Thursday, 03 March 2011 at 16:15
Family Portrait – A Little Sketchy
I survived the photo session with the family and came away with reference I could actually use. From the photos I have shown on my last post, one may wonder about that. What is really cool about doing a portrait painting is I do not have to have the definitive perfectly lit photo to do a really nice job. As I mentioned, the photos represent something to me a bit different than they do to a portrait photographer. My great and inspiring
painting professor at Kent, Doug Unger, once told me some photos are finished, in and of themselves. Looking for, creating, or using photo reference is different. One is looking at images as pieces of something larger, different than any one image itself. What I look for, in this case, is the look in the eye, the expression on the face, and most importantly, the way the light strikes the subject to
reveal all of it. Here are sketches I made in preparation for the larger pieces. Each one is meant to try to capture the emotive quality I am looking for with each of the individuals. I’m trying to real the character and personality of each of the sitters. After I fell I have a handle on that, I develop the overall drawing that will provide a roadmap of the composition of the entire pieces.
With each time I draw my subject, I get a deeper understanding of the subtleties of the form. The human face is fascinating in the small nuances the make up, say a smile or the wetness and translucence of the eye or the softness and suppleness of flesh. One must be confident in the structural lines that make up the likeness, to get to the subtitles that give the painting life in the end. These preliminary drawings for me are like studying for the final. Once I can draw the person with ease, I can now more on to deal with the overall composition and think abut the nuances of light and atmosphere on the entire scene. I decided to make this a bit more of an environment as well as a likeness of 4 people (and a dog). I want to get the comfy feel of the small couch and the softness and strength of the light as it cascades itself throughout.
Monday, 28 February 2011 at 23:52
Family Portrait – How do we start?
Since I am in the midst of painting a portrait of a really nice family, I thought it might be interesting to document the process, or at least show the development. I asked Mike, what ideas he and Megan may have regarding the portrait. He didn’t really think abut it much and deferred to his wife. I posed a series of questions that can to my mind, such as, what do you want everyone wearing, what environment can we place the family in? Do we want the dog in the portrait?
Mike was familiar with my work through the studio website and he’d been over to the house and saw some of my work live, experienced, like all artwork should be.
My approach is to work from remembrance and photo reference. Mike made a date for me to visit he and Megan’s house and family to set everyone up for a photo session to get some good reference shots to work from. The kids were adorable and the dog was old. I brought over a couple of hot lights on stands and a tripod. The portrait as it turned out, wanted to be very casual, everyone in their Saturday cloths. A small cozy couch was placed even with a window, something I was looking for, beautiful outdoor natural light. I set the family up sitting on the couch, close, intimate and natural. I set up one of the lights on the fill side. From there the family of four moved around here and there until they appeared totally comfortable. The small boy and wispy girl look of porciline...very delicate and cute. After I felt I got a good expression for each of the family members, although not on the same shot, I took some shots of the dog, separately. Prior to shooting the reference I decided to use the best representation of each person (and dog) from whatever photo took. I could also draw the dog into the set up as well. It makes such a huge difference in something like such a painting for me to have stood before the family and have taken the reference material. After I leave, and head back to the studio, I have a solid mental impression of spirit of within of the people. The photo is like a cue to tap into that impression. I am now ready to begin to develop the drawing
Friday, 18 February 2011 at 15:28
Once again delving into reflections on images gathered through photos, sketches, bits and pieces, I created this portrait. The graphite drawing was developed from photo reference I took of my wife at the kitchen table after a 12 hour day at the hospital. As a beautiful woman, she is repealed by the focus on the unglamorous and unpretty in the portrait. I can appreciate that. I do think women have a ton of pretty pressure on them all the time When you around an art person, you become viewed from a different view, a different lens than perhaps you are accustomed. When I set out to make this drawing, the motivation was to capture the hopelessness and defeat one feels at the end of a long energy sapping day. I saw beauty in the human struggle, the dignity of effort and work and struggle. To my mind, the character reveled in such a moment informs us all about the resiliency and endurance of the human spirit. Beauty in character. To say this is a portrait of Deb is probably unfair. This is a portrait of hopelessness, but only the temporary hopelessness one feels at the end of that long day where everything has been given, and the body and spirit are spent.
Monday, 31 January 2011 at 22:36
Pencil Drawing Mini-Portfolio
Trying to capture a piece of the spirit of a person in a simple pencil drawing always seems fascinating. Perhaps its the simplest of means to reveal complexity. Here is a small portfolio of such drawings. Click on each to enlarge to see some of the pencil work.
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