Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A quick time lapse of a portrait

Here is a little time lapse movie I made using still shots I took while working on the portrait I posted last week. Click the YouTube logo to find the high res version.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Extreme Lighting

I'm currently taking a class at the Watts Atelier taught by Jeff Watts in head painting with an emphasis on unusual lighting situations. There's a new model every week where the lighting is drastically different or theatrical. Each study had been a fantastic exercise in helping me break out of formulaic approaches to head painting. When there's a shadow running down the middle of the face, extreme backlighting or colored lights it compels me to take a fresh approach to not only mixing colors for the flesh tones, but how I build up the forms and how to balance halftones with shadows and highlights. Here's a couple 2.5 hour studies from this class.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Recent Commission

I just handed over my latest client portrait. This was commissioned as a gift for his daughter-in-law as a birthday surprise. She lives out of state, so they had a professional photographer shoot her in studio without telling her why she was having her photos taken. The client and I were then able to work together to choose the right piece of reference from the proofs (a funny side note: the photographer did a bunch of filtering and softening of the hi-res photo to compliment the model's beauty, which is what she normally does for clients. But it erased nearly every bit of surface texture and subtle plane change on the face, so I had to ask for a raw untouched photo, which I did get.).

I painted this on one of the New Traditions Art Panels that I mentioned in my last post. It was a very smooth linen with an almost undetectable grain. That made this piece very easy to photograph without capturing a bunch of little reflections off the surface.

This is 16 x 20 inches.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Small Head Studies

I recently bought a sample pack of New Traditions Art Panels to try out some different surfaces. New Traditions makes fine art canvas panels which can be ordered with a wide range of linens and canvases mounted to them. Since this was my first time ordering from them, I opted for the pack of six different canvas types at a size of 8 x 10" to take each one for a test drive with a small head study. They range from very smooth to very coarse. I really liked almost all of the surfaces, but my favorites were probably the A600 surface and the C15 surface. Both of those are acrylic primed linens.

For the past five years, I have been painting on nothing but smooth oil primed linens like Claessens 13 and Raphael's portrait linen. And I have gotten very used to the ultra smooth slickness of those surfaces. So these New Traditions acrylic primed surfaces were a surprisingly nice change of texture. I've been wanting to loosen up my finished style more lately, and rougher acrylic linens allow for a bit more flexibility because the tooth of the canvas holds onto paint a little more strongly, and I can do more effects like finger swiping, blending and thick impasto strokes at any point during the painting.

Smooth oil primed linens like Raphael's and Claessens oil primed surfaces are a bit more temperamental and require more layering and drying before being able to gracefully smooth out an area. If you brush too hard or try to swipe with your finger, you tend to rub off all the paint back to the original white of the canvas. But these NT panels were a little more friendly to me in that respect.

Check out New Traditions Art Panels here.

Anyways, here are a few of my recent 8 x 10" studies on the NT panels. I spent about 2 hours on each one.

Friday, May 4, 2012


People are probably my favorite subject to paint. I love still life and plein air landscapes, of course. But nothing comes close to the challenge of capturing a likeness in a portrait while still creating a dynamic composition with an instant appeal and impact that makes the viewer want to simultaneously step forward for a closer look while also wanting to stand back to take in the whole effect. That's what I love most about viewing good portrait art by the likes of Sargent, Zorn, deLaszlo, Lipking, Schmid and many others.

I will endeavor to keep this blog updated frequently with my latest works: formal portraits, informal studies, still lifes, landscapes, sketches or whatever else peaks my interest.