21 February 2015

Triptych Portrait in Progress

I'm working on a triptych portrait of my daughter.  This is the first of the 3 panels, based on preliminary sketches I posted a few weeks ago.  I like the looseness and abstraction of the hair/body contrasting with the facial rendering.

Amanda Triptych (panel 1) 11x14", oil on board

Using the color study method described a while back, I created a small painting on vellum to work out flesh tones and hair and background colors.  I also painted a portrait of Amanda from life to establish the values and get her hair color right.  I did all my homework.

Color study for Amanda Triptych, 5.5x7", oil on mylar


Amanda, study from life, 10x12" oil on linen

In addition, I'm trying something new...starting my paintings with a looser underpainting/first color lay-in than I'm used to.  I like the change.  I came across this approach in "Norman Rockwell Illustrator".  Rockwell said he always did the first color lay-in very quickly "to generate some accidents to play with".  I like those accidents.  It's a more subconscious way to paint.

17 January 2015

Portrait in Progress

I'm working on a triptych portrait of my daughter Amanda.  The drawings below are value studies for the final painting, which will be composed of 3 11x14" panels.   This piece is part of a series for a show later this year focusing on contemporary portraiture.  I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of contemporary portraiture, and what differentiates it from traditional fine art portraiture and from photographic portraits. 

Three Amandas 8x18", willow charcoal on Strathmore 500 toned paper


By comparison, here is my first drawing of Amanda done in 2008.  She was 15 and full of teen angst. Can you tell?  I remember thinking this drawing looked pretty good at the time. 

Amanda 2008, Vine charcoal on bristol board

29 December 2014

Portrait in Oil of My Mother

Well Done 10x16", Oil on board

A new painting titled "Well Done"...a portrait of my mother.  It is a 2014 Mother's Day present I am finally delivering.  I painted her once before in 2012 from a photo taken in 2006.  The difference between these is a change of palette and a couple years of painting experience. And she's 8 years older.

Nancy L. Moore 2006, 12 x 16", Oil on linen


I tried something new here, painting the color study on drafting vellum instead of canvas.  Drafting vellum (mylar) has been around a while, but it's new to me.  It has a nice matte surface, creamy  and non-absorbent.  Easy to store in a notebook or flat file. And inexpensive.   Linda Tracey Brandon posted on using it for oil sketches.  Katherine Stone posted on using it for quick color studies.

Following Katherine's procedure, the preparatory study is photo-reduced then placed under the transparent vellum.  The color study is painted over the reduced photocopy, which eliminates futzing around with the drawing during the oil study.  Saves a lot of time. 


Color study on drafting vellum, 5"x8"



Here is my preliminary drawing (charcoal and white chalk on colored paper, 8x12").  She's not as stern-looking as I've drawn her here.  But the big shapes are correct, so the drawing is good enough.  To transfer to the gessoed board, I photocopied this to the final head size I wanted (7"), then traced it over an interleave of graphite-coated paper.  I re-stated the graphite tracing in India ink.  

Here's the progression of the actual painting...

After tracing my drawing, I did a raw umber underpainting to map general values.  I didn't need to do this step, but I like having some underpainting show through in the final piece.


I loosely covered the underpainting with thin layers of color.  No details yet.  I just needed something to paint into.  The background and foreground are completed at this point.


Time to work on the important parts...the first pass of the features and neckline/necklace. Adding the smaller planes of the face and trying not to overwork it, which is my tendency. 


A second pass on the important parts and the painting is done.  Hope she likes it.

12 December 2014

Cannon Art Gallery 2014 Juried Biennial

If you're in the San Diego area this weekend, and you're looking for a good gallery experience, consider visiting the William D Cannon Art Gallery 2014 Biennial.  The opening reception is this coming Saturday, from 5 to 8 pm.  The exhibit is on view through February 7, 2015.  Here is more information on the show location and content.

From the gallery's website...
While each Juried Biennial has its own emphasis, due to the change of jurors from exhibition to exhibition, what remains constant is the chance for gallery attendees to see what is taking place in San Diego County’s visual arts community. From young, emerging artists to veterans of gallery and museum exhibitions, and with works in painting, lithography, photography, ceramic, metal, wood mixed media and fiber, this exhibition is a snapshot of art in San Diego County today.
My painting "Best Friend" (aka "Portrait of Young Man, Cat and Coffee") is one of the pieces on display.  Hope to see you at the opening.

Best Friend  18 x 24", oil on linen

11 December 2014

Double Portrait Commission

I just finished this portrait of a husband and wife, B and K.  I posted the color study a while back.  Arranging 2 people in a composition is hard, I think.  The challenge of the double portrait is to find a pleasing composition of 2 bodies that avoids the predictable.  I thought about encouraging them to go with 2 single portraits, but a double is what they wanted.  In the end, the commission was a good learning experience, and the clients were happy with the result.

Portrait of B and K, 24 x 30", oil on linen

I always have a painting or 2 on display for inspiration.  For this portrait it was the painting below, by the English portrait artist Alastair Adams, of Tom and Dominie Newton Dunn.  Love that intertwining pose. So fresh and intimate. I wanted some of that in B and K's portrait.

"Young Couple" by Alastair Adams PPRP

Some technical notes on the double portrait of B and K:
I started with a burnt umber underpainting.  Once dry, I covered the entire canvas with a loose thinned layer of paint, approximating the colors of the big shapes.  Half the painting was left in this loose, single-layer state, with underpainting showing through extensively.  You can see it clearly on his pants, the sofa cushions and background.  
 The clothes, arms and hands were modeled more carefully with a second layer of paint.

Finally, I went all out on the faces, which were painted in 5 or 6 layers, hoping the contrast between the rendered faces and the loose surroundings would make those faces stand out.

The set-up involved 2 light sources, a warm overhead light coming from behind, and a cooler dimmer light from the right.  I pushed the color temperatures slightly to emphasize that lighting scheme. You can see this most clearly on his shirt.  The shoulders are brightest and warmed with yellow ochre, the chest is less bright and cooled with cerulean blue, and the shadows are warm purple.