Saturday, January 31, 2015

Open Studio

I am going to have an open studio day on Sunday, February 8, from 10 am until 2 pm.   I am going clean the studio up nice, dress me up a bit, and squeeze paints out on the pallet.  Come on by and watch me work on the Eledge portrait while I answer your questions.  I will have some light refreshments out to snack on.  All of this depends on the weather cooperating.  It is pretty remote here and slick roads have stranded us back here a few times already.  But if you make by, I promise you an entertaining afternoon. 
For directions, call 540-686-6107

Friday, January 30, 2015

Hair and Face Continues

I worked a good long stretch today on the hair and mustache.  Built upon yesterdays work around the shadow side of his face and the light side of face, especially the ear and eye.  Placed a very rough blue shirt in, just so I know the colors surrounding the face, since this will affect flesh tones with the color that bounces back onto the face.
For me, it seems all my paintings have to endure an "UGLY" stage.  I am there right now.  A sort of limbo, I know what I am trying to achieve, but am falling short of it.  Just a few more strokes of paint and I will see something to be happy about again.  The likeness comes and goes at this stage.  First I love what I have done, then start to mess with it too much and WHAM, I lost what I thought was a likeness.   This is when I have to leave the painting and go for a walk or cup of coffee.  Time to rest the eyes now and come back with a fresh perspective.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Light & Shadow

I have begun the process of finding the darks and lights.  The thing that gives me the most trouble in painting is finding the darks.  I am self taught and so I picked up some pretty crippling habits in the process of learning to paint.  One was that I was starting my painting by painting the lights first and then I could never get the darks the correct value because my lights were actually mid values.  So now I am retraining myself to find those darks first and then move toward the light.  So, I started with the shadow beneath the nose and in the corner of eye socket.  Placed a near same dark in the hair, established the ear in the shadow and then worked toward the mid values of his face and hair.  I put no real highlights in, they come last, but did establish a very light forehead color. 
Obviously I paint longer and faster than what I am putting on this blog, but for the sake of the space limitations here, I am stretching out my posts.  These two photos represent about a four hour stretch in the studio minus some tea breaks and to stretch my back.
 I also began to lay in the dark black jacket he is wearing which helps me to really see just how dark his facial shadows and darks really are. As you can see, there is no way the shadows in his face or the iris of his eye, is as dark as his jacket.  I have used a very dark greyed blue for his eyes, but not nearly as dark as his jacket. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Starting with the background today, I have laid in a very thin wash of Dick Blick Sepia and Cerulean Blue mix.  I used an odorless thinner to give the paint better flow and keep it lean for the next layer that will end up going on top of this layer.  I did this so that I will have a good dark to judge the rest of my darks and lights against.  The linen canvas already was a yellowish tint, but I wanted to be sure and not get my color mixes too dark as I progress.  Many times I will tone my canvas ahead of time with a gray tone. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sketch Placed on Canvas

Spent the better part of the day getting the sketch placed on the linen canvas.  At this phase of my process, I am just looking for a good composition.  Looking for a pleasing design and interesting negative spaces.  I am in no way trying to achieve a likeness or a refined drawing like I did with the Trois Crayon a few days back.  This is intended to be my roadmap.  I have found that when I do a very refined grisaille with an exact likeness, it works against me.  I am then too concerned about ruining what I have done by placing color over it.  Kinda like a deer in the headlights of a car, I just stand there blinking.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sketch Near Completion

Much warmer in the studio today and no wine breaks were taken today.  As you can see here, the portrait sketch phase is near completion.  But, again putting the two images onto the computer allows me to immediately spot areas for change. I will make a few more adjustments today and call it finished.
Another observation method I use is, to position my easel in my studio so that I can look at it from the doorway into our kitchen.  The doorway is three steps above the studio floor and about 18 feet across the room so that I can get a reduced view much like on the computer.  I can casually glance at whatever I am working on while preparing meals.  These fleeting glances often reveal adjustments I simply overlooked when being up too close to the artwork.
Again, this sketch is a self education process.  I am learning the subjects face, expression and trying to get an overall sense of personality onto the paper before I begin the actual oil painting. At this point I am generally happy with the direction I am going.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Few Days To Simmer

