Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Kline Mom - #2 Work from Photo

July 15, 2008

I decided to work a bit more on the painting from a photo, before I drag Mom back in.

Sometimes you just need some "history" on the canvas. Its good to build up some paint. What I have done was to establish the lines by adding highlights to the skin. I know what you are thinking...if you add lines, meaning darker color. But, what most people miss is that lines in a face are similar to painting drapery folds. They are made up of highlights an half tones so in this case, my under painting acts as the darker value and all I did was to add highlights on top.

I am also working to establish the wrinkled skin (Mom's going to kill me) but it tells a story about the model, in this case it is necessary. And, since I am not being paid for this painting and I don't have to please anyone but me, I can make this an honest painting. I like that!

So in this next picture, you will see that I made the hand much bigger. It was bugging me and I had spent some time on it and the more I looked, it was too small---so--- destruction! Don't be afraid to destroy a part of your painting if it is not right no matter how much time you have spent on it. You will, I promise you, spend much more time regretting that you did not fix it.

This is a rough block in and her fingers are bent - so once it is finished, it will look accurate. It may also be slightly exaggerated since the hand is the closest to the viewer, I do want to force the perspective. My next step will be to work on the other hand and body, establish the chair, and then have Mom back for a live setting.

Until then.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Family Portraits and KLINE'S MOTHER

Yesterday, a friend brought my Mother by my studio for a visit and I said I would take her home. I wasn't ready to stop painting, so I set Mom in a chair and decided to paint her. I did a painting of her years ago and I love the piece entitled "Enigma" see below

Cheryl Kline, Enigma, Oil on Canvas, 1995

Anyway, I have been wanting to document her aging process and show the wrinkles, in all its earned glory the changed posture, her millions of thoughts inside that has accumulated over 82 years. How do I paint that?
So, here is the first 30 minute sitting:
I will update weekly or when ever I can get Mom to sit.

Here is a photo I took of the pose.

Okay, here is the first block in. My first challenge was that I can't get Mom to sit on a high chair due to health concerns so I had to sit while painting so I could be at a better level with her. As it is, I am still looking down a bit and I prefer to be at eye level.

Oh well, it must be this I grabbed a blank white canvas. It was all I had, normally I never paint on a white canvas. I had black on my palette, so I used it to draw an outline or cartoon like drawing. Also, she was wearing all I thought this would be good to use to quickly get some paint on and block in her clothes.

The background was very ochre-y so I used black, ochre and white to get rid of the white background.
Then I noticed that her skin is very pink (but not a warm pink) so I used alizarine and white with a dab of naples (my naples-Sennelier) to quickly block in her pink skin.

The next step was to add a bit of shadow to Mom's neck and side of her face so English red was the perfect choice. I like to use English red with Ultramarine Blue and white as a shadow color. This time though, I had some Egyptian Violet I was trying for another painting and I added that. I like the cool value it gave me. When you first start a portrait, its important to really notice what is unique about the person. What are their most distinguished features. Over the years, I have noticed that Mom has lost her upper lip and the lower one protrudes. Also, her eye lid droops a bit. I think that just getting those 2 things, helped to achieve a likeness right away. I would never be concerned with details but I am impatient like the rest of you and want instant gratification-- so if a few suggestions help me to see the likeness - I go for it. Its when we allow ourselves to be consumed with details and small brushes and too many color choices that you get yourself in trouble. And Frustrated. When I see students come in with a palette full of colors, it is just a matter of time before I hear them say "I'm having trouble mixing this color." My reply is usually "I would too with that palette"
Limit the number of colors you use and then use the exact same palette every time you paint. Think about it. In the printing process, there are only 4 colors. Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and black. Everything printed is made from a combination of those 4.

A typical Renaissance palette is White, Yellow Ochre (not too dark), French Vermillion, and Ivory Black. Many times I will stick to this palette and in my Portrait Class they will start theirs this way too. Hal Yaskulka's Figure Painting class also uses this palette.

So back to "Kline's Mother" I think this first sitting was successful and I will continue to post the progress. Mom is a very willing sitter which helps a lot!