Monday, December 14, 2009

Scenes from the end-of-the-term group critique/pizza party.

It was another productive term, with a few new but eager members. Too bad some students couldn't participate due to their class schedule conflict or late train schedule.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cecylia, 16" x 13", oil on board

I scraped off previous week's less-than-satisfactory second painting of Rosemary and reused the board to paint Cecylia. It's a masonite board that I primed with gesso.

At the beginning of the session, Cecylia asked me whether she should pose without her colorful scarf she was wearing.
I told her to keep it on. Though I was very much attracted to the colorful pattern of her scarf, I had to be careful not to let it dominate her face or let the face be completely isolated from it. So I 'slipped in' some matching colors on her cheek, neck and hair.

I looked forward to painting Cecylia for the challenge of painting her interesting skin tone, and I am satisfied with the result. At the end of the session Cecylia said something like, "You captured the Puerto Rican look of me."

Half way through the session, Cecylia said she was very tired (she's been in school for her regular classes since 8 am and our painting session didn't end until 8:30 pm) but, for the most part, she managed to keep a rather intense gaze.

I took a few photos of her posing on the stage to post with the final painting as I usually do, but I accidentally deleted them before I downloaded them to my computer.
Rats! (they always have a way of getting into my camera.)

Rosemary, 16" x 12", oil on linen
Collection of Mrs. Rosemary Herzberg

Rosemary is the better half of Tom Herzberg, known better for, as far as I am concerned, her fine strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum.

It was interesting to paint her with her hair draped over her forehead completely, even obscuring her eyes at times when she resumed the pose after the break. Though there were times when she pushed her hair back slightly, I decided to paint her with her blue eyes barely peeking out below her hair.

When Tom took a look at the finished painting the next day, he mentioned that it captured her sad-eyed look that she is often talked about. He said maybe we should find a way to paint her while she is smiling next time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jon, 16" x 12", oil on linen

One of the fun things about painting Jon was to capture the vibrancy of his warm skin tone without being distracted by the darker tone of his face. His posing in bright blue shirt and in front of blue background intensified the warmth of his face further. But at the same time, I decided to vignette his shirt so that it won't draw too much attention to it or clash with his face above.

I generally don't like to use store-bought canvases. Instead, I prefer to either prime the canvas or board myself, or stretch a canvas of my choice. A few weeks ago I bought a Belgian linen canvas board from a store just to give it a try, and I decided to use it to paint Jon. It turned out that this particular brand was, though not heavily textured, too 'scratchy' on the surface. And I didn't care for it much.

Lisa, 19" x 13", oil on board

Lisa is an admissions representative at the Academy.

I used an off-size long masonite board that I primed with gesso. I wanted to see what kind of simple composition I could come up with in an elongated vertical format for a head study.

Painting Lisa with her deep tanned appearance, I had to be careful not to make her face too dark. Also, separating the warm redness along her cheek and on her nose from surrounding deep value of her face required a careful observation.

Because I kept the value on her face rather low, I decided not to do much on the white background other than the blue vertical that suggests the background drapery while complementing warm orange color on her face. I wanted the white of the board to play an active role in the composition as a strong contrast against the darker values on her.

Kristin, 18" x 14", oil on linen
Collection of Mrs. Kristin Mount

Kristin is a medical illustrator who teaches anatomy and digital illustration at the Academy.

In a head study, I generally include at least neck and shoulders (and I preach this to my students all the time),
but for some reason I decided not to paint them in painting Kristin.

I pre-toned the canvas a few days before in an abstract color pattern, so by the time she posed the surface was completely dry. I wanted the negative space of the painting to tie in with the general color of her hair and be left untouched as a finished painting.

At some point while painting, I realized that I painted her features, especially her eyes, in too sharp a focus. I thought about softening them, but I decided to leave them be to help suggest a sense of intelligence in her face.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jesus, 14"x11", oil on canvas

Confronted with massive structure of Jesus' head, I thought it was most appropriate to start the painting by blocking-in the big planes of his head using a large brush.

Throughout painting, I noticed subtle grays and cool temperature on his face, including very blue highlights on his hair. I had to be careful not to mute the color too much and contradict the gentle light on his face with overly brilliant highlights on his hair.

