Weekend Update

I love having a long weekend. Usually it means that I get an extra painting day. Here’s an update on the paintings I was working on this weekend.

This was the bulk of the day on Monday. The composition really requires this portion of the painting to feel very solid and have a believable weight so I wanted to get it working early on. There’s still a very long way to go and I haven’t even really begun the portraits but I’m quite happy with the progress so far.

Nelson and Theo (detail, in progress)
Nelson and Theo (detail, in progress)

Saturday I spent most of the day on the next pass of the portrait for this work. It’s going to need maybe one more good pass to finish it off but I’m starting to get it dialed in. On Sunday I scumbled a nice blue texture over the background. It probably needs some more lighter tones in the background as well so it doesn’t feel so monochromatic but I’m really loving the scumbled background effect. Hoping to be able to finish this one off this month. The clothing needs the most attention at this point.

Shh (Shad, detail, in progress)
Shh (Shad, detail, in progress)

Works in Progress

Here’s some of the paintings that I’m currently working on.

First up is another in the shushing series that I’m hoping to continue this year. It’s the largest painting that I’ve done in a long while at 24″x36″. The photograph is slightly cropped here but it’s pretty close. Still a long way to go with this one but it’s starting to take shape.

Shh (Shad, in progress)
Shh (Shad, in progress)

Next is the portrait of Kayti. The background is going to get much darker once I’ve got the contours dialed-in (mostly in the hair and torso at this point). Still a good way to go on this one as well but it’s also starting to shape up as well. The image is slightly cropped as the painting actually square.

Kayti (in progress)
Kayti (in progress)

Finally here’s a new painting that I’ve just started to block in. Hopefully I can hit on the sentiment in the image without falling into sentimentality. It was just a chance image I captured as a candid during a zoo visit last year and it really stuck with me so I’m hoping to do the image justice.

Nelson and Theo (in progress)
Nelson and Theo (in progress)

Shh (Josh) – Update

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)
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)
Shh (Josh – in progress)

Another New Painting

I’ve got another painting going as well. This one is a 24″ square composition of Kayti and her amazing tattoos.

Here’s the initial wipeout. I think the support didn’t get enough drying time before I started in on this layer so some of the paint areas didn’t wipeout as cleanly as I would have liked. That said, I’m starting to trust myself more and understand that I just need a few general markers to start from.
Kayti (wipeout)

Here it is starting to block in the paint areas. I think I’ve got a good tone for the pigmented skin but really this is going to be a lot of work and I haven’t even started on the actual portrait yet.
Kayti (in progress)

Glazing and Scumbling

So I knew that I wanted to have sort of a light purple background on this second portrait of Tabby. Purples (and greens for that matter) are difficult colors in that it’s really difficult to get the right hue and saturation within those hue families. Plus they tend to be more transparent pigments so you’ve got to get the body from somewhere else.

I’ve also been wanting to experiment more with scumbling and glazing; much of my work is very direct. Working comfortably with the indirect methods of painting is something I’d like to have in my toolbox as a painter.

Here’s the images with some text to give you a sense of what’s going on technically with the paint…

Here I’ve selected a purple that I want to use (Manganese Violet-Blue from Old Holland). It’s a great hue but as you can see the paint is quite transparent. The warms coming through are from the underpainting. I generally like that tension of areas that are opaque next to areas where the paint is more transparent. It’s a nice juxtaposition and tension. I see it as sort of a microcosm of how I like to have solid, volumetric, representational subject against a abstracted, emotional background.

Portrait of Tabby (in progress - hue selection)
Portrait of Tabby (in progress – hue selection)

So the hue is nice… but it’s a bit dark and a bit on the flat side. Since I like the hue and the pigment was so transparent I thought it might be a good candidate to play with indirect methods. I decided to mix out a neutral yellow gradient and scumble that over my background. Here’s the result of that…

Portrait of Tabby (in progress - first scumble)
Portrait of Tabby (in progress – first scumble)

The yellow of course was selected because it’s a complimentary color to the purple. Plus, yellow ochre is one of my favorite colors and it is quite opaque. I neutralized and lightened it with unbleached titanium. You have to be careful with titanium paints… titanium pigment is so invasive and tends to take over. I find that the unbleached version tends to work and play well with other colors a little better and it’s not quite as frigid as the pure white titanium.

At any rate, I didn’t quite push the gradient enough on this layer. In fact, if you don’t look closely, you might miss it. But I was still curious to see the effect that was going to yield with another glaze over the top of the Violet. Here’s the result…

Portrait of Tabby (in progress - second glaze)
Portrait of Tabby (in progress – second glaze)

As you can see, this second glaze of transparent purple has yielded a background which nominally is still purple but has so much more dynamism and depth. I still feel like I didn’t get enough of a gradient across the surface of the background so I’m going to repeat the process and try to push the light and dark range a bit more in the next scumble layer.

I do want to have the background pretty well resolved before I put the next layer of paint in the fleshy areas though. The color in the background really affects how the colors in the flesh reads. The yellows in the cheek here look so much more yellow now that the background is purple than they did when I painted them against a neutral background. This is in fact one of the reason that I picked yellow for the background on the portrait of Shad. There’s a lot of blonde in his beard and I didn’t want it to seem overwhelming since his hair color doesn’t read as blonde as a whole. Against a yellow background though I can push those yellows in the hair and skin and it doesn’t read as out-of-place against the umbers and warm ochres.