Feels a bit like Cheating

I still need to get a decent picture of that last still life. Hopefully the painting will be dry enough this weekend to do that.

But there’s no time to rest. I’ve got some new subjects to work from and the process is beginning. I’m starting with some color studies. Typically I start with a pencil or caran d’ache line drawing but I’m trying to refine and streamline my studio process a bit. It remains to be seen if removing the linear drawing and adding additional color studies will yield a more successful end product but that’s the hope.

This is the first step in the process – a Burnt Umber grisaille wipeout on paper. Typically you’d want to use inverted compliments to create the neutral tone for your wipeouts (e.g. sap green and alizarine or cold black and transparent red oxide) and those definitely lead to more interesting, dynamic wipeouts. However they take forever to dry and if you’re going to be completely painting over the wipeout anyway… speed is more important here. Burnt umber dries overnight, especially when it’s been thinned a bit.

For me the underpainting effort is more about getting a rough linear placement and starting to separate the light and shadow masses of the form. It would have been nice to start to get some the warms and cools in but there’s time for that still. There’s still lots of drawing issues that will need to be worked out and honestly it’s not until you resolve those that you have the opportunity to succeed with color and temperature.

The other thing I like about wipeouts is that they just look good. Even when there’s drawing issues and you don’t quite nail the shadow mass… they still look pretty good. Sometimes it feels a bit like cheating. The reason wipeouts look so good is that the shadows are the same color as the background, so the subject feels like it exists in a rational world full of atmosphere. It’s easy to lose that in the later stages of your painting and have your shadows “fall out” of the painting (a problem I didn’t fully resolve in my last still life, unfortunately).

It’s nice to have an initial layer of paint that you can feel positive and optimistic about; even for all its flaws.


wipeout for portrait


wipeout for portrait

New Camera

I’ve been needing to get some new source photographs for my artwork. I wish I had the ability to just work from life, but my schedule doesn’t really permit that. I’ve been using the same DSLR that I bought back in NYC in 2005 for a while now and the technology has moved on significantly since then.

I’ve been doing a lot of research about the newer cameras and trying to optimize for what we could afford and still get something that would be worth investing in. I ended up buying a Nikon D5200. The D5300s just came out at the beginning of the year so it’s possible to get big discounts on the 5200s now.

In order to keep the cost down I bought just the body and I’m using the lens form my old D40. I actually had a nice 50mm 1.8 Nikon lens. Which would be perfect. Unfortunately they’ve change the technology of lenses a bit in the last decade. It used to be that the focusing motor for the lens was in the body of the camera. Now they’re in the lens itself. So the net result is that the old lens still works… but I have to focus manually.

That’ll be okay for a while and I can pick up a new lens in the next month or two. I did spring for a nice lighting kit though so I should be able to get some nice photographs now. Here’s a couple of shots I got tonight with the new camera and lighting kit.

Theo in a Chair.

Theo in a chair.

Freyja in a chair

Freyja in a chair

You’ll notice that they’re not quite in super-sharp focus. I’m still trying to get the hang of the manual focus. But they’re pretty close. These are significantly reduced from the 24 mega pixel originals.

So far I’m really happy with the new camera, can’t wait to get a new auto-focus lens.

Portrait of Theo Update

I worked on the portrait of Theo over the weekend.  Tried to refine the drawing without overworking it too much.  Here’s the image.

Theo Portrait (in progress)

Theo Portrait (in progress)

Sorry about the glare in the shadows, the paint it still wet enough to be shiny and the studio is dark enough that I can’t get any decent color in a photo without using my studio lamp.



Still Life Update

Worked on the lynx skull, the notebooks and the bird statue a bit. Posting mostly so I have a decent reference before I dive into the marble table-top. Need to stop avoiding it and just dive into it tonight.

Still Life (in progress)

Still Life (in progress)

Still need to correct the drawing at the base of the marble vase and the apples are looking a bit flat in the shadows now. Once those things are fixed I’ll be able to put down a couch of trans red oxide in the background and scumble the blues back in. Hopefully I can keep that nice broken effect in the paint. Once the marble and background are fixed I’ll be able to put in the larger cast shadows.

After that it’ll just be about seeing how far I can push each of the individual elements in the painting.

The online home of Jeremy, Julie, Nolan and Theo.