At the beginning of the painting, I laid down very thin wash of color in the right corner of the canvas and let it run. The wash was so thin and I blocked-in the mass of his hair so quickly that it flowed into the shape of his head. It looked almost as though his head was being invaded and melted by some sort of living organism–a rather disturbing image. So I thought about covering it up with more solid background, but decided to just leave it be, for now anyways.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It was my turn to pose this week. During the first break, Marcie suggested she take some pictures of me posing.
So here is the proof that I paid my due–for the third time since we started the club 3 years ago.

First session of fall term.
In fall, we are meeting every Tuesday evening from 5:30 to 8:30. Though they can not participate in every session, 16 plus students, including 3 alumni and 2 freshmen students who never painted in oil before, signed up to paint.

It's now the 3rd year we have been painting late after school.

Tatiana, 18"x14", oil on linen

Tatiana has been eager to pose for the club during summer term but her turn had to be put off till fall because of her summer work schedule.

Tatiana's skin color was challenging and interesting to paint. There were much of deep yellow ochre-ish color that seemed to be blended with subtle shades of red. Her massive curly hair was also interesting to paint. I tried to emphasize the general pattern of the hair without making it a distracting element in the painting.

There were much more brilliant highlights on her forehead, cheek and the side of the nose. I downplayed them in favor of preserving the colors on her face.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Scenes from the end-of-the-term group critique/pizza party.

We had a few additional guests — some younger than others.

Marcie talking about her painting of Kristen.

Carol giving an advice on composition of Jennifer's painting.

As usual, there were some fun moments mixed with serious critique.

Al with the big smile I mentioned before.

Kristen with both sides of her head.

Marcie posed with her true hair this time.

At the end of the critique, OJ suggested we take a group picture. Too bad some of the participants couldn't come in for the critique, and others had to leave early.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kristen, 14"x11", oil on board

Kristen is Peter Scott's wife, and the proud mother of twin boys.

For this painting, I used a masonite board I sized with rabbit-skin glue and primed with 3 coats of lead-white a few months ago.

When Kristen sat to pose in the beginning, she had her head tilted quite a bit to the left. I thought that was a natural pose she felt comfortable with and expected her to fall back to it even if we adjusted the pose. So I decided to just go with the pose, letting her fall back to her comfortable position after each break.
Maybe because she was too comfortable in the comfy chair, Kristen started showing signs of fatigue early on during the pose. While on a break, she got a Coke and a candy bar to get a jolt. It worked for a while but she continued to struggle.

Expecting there would be considerable movement in her pose throughout the session, I decided to treat this painting more as a spontaneous and "smart" painting than a portrait type head-study. I focused more on capturing her fleeting expression and the impression of her rather than the acute likeness of a still pose.
From the beginning, I painted in a loose manner without defining anything firmly until the later stages of the painting.
To go along with this approach, I kept most of the edges soft with the exception of the bridge of her nose against the dark value of the far eye.

It certainly was a challenge, but in the end this approach also helped to bring out a soft and gentle appearance in her face — according to Kristen, Peter complained about her having a hard look on her face with a frown in the previous session.

Jake, 14"x11", oil on linen

Jake volunteered to pose for the second time this term in place of Tatiana, who couldn't pose for us on her scheduled date due to a work schedule conflict. When he posed the first time in May, I wasn't able to participate, so it was an opportunity for me to catch up. Thanks, Jake!

In this painting, I wanted to pay particular attention to variation of the edges. I tried to carefully discern various edge qualities and avoid any unnecessarily hard edges. Painting a profile against a dark background, it was an interesting challenge to maintain a careful hierarchy of the edges.

In the end, I managed to keep the most of the edges soft and avoid a hard, chiseled appearance. More often than not, when I paint a profile, I tend to be quite drawn to the hard edges of the silhouette, which in itself isn't always a bad thing.

Also, to go along with an overall soft appearance, I downplayed, and even eliminated, a few very strong highlights on his temple, cheekbone and nose.

Maybe because of my care to keep the edges soft, in the painting Jake appears younger than he actually is, with a boyish look.