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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Student Drawing Critique - Pet Portrait Workshop - Wendy's Cat

This is a cat portrait drawn by one of the artists from my Realistic Pet Portrait.  As we cover so much in a short time, we do not get a chance to fully finish our pieces, we did a cat & a dog in two days. Perhaps a little ambitious....but we were all very close to completing at the end of two days :)
Wendy had already taken one of my classes to learn the techniques so she brought her own photo of her cat for this workshop to work from.  I believe the drawing is a little washed out so the light are reading much too light and the dark values not nearly dark enough.

So, I took the photo of the drawing and adjusted the values in Photoshop.  This gives a much clearer idea of how much darker the drawing can go and I think shows how important using a full range of tonal values is.  The small round highlights in the eyes need to be brightened more to give that full range of values as if they are the white of the paper or as close as you can get, the eyes will immediately pop.  The eyes in a portrait are usually the center of interest and having the pupils the darkest value and the highlight the lightest value makes the view immediately drawn to them as our eyes always go to the strongest area of contrast in a painting or drawing.    
Drawing Darkened
As you can see, Wendy has done an excellent job on this portrait so really it is just fine tuning that is needed to really give her cat the depth that she is after and capturing an even stronger likeness.While this cat's pupils are very rounded, they still need to form a slight point at the bottom.  The right eye especially could be shaped more to be less rounded, the left eye is quite close and just a bit of shaping will achieve this. The outer edges of the cat's eye (where the lip of the eye and the fur meet) could also be slighly more tapered inwards at the top corners (just under the lids - see the little circles on photo).  
The shape of his nose & mouth seem to have gotten lost a little bit as well.  I highlighted the areas around his mouth (very roughly as I never seem to get the motion right in photoshop) to show how the shape curves out just a bit more giving a more rounded feel which creates depth and the shape of his fur.  Darkening the underside of the fur, just where the top lip meets the bottom (I am now painfully aware that I know nothing about the correct anatomy terms for cats!) will give a more rounded feel as well and add that feeling of shape.  Again, these are little changes that really push the drawing to the next level I think.  
His nose on his right side (viewer's left) needs to be refined further. There is a darker line of fur at the top edge of the nose and the bottom, curving up to the nostril which once darkened will separate the nose from the fur more giving a feeling that it is closer to the viewer slightly more than the fur.  Again creating just a little bit more depth.  Another way to create instant depth is to darken the body, especially to the left of his ear and his shoulder, leaving the lighter areas in tact.  This again will instantly push his head forward a bit and create a feeling of shape in his body.  Finally softening the lines on his paw will lessen the focus on his paw as they are a little bit too linear right now.
I hope that helps and does not sound to picky as again this is an excellent drawing and she has really captured her cat so well :) Awesome work Wendy, keep it up!

Art Focus Spring Show - April 30 - May 1, 2011

Acrylic - 11x9" Framed

Under A Blackened Sky
Acrylic on Cradled Panel - 11x14"
What a beautiful day to start Art Focus's Spring Show, I almost believe it really is finally spring! The weather here has been so cold, well, for us BCer's.  Anyway, I hope you can make it down to see the show today or tomorrow as there is a great variety of artwork to see by all the artists.  I ended up bringing mostly abstract paintings and a few oil landscape paintings for this show.  My first Art Focus show without watercolors, gasp, how did that happen?

  I will be there from 1-5pm on Sunday so I hope to see you there :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #10

Things are shaping up nicely I think ;)  Adding more of the details and the darker values in the piano really helped to balance things.  I did a fair bit more work through the piece bringing areas up to completion or near completion.