Life often gets too busy.  Some days I just can't get to the studio, but instead of beating myself up over it, I take the attitude of letting what I am working on simmer.  The door to the studio is open, I can see the project from the kitchen and hall as I go about the busy parts of life.  More often than not, this leads to a minor (sometimes major) adjustment that improves the piece I have on the easel.  Today is one of those days, plus its Sunday.  Growing up in a very Southern Christian home, Sunday was all about church and family.  See yaw'l tomorrow.  I am visiting with family today.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Open Studio Day

I will open my studio to the public on Friday, January 30th from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm.  If you would like to come by, see my studio, and ask questions while I work on my portrait commission, please contact me at 540-686-6107 for directions to the studio. 

Portrait Sketch Continues

Honestly folks, it has been so cold up here that even with the woodstove and space heaters, I can't get the studio to a truly comfortable level.  So, I am working for two hours and then heading to the living room and a glass of wine to fortify my resolve.  Here is another two hour stretch at the easel.  So far, so good.  The likeness is coming and the sketch process gets me thinking about the rest of the process.  What size canvas, placement, palette -limited vs full on range of colors, and so on.  I am seeing a few things already that I have missed, just by putting my work on the computer.  Mental Note to Linda, change the left side of brow and temple......eyes look too far apart, but it is actually the temple throwing it off a bit.  OK, back to work now.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Loosening Up With A Sketch

Here I have begun to do a preliminary sketch to loosen up a bit and to help myself become more familiar with my subject.  I am using a toned paper and prismacolor verithin pencils in Terra Cotta and Black with White highlight, to do a Trois Crayon style sketch.

The sketch at this stage shows the outline of the "envelope" of the head.  Some lines are inside the head envelope to map out where bone structure is.  I have also started to map out the shadow placement on the face and neck. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Photoshoot Session

I took literally hundreds of photographs during our meeting.  The room was not well lit, so I rearranged lamps and such to get the best light possible.  Normally, I paint my clients with a more serious expression and usually looking to the side in a 3/4 face pose.   I don't like to paint the client with a big toothy smile, but in this instance it would have been wrong to paint Mr. Eledge any other way than smiling.  I found him to be a very warm and outgoing person.  He was someone who easily smiled and laughed the entire time of our meeting.  I could not get him to not smile.  Even his serious face had a crooked bit of smile.  Mr. Eledge was easily the friendliest person I have met in years. 
And so, after reviewing the hundreds of photos, I am putting these two together to create a composition that includes the posture and hands of this photo and the forward looking face of the other photos.   

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rafael Eledge Portrait Begins

At the first meeting with Mr. Eledge, I took hundreds of photographs in various poses.  But, as we all know photographs lie.  Not only does the camera add 10 pounds, it distorts shapes (especially foreshortening) and the colors you see are not translated very well by the camera lens.  So, instead of getting back to my studio and wondering what color his hair actually was when the camera is showing me all sorts of blues and reds, I take the extra time to do a color card. 
I actually sit and mix the colors I am seeing and place them onto a gessoed piece of illustration board.  I take a pen or pencil and write beneath the color swatch, just what I used to mix the color samples.  Now, when my photo shows me a dull gray for eye color, I can refer to the color card for the actual colors I saw. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Portrait of Rafael Eledge

Today I begin my oil portrait painting of Mr. Rafael Eledge.  Mr. Eledge is a Civil War Relics authority and appraiser, on the Antiques Roadshow television show.  Mr. Eledge is also the owner/dealer of authentic Civil War artifacts at in Savannah Tennessee.  Over the next few weeks, I invite you to follow along as I paint his portrait and hopefully I will pass along some valuable tips to my artist friends and general public alike.

