30 April 2015

Painted Portrait for a Friend...and Chuck Close on Inspiration

Portrait of Erin, 11x14" oil on board

This simple portrait is a gift for a friend.  She's been patient...I did the shoot last July.  It often takes me a while to get inspired.  I need a motivator.  My subconscious needs processing time.  Chuck Close says "inspiration is for amateurs".  That's a great quote.  I know he's right, too.  When it comes to making art, you gotta show up.  I often feel resistance at the start, but when I hunker down and get on with it, I am always happy I did.  Those first few moments in the studio can make or break the whole day. 
"Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And the belief that things will grow out of the activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never have dreamt of if you were just sitting around looking for a great ‘art idea.’ And the belief that process, in a sense, is liberating and that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today, and at least for a certain period of time you can just work. If you hang in there, you will get somewhere."
The present portrait was painted on gessoed MDF primed with Golden Acrylics Neutral Gray (N6).  I like how flesh tones vibrate against the bluish background.  I let the background show through in the face and hair to unify the image.  I painted this wet-into-wet, no scumbles or glazes.  I put the painting in the freezer between the 2 sessions.  Below is the progression.  For an explanation of my process go here.

There are actually a lot of visible brushstrokes, which you can see in the detail below.  It looks gauzy and blended from a distance because the values are close together. 

Obey (detail of Erin)

Here it is framed...


And finally, a bonus for reading this far...a link to more on Chuck Close's artistic philosophy.


  1. Candace,
    You are on a roll in my humble opinion. Your work impressed me since my first visit to your blog, but the painting of your Mom and the two subsequent works are (again, in my most humble opinion) truly great. The subjects look so alive and the works so beautifully painterly, I find it hard to stop looking at them. Your colors will provide study material for a long time to come. Knowing the challenges of photographing paintings, and the variables of computer monitors, I feel incredibly lucky that your works translate so well on our computer.
    Great, great paintings!

    1. Thanks so much, Gary. Encouraging to hear how this work resonates with you. I take "painterly" as a high complement. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Gary. Best wishes.

  2. Candace,
    you are getting better with each new painting. Wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Antonio. Your comment is appreciated. Best, Candace.

  3. Thanks for the progress shots...and for talking about Golden Acrylic #6...I have a friend who uses it with all her portraits..it really does provide a wonderful background and seems to make flesh look....well....flesh! Wonderful painting. I bet your friend really loves it :)

    1. Yes, the Golden Acrylic makes a nice ground for fleshtones. I add acrylic paint to push the color cooler or warmer, depending on what I'm going for. I added ultramarine blue for this painting.

      Thanks for your visit and comments, Celeste.

  4. Looks great, a really fine study!