Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Learning from an Old Master: Franz Hals

 "Learning by Imitating: Copying Franz Hals"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is a copy of a detail from a Franz Hals portrait, a master at painting and specialist at the portrait. I worked to learn as much as possible, even trying to reproduce his brush strokes. The freedom of his brushwork is amazing.
Although the lighting is off on my photograph (more light toward the right), and my copy has a sneer Hals' didn't, it gives a fair idea how far my learning has progressed.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"It Will Be the Death of Me"

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
My mother used to say this, "It will be the death of me." all the time, usually referring to something I had done. I was beginning to think that would be true of this painting.
Part of it was my own fault: I tried to change the lighting direction to the opposite side. It seems to have been complete beyond me.  I couldn't keep the facial features right if I changed the lighting. My old troubles with reversal kicked in so I ending up scraping more than I painted!
Olivia is a seventh-grader this year. I hadn't appreciated what a pretty girl she is until I worked on her portrait.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Back to Working on Color Relationships

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Meet John, a regular visitor to our street. Can't you just picture the girls going crazy over him in a few years?
About this painting: I have been working so hard on the various challenges of portrait painting that I almost forgot my original intent to work on color relationships. Here I tried to show a value change with a distinct color change.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Effects of Glare on Color

"Riley - A Second Look"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I've painted this little boy before, but then he's one of my favorites. He's such a boy, interested in trucks and other full-time boy pursuits, practically from birth. He follows in his dad's footsteps, who is quite an athlete himself.
I miss him.
I think this is my best joy to date of painting hair.
I apologize about the glare on the right side of the painting. Look at how it even changes the color of his top, not to mention the right side of his face.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Painting After a Break

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq.,  c. Catherine Vines
I had no idea when I selected Megan to paint it would be such a challenging pose.
Part of the challenge was getting back to painting after a break for computer repair and bronchitis (mine, not the computer's!).  
Things I normally take for granted just wouldn't work. Not easily, at least.
But it is Megan, and her beautiful eyes show through.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blogging from My IPad

The short news is, "I can't."
I finally conquered the Error Message delema, but I still can't post pictures from the IPad for some reason
And since my computer is getting a new battery case, it will be 7-10 days before I can post a painting again.
Hopefully I will have a bunch of new paintings ready to post.
Until then.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Learning Curve

"Painting Gavin" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Sometimes it seems as if with every painting, I have to learn all over again. Perhaps that helps keep me from taking the process for granted, but it sure slows me down. In today's post I couldn't seem to get my darks dark enough.
I am working on something new here: the fabric in his pullover. I would like to improve on painting different fabrics in case I expand my focus to include more of the upper body.
Blogger is crazy today. I can't seem to add labels without an error message. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Current Palette for Painting Faces in Oil

"Current Palette for Painting Faces"
c. Catherine Vines
If you look closely, you will see that the back half of the palette is cools and the front half warms. (Just ignore that bit of Cobalt Blue in the lower left hand corner; sometimes I run out of room. )
For the warms, I am using Cad Red Med (in this case, Gambil) plus Yellow Ochre Light, valued out by  a combination of Titanium White and Zinc White. 
What is different about the last painting I did (see yesterday's post) was the addition of the Yellow Ochre and white - without the red. This helped the problem I have sometimes with unwanted ruddiness.
For the cools, I used Utretch's Alizarin Crimison plus Yellow Ochre Light, with varying amounts of the whites. The left rear corner shows cools plus the Cobalt Blue, which is not as purplish as the Ultramarine.
Sorry about that arrow in the middle. Apparently I have learned how to make a video from my IPad!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The More You See, the More You See

"A Modern-Day Peter Pan"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
The more I looked at the photo reference for this painting, the more I saw. And the more there was to paint. I think this is progress.
As much as I love this portrait, it is not the direction I expected when I started these small portraits. I always thought they would be more abstract. Still, this is where I am. Today.
But as Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Slowly I Paint

"Granddad Vines"
Acrylic on Masonite, Detail, c. Catherine Vines
I'm still dealing with the effects of this new vegan lifestyle, so for today I'm posting an old painting. 
This portrait was done in acrylics, entirely with a palette knife. 
You may recognize similarities between this and the self-portrait I use as a logo; both were taken from the same large painting.
Today I'm headachy, lethargic, and again with the poor concentration. I flit life a butterfly between things and just may starve to death; but I am painting!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Photo Day