The inside of the piano just needs a bit more of the details refined and then I think I will have to darken the side (again) of the piano to get that gleaming look that the top has.  I think I will also do a bit more detail on the father's reflection and then add a bit more tonal range in the trees.  Then I think it will be complete....but we will see ;)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Teachin the Teachers

This morning I got to teach the teachers, I never thought I would get to say that! I was asked to host a workshop at Maillard Middle School this morning for their Pro-D Day.  It was really fun and I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did.  We worked on the same project, an exercise in glazing, but each painting turned out so different and unique. I tried to pick a project that the teachers can then teach to the students and can be easily modified for different times of year and subject matters.  So for this one I chose flowers as the subject, but of course this was too girlie for some of the guys so they painted hockey logos, hockey masks & ghosts ;)

I hope to do more workshops for the schools in the future as it is really rewarding to share art knowledge with students who have not painted much when you see them thinking hmmm, interesting, hmm, this is nice, hmmm, I just painted a whole painting.  Then I came home and painted Easter eggs and did some scratch art.  Excellent way to start the long weekend!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Abstract Acrylic Abstract Painting - Fractured

Fractured - 16x16"
Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas

This is an abstract painting I recently finished...although I may just add a touch more to the bottom...ugh, I have a hard time stopping with acrylic.

I have built up many layers of color so that areas of color and texture peek through each layer.  The texture is clear and is created with the actual acrylic so it is subtle, especially online.

I am calling it Fracture as if you look at it closely in real life,  you can see where the layers are intentionally fractured.  Of course online it probably just looks like bands of blue, gold & red ;)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #9

I have been busy getting ready for my watercolor workshop on Thursday and had last minute company on the weekend so it feels like FOREVER since I have had time to work on this.

Finally made it back to the easel today and made some good progress I think.  I de-pouffed his hair quite a bit.  I had hoped that by overshooting it and then working into the hair as I often do I could add more texture on the outside edges of his hair but his head size being so small, I don't know if it made any difference. 

I think his head may be a bit too pointed on the upper right hand side but I want to confirm that the width of the sides are correct before correcting as if they are I will adjust on the top, if they are too narrow, I will adjust on the side. 

I also lighten the wood work on the doors behind him which I will do to the other doors which are not grey in real life.  Then finalize the hinges and details on the wall and doors.

I did a bit more work on the reflections in the piano and am continuing to work on the inside details.  I think I will also darken the right side of the piano (the leg and above) and then will soften the highlighted areas on the outer edge.  Then I will move onto the finishing touches everywhere.  Just little tweaks here and there to pull it all together.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opening Exhibit at the Trench for Sara Robichaud
April 16 - May 21, 2011

I am so excited that I get to go to Sara's opening exhibit for "The Milk is Opaque" at the Trench Gallery today.  I love seeing her work in real life as amazing as they are online, the web just does not do them justice.  They are so large and the movement, variations in color and surface qualities make each painting a feast for the eyes :)  Even though most of her paintings are very large, I end up standing there with my face inches from the canvas.

The Trench is a newer gallery in gas town within walking distance from the Waterfront Sky Train Station. If you are in the Vancouver area check it out.  The opening reception is today, April 16 from 1-4pm with Sara in attendance and the show will be on display until May 21, 2011.  Check out Sara's website at www.sararobichaud.ca to see more of her work.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #8

More of the details on the piano insides have been filled in and will be tweaked further as the drawing progresses.  Most of the string have been drawn in but need to be softened and then highlights and reflections added. 

I have not had a chance to focus on the father more yet but I am very please to say that his face is quite close according to his son so that is a huge relief.  I can now shape his hair as right now it is quite poofy so his hair is done we will see if any minor edits need to be made to his face.

I have surprise house guests, the only problem with a home studio, so I may not have any further updates until after the weekend. I also have an upcoming Watercolor Workshop next week that I need to prepare for so I may have to work on this intermittently but definitely the hair will be fixed first then finishing touches...everywhere!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #8

Father's Graphite Portrait Commission Update
Reference Photos I am working from
Yesterday I did some more refinement of the doors and back of the cottage.  Still a bit more refinement needed and the hinges need to be added and refined but I decided to start blocking in the father.

I blocked his features in and have refined to try to capture what I think is a good representation of him from the photos.  I put all the photos that would fit on the screen and then tried to pull features from the ones that I could see the best as some of them are quite grainy.  Of course, he looks totally different in almost every photo! But I am hoping it is getting close to how he looked.  I will wait to hear back from my client as being his son, he can tell me hen where the features are off.  I do not want to refine the features too much (so they may look a little cut out, especially the hair - I am trying to not focus on that...) as once they are refined it is tricky to make changes.

