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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dalia Flower Painting in Acrylic - wip #9

Well, apparently reorganizing your studio and cleaning up is a good idea for more reasons than just being able to get from the door to the easel. Actually my studio is generally pretty clean, just my mind gets cluttered and I forget where I have put everything and spend way too much time looking for things rather than painting.  Hence the reorg, anyway..look what I found hidden away with all of  my old paintings!  I had totally forgotten about this one, perhaps intentionally?

I have spent many, many hours on this one and spent the day working on it to get it up to this point, still many more hours to go.  I started this painting when I was new to acrylics and had this idea of building up transparent glazes as I do with my watercolor.  After many layers however I realized that with acrylics the transparent colors never build up enough to hide the weave of the canvas or my graphite pencil lines, argh.  So I had to add some opaques and start basically from scratch and build up the layers again. Oh well, this it is called the learning process right? As long as I am always having fun :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Student Drawing Critique - Realistic Portrait Drawing Workshop

This is a drawing from a student from my past workshop.  I think she has done a fantastic job, although she says she has had enough of him ;)

I will just point out a few areas that I think she could refine to improve this portrait.  Sometimes putting a piece away for a bit as well and coming back will help you see issues that you were too close to see when you are working on a piece as often it is little discrepancies that throw off the likeness and are trickier to pin point.

The proportions are very well done.  I initially had thought the nostril and bridge on the right side of his nose was quite off but after measuring I realized the placement is actually very close and is just slightly off.  The angle does need to be adjusted slightly, as indicated by the green lines on the Proportions image below.  It is slight but makes a huge difference in capturing a likeness.


The nostril is very light which draws the viewers eye instantly.As the shading is not progressively moving from dark to light as well, the shape is flattened rather than curved.  Think of it  like a sphere and how it would be shaded.  The darkest value would be on the underside of the nostril would be lightest in the middle, slowly getting darker where the form turns and attaches to the face.

Similar adjustments can be made to his mouth.  His upper lip curves a touch more on his upper right lip and has a more concave curve on the left side.  The cupids bow (area directly in the middle of his lips) has a much more pronounced  curve the full width of the philtrum (area the lips & nose).  In the drawing, the philtrum is shown as more of a dark line rather than a shape.  By further refining the curvature of the shape, more depth will be created and a better likeness achieved.  If you look at the values image you can see that most of the drawing is around a level 4 (using a 20 value scale from light to dark)  You could also use a scale from 1-10 or something similar.  By increasing the range of values, you will be able to create much more believable form.

The pupils, corners of the eyes, upper edges of the nostrils, lip line and the crease of the eye lid should all be between a value 17-20 to really create form and shape.  The values should be subtle and drawn as shapes rather than lines so that they read as shapes rather than cut out sections.  Blending between the values is easiest on a smooth paper such as bristol board.

My favorite drawing surfaces are smooth or medium bristol board and arches hot pressed watercolor paper. The watercolor paper provides more tooth for the graphite and charcoal to settle into so it is great for artwork where more texture is required. The bristol board is great especially when starting out as it can take alot of abuse from erasing and enables easier blending to achieve smooth values.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Student Critique of Boy's Portrait

This is a portrait that a fellow artist is working which I offered to share some tips on.  I cropped out just one subject in the portrait as she is drawing four boys, this is the oldest of the bunch.

The artist, Shae's comments are below:
"In this portrait I used Wolff carbon pencils mainly 6b but some 4 and 2b. The paper is 160 gsm made for pencil and charcoal work (I bought several brands at once..not sure which this is: Fabriano Tiziano, Strathmore, or Canson Mi-Tientes). I used blending stumps, kneaded eraser, regular eraser, paper towels. also a white pencil which I rarely use but tried this time. I don't like how shiny graphite can be so I avoided it this time though most of the time I use a combo. I don't like how this one is turning out. It doesn't look smooth."
I think the portraits are looking very nice so far and Shae has a very good eye for proportions.  I will try to address her main concerns above.

It is very possible to get rich darks using just graphite pencil, the trick is in the pressure used.  If you press too hard, the graphite becomes shiny as you are embedding the graphite into the paper and compressing it.  This also results in the artist no longer being able to build up the values darker as the paper has been flattened which prevents further graphite being able to settle into the paper.  If the graphite is already shiny in your drawing, try using a tissue or chamois to gently absorb some of the graphite and blend it is more gently which will take away some of the shine.

For more even blending, try using harder grade pencils to slowly build up your values, such as H or F and gradually layering with a B or 2B in the darker areas.  Using a tissue, chamois or soft cloth for blending helps to also achieve smoother transitions. A paper with less tooth will result in a portrait with smoother skin tones.  A paper with more tooth (you can see more texture and bumps on the surface) will result in a rougher skin tone.

I have enhanced the reference photo and converted it to gray scale to show more clearly how the dark and light values relate to each other.

It is easier to see now where the shadows truly end and the highlights begin.  In the sketch, the values are all middle values which results in a flattened less three dimensional portrait.  By carefully placing the dark and light values, the portrait will start to take on a more realistic shape as well as capturing more of a likeness.  For example, the highlights on his cheeks are brightest directly under his eyes in the reference photo.  In the sketch, the highlights are spread out across his cheeks and are not clearly established with the darker values.  Thinking of the dark and light values as larger shapes helps.

In the photo to the left I have drawn out the shadow areas or shapes in blue to better isolate the dark values from the light values.  By building up these shadows on the sketch will help the lighter values to read more correctly.  In areas where the lighter values need to be re-established, such as under his mouth on his left hand side of the chin, use a kneaded eraser to gently lift the carbon off of the page. When using a kneaded eraser to lighten, gently press the eraser onto the paper and pull off.  Do not rub the eraser as this will just push the carbon further into the paper and damage the paper.