Painting portraits can be a very demanding and lengthy process.  Because Mr. Eledge lives very far from Winchester VA, we agreed to meet in Charleston NC, since we both would be headed there for business about the same time.  Working out meetings with clients can be tricky, since you don't want to inconvenience them and need to work around their schedule as well as your own.  I was fortunate to get about an hour and a half on our first evening in Charleston.  And we met for dinner that evening, which was an extra advantage, since it allowed us to get to know one another and put him at ease a bit.  Most folks are nervous about meeting someone, anyone, for the first time.  Add to that the fact that someone is going to stick a camera in their face and scrutinize their appearance and you get a very uncomfortable situation for the client.  It would have been ideal to have an entire afternoon to do some pencil and oil sketches, but life is not always ideal.  So dinner was an extra way to relax the client before the photo session.  It gave me extra time to observe the subject in a very natural setting also.  This allows me to see how the subject naturally sits, positions his head, and in general interact with what is going on around him.  This can be very important.  Painting someone in a position they would naturally take while sitting or standing can go a long way to the painting successfully representing the client.

I see my job as, portraying my client in a positive light.  Digging deep to find the clients inner personality as well as their outer appearance.  This is not flattery, this is an impression I am looking for and trying to convey.   Also, looking for the right tilt of the head, or turning the face slightly to enhance the shadows and create a more pleasing profile is not flattery, it is the essence of good portraiture.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

Stretching Canvas

Getting ready to begin the portrait of Rafael Eledge.  I stretched my canvas today, using an oil primed Linen canvas.  You have probably heard me say this before, but here goes again.  I LOVE THE SMELL OF OIL PRIMED LINEN.  If they were to bottle it and call it perfume, I would buy it.  I don't know why, but it's kinda the same feeling most folks have about the smell of Bacon. 
But back to business, oil primed linen is my favorite surface to work on and I use a portrait grade which is smooth.  Almost no tooth at all.  I have decided to use a 24 x 30 size so that I can incorporate a good deal of his body and hands in this portrait.  After reviewing the photos, I picked out several where he is relaxed and in a very natural position. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Wacom Intuos and Photoshop Day

Very icy and gloomy here today.  A good day to be in the studio, but I am making myself spend an hour each day to learn the new Intuos tablet and pen that I bought myself.  First I need to actually learn to do Photoshop, really learn it.  So I spent an hour reading some tutorials.  Then my brain rebelled and my eyes glazed over.  I am not good with technology.

Don't worry, the blog gets more interesting on the 20th.......hang in there!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Friday, January 9, 2015

Portrait Demo to begin Soon

I have decided to delay posting the demo I am going to do of the Eledge portrait until January 20th.  I want to have several postings ready to go so that the demo can run smoothly with no lapses of time in the event I can't work each day on it.  It is my intent to post some portion of the painting process each day until the painting is completed.   I need the extra time to send out some notices also.  So, pass the word to all your art lover friends....Linda is doing an online Demo!!!!  January 20th until it is finished.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Eledge Portrait Commission - Reviewing Photoshoot Results.

So today we are back home and I will be reviewing my photoshoot with Mr. Eledge, looking for just the right pose or combinations of poses.  Sometimes there is simply no perfect photo, but two or three have aspects that I want to combine to create one fantastic pose.  This is to be expected.  So I will Frankenstein a few shots to create a perfect pose, this afternoon.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Exciting News - Portrait Commission

It's official, I will be painting the portrait of Rafael Eledge.   Mr. Eledge is the Civil War antiques expert/appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow television show.  The show airs on the PBS station channel 26 in the Metro DC area.  We love this television show, big history buffs that we are, and Mr. Eledge is our favorite appraiser on the show. 

I am thrilled to be painting this celebrity portrait and hope to please my client with a portrait that he will love owning.  I will also post here on my blog site the step by step process so that you can follow the creation of this portrait.  I should be home and ready to commence the painting later this week.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Charleston SC Trip

I am in Charleston SC today.  This is our last day here and I wanted to share a few pictures of the palm trees and Spanish moss.  Can you believe it, it is 70 degrees here today and when we left home a few days ago, it was 28 degrees that morning.