Jeff the Handyman (and inspiring model)

JR Handyman #3 Final, oil on DuraLar, 12x9"

JR Handyman #3 Final, oil on DuraLar, 12×9 inches, 2016

When Jeff the Handyman (who does excellent carpentry and electrical work) came over to look at a job, he was kind enough to let me take his photo for the series I’m painting of people at work in my neighborhood. I tried three times, before and after I started studying head structure and anatomy. With the third study (above) I felt like I’d said what I had to say, with the skills I have at this point, and was ready to move on.

Above is the final study and immediately below are all three attempts in chronological order.

My favorite part of all three above is the sky reflecting on the top of his head. With each attempt my drawing improved a bit. The more I learn, the more I see, and the more I see, the more I know I need to learn!!!. Below are all three studies with work in progress (WIP) steps. I’m not offering the WIP to show how it “should” be done; just the approach I was experimenting with. I am always trying on techniques of other artists I admire but haven’t yet found the approach that “just works” for me.

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Found Lipstick, Journal and My Pear in Gouache

Found Lipstick, Journal and Pear, gouache, 8x6.5"

Found Lipstick, Journal and Pear, gouache, 8×6.5″

Practicing gouache with found items. The lipstick with purple case I found on the street, the journal at the recycling center’s little “shop” where you leave things you don’t want and take things for free. The pear and jar lid I found in my kitchen so I guess they aren’t officially found items. The cigar box the journal is sitting on was a freebie from the local smoke shop. I love cigar boxes so much! This gouache sketch made me happy…feels like I’m starting to get it.

Christmas Balls in Red Cup

Christmas Balls in Red Cup, oil on panel, 8x8 inches

Christmas Balls in Red Cup, oil on panel, 8×8 inches

Happy Holidays! As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” That’s especially true of this painting because the reflections, ridges and facets kept changing appearance as I moved or the light changed, and I could have worked on it forever. I’d planned to post it before Christmas but just couldn’t “finish” in time.

This is another painting (available here) in my “Found and Free” series: both the cup and ornaments were found on walks in “free” boxes set out on the curb.

You’ll see in the steps below that I was experimenting with using Panpastels and Sofft Tools to do the initial drawing on my panel. They are amazing: the pastels go on smoothly like paint but are completely erasable with any eraser and disappear into the oil paint so there’s no fixative required.

Below are photos of the work in progress.

Sunflowers in Old Crock

Sunflowers in Found Crock, oil on linen panel, 8x8 in

Sunflowers in Found Crock, oil on linen panel, 8×8 in. Click image to enlarge.

I found this wonderful old crock set out on the curb, adorned with a “Free” sign so I carried it home for my “Found Stuff” painting series. One handle had broken off but the owner had thoughtfully placed the pieces inside and I glued it back together. I love the way the flowers are reflected and shadowed on the crock. The painting is available here. Below are photos of the work in progress.

It takes two to paint. One to paint, the other to stand by with an axe to kill him before he spoils it. William Merrit Chase 

My biggest painting goal is to stop what I call “unauthorized painting” — I finish part of a painting, like it and write my plan for that area: “Don’t touch it!” Later I decide to just do a little “touching up” and the next thing I know I am wishing for a “REWIND” button as I try to wipe off the “unauthorized” paint. Where’s the guy with the axe when I need him? I need to draw him, axe and all, and stick it on my easel!

If you’d like more details about each session’s goals, my thoughts, missteps and corrections, click Autumn Sunflowers and Found Crock (PDF) to open the chart. As promised in my last post, here is a Session Template (click to DOWNLOAD Word file), for anyone who would like to use or modify it to track their own work. I’ll also post it on my Resources Page.

 

Brown Delivers…in the Dark (portrait in oil with steps in the process)

UPS Delivers at Night, Oil on Canvas, 20×16

(Update: This painting won second place for Portrait of the Year on Making a Mark in 2012.)

One night last winter two UPS guys arrived in the dark to deliver a dozen boxes of the flooring materials for my studio. I had started a series of paintings of people at work (still in progress) and asked if I could take their photo to use for a painting. They agreed and were great models!

A couple of months ago he called, asking about the painting, inspiring me to finally finish it. There were some magic moments along the way (see process photos below), such as the one where I did a quick first pass on his hand and then stepped back and said “Wow! That works and I’m not touching it again.”

Since I took the photos at night without flash outside lit only by the fluorescent lights from inside the studio, the photo was dark and the colors were, well, mostly brown. But the UPS slogan is right, BROWN really does deliver! Who knew there were so many shades of brown? I must have mixed a hundred different browns.

Below are photos showing the process of drawing and painting this portrait. Read More

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