Hope to see you there!
Wecome back! “Paris” is still on hold. The piece in this video is a commission that needs to be finished soon, so I decided to demonstrate the usual fourth step of my process with this demo (The first three steps being 1) Underdrawing, 2) Underpainting, 3) Overpainting). I will still do something like this with Paris when time allows.
The quality of video I’m currently using does not really show the subtle changes I’m making. From the explanations and watching my brush move around you can kind of get an idea what I’m doing, but I wish it was more evident. Some parts of some paintings require more adjustments. In this particular case there was not a whole lot needed.
Believe it or not, I’m really new to the whole youtube thing. I had no idea how much stuff is on there. As I’ve begun adding my own videos to youtube I have been stumbling upon some good stuff from time to time. This morning I found this little gem.
Gregg Kreutz is a former student of David Leffel, which is still fairly evident in his current work. In my book list I name Gregg’s Problem Solving for Oil Painters as a big influence in my painting education.
I always enjoy watching a good teacher/artist at work. I also enjoy contrasting their process with my own. I always seem to learn something new. Take a peek at this video. When I work I see my subject in a more optical (or literal) fashion. Gregg sees in much more of a conceptual way, taking certain creative liberties with his subject while capturing the essential truths of what the light tells us about the surface of the subject. He works up the entire painting all at once, where I try to visualize the whole painting while working on it piece by piece. In both methods the same problems have to be tackled. We’re both concerned about color and value relationships and the effective translation of form, not to mention a good likeness — which in my art vocabulary means good draftsmanship.
I particularly like how he uses the background color in the transitional middle tones between light and shadow. He mentions this in his book as well. I don’t consciously do that but I do make my transitional tones more neutral, which does, in the end, relate to my typically neutral backgrounds. So the thought process there is different, but I think we both accomplish about the same thing. I think I would like to try a few paintings where I execute my halftones more like he does. That will necessitate a good color study before I start so I really know where I’m going. Should be interesting.
4-10-12 UPDATE! — Gregg Kreutz is giving a five day workshop at Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio April 22-26 of 2013. If you are in the Seattle area or are able to travel save your spot now. I’m seriously considering it for myself. I’m overdue for a workshop. Details HERE.
I’ve had a lot of requests about my exact use of color for skin tones. I do plan to post something about that, or maybe a series of posts. But in the mean time check out this short video by Michael Siegel. I don’t know Mr. Siegel but I REALLY liked his comments about skin color. The material point being: there is no real correct skin color. It all has to work within the color world — or “key” as Michael puts it — of your painting. If your colors work well together (what we call color harmony) then the colors will be correct.
I’m going to eventually post everything I can possibly think of that is pertinent to my art life and particularly my painting methods. No doubt that will become a never ending project. But today I wanted to write about something that may get overlooked by many people that I consider absolutely essential to making the best paintings I can — health and fitness. We all know the benefits of a regular exercise regimen and a proper diet. I’m not going to bore you with that. But I do want to share a little of my experience that I hope will encourage some to begin a healthier lifestyle.
I grew up on good healthy home cooking and a fair amount of regular exercise. Eventually I got seriously into sports and even competed in college a bit. After college my workouts became sporadic but I still jogged regularly, which is something I’ve always enjoyed. When I began painting full time in late 2002 I really started to lose my tone. In large part this was due to the stress of self-employment. Money suddenly got very tight and so I was working all the time in hopes I could compensate. This was really the beginning of my failure to take care of my body. I still ate well, but I wasn’t exercising regularly. I never did have a weight issue but my core just got really soft — YUCK! I still jogged but it was not very regular. I could still tackle five miles without much trouble but I didn’t do it very often.
