21 October 2015

Fresh Paint: Portrait of an Infant

Back to painting faces this week.  This painting is based on a drawing I posted recently of little Valor, my one-year-old neighbor.  I promised his parents a portrait about 9 months ago, but I couldn't do it until the moment was right.  That's how I work.  Sometimes I mull over an idea for several years.  I need a spark to light the flame that will carry me through the work.  No spark, no work.  I'm not sitting on my hands, though.  Plenty of other art things going on in the meantime.

Portrait of Valor Michael Hsiao, 11x14", oil on linen

Below is the progression.  I'm showing this so you can see the ugly phase, which all my paintings go through.  Perhaps as I develop artistically, my early phases won't be so hard to look at.  The important thing is to work through this phase.  I know I can't give up.  Persistence is rewarded with new knowledge, and maybe even a decent painting at the end.

I started with a loose raw umber lay-in on a Gessobord panel.  I refined the underpainting (middle) then added the first layer of color (right).  I keep my paintings in a freezer between sessions so I can work wet-into-wet.

More color and big shape refinement (left).  I continued to work from large to small, adding more details and refining the smaller forms (middle).  On the final pass, I added dark accents, highlights, details (necklace, reflected light on right cheek, clothing details) and the background.  The finished painting took 12 hours, split over 4 sessions.

Framed and ready to go out into the world...

10 October 2015

First Plein Air Paintings

Figurative is my primary genre, but I need to mix things up a little right now, so I'm branching out into landscape.  Below are some recent plein air sketches.  Rudimentary, I know, but every journey begins with the first step.  Things will look better 30 or 40 sketches from now.

As a starting point, I'm using 2 books for guidance:  Mitchell Albala's Landscape Painting and Fill Your Oil Paintings with Light and Color by Kevin MacPherson.  Both good and distinct in what they offer.  MacPherson recommends getting 100 starts under your belt as a beginning strategy.  Don't worry about the finish.  The start is where most of the mistakes are made.  Learn how to make a good start and your halfway done.  So that's my plan for now.

My palette includes cad yellow lemon, cad yellow pale, alizarin crimson, cad red light, and ultramarine blue.  I'm limiting the colors because I want to focus on values first.  Each sketch was painted in about 2 hours on a piece of Claussen's #15 linen, taped to some foam core.

La Jolla Cove 1, 6x8", oil on linen

Eucalyptus at Painters Point 1, 6x8", oil on linen

Batiquitos Lagoon 1, 7x8", oil on linen