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.