I have also started adding the details on the piano so I can work on these until I hear back from my client.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Adjusting Photos for Better Reference Photos

Desaturated and Fade Adjusted
When drawing from photos much of the information we need to draw a convincing three dimensional image is lost.  Photos are only two dimensional and with this flattening of the image and lost detail the artist needs to be able to understand how the subjects form is in real life to create the illusion of a three dimensional object.  A strong understanding of tonal values really helps with this but often color photos can be harder to determine the tonal values from.

So, why not make life easier and convert the image to grayscale with a simple click in Photoshop?  This is what I used to do and found it much easier to see the values, however, details were lost and the contrast was slightly altered.  I thought it was just a compromise I had to make.  Then I stumbled upon the Desaturate button :) I really should play with my software more as I am sure it can do a zillion things to make my life easier!

So by using Desaturate and Fade photos are converted to black and white without loosing any of the details and keeping the bright highlights and deep rich darks. Instructions are below for Photoshop but I would imaging other software packages the process is similar.

Desaturating Images in Photoshop

Open your image in Photoshop

Create a duplicate layer to work with so that you do not lose any pixels from your original image 

Make sure you are on the duplicate layer and Desaturate the image by clicking Shift + Ctrl U or Image --> Adjustments --> Desaturate

Immediately click on Edit --> Fade Desaturate (if this is grayed out, you need to go back to immediately after Desaturating image

On the pop up box, select Color This extra step allows the Desaturation to only affect the colors in the photo, not the brightest values 

So by just taking a few extra steps you get a much richer, better quality black and white photo to work from.  Click on the photos at the top to compare. While the differences are subtle, they make a huge difference when drawing what you can see!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Realistic Pet Portraits Workshop April 9 & 10, 2011 - Calico Cat Demo - Update 1

This is an update of the progress so far on the calico cat graphite portrait.  Still a fair ways to go and as this is just a demo I am not sure how refined it will get but the fur is starting to take shape.

I have darkened a few of the darker areas and will continue to dark and light values as I go to build depth.  Several areas, especially the paw, are much to linear in the fur pattern.  This will be much more varied later but I wanted to show the difference it makes in creating realistic fur.

Natural objects are not linear and when creating fur, the fur should always appear organic and varied.  As soon as you have a straight linear line, they eye jumps to that area and recognizes it as out of place.  Sounds simple but I often see this happening in beginners drawings as when you are in the thick of it, sometimes you don't see these things until later once you have stepped away from the easel.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Realistic Pet Portraits Workshop April 9 & 10, 2011 - Calico Cat Demo

Calico Cat Sketch
Calico Cat Reference Photo
This is the cat we will be working on during the first day of the workshop this coming weekend.  It is one of the students cat and the dog we will be working on the second day is another student's dog.  Students who have taken a workshop already will also be bringing in their own reference photos so we should have some interested stuff by the end of the weekend.   I had planned on drawing my cat as I have great photos of him and he is a beautiful cat with short hair and lots of great markings.  But as the dog I ended up choosing has short hair, I wanted to have a long haired cat so we can cover various types of fur.  It my cat had not adopted our family, I would have definitely chosen a calico cat, they are like art in motion...so beautiful!

I thought I would post updates of the portrait that I will be bringing to the workshop.  I will fully develop one side of the cat and then work on the other side of the cat during the workshop.  This way students can see how it should look as they are watching the demos and working on their own cats.

I am hoping to have half a cat and half a dog completed before the weekend starts, hah, I always work best under pressure :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #7

Well I know I said I would finish the trees but I decided to work on the cottage wall instead.  The major work has been done on the back of the wall and now just a bit more refining to smooth in the graphite and add a bit more texture and depth. The dark area at the top is just a shadow from my easel.

I think I will also darken the main beams (that extend all the way up) slightly so that the outside lake and trees are pushed back a bit more.

