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

View Jeremy's Gallery Website - jeremycsparks.com

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New Painting and a Reset

This is a bit of a one-step-forward, two-steps-back post:

I’ve got two new paintings that I started recently, one is a bit larger and that’s still in the wipeout phase. But this second one I started with the first chromatic underpainting layer or imprimatura.

Tayrou (imprimatura)

Tayrou (imprimatura)

I’ve also been hard at work on the portrait of Sarah. Things were moving along and I was getting lost in the details… too lost really. Sometimes you can’t really see an error in your work. I knew there was something a bit off about this portrait. I suspected it had to do with the eyes but as I spent so much time working on the right eye I had become blind to it (no pun intended). I assumed that the left eye was the one that needed to be corrected and I used some of the typical techniques to try to see what needed to be corrected with it (e.g. covering the area in the painting for a bit while looking at the source material then trying to get fresh eyes on the work).

Finally I turned the image upside-down and looked at it in a mirror. It became obvious immediately that the right eye was way out of place. It’s odd that you can’t see the error at all when working hours on it, but once you discover it – that’s all you can see.

So I decided not to take half-measures and to get back to a blank canvas.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

That’s right, lead white over the offending area. I selected lead white for two main reasons. First it dries quickly so I can get back to it in a couple of days. Secondly it’s very opaque. A lot of people don’t realize this but oil paints are more or less translucent. What’s more is that they become more translucent over time. There are many paintings hanging in museums where you can see the ghost image of a correction showing through. Of course those weren’t visible when the artist first corrected them but over time the mistakes have been revealed by the natural aging process of the oil layers. Lead White should remain opaque enough that this won’t happen to this particular portrait. Would be terrible for her to end up with three eyes in the next century.

This is why you don’t worry about the details until you’ve nailed the larger forms. It’s a hierarchy, you have to get the proportions right first then the symmetry then you have the opportunity to get temperatures, colors and smaller details. If you don’t nail the proportions or symmetry though, won’t matter how beautiful the details are.

Update on Sarah

I haven’t posted an update in a little while. I’ve got two new painting in the wipeout stage that I need to take pictures of and I’ve had a couple of passes on this one now. Still working out some of the drawing issues but it’s starting to get there.

The yellow background is the real challenge for this painting. It’s so chromatic and beautiful that I’ve got to work against that foil and bring the subject up to that level of intensity. I think I’m up to that challenge. It’s just going to take some time at this point. Still al long way to go, particularly with the clothing and jewelry but it’s starting to take shape.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

Todd

Portrait of Todd

Portrait of Todd

Portrait of Todd
12″x16″ oil on panel
© 2015 Jeremy C. Sparks

Weekend Update

Getting closer on this portrait of Todd. Worked on the clothing and the hair some more. The darks in the hair really “sunk in” after they started to dry (hence the flat, matt appearance of the hair). I’ll have to try to bring them back out with some stand oil in the next pass or just wait for varnishing to really get the full effect. The clothing is close but looks a bit more orange than I had intended. I was going for some warm browns to compliment the blue background but I think I took it a bit too far. Might glaze that down and restate it a bit less warm on the next pass.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

Put in another pass on the face of Sarah as well. It’s looking much more volumetric now. Should be a good foundation for the upper layers. Excited to keep working on this one but still a very long way to go.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Friday was our Wedding Anniversary. I took the day off and we dropped the kids off with Grandma (thanks Rita!) and Julie and I went to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg just a little ways north-east of Denver.

Apparently they’re the world’s largest carnivore sanctuary with over 400 predators. Mostly lions, tigers and bears rescued from awful captivity situations and rehabilitated to roam on over 700 acres of land.

They have a really neat setup where the visitors walk through the animals habitats but on an elevated walkway. There are fences to contain the animals but the visitors are well above them looking down on the animals from a safe distance. It’s quite an experience.

We arrived just before 9AM, when the facility opens and it was a bit cooler than normal due to a dense fog. That really worked to our advantage though as the fog quickly burned off and it was close to 100 by noon. But early morning saw the animals still fairly active.

Here’s some of the highlights –

There were lots of tigers, most of them were in individual areas next to each other. The staff explained that, unlike lions, tigers aren’t naturally social animals so it takes a lot more time and effort to get them to the point where they can safely be release into a larger group setting. Indeed we watch a pair taking turns stalking each other and lunging at their shared wall anytime the other turned his back.

Their tigers were beautiful creatures and the sole white tiger was particularly striking.

White Tiger

White Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Here’s a selfie (of sorts), Julie and I looking at a wolf.

Shadows above a wolf

Shadows above a wolf

There were two separate lion prides on the grounds. We caught them both during a migration out of the sun into their man-made dens. Incredible creatures.

Lion

Lion

Lion

Lion

There were several packs of wolves of different types but all of them seemed to think the day was already too warm by 10AM. Makes you wish you could visit after dark and see them more active.

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf

The star of the day was a baby bear. They don’t normally have young animals but this was a four month old bear that they rescued from captivity and were trying to place with a surrogate mother. Apparently this was the first time he’d been out to explore his larger habitat. We spent at least an hour watching him running around and then taking a long bath in the pond. It was really fun watching him grow from tentatively pawing at the edges of the water to jumping around and splashing with reckless abandon.

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Weekend Update

Worked on a couple of paintings this weekend.

Here’s an early shot of the portrait of Sarah. Still a long way to go but I think you get a good sense of where this one is going to end up.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

And I spent a little more time working on this painting of Todd. Going to need another pass on the hair and the clothing is still just blocked in. Once those things are in place I should have just one more pass on the face to push the rendering as far as I can. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a decent photo once that’s all done. Really happy with how it’s coming along.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)