Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Working the Rust Out

I've been focused a lot on artwork ever since finishing the training session in Indiana last week.  I started by pulling the book "Portrait Painting Atelier" off my shelf and reviewing it.  The book has a lot of great technical information in it and, after my recent experience of trying to paint in the studio, I needed a refresher.  And that's where I found out about Robert Liberace, a young artist with a beautiful way of putting a painting together.  In my last post, I mentioned all that, along with links to some YouTube videos of his.  Right after that, I bought his "Alla Prima Portrait" DVD.  This is a 3-hour demo of an alla prima portrait, and he maintains a running commentary on what he's doing the whole time.  It's not cheap, but it's a seminar in which you can stop, replay, and take over and over again.  I've gone through maybe half of it and have taken a ton of notes.  Especially now that I've started pushing paint around again, I've got recent experience that relates to what he's talking about.

Every artist has his/her own quirks and I'm no exception.  I tend to make hands a bit too large, for one thing.  I also tend to start with the head and, as I work my way down the body, make the body bigger and bigger, so that when I stand back, I've got a small head on this oversize figure.  Been doing this forever, and since I know about it, I can watch for it and correct it as it happens.  Another quirk is when the model's head is tilted to one side.  I'll draw the head tilted, but then the eyes, nose, and mouth will all be level.  Very frustrating.  And while watching the Liberace video, I saw him doing the exact same thing!  It was quite amusing to see that I'm not the only one who falls into that trap.

Yesterday I went to the studio and banged around a bit.  I took a sketch from Afghanistan and did a portrait study in oil from it.  There were lots of issues, of course, but I played with it for a couple of hours and it actually started turning into something decent.  The moment that I started thinking about keeping it, though, I took a rag and wiped it out.  This is "spring training" for me, a time to get back into the rhythm, get the juices flowing, and nothing I do here is going to be a keeper.

Today, I was in the studio again, prepping some gessoed sheets of paper for use in studies and color swatches.  I also did a charcoal self-portrait.  Here's the way it looks on paper:


I'm a pretty good model for myself: I know the pose needed, and I can hold it as long as necessary, and getting back into just the right position is easy.  None of which would apply if I was modeling for somebody else.  This image looked about right to me, but then, it's a mirror image (what I see in a mirror) which is not what others see.  So here's a mirror image of the mirror image:


The wife thought it was "okay ...", which isn't exactly a rousing endorsement.  Not sure if the image missed the mark or if I made myself too stern or what.  No matter, I needed to make something today and this was it.

Tomorrow: back to the drawing board.  Literally.

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