Thursday, March 28, 2013

Portrait Demo at Weiler House Fine Art Gallery

Last Saturday I was thrilled to present a live portrait demonstration at my local art gallery in Fort Worth, TX. I started painting around 5:00 p.m., and visitors could come and go as they pleased, or stay and watch the whole thing. I had an absolute BLAST! I always wondered how my piano-playing twin sister came to be such a performer who loves the spotlight, when I didn't enjoy performing at all. I'd start a recital piece and mess up the very beginning, then involuntarily say, "Oops!" Well, it turns out that I am a performer after all... I just needed a different kind of spotlight! :-) I've discovered that I love painting for an audience. I somehow managed to paint not one, but TWO portraits during the 4 1/2 hours that I demonstrated at the gallery, and I enjoyed every second of it.

The event was part of Fort Worth's monthly Gallery Walk. Since the demo was so well received, I plan on making this a regular thing. I'll be continuing to post on my Facebook page and monthly newsletter, to ensure that you stay updated as to when my next demo will be.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures from the evening.

My model was Joan Ryan, the wife of gallery owner Bill Ryan. I've been wanting to paint Joan since I met her - she has lovely cool skin tones and such a sweet expression. It was an honor to paint her!

There were actually two artists in the room... :-)

Above: The finished portrait of Joan. 16x12" - oil on Raymar linen panel.

Above: I started my second portrait quite differently from the first, since Audette, my beautiful volunteer, had much warmer skin tones and colors in her clothes than Joan did. Instead of using the white canvas, I toned with a wash of transparent oxide red, then moved in to the block-in.

Above: you can see all the finger prints on the canvas where I used my pinky to steady my hand. :-)

Above: The finished portrait of Audette. 14x11", oil on linen.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Clayton J. Beck, III Workshop Recap

I wish I had more time to write about this, but for now I'll have to give a quick recap.

This month I had the great privilege of attending my second Clayton J. Beck, III workshop. This time it was here in Dallas at the Society of Figurative Arts, and I helped organize it, hire the models, even pick Clayton up from the airport. :-) He probably got tired of me after a while, but I sure enjoyed the one-on-one time, picking his brain on all things art-related. :-)

Below are some pictures from the workshop, and my notes with some of the main points from his discourse that I found particularly helpful.

- Every brush stroke you lay down is a reflection of your thought process.
- Making the highlight on the upper eyelid too light will cause the model to look sleepy (ha!)
- Don't add a background to a figure - add the figure to the background.
- Don't constantly try to get the model back into the first sitting's pose, when they were in a different mindset.
- Everything is just as important as everything else.
- Establish from the beginning something that is absolutely correct, and use that as your "key" or "anchor."
- Don't have anything in your line of sight that disturbs the harmony.
- Leave some white on the canvas. If you take it all out, you'll never be able to put it back. Resist the urge to "fill in all the holes".
- Each time you look up at the model, gather specific information.
- A block-in = enough information to move to final painting. The block-in should be a success. Don't degrade it or take away the excitement. Adorn it.
- Ask yourself the right questions, in the right order.
Here's a big one: Don't get bored with your own paintings. Your work should show that you love painting. Love every square inch of your canvas. Each part of it should be a gift to the viewer.

Of course, probably very little of this makes sense to you unless you attend Clayton's workshop and watch him paint. It's truly amazing - and he is a fantastic teacher!

I didn't get photos of every demo, but here are pictures from his first demonstration. For a classical realist, this method probably looks like chaos, but Clayton put every brush stroke down with complete intention and clarity of thought. It was fascinating to watch.

The first three days of the workshop were portrait-focused. We had a different model every day, and attempted to complete two or more paintings each day, with a specific goal for each piece (OTHER than "making a pretty picture").

Here are my efforts from these three days - all different, for sure! I didn't get two paintings in every day, since I was the class monitor, AND I was always the last to get a spot in front of the model. That made it more fun for me, since I had to try and make the absolute most of whatever perspective I was given.

 Above: My goal was to turn the form using color temperature, since the light was so flat from my angle. Below: My goal was to keep the focal point in the light, even though the face was 3/4 in the shadow.

Above: My goal was to have very soft edges, with only 2-3 relatively harder edges based on the contrast in those areas.
Below: My goal was to stay high key and not ever get to "black" in the value scale. That took a great deal of self-control, since I love drama in my paintings!

The last two days of the workshop consisted of figure painting. Below is the setup on the model stand, and pictures of Clayton's first figure demo, which turned out beautifully.

Below: Clayton's second figure demo, completed in perhaps no more than 45 minutes.

 Below: my efforts from the two days of figure painting. Having an absolute blast. When I set up in front of the model for this first painting, the pose and dramatic lighting took my breath away.

I would like to give a big thanks to Michael Mentler for hosting such a great workshop, and allowing me to participate. And of course, thank you to Clayton for coming all the way down from Chicago and doing such an excellent job teaching and demonstrating. :-)


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Precious Family Time

After two full weeks of GO GO GO, I am finally home, at my computer and in my sweats, enjoying a moment to take a breath. It's all been good stuff, but I'm the kind of person that needs to recharge after a period of craziness by spending time alone. So here I am, reflecting on everything that's happened in the last couple of weeks.

On Sunday, my mom, younger sister, and youngest brother, flew down from Wisconsin and spent five days here in Texas visiting Emily and me (they just flew back this morning). It was wonderful to see them, and they enjoyed replacing snow and cold with 60 and 70-degree temperatures, blossoming trees, and blooming hyacinths. Part of my craziness from the last two weeks was that I wanted to finish a portrait of my brother Joseph, who I knew was coming to visit. While everyone in my family is talented in some way or another, Joseph has taken to the guitar, and has been teaching himself for several years now. He spends every afternoon in his room for hours, listening to music and playing along. I wanted to capture that in this painting, "Being Sixteen."

"Being Sixteen" - 42x30" - oil on linen (details below)

Actually, Joseph turned seventeen the day he and my mom and sister arrived. So Emily and I threw him a little birthday party, which included a guitar-shaped cake. :-)

Later in the week, we enjoyed a visit to Dallas Blooms at the Dallas Arboretum. Thousands of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths lit up our senses as we strolled the perfectly curated grounds, and I couldn't help but feel awed by God's perfect creation. There is no painted pigment than can ever come close to the intensity of color one sees in sunlit transparent flower petals!

Below: my mom, sister Cara, sister Emily, and me, enjoying the weather and blooms at the Dallas Arboretum. We saw several plein air painters while we there and I was tempted to join them... :-)

My week with family actually overlapped with a pretty major art workshop that took place here in Dallas. I was the class monitor and assistant at this workshop, which was hosted by Michael Mentler at the Society of Figurative Arts. Our visiting instructor was Clayton J. Beck, III, someone I've studied with before and highly respect. I will write about this workshop in my next blog post, so stay tuned!

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