"Peter Pan" - Source Photo

This is another view of the little boy I am currently painting. While the painting itself is going well, I am having a hard time concentrating, and a harder time finishing.
I credit it to the vegan diet I am experimenting with - for all of two days!
I am used to painting until I feel fatigued, but this is a new experience. I need more focus (or meat).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peter Pan

'Peter Pan" - In Progress
Oil on Panel, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
 You already get a feel for this little boy, don't you? Except for that thing on top of his head - I know you're wondering. All I can say it, "Tune in tomorrow!"
At this stage, I'm laying in the basic shapes, asking myself the question, "It is cooler? Warmer? Darker? Lighter?" I can't wait to continue working.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Learning New Skills

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I have an an IPad. I have an an IPad. Yea! But I just can't leave it alone. It's so much better to paint from and it takes great photos.
However, I can't seem to get Blogger to post from it.  More research.
As to the painting:  The initial underpainting was so red that adding yellow only took it to orange. Duh. Finally I used my Alizarin Crimson for the lights and that helped some. And it's definitely him.

Friday, July 29, 2011

High Key vs. Low Key

"Oscar" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I started this painting by painting the darks first.
In the past I have made the mistake of starting a painting with medium tones and ending up with so light a painting I was forced to use pure white for highlights.
By painting the darks first, I am hoping to lower the key of the entire painting and make a more convincing portrait.
So far, my subject just has a really good tan.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Star Power - Painting in Oils

"Star Power"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Who knew when I started painting children I would need to know how to paint boa feathers!
I've painted this little girl before, but this is a completely new look for her. I just wish I could have captured her mischievous expression.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Painting a Star in Oils

"A Star is Born" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I'll bet you thought I meant the other kind of star!
I love the pose of this little girl. For one thing. she's normally not terribly "girly." (I hope that spelling is right; it completely bewildered my spell-check.)
What I don't love is the eyes not showing. A painting really comes alive for me when the eyes are looking back.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Here Comes the Bride - Oil Painting

Sheila at Her Bridal Shower
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Isn't she beautiful...and I'm not a bit prejudiced! 
We used to play this game where we would try to guess the occupations of strangers we saw. Would you guess that she is an airline captain?
I credit my father who used to take her as a toddler to watch the planes take off and land at Reagan Airport outside of Washington, D.C. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Painting to Music

"Sheila at Her Bridal Shower" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Daily Paintworks offered a challenge a couple of weeks ago to paint your favorite piece of music.
At the time I didn't really have an idea. However, I noticed myself humming "Puff the Magic Dragon" while I worked on this painting of a young woman.  She just happens to be my daughter; and when she was little, that was one of her favorite songs.
You can see Peter, Paul and Mary perform the original if you click on the YouTube link.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Painting Little Girls in Oil

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I know Heather because of my dog Luci.  They are great friends and Heather frequently comes by to take Luci for a walk or run. 
She is a very athletic little girl, at that wonderful stage just before becoming a teenager. Her hair is still that white blond that usually only toddlers have and she posed unselfconsciously for my painting. I love the openness of her expression.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucien Freud Has Died

Lucien Freud has died. To those of us who dream of painting portraits, he is a superhero.  Known for his thick impasto, love of yellow ochre, and psychological penetration of his subjects, his work is amazing. For more about him, read this issue of "Lines and Colors."
Just look at his painting below of Queen Elizabeth. She is said not to have admired it.

I will be throwing away everything I have painted.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Painting in Sessions

"Heather" - The First Session
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I grew up with a mother whose position on "Starting What You Finish" was very clear: that was your only option. It was so deeply ingrained in me that when a friend first suggested I could work over several sessions, I was completely incredulous. "You mean you can do that?" 
Now I break my work up over 4-5 sessions and think the work is better for it. It's as if I get a fresh perspective every time I break away. And it helps prevent some of the mistakes made from fatigue and that tendency to zero in on one element to the detriment of everything else.
Now my goal for the first session - as you can see from above - is to cover the face and get the values approximately right. And Stop.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Painting Portraits from a Different Perspective

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines 
Lest you think this is just another beautiful face, you should know she is also a gifted professional magician from a mutil-generational family of magicians. Who would have guessed? Her husband, also a magician, is a regular performer on "Letterman."
Do I live in an interesting neighborhood or what?
Her brown hair was so interesting to paint, a rich dark color with a variety of highlights. And that long column of a neck....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Why Do I Blog?

