Monday, March 12, 2018



Details from Judge Shubb painting by Bobbi Baldwin

In order to paint hands correctly, it's important to first take into consideration:
  • Where is the light source is coming from?
    • We must first identify the light source and the direction in which it hits the hands.  This will tell you where your hands need to have the lightest form of color.

  • Next, we need to take into consideration the many different shapes within the hands and the bone structure.
    • Each finger has a specific length relative to the other fingers around it.  
      • The middle finger has the longest bones and each one of the four bones are longer than the ring and pointer finger that share the space next to the middle finger. 
      • The thumb has one less bone and comes from near the wrist.  

INTERESTING INFORMATION: Did you know that there are four bones in the hand for each finger and only 3 in the thumb?  The bones are each 1/3 shorter than the previous one from the wrist to the fingertips.  (This also applies to arms and legs.  The large bone from hip to knee (femur) is 1/3 longer than the two bones we have from knee to foot.  Also, this happens in the arm you have from your shoulder to your elbow and the two bones that go from your elbow to your wrist.)

Think of each finger as 3 sets of tapering cylinders (see illustration #1 & 3).  Each segment bone is 1/3 shorter than the last segment.  Cylinders are rounded in edge only.  Therefore, think about how to apply shading to make the edges become gradually darker.  The segments will also have a value change of their own that happens from the light source, being closer or further away, and the angles that each segment takes.  In most situations there will be a consistency of the first segment of each finger being the same value as each other.  The middle segment will then become 
darker than the brightest. In between the values of the first and last segments of the fingers. In example, if the light is strongest on the back of the hand, the first segment of each of the four fingers will then be an overall shade darker than the back of the hand, and the second segment will be a bit darker than the first segment coming from the hand knuckles.  Then the tip of the fingers will be the darkest over all.  (See the illustration #4 and below cropped painting of hands together.) 
Copyrights are reserved for all written and images included here, by Bobbi Baldwin 2018. No use whatsoever is permitted without written permission from the artist.

Illustration # 3 shows that the overall shape of fingers is different in some people.  Typically (but not always) a man’s fingers are more squared and blunt in shape.  A woman’s fingers are a continual tapering shape, getting thinner at the tip.  Men’s fingers do taper, just not as much. 
When foreshortening* a finger, you must always create brush strokes and contour color changes that follow the rounding shape of the fingers, gradually getting lots of value change from front to back.  (See illustration #6)

When we paint hands one of the most important things is to remember to paint around the hands as much as within the hands.  (Illustration #5)  I cannot count how many times, I have come to a student’s painting and discovered they have been trying so hard to make their hands look good and struggled through the process, never being happy.  I come in and paint the negative space around the fingers and it’s like magic, the hands look great.  I didn’t do all the work on the contour shaping of the skin tones, but they did.  The negative spaces around the hand make the shading work, until we have that in, they look unfinished and not quite right.  Also, that negative space between the fingers helps you to identify the shapes of the fingers even better.  

Illustration #7 shows the fingernails.  When we paint the fingernails, we need to keep into consideration that the nail is shiny.  It also has a pale half circle of color under the base of the fingernail.  Where the cuticle comes over the fingernail, there will be a tiny cast shadow and then the cuticle will have highlights representing the rounded edge of the skin as it curves into the where the fingernail lies below.  When you are painting a foreshortened finger or a finger that is pointed towards you and you see the tip first, there will be a shadow under the fingernail as the fingernail grows past the tip of the finger.  This should be easy to represent with the shadow and then the highlight of the end of the tip of the fingernail making a small rounded edge.  (See illustration # 6)

Use lines to represent the wrinkles at the joints when you can.  (Illustration #7)

EXERCISE:  Draw your own hand!  And keep drawing it until you get really good.  

NOTE:  Take a trip to Haggin Museum in Stockton.  Be sure to spend a lot of time in front of William Adolph Bouguereau's painting of the "Nymphaeum".  No one does hands and fingers better than he does! 

