Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 9 & 10 - Marcia and Sandy

I apologize for not getting my posts up for the last three days.  First I was sick and then my computer wouldn't post them because of the internet issue that happened with my laptop, that evening.  I was too tired to find another computer and thus, I am slow to post.  That's what I get for trying to have some social time!  LOL ... what was I thinking!  ...Work, work, work!  My boss is a slave driver.

Day 9 - Marcia Kiesee is  a student of mine who I see weekly or twice a week when she plein air paints with me on Saturdays as well.  She is an incredible artist herself with really harmonious use of colors, which she arranges in a the most interesting paintings.  It was a delight to paint Marcia, but impossible to not talk.  I am happy to say that I did get a painting that I like very much from her sitting.  She has this great sense of humor and catches me off-guard every time, then has me in stitches while I try to paint.  It was nearly impossible to stay quiet and strait faced for the pose at moments.  Love this lady and I am so happy she sat for me.

Day 10 - This morning I had the opportunity to paint another student Sandy Allie.  Sandy is also an artist and has work on her websites: and She is a very talented sculptor!  We met through a class that I taught at the Crocker Art Museum several years ago and Sandy has been keeping up with me on the internet since. What great cheek bones Sandy has. She says there is some Native American blood in her and that is where the cheek bones come from. Sandy has eyes that switch to a color that is more green in other situations but today with all that gorgeous coral color bouncing into her face from her shirt, I only saw dark blue.

Her blouse was a true mixture of Napthol Scarlet and white.  It was great because this is the color of red that I have settled on out of all the cadmium and scarlet colors of red that I have been playing with for flesh tones.  I am loving my Napthol Scarlet.  When I use it in the lightest values of the skin, it captures that fleshy soft skin tone that I am liking so much.

I have included a photo of Muffin, the studio dog who greats everyone and sleeps by us while we paint.  She has never met anyone she doesn't love.  Muffin was a gift for my mom from my sister and I for Christmas a year before mom passed in 2013.  She is now 3 and what a princess she is.  She deserves that title as well because she is a pretty good little girl.  She is a great greeter and can't wait for the next person to come in.

So, I wanted to write something a bit more about the process of painting portraits.  While I am working my mind is continually trying to remember the "recipe" for a color that I have applied previously in the same area.  I am also constantly reevaluating the space between and shapes of color in all the areas of the face.  I don't see a face as a whole person during the process.  Unless I lean back and squint at the painting, generally all I am seeing is the small areas in a face that create a puzzle of colors and values that when all arranged correctly form the human face of this particular person.  And even though we all have the same features as in two eyes, one nose, one mouth, hair, chin, etc., everyone is SO different as to the facial arrangement of muscle and bone structure.  Some have dimples in chins, some have high cheek bones, some have eyelids that are very rounded ... some straight.  You get the idea.  So in order to paint a portrait you have to be able to see not only the whole structure of the contour of the person's features, but you have to see every little idiosyncrasy that makes their face unique.  If you are off by a milometer often it is the difference between really capturing a person or not.  As a painter, you must really hone your skills to be able to see the slightest angles or adjustment of value which would change the angle of the contour, plus thin or thicken any area of skin.   

I am using the same lighting, chair, and position for everyone I am painting.  Thus, the colors are similar except for the clothing and shade of skin each person has.  And yet the two different elements have me continually working to reinvent the way that I apply those color mixtures that I am enjoying so much.  I am using, a deep magenta, mossy green, pale blue-violet, and other variations near these colors into the shadowed side of my face.  Because I am working with ambient light through the window (North), my light is really cool.  But, my shadows aren't extremely warm and I also have a bit of light coming from the opposite side.  The studio lights are also balanced light. So, I am going for a very natural lighting that isn't too hot.  I wanted to have the two sources soften the shadows, in order to flatter my subjects more.  I used to paint in a far more classical high contrast manner, defining the light from the shadow to a degree that it was far harsher but made a striking painting. My goal in this month is not only about the colors of paint that I am adjusting but it is the way in which I light my subjects.  

Now multiply all these things that I have mentioned by 100 each and you won't yet come near to the amount of thoughts that I have going through my head during the three hours of painting the subject. And you can see why a formal portrait of the highest quality takes over 20 hours for the simplest one. These studies that I am doing for three hours are just the initial reaction I have to the models and what I can pick up on, in that short of a time.  When I really get the opportunity to do a great portrait I spend hours and hours analyzing exactly how I can adjust the value or any other minute detail to create a truly gorgeous painting of someone.  

These studies are fun.  I am really enjoying just being able to let go in the initial stages at such a fresh point, in something that I consider unfinished.  It is an exercise that will be forever in my mind and one that has already taught me so much about what I want to change in my approach to the formal paintings as well.  Thank you again to my wonderful 10 models that I have had so far!  I am 1/3 of the way through the month and I am LOVING this.  I hope you have been enjoying as well.  

I have gotten so many good comments on how people really appreciate watching this happen. Thank you!  

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