Categories
Oil Painting Painting People Portrait

Portrait of Violet: An Angel in Jammies and Tutu

Portrait of Violet: An Angel in Jammies and Tutu; a little girl playing dress-up.

When one of my sketch group members sent me this photo of her little girl, I had to paint it, despite having never painted my own kids (except as they appeared in a dream once, as a bear and a tiger).

The original photo was taken on an iPhone with a busy background of kid’s toys and furniture. I experimented in Photoshop with different backgrounds and color schemes. I tried some in paint. But in the end I chose this simple grayish-warmish-whitish background.

I thought about putting some of her toys from the photo in the painting but decided I like the way she’s alone in an empty space. It reminds me of my own childhood photos where I usually looked kind of alone and perplexed about the big world around me. I guess that’s an example of how whatever the artist paints, she’s painting herself too.

Categories
Art theory Oil Painting Painting People People at Work Portrait Series

Amtrak Conductor, Capitol Corridor: People at Work Series

Capitol Corridor Amtrak Conductor, Oil on stretched canvas, 16x12"
Capitol Corridor Amtrak Conductor, Oil on stretched canvas, 16x12"

When my Urban Sketchers group took the train to Sacramento for some sketching (posted here and here) I made a pest of myself taking pictures of our conductor, chasing him around the train and station. A train conductor for over 40 years, he kindly put up with me.

The painting above is my second attempt at painting the conductor (after working and reworking and eventually abandoning a previous canvas). I painted this in one day, intending to return and finish it after putting in my time at my “day job.” When I returned to the studio I realized that I’d said what I wanted to say with the painting and had nothing more to add. I was done.

This was really thrilling as it helped to reinforce my recent discovery that the path I want to follow in oil painting is to work directly, alla prima (all at once).  I find it so much more fun than fussing around with many layers, for many days, until everything is “perfect” (otherwise known as overworked, over-detailed and ultimately, boring to look at it because there’s nothing for the viewer’s mind to contribute).

Below is my unfinished, abandoned first attempt (scraped and repainted multiple times) from a dim, blurry bad photo shot with poor lighting inside the train.

Incomplete first attempt, oil on canvas 16x12"
Incomplete first attempt, oil on canvas 16x12"

I included way too much of the train in the composition because I was interested in the light and reflections on the ceiling. But painting all those seats was really boring. Eventually I figured out this version just wasn’t going to work and I started over with a better photo, cropped in more closely, for the painting at the top of the post.

I’ve been taking photos of people at work in my neighborhood that will be part of this series. Next up the butcher and the coffee barista.

Categories
Drawing Faces People Sketchbook Pages

Sketching Sketchers and Doodling Meetings

Doodling to Stay Awake at Meeting
Doodling to Stay Awake at Meeting

On my first day back to work after being sick for weeks we had a staff meeting. I wanted to put my head down on the table and nap so doodled to stay upright and awake. Later I pasted the page in my sketchbook with the added note about antibiotics.

Sketching Sketchers #1
Sketching Sketchers #1

Then my first night back at Tuesday night sketching (at the Bread Workshop) after I drew my food I sketched the sketchers at my table. I had to add that shading to the right of Amy’s face to “erase” the splotch I made by her nose that looked like a booger.

Sketching Sketchers #2
Sketching Sketchers #2

I added one too many lines, which lead to more lines to try to fix them, in Sonia’s hair which had been perfect until I did that. I made a note to remind myself to STOP at “good enough” and not keep going.

Categories
Drawing Faces Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Sketching People Close Up at Peet’s

Handsome Guy at Peets, Lamy Safari pen with Carbon Platinum Ink in Moleskine
Handsome Guy at Peet's; Lamy Safari pen, Carbon Platinum Ink in Med. Watercolor Moleskine

I could have reached out and touched his face. But he was so absorbed in his computer he didn’t notice me drawing him at the next table, our knees almost touching. The lady at the table on my other side was watching me and said I captured his likeness perfectly and should show him. I didn’t though, just in case he might not find it flattering. Our own ideas of our appearance often don’t match others’.

Older Guy at Peets, same tools as above
Older Guy at Peet's, same tools as above

This gentleman was sitting at the table after the guy above. I think he might have noticed me sketching but didn’t seem to mind. I think he needed the coffee as he dozed off reading his newspaper at one point. I missed on the shape of his head and just redrew it taller. And then in drawing his large ear lobes I’m afraid my shading there might have made it look like a big hole.

Some fashion victims actually do have big holes in their ear lobes that they intentionally create by inserting devices that gradually stretch them so they look like this. What a weird fad. There are many websites like this one that sell such devices. Why would anyone want to do that?

Categories
Art theory Oil Painting Painting People Portrait

Quinceanera Party Boy and When to Stop Painting

Quinceanera Party Boy, oil on panel, 14x11"
Quinceanera Party Boy, oil on panel, 14x11"

When I saw the photo I’d taken of this boy at the Legion of Honor where he was posing for his sister’s Quinceanera party photos, I knew I had to paint him (see my original blog post about that day). He is such a beautiful boy.

When to Stop Painting
Lately I’ve been focusing all of my art time on oil painting, and discovered something that might be of interest to other painters.

One night I’d been painting into the wee hours, trying to “fix” a painting. I’d put on paint, step back, then scrape it off. When I realized I didn’t know why I was doing anything I was doing, I went to bed, frustrated that after hours of painting I’d accomplished very little and in fact, probably just made things worse.

The next day I was driving to a plein air paint-out using my GPS to get me to cross streets near the destination (a little park with no address). Once I passed those cross streets, my GPS began scrolling the words “Driving….driving….driving” on the screen because it no longer had any directions for me—I’d passed the target with no further plan.

That’s when it hit me: When I’m at the point with a painting where I am just driving….driving…driving (or dabbing, scraping, dabbing) I need to STOP.

Without a conscious and specific intention (make this area cooler, warmer, darker, lighter, bigger, smaller, sharper, softer, etc.) and an overall goal, it’s just like trying to reach a general idea of a destination by driving mindlessly and randomly, hoping I’ll get there. Not too likely.