Here is a funny post from Facebook that I thought I would share with you, as it has to do with hands.  It was posted by:

Ray Johnson
May 30, 2015
The History of the Middle Finger:
Well,'s something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified.
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking the yew' (or 'pluck yew').
Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and they began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentalfricative 'F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird.'
And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing. Didn't yew!!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Day 31 - and the project summary

Day 31 - Christine Crick

Christine works in veterinarians offices.  She wore her scrubs for this painting because she just got off a long shift.  What a sweetheart she is and it was a delight to paint her.  She is my cousin's partner.  Steve is the first son of my first cousin, also by the name of Steve.  

A few things briefly which come to mind when I think of this project:·                     I loved having a new friend come every day.  I loved not having to talk but doing what I do best, observing their faces.  It was such a delight and I looked forward to each person, every day.  And everyone was a delight, such good sports, and wonderful to paint.  Muffin misses everyone.  I think she is still pouting that my friends aren't coming over daily for her to greet.
·                     I thought I would have gotten tired of this project, but I never did.  Every day was a fresh face with so much for me to see.  Looking at the surface of the skin and how each and every tiny value change formed to make this beautiful person was heaven to me.
·                     I found that by about the 10th day, I could build up the whole surface of the skin, placing every angle and variation in the right space within the first hour.  I didn't put the eyes and mouth in until the end in these paintings that I caught so well from the start.
·                     I found that I ended up varying my approach to contour vs. features vs. a total sketch.  Every day seemed to be its own.  I did end up with a routine that showed up by being able to complete the large and medium shapes of the head and shoulders, blocking in what the painting was to be in a rough manner, by the one and a half hour mark.  It became like clockwork.  I would work hard and fast to get the whole painting in a roughed out color variation by that time.  I would inevitably check the clock and find that I still had another hour and a half to do all the details and refine the painting.  I seemed to hold my breath until that moment and then I mentally slowed my energy to be more observant of the person.  In the first half, my models were only a variation of light, shape, shadow, shades, temperature, hues, and composition.  I never really looked at the person as a whole until that last half of the painting when I had to pull it all together.  If I had observed well, it came together easily, and most days it did.
·                     I didn't feel well for a few days and yet I just moved through and trusted my instincts and it still worked out well.
·                     The quality of the painting had a lot to do with how much a person wiggled or spoke.  The wigglier subjects ended up with wider faces.  Did you know that every time you move even the slightest bit, the contour of the profile changes dramatically?  If I tried to catch a smile, the cheeks would puff, as well as the nose flattening.  The chin even changed.  It widened as it was stretched tighter from the cheek muscles pulling.  The eyes ... well, they puff up below, the lower lids actually raise up to hide the iris some, and the crinkles show up.  When I put a Mona Lisa smile on the subjects, the cheeks would have to puff and the smile lines would become too harsh and then I would look back at the model and they would be relaxed and erase it because I didn't see it.
·                     Many of the people who felt they were too serious don't understand how much I had raised the edges of their mouths from the relaxation that happens during a 3 hour sitting.  Some tried to get a smile, but I found that when they did, they would try to engage me, which broke my concentration. A study isn't meant to be smiling.  A formal portrait is.
·                     It was a far more pleasing experience when I wasn't asked to try to put a smile on.  The subjects who asked for a smile put pressure on me to do more than I was able to see.  We are so used to the camera's impression of us and instant gratification with "selfies" that we expect and forget what it takes to put together a portrait stroke by stroke with a stick and some hairs.  We forget that the painter is constantly analyzing the muscle structure, color temperature from light to shadow, contour structure, bone structure, variation of skin tones, and what makes the body look better than what is happening when sitting in a chair.  We take out the extra skin below the chin, make sure the hair is in the style and color, and so much more.  There are 100 different variations of what we need to take into consideration while we are painting... and then there is the control of the paints, mediums, and brushes as well.
·                     I am very pleased with the outcome of each of these paintings and this project.  I feel there is so much emotion in the still contemplative portrait.  I actually prefer them to the "California Smile" that we all expect to have in each and every image that is created of us.
·                     I loved the new colors and have omitted a few tubes of color in my pallet.  I am really enjoying the colors that Nelson Shanks' workshop introduced to me in 2007.  I hadn't had the opportunity to work with these colors to this extent until this project.  I have decided to keep them in my pallet and omit some of the colors that I once used.  I feel they make a much more natural looking skin color.  This is a huge decision because I used the same 9 tubes of paint for over 28 years.
·                     I will be creating a new book with these mixtures and sharing my knowledge on skin tones.
·                     Quitting painting after only 3 hours took control.  I would not have done this if I hadn't created this project.  It is very difficult for me to leave something unfinished like this.  Yet there is a real freshness to doing so.  It's so honest and reactive.  It's what museums prefer.
·                     Yes, I still prefer a formal portrait which each take 4-6 weeks to complete.  I have expressed it many times that these are just studies.  So, they will not be finished.  They taught me so very much and I feel that I will take a new freshness back to the easel on the 6 new formal commissions I have contracted to paint within the last month.  I will only be taking new commissions for the New Year.
·                     I can't wait to share these with you.  I just finished doing the photographs for the book.  I will be going over all the answers that my models gave me and compiling a format for the book in November.
Thank you so very much to all of my models.  I could not have done this without you.  You were all incredible for working with me and allowing me to paint you.  It has been the best of experiences!  Thank you.  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Day 27 - 30 ... one more portrait to do today!

