Jeremy is a classically trained artist. Julie is a nutrition therapist.

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The Grind

I had some mild delusions of finishing this one off this weekend. But I left myself too much to do with the tattoos. There’s simply no getting around the fact that you just have to put in the hours to get them working right. It’s tedious work. And when Julie comes in she looks and says, “it looks better — what did you work on?”

I think that sums it up well. It’s clearly improving but the granularity is so fine that you can’t point to what exactly has contributed to the improvement.

Kayti (in progress)

Kayti (in progress)

At this point it’s really just about putting in the hours and pushing the rendering as far as I can. Whenever I begin to think about how much work I’m putting in for such incremental improvements, two of my mentors start to whisper in my ear.

I think of Alyssa Monks reminding us that, “you’re painting flesh; not the illusion of flesh”.

And also Vincent Desiderio who said, “you must be driven by the ravishment of the illusion”.

While superficially those quotes look like they are saying quite different things, I think they both really mean the same… good enough is not nearly good enough.

Weekend Update

Got a couple of good painting days in this weekend.

Saturday was spent working on the face and torso for Kayti. Starting to get it dialed in. It’s looking less like paint and more like flesh now. Might need one more good pass on the face just to see how far I can push it, also going to need another pass on the arm, tattoo details and the hand. Once those are finished it should be one last pass to unify everything and make final adjustments.

Kayti (detail, in progress)

Kayti (detail, in progress)

Sunday was spent mostly on the faces for this one. I did a quick refinement on the baby’s face and spent most of the time getting the grandfather’s likeness. I feel like I really turned another corner with that last portrait of Paul and I’m really starting to push the painting much further now which is very encouraging. I still need to resolve the background, which I’m hoping to work on this week and everything else is going to need at least one more pass but it’s starting to come together.

Nelson and Theo (detail, in progress)

Nelson and Theo (detail, in progress)

Weekend Update

I spent most of Saturday recovering from getting up so early to watch the Lunar Eclipse but Sunday was back to it.

The bulk of the work was spent on Nelson’s face, this is probably the penultimate pass. I still need to go in with at least one more pass on Theo’s face as well but as he’s mostly in shadow that shouldn’t take quite as long finish that one off. There’s still more work to be done on just about everything still but continuing to make progress.

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

2015 Lunar Eclipse

Just in case you didn’t make it out at 4:30 this morning in the 20 degree weather to watch the eclipse…

Here’s an earlier shot of the full moon at approximately 10PM last night. I wanted to get out and start to learn how I would need to setup the camera to be able to get the shots that I wanted.

Full Moon before the eclipse

Full Moon before the eclipse

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, it takes a couple of hours for the shadow of the Earth to move across the face of the Moon. During that time I had plenty of time to learn about what settings were necessary and to give me ample opportunity to try to find the sweet spot of shutter speed, ISO and captured light. The previous shot of the full moon was actually a fairly quick exposure. However once the shadow started to move across the face of the moon I realized that I would have to pick an exposure that favored either the details in the light side or the details in the shadow side. If you picked the light side the dark side was simply black and if you pick the shadow side, the light on the bright side was completely blown out.

This was a longer 1.6 second exposure that’s obviously favoring the details in the shadows on the moon. To the naked eye it was much easier to see the details in the light side but in the photograph they’re completely blown out. Conversely I could see the redish hue on the shadow side but with the naked eye it was almost impossible to pick out the details captured in this photo.

2015 Eclipse over Colorado Springs

2015 Eclipse over Colorado Springs

This shot is half of the reason I made sure to get up in the small hours and freezing cold. I knew that the moon was going to be setting to the west by south-west relative to Colorado Springs. I wasn’t sure exactly where along the Front Range it was going to set in but I was hopefully that from my vantage point it would be somewhere near Pikes Peak. Fortunately for me that’s exactly what happened.

The Moon actually set just before dawn broke, which was also the peak moment of the eclipse for my location which made this possible. As the inky blackness of night lightened to prussian blues hues I was able to make out more of the Front Range. I had been able to see the light at the top of Pikes Peak even in the blackness so I knew my patience would eventually be rewarded but it was worth the hours of shuffling in the bitter cold for this.

This is a very long 8 second exposure that I used to get more detail from the snow capped peak. With my old aluminum tripod this was about as long as I could push an exposure and have any hope of getting something that wasn’t too blurry. I did try pushing the ISO down and pushing the exposure times up as high as 16 seconds but that was beyond the capabilities of my equipment to capture a sharp image. Also between the motion of the Moon and the rotation of the Earth I was also starting to get trails and ghost imaging with exposures that long.

Eclipse over Pikes Peak

Eclipse over Pikes Peak, April 4th, 2015

And another shot where you can see more of the surrounding area including Garden of the Gods. A little bit later on and with a 3 second exposure. And unless I’m quite mistaken that’s Venus just visible in the upper left corner of the image. So you can’t say you’re not getting your money’s worth in this image.

2015 Eclipse, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods

2015 Eclipse, Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods

Here’s is the view of the lunar eclipse as it’s just about to sneak behind the mountains and out of view. This was around 6:15AM and still about 30 minutes before the true sunrise.

2015 Eclipse setting behind Pikes Peak

2015 Eclipse setting behind Pikes Peak

The moon was completely gone from view within the next 10 mintues. I was tempted to stick around that extra half hour to catch those magical golden rays of first light on the peak as well but honestly I was starting to lose feeling in my toes by this point and after such an amazing celestial exhibition – sunrises seem like such an everyday event.

More Indirect Painting

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve got four paintings in progress at the moment. This is the one that I’ve been working on the longest, which is not necessarily to say that it’s the closest one to being finished. I knew going into it that this was going to be an endeavor; that’s half the reason that I asked Kayti to sit for me. There’s still a long way to go.

You may not be able to see a lot of change since the last update but a good portion of the time was spend determining how best to shift the background. I knew that I wanted it darker but that I also wanted to keep the reddish hue. When I started out it seemed obvious that I’d just glaze an alizarine crimson over the cadmium red that was serving as the base color. Thankfully I decided to try that with a small study first to ensure that it was going to end up the way that I wanted. Needless to say, it did not… but if I ever decide to do a still life featuring candied apples I’ll know how to proceed.

I was so positive that the alizarine was going to work that I hadn’t really considered any alternatives. So at this point I decided to punt. I painted a bunch of small squares on a page using the cadmium red and then when those were dry I glazed all different types of transparent colors over them to see what was going to work best for what I wanted. It was a good exercise and the clear winner was a transparent mauve color which yields a nice wine-red color when glazed over the cadmium red.

Heres’ the before…. (a bit blown out, sorry about that)

Kayti (in progress)

Kayti (in progress)

And the after… (much better photo)

Kayti (in progress)

Kayti (in progress)

Now I just need to keep plugging away. Just about everything is going to need at least one more pass to get things really dialed-in the way that I would like.

Weekend Update

I haven’t been posting as regularly lately but that doesn’t mean that I have been idle. I’ve got four paintings going at the moment, two of which I haven’t yet posted online; one is the next in the series of shushing paintings and I’ve also started another still life.

I’m still working away on this one as well though.

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

I’m playing more with the textured backgrounds that I’ve been enjoying lately… there’s still a long way to go with this one but the major elements are there – colors of some of the elements will still shift a bit and I have a lot more work to do with the faces but it’s slowly getting there.

Paul

Portrait of Paul

Portrait of Paul

Portrait of Paul
Oil on Panel
12″ x 16″
© 2015 Jeremy C. Sparks