Okay, fast forward to Spring of 2011. Chronic back pain. Oh yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Every day. All day. Not fun. And me only at the tender age of 41. So I visited my doctor and got an X-ray. Yep, a bit of arthritis in the lumbar region. Perfect! Well, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it got me back on track to working out regularly and eating even better. I started with some physical therapy; God bless those guys. They gave me some great stretches and exercises to do to strengthen my poor, weak back. About this time my wife started doing P90X. If you don’t know what this is you should check it out at beachbody.com. It’s a fantastic workout you can do at home. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart and it will rock your world. I started working out with my wife and it was amazing. It was just the ticket to get me strong again. I didn’t lose a bunch of weight but my body sure changed shape. My back started feeling better and I just felt better all around. I started reaping the benefits we all know about.
So did my art get better? Everything got better! There is such a huge mental benefit from working out intensely on a regular basis. You can wake up in the morning stressed about finances or whatever it may be. You go do your workout, get the blood flowing and get your lungs working. Afterwards you feel tired but whatever you were worried about just doesn’t seem quite as bad. Now this happens to me ALL the time. I’ll also share that I suffer from mild depression. I take a small dose of anti-depressant with my lunch every day. Do you think a little depression can affect your work? You know it can, and does. It’s funny about that. Many, MANY artists have had depression. You start reading about these guys and you find it over and over again. Does it just come with the territory? I don’t know but it seems to be danged common among us creative types. Does regular exercise help that condition? Oh yeah.
So that’s it. If you’re not in the habit of exercising regularly do yourself a favor and start by taking a brisk walk. Half a mile. If it’s raining wear a rain coat. Just do something. Please don’t think I’m all high and mighty about this. I’m not. It’s tough to exercise. It’s not my favorite thing to do. But I LOVE the benefits. And I’m not getting any younger. The reason I have arthritis in my back is because my core got so weak from years at sitting at the easel everyday and doing nothing else. There’s no cure for arthritis. It’s not going to go away, but I can strengthen the muscles around those joints, stretch, and do weight bearing exercises. Walking is great for my back — Fast walking. My art benefits, my family benefits, and my ability to deal with stressful situations is much, much better.
So, for what its worth…
I want to let you know about a workshop I will be giving in Seattle from July 27-29. We will be working from the live model — yes!!. I will be taking the students through each step of the process. This workshop will be hosted by Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio. The director, Cary Juriaans, is always a gracious and generous hostess. Should be a blast. Click here for details. Hope to see you there!
Here is a pic of my demo piece from my last workshop with WIFAS:
You can see part of the process here with the underpainting refined by patches of overpainting. One thing about being an instructor is I don’t get the time to finish my piece! Oh well, we had a good time.
Please consider joining us!
Hi Everyone! More rain here in the Northwest. Oh well, the two days of sun we had were marvelous. At least we don’t want for water. Of course, too much of a good thing, etc…
Anyway, I have been very busy with commissions and deadlines and still haven’t been able to get back to “Paris”. So in lieu of that I decided to post a video of what I am currently working on. You will notice my process is somewhat different than in the “Paris” series.
In this piece I decided to do a more involved underdrawing in vine charcoal on toned canvas (which I spray-fixed). There are basically three reasons for this.1.) In a double portrait things get even more tricky needing to have the two faces and bodies in proper proportion to each other. I decided to take a little extra time with the drawing to make sure I wouldn’t encounter any unpleasant surprises later. 2.) I just really enjoy drawing and I found myself getting involved in the process. Normally I fight that feeling because of time restraints, but I gave in this time. 3.) I like to do things a little different from time to time. When it comes to art making I am a firm believer in having a good solid method (that works) to fall back on if and when things go awry. But, as you know, we artists have to mix it up now and then. Granted, I’m not drawing here hanging from a chandelier or anything like it, but it did lead me to get out of my comfort zone, which I will explain next.