Day 27 - Sandra Grice

Day 28 - Beverly Povonne

Day 29 - Nick Carlson

Day 30 - Ryan Hagerty

Day 31 - will happen at 4:30 this evening!  I look forward to painting Christine Crick!

Look for me on Channel 40 - Sept. 8th at 8:40 AM!! Good Morning Show.

I just got great news that I will be interviewed on the news at channel 40.  It will be 3-4 minutes of a few of the paintings and myself.  I am excited!  Please watch!  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Day 17 - 26

Well, I am on day 27 of this wonderful project and can't believe that I only have five more portraits to do.  I am so excited to be painting Sandra Grice today.  She says she has been practicing her three hour smile.  LOL ... let's hope it doesn't hurt.

Here are the photos of the last days.

Day 17 - Jeannie Schmidt

Day 18 - Rob Lerman

Day 19 - Joy Mathers

Day 20 - Joyanna Nesmith

Day 21 - Jennifer Delk

Day 22 - Steve Solis

Day 23 - David Shield

Day 24 - Jeannie Hayes Dufour

Day 25 - Joanne & Bob Liston

Day 26 - Cendrinne DeMattei

New formal commissions!

Wow!  I can't believe I am up to day 27 today!  The time has passed so fast.  I am really enjoying this project and it is so incredibly special to have a new person to paint every day.  This is actually heaven for me.  If I got to do this every day for the rest of my life, I would die a very happy woman.  LOL ... okay ... put the brakes on that romanticized thought.

I do want a couple days off in the midst of it ... and I would like to take each and every one of these paintings into the stage of being a formal portrait.  Okay ... I guess I might have to take that statement back, my other side is kicking in.  In fact during the last 10 days that I have missed posting, I have actually contracted to paint five more formal paintings after this.  I am so very excited to paint the cutest little girl by the name of Avery.  She is 18 months old.  I have just gone through the few hundred photos that I took of Avery at her Grandpa's home on the river.  There are some very adorable pictures and now my job is to create 3 small "color studies" showing what the large painting will look like in a very impressionistic small study.  Then, the parents and grandparents will get to choose which painting will suit their needs best.  And I will begin.  I hope to have those done by the first week of September.

