20 August 2014

Color Study for a Portrait Painting Commission

A portrait commission is a collaboration between artist and client.  People want input during the design process, and they want to know what their finished portrait will look like.  Small oil color studies serve these needs.  Framed and viewed from a distance, a color study is a good approximation of the final painting.

Portrait of B and K (color study), 8x10", oil on linen

As the artist, I also want to know the final painting will succeed.  And I like working through color choices and composition on a smaller scale.  I'm not comfortable starting out cold on the big canvas.  I refer to the color study often during the painting process, and if I want to make changes towards the end, I try them out on the study.


Here's how I paint color studies...

I start with a pencil drawing, spray with fixative, then paint over with a fast drying pigment (burnt umber here, but it could be any pigment...experiment).  Using a pick-out technique, I work up the value relationships at this stage.

I use Rublev Oleogel medium to thin the burnt umber.  It gives paint a creamy flow and transparency, and doesn't slow drying time.  Better than just thinning with turp, and probably healthier.


Next, I add colors in big strokes...experimenting with color choices.


After the colors are in, I work up edges and add a few key details...not too many. 


This is ready for client approval, then I can move on to the big painting.


More information on color studies...

Here is a collection of color studies by students from Studio Incamminati, known for it's color emphasis, and carrying on the traditions of Henry Hensche.

A good book on learning to see color through color studies is How to See Color and Paint It by Arthur Stern.  A classic, full of great studies.

Here's a cool little color study by Anthony Ryder, from Underpaintings, via David Gray's blog.  And another link to a color study demo on Ryder's website.


07 August 2014

Another Slow Alla Prima Portrait Painting...and the Joaquin Sorolla Exhibition in San Diego

Here's another "slow" alla prima portrait of Tammy, the model you met in my last post, from a different angle.  I discussed the concept of slow alla prima painting in that post.

Tammy (vignette), 9x11", oil on linen
This is a vignette, a simple head study on an abstract background, a style of portraiture I offer my clients.  Painted in 5 hours...3 with the live model, and 2 back in the studio to finish things up.  If you'd like to learn more about the types of portraits I offer, please visit my website.

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About the Joaquin Sorolla Exhibition (San Diego Museum of Art through 26-August-2014)...

Last Friday, for the second time, I saw the Joaquin Sorolla exhibition here in San Diego. If you admire his work, see this show...a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The selection of works is outstanding.  Some of his most important pieces are here ("Sad Inheritance", "Another Marguerite", well-known portraits of self and Clotilde).  Several pieces are accompanied by preliminary sketches, showing his working methods.  There is a nice mix of earlier and later works, and of paintings, drawings and pochade sketches.  Many portraits, beach scenes and landscapes.  He was a painter of motion and light, and a skilled draftsman.  I found it as impressive as the Anders Zorn exhibition at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco earlier this year.

Don't be tempted to order the exhibition catalog for the images.  The reproduction quality is poor. 

To close, a few images from the show...enjoy.