Thursday, July 29, 2010

Alex at LAA

  A little while ago I did a demo at The Loudoun Academy of Art (now ArtSquare).  The model who was scheduled for the event had some sort of issue and Alex stepped in as the hero.  She did a great job.  
  Due to technical error the first part of the painting is completed prior to the beginning of the movie - this is unfortunate, since I had demonstrated every painting secret I know during that portion of the demo.  The part caught on film, however, does feature good music and time-lapse brushstrokes.  I hope you enjoy it.  
  The music is by Jon Schmidt - a wonderful pianist (and former Highland High Rugby player) and performer.  If you ever get a chance to visit a concert of his, do it because it's Two Things - it's cultural and it's entertaining; at the very least check out his music - I've painted to it for years.) Also, I posted a pair of photos of the demo on Facebook, part of a new album called Behind-the-Scenes.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For Painters: Don't Get Used to Errors

Look at this picture - Maybe something's a little off with the face on the right - but hey - you can still tell it's Margaret.

Now scroll down to see the same photos right side up.

When seen right side up, the differences between the right and left portraits are now apparent. . . freakishly apparent.

(I found these photos here.)

This illustration has application to painting.

First of all:  Don't paint your subject's smile and eyes upside down if their face is right side up, it will look super creepy.

And, secondly - Painting is often a process of refinement and if you get too used to something it will be hard to see the errors.

When I was in college I participated in a figure-painting class where we painted a full-length painting of a model for 3 hours twice a week for 8 weeks.  I had a pretty good start to the model's head, so I left it and worked out the rest of the body.  I had an idea where the hair was to go, but I left the hair out for several weeks.  I knew that the hair needed to go on the model's head, but seeing the painting for so many hours without it, I became used to that look.  I still remember the shock I felt at seeing the head change so dramatically with the addition of the hair.  The hair simply didn't look right - it changed the shape of her head and I was used to the old shape.  If the hair hadn't been a separate element (as in the placement of the eyes, or the angle of the jaw) I probably would have removed it, thinking that it just wasn't right.

Here are several steps for combatting this issue:

• Work from the general to the specific.  I should have painted more of the shape of the hair in the beginning stages of the painting, so that it's addition later on wasn't so jarring.

• Just like the photos above, alter the view a bit.  Turn the painting upside down or look at it's reflection in a mirror.  You could also look at the painting through a reducing lens (opposite of a magnifying glass).  These new views can show you errors and awkward areas of your painting that you had simply become used to.  Errors usually yell at us at first, but they'll eventually become hoarse and lose their voice as we become used to them.

• Step Back - This is the vantage point that most of those who see the painting will have.  Color, value, and spatial relationships should be painted with this fact in mind.

• Always be checking relationships - Facebook is good for this (Just Kidding).  Spatial, color, and value relationships to be specific.  This is how you refine your painting - let the parts unify the whole.

• Never "settle" - Figure out the problem and fix it.  Settling, when you know there is an error, is weak.  If you know something is not right, but you don't know what it is, I offer a few suggestions.  You could set the painting aside for an hour/day/week/month and come back to it with fresh eyes.  You could ask a trusted advisor for clues.  You could take a class or workshop and then return to the painting with new skills.  Whatever you do, just don't settle.

If you need any impetus to summon forth the effort to fix your errors, think of these Margaret Thatcher photos!  (But don't think about them too much - they're really pretty creepy - although entertainingly creepy!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Meg" . . . Now with Commentary

Artist and blogger Anne Bobroff-Hajal is beginning a series of informative posts where artists explain their drawing technique and procedures.  She recently posted a very kind article on my drawing of "Meg."  The article features the photo reference for the drawing as well as a list of the materials used.  There is also a short commentary about the process, which correlates with the video, and some additional notes about other artists.
Anne's writing style is clear and engaging - I really look forward to seeing her upcoming entries.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Current Background Image

The current textural background on Theory and Practice belongs to an equally textural painting called "Nurturing Through the Word", which measures 29" x 37".

Since the linen is mounted on a panel I was able to take an active palette knife approach to this piece. The outermost layer is made using Gamblin's Galkyd Gel, so it is physically thicker than the other surfaces.

 The frame is a coated custom-welded steel floater frame from A Street Frames in Cambridge, MA.  I highly recommend them for unique contemporary wood and steel frames.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Announcing a New Class-Registration now open

Oil Painting with Jonathan



Picasso once said: "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."

Join Jonathan on Tuesday evenings for this special oil painting session where participants will learn the skills necessary to "transform a yellow spot into the sun." 

The first three weeks will be devoted to studying, seeing, and mixing color.  During the final five weeks participants can bring any oil painting project(s) they would like to work on to the class to receive individual instruction.  For those who would rather work from life, a costumed model (emphasizing color) will pose.

For more information, click here, or simply...