The proportions are pretty good, but just a few areas that could be adjusted to better reflect the subject.  They are his chin, jawline & his hair on the top right hand side.  His chin has gotten a little too pointed in the sketch & should be more rounded/squared off.  His jaw on his left hand side extends just over his shirt line and is more rounded, once the darker values are built up more, this will likely be refined further. His hair could be more rounded on the top right hand side, as shown with my blue shaky lines :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oil Portrait in Progress - Update #2

Oil Portrait Underpainting
16x20" Stretched Canvas

I have reworked her mouth a fair bit but it still needs a bit more refinement so it does not look so flat and cut out.  I think I need to wait until this layer is dry though as I have tried a few times and I just end up blending everything into a nice flat gray, drat.

I refined her nose and eyes more as well and am quite happy with the way her eyes are looking.  Not so much with the nose but I think it is pretty close.  I think this is where it pays off to have several paintings on the go at once as I would like to work more but must wait for the paint to dry, very tempting to push things.

I am not 100% sure what I am doing with the chair as well so I think I will do a couple of thumbnail sketches - duh - I guess this is why it is always best to do the thumbnail sketch ahead of time.  It looked so nice in photoshop though....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's here, it's here....

....my Venus de Milo statue arrived :) I have wanted a plaster cast for years but with shipping and the prices on casts I have not ordered one until now. I have been keeping my eyes peeled at home deco stores for knock off statues but never could find anything just right. OK so it is not plaster, it is resin and it is not large,  it stands 28cm but it will be great to practice from.

One of my goals this year was to focus more on my life drawing and cast drawing.  Unfortunately between commission/teaching commitments, never ending colds, flu's & husband's ridiculous work schedule this has been my worst year yet for sticking to my drawing goals.  I am sure with my new statue that will change ;)

I hope to have some posts of sketches of this cast in various forms over the year. Plus it just looks so pretty on my studio shelf ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

No More Muddy Watercolors Workshop
June 4 & 5, 2011

This workshop will provide you with the skills needed for creating realistic, vibrant watercolor paintings full of detail and form, not mud.

We will focus on several different techniques including: layering transparent glazes, when to use opaque vs transparent colors, color mixing to create rich colors, not mud, dry brush techniques, wet on wet texture tips and much more!

Each different technique will be covered in a demo followed by studio time to practice the techniques with one on one instruction.

Notes for the course and templates will be provided - no drawing skills required. This course is suitable for beginner and intermediate artist.

The workshop will be held at the Outlet in Port Coquitlam (Leigh Square)

June 4 & 5, 2011
Saturday & Sunday from 10am-4pm

Prerequisites: None

If you are interested in this workshop, you can register directly online by phone at 604-927-8400 or contact me at info@stateofartportraits.com for more information.

Exhibits, Shows & Live Demos





Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oil Portrait in Progress

I still have a very long way to go on this painting but I thought I would post an update of it.  I am trying to build this painting up in layers similar to the old masters, we will see what happens ;)

I still may do a bit more refining of the gray values before I move onto color but I will see once things dry more.  I am not focusing too much on the likeness to the subject but I would like to get it closer, especially the lips.  Waiting for layers to dry before fixing is hard!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Realistic Graphite Pencil Pet Portrait Workshop

Graphite Papillon Puppy Portrait
Whether you would like to create a portrait of your pet or learn how to create pet portraits for commission this workshop will help you reach a new level of realism in your pet portraits. You will learn how to create expressive eyes to capture the animal’s unique character as well as how to tackle various types of fur.

This course is suitable for beginner and intermediate artists. There will be many demos & one on one instruction so each artist works at their own pace. Supply list will be provided upon registration.

The workshop will be held at the Outlet in Port Coquitlam (Leigh Square)

April 9 & 10, 2011
Saturday & Sunday from 10am-4pm

Prerequisites: None

If you are interested in this workshop, you can register directly online by phone at 604-927-8400 or contact me at info@stateofartportraits.com for more information.

Workshop Sold Out and In Full Swing

I had a great day at the workshop yesterday and I am looking forward to getting back to "work" today :) It is hard to call it work when you get to have fun with artists and draw all day.  Although I was pooped at the end of the day yesterday ;)  We have a great hardworking bunch again for this workshop, most even worked over the lunch break, hardcore!

It is a full group this time and several students brought in some of their work for critiques which was really great to see.  It is always so helpful to have someone critique your work, especially if you are open to it and have a bit of a tough skin.  Freshobjective eyes can really help to see areas where the artwork can be improved.  I am lucky (unlucky?) to have a personal critic at home, although a touch blunt, he has a great eye ;) So I was thinking this morning I should offer students critiques on an ongoing basis.  So I will offer a free critique per month to past students.  I hope it will be a great way to keep everyone motivated and keep in touch :)  I forgot my camera yesterday so I will bring it today and try to get some photos of everyone busy at work.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Black and White Monochromatic Watercolor Portrait - Valentine's Day Commission Completed

Just a minor update as I darkened the shirt and added a few more wisps of hair.  The paper has gotten quite warped (which I have not had happen for a long time) so maybe a good time to do a demo on how to flatten paper :)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Black and White Monochromatic Watercolor Portrait - Valentine's Day Update #4

Monochromatic Watercolor Portrait
Well many refinements have been made but unless you like watching paint dry, I do but I am guessing most don't, the updates would have been pretty boring so I waited until now to update.

I have softened many of the hard lines and added more dark values in her hair.  Her features were refined and re-established in areas that had gotten too soft.

Just a  few very minor refinements to her hair and she will be done and then the final review and any edits required by my client.

I am not sure if the shirt should be darker or left this value so I will leave it up to my client.  Either way the neckline will be refined a bit more for the shirt to give a bit of depth.