After that, I have four more paintings to paint for a local Native American Indians Band.  I have been painting portraits of their tribal elders for the last few years and this with be the 9-12th portraits I am commissioned to do for them.  I don't post much about this nor the photographs of the finished portraits because of their privacy.  Even though I wish I could; I feel these are some of my best work.

I love working with them and really enjoy the business they hire me to do.  Each of these people that I paint become a sort of spirit that I get to embrace for a while and it is a wonderful job to have.  But, I have to tell you how they found me... it started somewhere between 1995-2001 when a 17 year old boy came into my gallery, then Baldwin Gallery in Fair Oaks Village.  Daniel said that he knew then he wanted to have me paint a portrait for him and told me so.  I guess I let him know that would be expensive.  LOL.  That sounds like something I would say in the presence of a young lad that I knew I couldn't help at that point.  Now, fast forward to four years ago, or so.  His assistant calls and sets up a meeting to interview me for a portrait of Daniel's grandmother.  As they are arriving, Daniel tells her "No, turn left. (pointing to the village) That's where she was."  His assistant says, "Let's visit this one first and then we will go over there."  As I am going through my portfolio with them, talking about what I can do, Daniel sits back and says "You're the one!"

I love synchronicity.  It shows up all the time in my life and I take it as something that is a God send and meant to be.  I honor these moments and the experience that is brought because I feel it is what I am supposed to be doing.  I have since done 8 tribal elders and I feel like I know each one intimately.  In the mean time, I am learning more and more about the culture and ways of my now extended Native American family in spirit.

I am a sixteenth Cherokee, I am told.  Although, Grandpa used to tease me by saying we are Blackfoot because I never wore shoes as a kid.

Each of these "Formal" portraits will take me 30 to 40 hours a piece over a period of 4 to 6 weeks.  Some will be done simultaneously at different stages in order to get them all done in time.  In contrast to what I am doing for the 31 in 31 "study" portrait, the formal portraits are finished to the very last detail with many hours studying the bone structure, and making sure that I have every possible detail in the painting to ensure that I have a pleasing and flattering portrait that really represents the person in the best way.

I can't wait to get started...  

Press Release...

Press Release
For Immediate Release

Contact:                 Bobbi Baldwin - Baldwin Fine Art
                                7850 Winding Way, Fair Oaks, CA 95628
                                916 505-8253

                                31 PORTRAITS IN 31 DAYS PROJECT
Local artist has accepted the challenge of painting a portrait from life every day for 31 days for the month of August to bring awareness to the value of original hand painted portraits. 

Sacramento August 24, 2015 - As this month has been progressing Sacramento’s very own artist, Bobbi Baldwin, has been painting one oil portrait per day of local Sacramento people, from life, and will create 31 in all, throughout the month of August. 
Bobbi Baldwin celebrates 30 years of teaching fine art portraits to adults throughout the Sacramento Area and around the USA.  Baldwin says, “You can take a picture with your phone. Then you see what the camera sees, nothing more, and nothing less.  A portrait painting is the artist's interpretation of the whole person, the character … done stroke by stroke with a bunch of hairs attached to the end of a stick."  In order to create a really beautiful portrait an artist needs to get to know their subjects well.  The first step is this type of quick study.   Baldwin said these quick studies are very challenging as they are done in hours rather than the month it usually takes for the artist to get the whole person’s character and personality.
The study work that is produced during this month will be featured in her book coming out in December of 2015.  The study work that is produced during this month will also be unveiled at a reception gala event at the end of September  in Lodi at the Watt’s Upstream Winery.  

Closer: Bobbi Baldwin, a 50 year resident of Sacramento Valley, teaches for the Crocker Art Museum as well as many other locations.  She is a founding member of the Portrait Society of America and has studied with some of America’s finest portrait artist throughout her 33 years of painting and teaching.  Bobbi has a real passion for teaching budding and experienced artists.