I blog because it keeps me from thinking, "I'd really rather be painting!"
Painting is the one thing, every day, that I count as an accomplishment. And daily blogging makes me accountable.
There's many other things I value: family, friends, hidden object games - now, where did that come from - and occasionally, housework. But painting, at the end of the day, that's what I most regret not doing.

Having said that, though I painted a ton yesterday, I don't have a painting to post, nothing finished. Instead I leave you with photos from Butch's trip (the reason I had so much free time) to see the Rays defeat the Yankees - they didn't - including Derek Jeter at bat. Almost as good as a painting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Portrait of Hannah - In Progress

"Hannah" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Doesn't she have a long beautiful neck.  Not the first thing I usually notice about a beautiful woman, but the photograph perfectly illustrates this feature.
What I am most drawn to in painting a portrait is the person's expression. In this case, she radiates confidence. Now to successfully convey that.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Portrait Backgrounds

"Lauren in the Sun"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Such a big smile - that's Lauren. And always in motion. Her mother says she sometimes has to remind her to eat, she's always so active.
I don't have that problem.
I am experimenting with a darker background with these portraits.  This one started off green, Lauren's favorite color, but I think the darker brown sets her face off better.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Working with an Underpainting

"Lauren" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This photograph has lots of shadows to it, so many I am concerned about making clear what is what.
And I would really love to have her turn out well. She is such a dear child, though in the underpainting she has the potential to be glamorous.
She always greats me with a hug, and you can't have too many of those. Not when your daughter lives 3000 miles away. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Glare is NOT My Friend

Oil on Canvas, 8" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is Riley. We lived next door to each other in my old home. There was a wonderful advantage to that:
If he didn't behave, I could threaten to send him home. Worked every time.
You can't do that with your own children!
We can't decide about his expression. Has he just been caught doing something? Is he waking up from a nap? Catching a cold? Regardless, he's wonderful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Painting Children's Expressions

"Riley" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is definitely not a typical "Riley" expression.  But it is such an endearing look, I could not resist.
He is all boy and, at three, already showing signs of being a great athlete like his father. And completely fearless.
His hair is soft and wispy, yet another challenge. His expression could make you - me - want to give in immediately.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hair's the Thing

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
AKA "My Favorite Critic." Alias, "My Least-Favorite Critic."
The best part about Butch is you never have to wonder how he feels about something. With this painting, he doesn't like the shapes in his face. But since I'm all about painting shapes...!
It was bad enough trying to paint his hair, but then he had to go and have a mustache. How inconsiderate.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

More Hair-Painting Practice- "Butch"

"Butch" - In Progress 
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Normally I don't draw to this extent, but all those wrinkles confounded me. Thank heavens I don't have them!
It occurred to me I have a great hair model right here at home.  Naturally he's thrilled to become famous.
The only problem is, I have to hurry while he still has hair! (Don't tell him I said so.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Now This is Hair! - "Pixie"

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
For someone - me, that is - trying to improve hair painting techniques, this is the perfect subject.
Not only that, Butch says she is the happiest child he has ever seen.
And such a joy to paint.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Painting a Pixie

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I photographed her at dinner one night. She had such a fresh open face - it was irresistible.
I also snapped her older brother's pink mohawk hairdo. 
When I asked "Pixie" if she didn't want pink hair, her mother replied, "She thought it over and decided 'no!'"
Already she's an independent thinker.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Revisiting a Painting-Ainsley

"Ainsley - Revisited"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I wanted to put more emphasis on the icing-covered face. 
However, I think in reworking the highlights on her hair I undid the improvements to the lighting on her face.
For every action, there is a reaction - and not always a pleasant one.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Painting a Relaxed Expression-LeeAnna

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Not really worried. Just watching me from the safety of daddy's arms. 
I mentioned earlier that LeeAnna was a daddy's girl when this photo was made. What a lucky daddy.
I have another beautiful photo of her modeling a frilly dress. Tyra Banks would be lucky to have her.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Working with Different Skin Tones

"LeeAnna" - In Progress
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
LeeAnna's skin has beautiful golden under tones. Still, my regular palette seemed to handle the challenge, with more concentration on the warm colors.
At this stage, she was still very much a daddy's girl so it was unusual to capture such a straight-faced look.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Got Icing?

