Friday, September 30, 2011

Better Color.

For the last couple of days I've been trying to make this guy look a little more human.  More color, always more color.  Even though I'm painting this looking in a mirror, I've been fooled or something when it comes to the light-struck areas.  Painting them too white may be a bad habit learned by working from photos.  I read somewhere that cameras tend to make darks too dark and lights too light.  Most of my work reflects this affliction and I'm trying to delete it from my memory--starting today.

Looking at earlier posts of this painting nearly makes me sick to my stomach.  Yesterday's, makes me look like I'm made out of wood!  The pose, though incredibly static and boring, seemed okay for a first "from life" work, but now...well...let's just say those rumors about me being a zombie have gained a lot of credibility lately.

On the plus side, I'm working on other paintings, also from life, which will be posted very soon and I think you'll see a better use of color in them...I hope.  One of them is a challenge by fellow blogger, Jeanette Jobson, illustratedlife.blogspot.com.  She "Double-Dog" dared me to do a self-portrait by just "slopping on paint", without thinking about it.  What could I do but accept her challenge.  I told her there would be such a work posted by October 3rd, of this year.  I warned her to be prepared for a horrible sight on that day, and I now warn you.  You must steel yourselves before visiting this blog on the appointed day.  Don't let a casual click of your mouse ruin your dinner.  Maybe I should post it on Halloween!  You've all been most kind during this struggle and I'm very grateful for your stopping by.  It's one of the reasons I love being a part of the blogging community.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Progress On The SP From Life...Progress?...Really?

My latest nemesis, a self-portrait from life, has been subjected to several changes since last we spoke.  I changed the lighting from top, to side, to Rembrandt and have been working with a different palette, consisting of burnt umber, burnt Sienna, ultramarine blue and white.

Whew!  A few more sessions and it'll be getting close to being overworked.  Okay, that's a joke.  It's been tough to write it off as a good lesson and break out another canvas.  One of my many bad habits.  So, I've tried to eliminate the chalky white highlights, find some interesting combinations of grays which look somewhat like flesh and generally work on softening and losing some edges.  As I departed the studio this evening, I felt reasonably good about the effort, only to have the camera do it's evil to it.

I'm posting two images and they seem to bring out the worst in the work, but you all know all about that, so I won't whine too much.  If any of this post makes sense, it's pure luck.  That's because the Portland Opera is throwing a season opening gala tonight which includes a huge outdoor screen hanging from the front of the theater.  They'll be showing what's going on inside to those seated all around and on the drained Keller Fountain, for free.

It's a wonderful opportunity for those who cannot afford the price of a ticket to enjoy a selection of all-time favorite arias on tap for tonight.  After the live show, they'll be showing the famous Marx Brothers film, "A Night at the Opera".  We can hear the "warm up" entertainment perfectly from our home as I write this.  Lots of people are already filling the area and between the band, the food carts and wine and beer garden, it's quite a show.  They even have football mascot-type Marx Brothers characters wandering about.

So, we're looking forward to some great Opera favorites with dinner tonight.  We're very lucky to live here!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Latest

I arrived at the studio early today...well...early for me.  It was about half-past ten and I was eager to get to work with the self-portrait.  I mentioned I'd tell you when I was pleased with it and today is that day.  I did change the shirt to the gray one I was wearing the day I began this painting.  I'll need another day to completely eliminate the lime-yellow.  Don't ask me why I did it, 'cause I don't really know.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Self-Portrait From Life, In a New Light

After arriving at the studio today and contemplating the self-portrait while waiting for the sweating to subside, I decided my off-balance top lighting needed to be changed.  Top-lighting can be very dramatic if well done, but I was not directly under the overhead fixture and that resulted in a curious, off-balance look--to me anyway.

The day was sunny, so I had great north light to make this rather drastic change.  All things considered, I'm not displeased with today's effort and much prefer this side lighting.  As you might imagine, quite a lot of paint is on this canvas and I should probably let it dry for a few days before all of my work only results in mud.  Fat chance that will happen!  Or maybe I will leave it alone and take Jeanette Jobson's advice and try a thirty-minute portrait.  I'll let you know what happens.

One thing for sure...it still doesn't look like a photograph, perhaps less so now, more than ever.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Man in the Mirror.

Shortly after shipping the Hodes portraits, I decided it was time to begin my promised change and start painting from life.  Finding an interesting and reliable person to pose was a bust, so I returned to the self-portrait.  At least I knew I'd show up!

I've been at it now for two or three weeks and though it's not finished, it's time to get it out there.  The usual caveats are applicable, including, but not limited to:  it's not finished, many areas need attention for both value and color and more than a few edges need to be softened or lost.  Other than that, it's perfect!

Michele helped me choose three images for your viewing entertainment.  All were taken today at the same time.  I used Picasa II photo software to get them to look as close as possible to the real painting, but couldn't decide on "the one".

Painting from life has proven to be a far greater challenge than simply up-scaling a photo and I've learned a lot with no end in sight.  After two weeks of continuous frustration, I switched to the Zorn palette to simplify the task--at least a little.  Next, I searched Ebay in hopes of finding a magic mirror that eliminates wrinkles, hair loss and eye baggage.  No luck with that so far, but I've heard rumors that Caio Fernandez has one at his Mein Welt lair and maybe he'll share.

Another big change with the "from life" work has been a concerted attempt to reduce the blending.  I've tried and tried to put a stroke down and leave it alone and that ain't easy for me.  A couple of friends have seen this painting and I told them my goal was to never again have them (or anyone) say it "looks just like the photo."  It will take a whole lot more time and canvas to get where I want to be, but I'm enjoying the journey so far and looking forward to continuing.  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Namfon Hodes

 Namfon Hodes, 2011, oil on canvas, 16 x 20-inches.
 Here's the photo of Namfon I based the portrait on.

Jeremy Hodes just sent me this photo of his lovely wife, Namfon with her portrait.  I'm most grateful for the two of them doing this.  I wanted everyone to see how she REALLY looks.

Jeremy is notoriously shy and never shows us his face on his blog.  When I saw the photo of him taking a photo of he and Fon reflected in a mirrored ceiling in an airport, it inspired what I thought would be a simple and fun little "extra".

As usual, I became obsessed with getting the details of his camera and hands correct, and the loose, fun painting became...well...something of a Herculean task may be slightly over-stating it, but I really must learn to simplify and relax.

 Dr. Jeremy Hodes, 2011, oil on canvas, 20 x 16-inches.
 And here's the image of Fon and Jeremy at the airport I used for his portrait. 

Jeremy's email was just the thing to break me out of the blue funk I've been in lately.  I don't exactly know why, but it seems to have been brought on by all the bad stuff going on all over the planet.  The global financial crisis, our own financial and political woes, 9-11 memories, Wildfires--including the Texas home of Carol Marine burning to the ground, the flooding in the Northeast...I could go on, but who needs to be reminded of more than this?!

I'd be lying if I told you this hasn't affected my work.  The large painting I've been trying to get ready for the Fall Show at the Portland Art Museum Rental/Sales Gallery had morphed so many times I should price it by the pound!  Tomorrow is the last day we may submit jpeg images to the jury and I have no idea if I'll make the deadline.  A self-portrait I've been working on, by actually looking in a mirror instead of using a photo is wobbling along with no end in sight.  Finally, the lack of any posts for such a long time.  I have nothing whatsoever to complain about, it's just felt like a black cloud hovering over everything I see.  If I could put this feeling on canvas...but there's not enough black paint in my studio, so you're all safe from seeing a depressingly dark painting.

Tomorrow's another day and we've all got to carry on with life.  I hope your day is a good one.