I was hoping that the background would finally be dry enough to glaze over a more final color on the portrait of Paul and Mandie. Unfortunately there are a couple of places where the paint was a bit thicker, and now two-weeks on, are still tacky to the touch.
I didn’t really want to move on to more final layers of paint until the background hue and value were set. Humans are really good with objective values but hues are somewhat more subjective and will absolutely change their character depending on the predominate colors around them. I’m sure you’ve experienced the classic case where you put a neutral grey next to a warm color and the grey takes on a cool character. Then you take the same grey and put it next to a very cold color and it feels quite warm. That’s the issue that I wanted to avoid by having the background more or less set before working on the (more important) fleshy bits.
But, as someone very wise once said, “you can’t always get what you want.” What I needed though was a full day of painting and most of those are only available to me on weekends. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and hope for the best. Now to see if that decision will come back to haunt me.
Paul (detail, in progress)
That said, I’m really happy with the modeling on this one so far.
Oil on Panel
©2014 Jeremy C. Sparks
This is the first of, what I hope will be, a series of more conceptual paintings involving people in the act of shushing.
This is a dual-portrait I’ve been working on. I was hoping that the background would be dry enough to work on this past weekend but it’s still wet to the touch. Hopefully it’ll be dry enough to work on this week or by the weekend at the very latest.
Paul and Mandie (in progress)
The background is interesting, well interesting to me as an artist – I started off with a really nice Prussian Blue background that was only lightened slightly with a white. It was a beautiful deep blue but way too dark in value for the subject. I deliberated for a while about lightening it, but finally I just realized I was trying to rationalize keeping the dark background, simply because it was such a pretty hue (you can still see bits of it creeping through the orange).
I decided to bite the bullet and get it right, even if the intermediate stage was somewhat less beautiful. That’s what you’re seeing here. I’m going to be glazing a transparent blue back over the orange. The inverted complimentary colors should give a nice effect once the blue is back over the orange.
Technically I also decided to try my hand at using a painting knife to apply the background. The Prussian Blue was so pretty I didn’t want to lose it completely so I thought I really very rough scumble over the top might give a nice effect… which is the resulting image. It’s a really neat effect and half the reason I’m posting this here now is to document that technique. I’m sure I’ll be using it again soon.
The red background underpainting was finally dry enough to work on this portrait of Kayti again.
Kayti (in progress)
Still a really long way to go with this one but I think you can get a sense of the tattoos.
A formal training is a funny thing. The artists at the New York Academy are so incredibly talented that they can’t help but impart a commensurate level of influence. A lot of the time spent after graduating is trying to get their voices out of your head and come to grips with what is important, for yourself, as an artist.
It’s an important process as you don’t want to be just a disciple of some other, more important, artist. That said, there are a couple of voices that I try hard to hold on to. Vincent Desiderio, I hope, will never leave me. I think of him the most.
But in working on this painting last night I started to feel a profound sense of pride in the work I was doing. I felt like I had turned a bit of a corner and making work that I could really be proud of. It was at that moment when Martha Erlebacher came into my head to humble and chasten me. Martha used to say, “no matter how amazing your work, never forget that all you are doing is pushing dirt and oil around on canvas.”
Here’s a detail of my dirt and oil pushed around on a composite aluminum support.
Shh – Josh (detail, in progress)
Haven’t posted an update on the blog in a few days. It’s not that I’ve been idle – quite the contrary I have been painting more days than not. I didn’t paint on Saturday however, but that was only because I was up at the Denver Art Museum with Julie to see the excellent Daniel Sprick exhibition.
I’ve also been hard at work on another new painting that I’m not quite ready to share online yet. But yesterday I returned to the Shushing portrait of Josh. I had to wait a while to work on this one again, not only because of other projects, but because the cadmium paints in the background take a really long time to set. It took a full week to be dry to the touch.
Shh – (Josh, in progress)
I’m still having trouble getting decent photographs of these works in progress so, sorry for the glare.
Spent a good chunk of time in the studio this weekend. Got a couple of good session in on the the painting of Josh. Here’s a couple of images (sorry about the glare).
This is an intermediate pass on the fleshy parts of the painting. Should be a good base for really going for the chroma and modeling on the the final layers.
Shh (Josh – in progress)
Here, I wanted to make a decision on the background color and I also wanted to give myself a problem to work out as I resolve the painting. I don’t normally reach for the high-chroma paint tubes (read cadmiums). But in this case I wanted a chromatic orange in the background. The challenge now will be to bring enough color into the subject that it’s not overwhelmed by the background. I’m curious to see if I’ll be able to pull that off with the earth tones that I normally work with or if I’ll have to expand the palette into more of those high-chroma pigments.
Shh (Josh – in progress)