Sunday, January 27, 2008

Keith, 18"x14", oil on linen

Keith is a new member of the club who joined last week, and he agreed to pose for the group in this week's vacant slot. I see him 4 days a week in my class, but once we set the pose I realized how prominent the underlying structure of his head was–clear cut planes of the head, rugged contour of the jaw, broad forehead with pronounced brow ridge and frontal prominences–general characteristics that are often associated with the northern Europeans. He reminded me of characters from the paintings of the great German-American illustrator J. C. Leyendecker. When I asked him later about his ancestry, he said he is German-Norwegian.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ed, 16"x12" oil on linen

This week, Ed volunteered to pose for the group in place of Vinnie, who posed last week.

I stretched a canvas from a new roll of Claessens Type 880, Medium Rough Texture linen that I just bought. It's a rather heavy and rough-textured canvas compared to my usual taste, but I needed a heavy canvas for a large painting I am currently working on, and I wanted to test out its surface quality before I stretch it for the large project.

Unlike Vinnie last week, Ed presented with quite clear planar distinctions of his head structure– more sculptural appearance without the free-flowing locks of hair everywhere, which can be somewhat distracting. Painting Vinnie with all that hair was fun, but it is also a pleasure to paint a head that shows the distinctive structure of the underlying form.

I pulled back the spotlight slightly away from Ed in order to avoid any disturbingly strong highlights on his head. A spotlight can never match the soft natural light, but I wanted to make it as close as I could.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Painting is jealous, and requires the whole man to herself."
— Michelangelo
(How true it is! And he wasn't even a painter!!)

Vinnie,14"x11" oil on linen

For the first session after the winter recess, Marcin Sulewski was to pose for the group, but unfortunately, he didn't return to school for the Spring term. Instead, Vinnie, who was scheduled for the following week, volunteered to pose in Marcin's place.

Before the pose was set, Brian Skol suggested the use of a blue-green drapery for the background, and that worked well to balance the red sweatshirt Vinnie was wearing.

I didn't want Vinnie's thick black glasses frames to be too dominant in the painting, but at the same time, that is how Vinnie looks. The same is true of his hair; I didn't want it to become a distraction from his face, but that is how he is known to us. So I decided to go with the way his glasses and hair look–quite prominent and wildly unkempt. I did add the reflecting lights on his glasses in order to avoid their looking lensless, although they weren't visible from my angle.

As the session moved on to the second hour, Vinnie grew increasingly uncomfortable sitting still. The painting seems to show his growing anxiety from physical discomfort and lack of nicotine intake. One side benefit of students posing for each other is that they get to appreciate the difficult work our models do for us.