What’s so uncomfortable about a locked in underdrawing you say? Well, it caused me to forgo my normal underpainting and put everything I had on the line to properly execute the overpainting without the safety of a basic color scheme laid in. Sure, I could have done an underpainting. In fact, I started to do so. But I found that the underdrawing was sound enough not to need it. Also, there was a sort of “grisaille” in place as well due to my blocking in the essential value pattern with the charcoal (not just the contour, which is my normal method). So I just went after it. I do want to note that I have painted like compositions with like color schemes before. I wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary in terms of subject or color. If I would have been, I probably would have laid in an underpainting, or at least done a color study (or two).
In painting this way, it’s even more important to “keep those drawing chops working” (as I’ve said before). And it’s critical to constantly evaluate your relative values and colors. It’s too bad that the quality of video I’m currently using does not really show the color nuances that are present. In the real thing there are differing levels of chroma and neutrality as well as subtle differences in local color; all of which help to give life to the portrait and increase it’s illusion of “presence” or “reality”.
Thank you for reading this lengthy accompaniment to the video. And thanks for watching.
Until next time…
Greetings, My Friends. I hope you are enjoying the emerging spring wherever you may be. The sun was actually out the entire day yesterday without any rain here in the Seattle area. I felt a little drugged all day. Life was good.
Anyway, this will be my first of many posts sharing other artist’s work, websites, blogs, and the like. I was recently introduced to Stapleton Kearns by a friend on facebook. It seems we are of like mind in our philosophies about sharing our knowledge. Of course, Mr. Kearns has been around quite a bit longer than I have. His blog is extensive. I highly recommend taking a look and gleaning all you can from this great artist and teacher: StapletonKearns.Blogspot.com. I know it’s going to be a regular watering hole for me for some time to come. Thank you, Stape, for sharing so freely.
On a side note, I have been very busy with a few commissions of late and have not been able to get back to “Paris”. I will try to fit her in this coming week so we can address Glazing and Correcting.
This blog is in existence to share my knowledge with the learning oil painter. I have no desire whatsoever in acquiring a long email list I can sell, or whatever it is scammers do. I wouldn’t even know how to do that. So, unless my system gets hacked (God forbid) you don’t need to worry about providing an email when you register (subscribe) to this blog.
Also you may notice some affiliate links showing up from time to time (images, when clicked, that lead you to another page where you may purchase the article).
I don’t know about you but whenever I see these types of things I get nervous and make sure I steer way clear of them. These will be images and texts that, when clicked, will take you to another site. On this blog it might be a site of a colleague, art supplier, or place to purchase a particular piece of equipment I use. These are all links I have set up myself, so don’t get nervous. It’s simply an easy way for you to find out more about a particular product, or, if you wish, purchase something I have talked about in a post or video. And I promise I will only provide links to products/sites with which I am familiar; e.g. brushes I’ve actually used and like. Maybe this is “no brainer” stuff to most of you, but it’s still a bit new to me — thus the possible over-explanation.
Anyway, thank you for visiting this site. I hope you get a lot out of it. Thanks to the several of you who have made suggestions. I will address them eventually.
Happy art making!
Here we have a continuation of the overpainting. You see me demonstrating the all important (at least for me) “oiling in”. You need not oil in the entire surface of the painting, just the area that is finished. In fact, you should avoid oiling in the areas you now plan to paint into because that little bit of oil will thin your paint. Of course there’s no avoiding it completely, but I just want you to be aware of the goal of oiling in — which is simply to bring the dry finished area of your painting back to a fresh state. There is a secondary goal, and that is so your new paint you are about to apply will blend fairly seamlessly into the older work.
Take note that when I am painting the head cloth and hair, I am also painting a bit of the background with them. This is so I can work those edges and make them softer (or harder, whatever the case may be). Later when this is dry I will oil in and paint the background into this area. So, again, we are thinking ahead to help insure our newer work will mesh into our old work. When the painting is complete I don’t want anyone knowing where I started and where I stopped a particular session. It will all look pretty seamless.
I don’t think I will do a Day 3 of the overpainting. Hopefully you get the basic idea of how I attend to this stage of the painting. The next in the series will be Glazing/Correcting.
Until next time…