Thursday, September 18, 2014

Working Hard on Portraits

My students at the Renaissance Art Gallery have been working very hard on their portraits and other projects.

All are showing such promise.

This week I was able to draw the correlation between standard anatomy and cartoon characters. For us to relate to these invented people, they have to strike a cord with us, and with thoughtful creation, even a robot can have a more human or humane connection.

Worked also on how we change as we age, not so much inside but outside.

A lot for them to absorb.   I often think when their parents send them to art class they have no idea how much thinking, planning and soul searching is involved in art.

Because it is a visual art, so many simply dismiss it as thoughtless. As we all know, that is simply not true. Which is why students that are exposed to the arts early do better in math and science.

We need more art. We also need more appreciation that art is necessary.

Art happens in the head, only then can it come out the hands.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Portraits: Likeness vs Identity

Working With Faces


Nothing is as scary as trying to paint a likeness of someone you know. Especially if that person will see it!


How do you go about it? How realistic should you be? When it is someone you know well, there are tons of emotions involved. It is really hard to view them dispassionately. When you need to reduce them to basic shapes, it is necessary to mentally stand back from them and try and get down a good likeness.


But that is not all a portrait is. If that is all you needed, take a snapshot.


But portraiture is more than simply conveying a likeness. It is also about identity. Which is not the same as likeness. This is where it gets hard. This is a person you love, but who is that person? What do they mean to you? What do you mean to them?


Painting someone you know and love can be fraught with all kinds of dangers. While as artist, we revel in each line and wrinkle, so we show beloved mother-in-law with all her (perceived) flaws for all the world to see? Or do we flatter, and thus paint a flawed portrait and to us a lie. Or do we paint them as we see them, with love, acceptance and forgiveness?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Unhappy Background

really don't like this background.
Working on three different portraits can be very distracting. But I must take time to really look at each one at each stage.

Not at all happy with the background for my son's portrait. Much to busy and distracting. Not at all what I was going for. So I must change it!

I did select a new pallet for this, related but not quite so yellow. Using more subdued yellow, red and green, created a softer green/gray. I refrained from using black or Payne's gray because of the black gesso that started this portrait.

background pallet.

I did add liquin to help the background dry. I also worked a little background into the portrait, so it would be background, not competing foreground. This way he will be in front of it.

After working the new background in and leaving substantially less of the black showing, I am much happier with this present look developing in this painting.

this background works to complement where I am going with the rest of the portrait. Not too garish, not too bland. Just the right amount of color. While it will reflect what is going into the actual portrait, it is softer, more muted.

The portrait of my mother-in-law is giving me more trouble. While there is nothing actually wrong with the background so far, it just does not seem to be as effective as the background I have on my father-law's painting. That one I am quite pleased with. That total package is turning out as the best of the three so far. I think I will need work live with the mother-in-law painting a while before I can diagnose just what is bothering me about it.

It is difficult to work on all three at the same time, but necessary. Each is providing a demo painting for different students at different places in their own work.