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

View Jeremy's Gallery Website - jeremycsparks.com

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In the Shade of the Old Oak Tree

In the Shade of the Old Oak

In the Shade of the Old Oak Tree (Nelson and Theo)

In the Shade of the Old Oak Tree (Nelson and Theo)
Oil on Panel, 18″ x 24″
© 2015 Jeremy C. Sparks

Todd – The Sum and the Parts

Got to sneak in a few extra hours of studio time yesterday. I’m almost done with the painting of Nelson and Theo, so it was awfully tempting to try to polish that one off but this painting of Todd was starting at me with so much potential that I really wanted to get the first real layer of paint on it.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

I’m pretty pleased with how it’s coming along, considering this is the first real layer of detail and it’s only going to get better from here. I’ve been doing about four – five passes on a finished portrait lately so to have this one looking this nice so early on is really encouraging.

I was going back through some of my old posts from my early days at the Academy and came across an bit of instruction that I received from Harvey Citron who said my work was specific enough. What he meant by that was that I was focusing on making each line of the contour beautiful but in doing so I was losing the uniqueness and individuality of each line that added up to a beautiful whole.

I was thinking about that advice a lot when I was working on this layer of paint. I fear that I had fallen into that trap in some of my earlier paintings. It seems like a tautology that if the constituent components are individually beautiful the sum of the work will be beautiful but you also have to be faithful to the original and remember that this particular image chose you because it has some intrinsic worth or merit on its own.

Long Weekend Update

Had a day off this Monday and that means an extra studio day. It was supposed to mean taking the family to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but mother nature decided that it needed to snow at the zoo on this particular day — so studio day it is then. Hopefully we’ll get to the zoo again soon though.

I still haven’t managed of finish off the other paintings sitting around my studio staring at me like so many puppies in the store window. But I really wanted to get started on this one. I’m not sure why, but these smaller format paintings really appeal to me. Going from 12″x16″ (192 square inches) to 18″x24″ (432 square inches) feels like much more than twice the work for some reason.

Here’s the first chromatic layer for this portrait of Todd; really just a thin wash or color. There’s still a very long way to go obviously but I’m really pleased with the start – this is going to be a great foundation to build the next paint layers upon.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

I also worked this weekend on the painting of Nelson and Theo. I actually worked on it a bit more after I took this photo but the light is poor for photography in the studio today so I’ll have to post another image later on.

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

Nelson and Theo (in progress)

Now I need to restate the clothing and maybe glaze the leathery bits a bit warmer. Once that’s done I think it’ll just be one more finishing pass to get everything to the level it needs to be. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish it off this coming weekend.

Odds and Ends

I’ve mentioned in passing that I have a couple more paintings started that I haven’t posted here yet. I’ve really wanted to finish off some of the ones that are close before starting more but the paintings of Kayti and Nelson are pretty involved and are taking much longer to finish off than I had hoped.

This is one that I’m really looking forward to. Just the linear placement and a quick wipe-out to serve as a foundation but I’m looking forward to diving into this one.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

I also have the next in my shushing series started. I’m just starting to block in the colors and separate the light masses. Hopefully it’ll move along quickly once I get into the next layers.

Shh (Linda, in progress)

Shh (Linda, in progress)

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)