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.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Where has the time gone... Day 17...and all the previously missed days...

Well, somehow I got through the toughest week of the month and I am excited to say that this week shall be calmer. (I hope)  Last week I taught not only did a portrait per day for three hours, but I also taught 4 classes spread over 3 of the days, finished and delivered four paintings, and managed to fit in a couple meetings with friends.  It was a busy week.  phew!  I am glad to be beyond it.  But, the Sutter Club "Fear No Easel" paint and sip event on Friday turned out fantastic.  It was our second event.  Steve Solis, my friend and co-heart in this event was a great help and kept them all amused as well as helping so much with their paintings.  Even though this type of event is so popular throughout our nation at this time, it isn't cost effective nor what I want to do.  I prefer to get the students into a lecture series class where I get to further them in the style of painting that they find most pleasure in. So, this is the only organization that I do this for.  Probably because my dear friends David and Sandy Garese are members and David is the event coordinator.  So, it is a very light-hearted event and I am happy to do this for them.   Still planning for any new class takes a few extra hours and lots of planning beyond the time of the class. It went off without a flaw and was so very fun.

Back to the project...
I haven't written since day 10 with Marcia.

So, here is a quick overview of the last week.  I will write more later.  There is not painting posted for Jo Montgomery, as it needs revisions.  More later...

Day 11:Hannah Redfield

 Day 12: David Redfield

Day 14: Mary Lou Dales

Day 13: Jo Montgomery

Day 15: Carol Lunn

Day 16: Emily Maker

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!  

Day 7 & 8 - John and Audrey

Day 7 - John - What a sweetheart with big dark blue eyes.  He brought me irises.  At 8 he is already learning the way to a woman's heart. Girls love flowers!
John was a bit squirmy.  But, that is his great personality.  It's just harder to capture someone when they are too interested in what I am doing and not focusing on the movie.  All in all, I captured his look.  John is the son of one of my students, Martha.  I am so happy that I got to meet him and spend the time creating this painting.  What a handsome guy he is!

Day 8 - at 10:00 AM this morning I met Audrey, the beautiful granddaughter of my classmate, Gail Comstock, from Casa Robles class of 1976.  What a sweet and bright young lady Audrey is.  She was very beautiful in her turquoise dress and even drew a picture for me!  I am very happy with the outcome of her painting and actually having the time to get the details of the dress and her arms in. That is a lot to pack into 3 hours. As Audrey's mom Kara was filling out the questions that I ask of everyone, she asked Audrey what her best experience was.  They came up with a trip to Mexico but there wasn't a lot of excitement surrounding the answer.  So, it was really cute when Kara wrote on FB that Audrey and her both think this was the most exciting experience of her life yet, to sit for a painting.  :*)

All these kids are so sweet and wonderful.  It makes me miss my son being young.  He is 30 and is still single.  (I am taking applications for a mother to my grandchildren! :*)  Just kidding.  He wouldn't be happy to have mom's help and is actually doing fine on his own.)   Gary is a journeyman electrician in the commercial field and manages about 6 other electricians under him.  I am really a proud mom.

Well, unfortunately I wasn't feeling good at all since day 6.  So, I didn't blog yesterday (written on 8-8-15) because I slept to try to get rid of the horrible headache that I had.    Good news ... as of today I am back to my happy, healthy self!  Yeah.

I had coffee with my dear friend David on Thursday evening and he asks such poignant questions. I was all set to talk about it but my brain can't recall what it was that I was going to talk about.  It's hard to be witty, deep, and right brained at the same time. I will keep trying to remember what that was that we were talking about and hopefully hit that point in the near future.

It seems my life is a maze of fun encounters where I think I might be having more fun than those who have to sit for me.  But, at least with all the kids I have done this week, they get to watch a movie or two as well.  I know I am not getting as good of a painting as I could because I am listening to the movies and distracted from what I usually think about when painting to music alone for adults. I feel that I could do far better.  I have one more little girl and the rest of the models are going to be adults.  So, I can have them sit without the television involved and hope to get better focus and paintings.

Even with those issues and my bar set so high, I do feel that I caught the character of each of these handsome and cute little kids.  It's been very fun.  Please don't take my correction of myself and sharing my higher standards for my work as a criticism or lack of self confidence.  It is the push behind me to make myself a better painter daily that makes my work stronger every time I go back to the easel.  Without this inner critic, I would be satisfied and passively never learn or desire to learn more.  I teach my students that no matter how good you are as an artist, there is always a bar that is higher than we are now achieving and that bar is what makes us better artists.  It's true that a 3 hour painting of this degree is good.  But, I strive to be better than good and hope that some day I will be excellent.  Thank you if you think I am now.

The trick I tell my students is that you must not beat yourself with that bar.  It's one thing to recognize it but another if you stop yourself from doing any more work or believing that you can do better work that causes damage.  This applies to everything in life.