’m going to try and portray a sense of this man’s beautiful spirt, his joie de vivre.
I’ll keep adding to this post until the painting is complete.
Day 5 – trying to bring some richness to the background but concerned about loosing all the spontaneity!
Day 11? I’ve lost track, but I’m done and I’m so delighted with this piece!
Working on a portrait is so challenging but the rewards can be huge! I am so grateful to my subject and his lovely daughter who made this painting possible in every way.
Well this was fun! Portrait artist Mark Nardini needed a volunteer from the audience to model for his classical painting technique demo for the Los Gatos Art Association’s March meeting. It’s been years since I’ve been on this side of the easel so I thought I’s give it a whirl (besides, they said I could take the painting home)!
This classical technique involves a careful tonal underpainting that’s very thin (in this instance it’s raw umber on a neutral grey background). It’s important to get this aspect just right as it will save the artist from struggling with accurate color placement later on. When color is introduced it’s in a very deliberate way, patting the premixed colors delicately with a soft sable-like brush that will not lift off the previous applications like a bristle brush might. Close observation of the subject is essential in judging the warmth or coolness of a hue or the value of a tone. Mark likes to start with a mid-tone when he begins with color, evaluating all other choices based on it’s relationship to that first one.
I was very impressed with what Mark was able to accomplish in such a short time, guiding us through his process and fielding questions from our members! I won’t give up my day job for modeling, that’s for sure!
Mark recommended the book, The Human Figure by John H Vanderpol. The more familiar you are with the figure in general, the easier it will be to tackle portraits:
Be sure to check out his website, ww.marknardini.com to see more gorgeous portraits like this one he that brought along with him:
Dahlia Days may be half a year away but today I was able apply the finishing touches to a portrait whose lovely expression remained elusive for so long!
I love starting the week with a new painting and I’ve been eager to work on this one ever since I did that photo shoot at Bunches last summer! It’s part of my Los Gatos Shop Girl Series – (or least that’s what I’m calling it for now, there are only two so far). There are a lot of good things going for this image to begin with. My subject, for instance, is as beautiful as the dahlias are – her lips are even the same color and shape as the petals! I love the texture, color and pattern that give this piece so much exuberance but which is tempered and grounded by the broad swathes of black and taupe. I’ve laid down all my paint thick and loose and I feel like a sculptor as I try to paint the light and shadow that play throughout the scene. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
So I found I was only spinning my wheels, painting her face over and over, ironically laboring over the freshness in her expression. I hid her away over the holidays and was able to come back to her this week. While she may have lost some of the freshness of the first approach, she has gained a poignancy to her expression and a radiance I’m thrilled with.
Is painting a portrait so different from painting a flower of a tree? Isn’t it all just color and lines and angles? Perhaps this is so for some figure painting but when it comes to portraits there is heightened question of likeness, emotion, expression and character and maybe all of this can be said of a twisted old pine but we are not hardwired to conifers, our neurons light up for people.
I like a portrait that engages the viewer, that can convey who they are or what they’re feeling through their posture, expression and most of all through the eyes. In Blue Corset the direct gaze is the key to the painting and everything else, the vibrant colors, patterns, textures and style, the busy out of focus bulletin board in the background and the intriguing tattoo are all there to give a glimpse at what might lie behind those eyes.