Friday, November 24, 2017

Taking Time to Explore

I hope that I am always a student first, and an artist second. It is how I have approached my career as to this point and I plan to keep going with that mindset. I think the desire to improve drives me first and then comes my need to create. That might change at some point, and if it does I'll assume it will be for the better!

I have been doing some small pieces to practice painting heads and also some close-ups of eyes. I did the eyes for a show at the Springville Museum of Art in Utah where all of the works will sell for $100. It is a fun, annual tradition that the museum has established. I like the idea of doing some smaller works and hopefully getting them into the hands of those who want original art, but at this point might not otherwise be able to afford originals.

I have been aiming for a couple things with these studies. I have been exploring difference palettes for the flesh and pushing myself to keep them under 3 hours. In the case of the eye paintings, they are limited to an hour.

All of the following were painting from photographs, but I do feel that my weekly portrait painting efforts, from life, have gone a long way to informing the color choices I am making. About half way through these little portraits, I will put my reference away and work from memory and imagination. I am trying to push out of my comfort zone a little in my workflow and not rely on my reference too heavily. I am planning on doing this through the rest of the year and hope to create many more studies like this.
Fall Wind - 6"x6" oil on wood panel

Ellie- 6"x6" oil on wood panel

Eye 1 - 3"x4" oil on aluminum panel

Elle Eye - 3.5"x4" oil on aluminum panel

Sarah Eye - 3"x4.5" oil on aluminum panel
Lucy - 6"x6" oil on wood panel
I did this next piece on a field of gold leaf. I painted directly over the leafing, which can be challenging. You have to be delicate with your brushes to not distress the surface and you also need to be careful as you soften the strokes to not get a strange interference where the oil paint is thin over the leafing.
Sarah - 6"x6" oil and gold leaf on wood panel
Stephanie - 6"x6" oil on wood panel
Dan Dos Santos and I recorded a demo two days ago (you can find more info here) where we explore painting some flesh tones and analyze some flesh in a few Bouguereau's and also talk about improving your photographs. We did a about an hour of discussion and then I did a few little head studies where I explored different complexions. After the demo, I was really in the mood to paint so I did a couple more studies that afternoon.
Hannah - 5"x7" oil on aluminum panel
Megan - 5"x7" oil on aluminum panel


  1. Beautiful works and a real boon to own one of those for $100. The one of the eye where you included some of the freckles is outstanding. So alive, with a bit of critical emotion in it. Good stuff and thanks for sharing!

    1. Quick question: the one painted on gold leaf, do you think it would be possible to paint on gold leaf relying solely on transparent pigments and medium and have the gold show through and be the 'highlight / light tones'? Maybe not for a portrait but some other suitable subject. Thanks!

    2. Thank you Nico. For the gold leaf, you could absolutely use transparent pigments and paint over it. The sheen of the gold comes through. It is hard to create soft transitions though. Wherever there is paint, it changes the look of the leafing and it doesn't feather well. So it would probably be a matter of embracing the effect rather than aim for the same kind of soft edges you might want working oil on oil.

    3. Thank you, Howard! Guess it is a matter of trying it out and, as you say, not fighting it too much and embracing it rather. Great!


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