Then it is onto finishing up the trees & water and then...onto the main subject!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Student Drawing Critique - Realistic Portrait Drawing Workshop
Grandson's Portrait

This is a portrait done by an artist from my last workshop.  The subject is the artist's grandson and was completed shortly after the workshop as a gift.  I am very impressed with the portrait and I am sure the family was very happy to receive it as the resemblance very good and captures his sparkle.  I outlined a few areas that could be improved on this piece to capture his likeness further and a few tips for creating a more  three dimensional portrait.

The eyes have been drawn very well and the proportions are quite good.  The inner corners of his eye however could be slightly more rounded as children's eyes tend to have a much broader curve than adults, missing this curvature can age a child's face.

I have also drawn in little arrows where the highlights could be lifted out and refined further.  This will give the illusion of moisture.  Deepening the darker values as well will create a much stronger contrast between the darkest and lightest values, creating the illusion of depth and more 3 dimensional eyes.  His left eyebrow in the reference photo is very flat along the top from the bridge of the nose to the outer edge of the pupil. In the portrait drawing, this area has crept up above the blue line on the reference, which throws the likeness off somewhat. 

Value Scale
The side of his nose could also be slightly more curved inwards (curving away from the left eye) and the value deepened more to create more depth and contrast.  If you look at the value scale on the left and compare it with the portrait, you will see that most of the values fall between 2 and 5.  To create a portrait with greater depth, using values ranging from 1 to 10 makes a huge difference.  You do not need to use all of the values, you could even use a value scale from 1 to 6, but always having a full range (ie 1 being white and 6 being black) from white to black helps to really create a more 3 dimensional image.

I have drawn the blue lines as guidelines to show how his face should line up on the reference photo.  This is a great practice to use while you are drawing to keep things in check whether you do it using a software program or a good old fashioned ruler.  It is surprising how quickly things can go astray ;)

His neck in the drawing has crept much too far to the right, in reality it should be lined up roughly with the outer edge of his nostril. The shape of his cheek is slightly out too far (in the drawing right where his neck meets with his cheek).  I drew a curved line on the reference photo as well which indicates where the shadow on his cheek begins.  The artist has of course added this curvature, but by using a value closer to 12 (it is currently around a 3) and carrying it down to his chin, his face would really fill out giving him that cute pudgy face that young kids have and would really help again to create a more 3 dimensional image.   For the lips, just a slight tweak on his lower left lip is needed.  In the drawing, his lip curves up towards his left nostril  and really tapers off quickly when in fact it should remain slightly curved downwards extending out all the way to the edge of his lip.

Again these are all just few suggestions to perhaps improve on this portrait as it is an excellent portrait already :) I am looking forward to seeing more of this artist's work!

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #6

More work has been done on the background trees and they are really starting to take shape but still a bit more refining to be done on them.  The reflections have also been added in the water and will be softened as the portrait progresses. 

Once the trees are completed, I will go back to the cabin walls and ceiling before moving onto the main subject, the piano player and the piano.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Last Chance to Register for Realistic Pet Portrait Workshop...

If you are thinking of registering for my upcoming pet portrait workshop, please do it know :) We only need 2 more registrants to make the workshop a go otherwise we will have to cancel it :(

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. We will be working on two portraits, one of a cat and one of a dog so you will have two completed (or nearly completed) portraits by the end of the weekend!

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.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #6

18x28" Custom Graphite Commission
Many more hours in the studio and things are starting to shape up :)  I am going through several areas refining and adding more details as I go. The texture is being built up on the trees on the islands and some of the ripples and reflections have been added to the water.  I will refine a bit further but I want to keep the edges soft to give more of an illusion of distance.  The inside of the piano is also starting to take shape and I am really liking how the dark piano wood is making the reflections and highlights pop.

Graphite Custom Portrait Commission - Update #5

I was under the weather for a few days so did not have a chance to work on my commission earlier this week. Needless to say I was itching to get back to work.

This update represents several more hours in the studio building up the darkest layers of the piano lid and refining the doors a bit more. No time to chat, back to the easel!