"Ainsley - Got Icing?"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
When it came to adding the icing to her mouth, and chin, and nose - I almost chickened out.  But since that was the reason for taking this photo....
By the way, she gave her consent.
This was taken at a birthday picnic for a friend. And the cake was delicious!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Painting Children

"Ainsley" - In Progress 
Oil on Canvas, 6" Sq., c. Catherine Vines
I took this photo at a birthday picnic for a neighbor. Doesn't she look like a happy child? And it wasn't even her birthday!
I'm trying to move my way down from such high key paintings. And she has some beautiful hair to paint.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Painting Babies

"Pretty in Pink"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
When I started this painting I was concerned about my subject. She wasn't really chubby enough to have great wrinkles and shadows, just subtle coloring and generic "beautiful-baby-ness."
But the challenge grew as I realized the uniqueness of her expression. Not quite sure of what was happening, Not quite ready to cry. Just ... perturbed.
Perhaps the problem all along was that I wasn't looking closely enough.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Painting at Night

"Pretty in Pink" - In Progress  
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I usually have an additional painting session at night, mainly to accomodate my working style - bursts of activity followed by ... who knows? 
With this painting, I was very pleased when I went to bed. But when I looked at her this morning, she was so high key I could barely get a photo.
What I thought was delicacy at night turned out to be washed out in the light of day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More Painting Little Boys

"Neal: I Can't Believe It!"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Or one special little boy. 
Wouldn't you love to know what he was looking at? Unfortunately I was more interested in getting his photograph that looking to see what so entranced him.
Interestingly enough, having painted him once did not make the second picture easier. It sees as if it would have been just the opposite.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mixing a New Color Palette

"Color Palette III"
I liked the range of paints in my last portrait, so based on them I have created a new palette of skin tones, highlights and shadows.  I will add color choices for reflected light depending upon the situation.
As you can see, this is a hard subject to photograph.
On the other hand, I am so lucky to live in a neighborhood with a lot of willing models!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Painting Little Boys

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I loved painting this little boy. In fact, the longer I painted the more I fell in love.
There were some new challenges to this painting.  His ear was actually translucent, something I need to work on. And painting whites - now there's a new challenge.
For another day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Adding Cools to Flesh Tones

"Neal" - In Progress 
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is another attempt at trying to use cools - other than - alizarin.
This little guy is such a cutie; I have two more photos to paint. And yes, that ear really is true to life.  
Wait until you see his hair!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conquering Midtones

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
My title implies I have conquered midtones, when in fact I'm still trying. 
My goals are to use a greater variety, and especially to work on the cooler range.
What I like about this portrait is the repeat of the background in the face and hair. However, I think the eyes need some more work. And the left chin. Oh, no. Here I go.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Inspiration is for Amateurs"

"Mysterious Man" - In Progress  
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I'll bet this man's mother thought he was as beautiful as "Dylan" (see yesterday's post) once upon a time, maybe even now.
I picked this photo to paint because it fit into an abandoned canvas. Sometimes painting is about the doing, rather than waiting for inspiration to hit. Sometimes that can be a long wait. Or as Chuck Close says:

Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.
— Chuck Close

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who Could Resist Painting This Child?

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is the youngest of four brothers, all equally handsome. Except when he's with them, he's apt to be a serious child; or perhaps he doesn't feel safe around me yet.
You can see two of the other brothers in earlier postings.
I still consider painting hair a lesson in progress. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Painting in High Key

"Dylan-In Progress"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
A "high key" in painting is where most of the image is light colors or white, and the value range is limited, skewed towards the lighter end. 
Yesterday's painting, for example.
I know I'm not supposed to say this, but I love that painting.  But I was confused by all the light tones when painting a woman as fair as she is. And that white-blond hair! 
As a result, I decided to start this painting with one value darker than normal for the lights. 
I'm hopeful.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Painting Hair - Things to Learn

"Staring Intently"
Oil on Canvas, 8" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I'm still not satisfied with my model's hair.  
However, I found a great resource on WetCanvas, "Tips on Painting Hair." Among the tips they offer are:
  • The darkest parts are behind and around the ear.
  • Highlights have the most texture (I tried that here and am not so sure).
  • Like everything else, paint values!
  • Be sure hair models the shape of the head.
  • Extend flesh tones into the hair line.
Now to work on putting them into effect.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Starting a New Portrait

"Intently Staring" - In Progress  
Oil on Canvas, 8" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I came back from our recent trip to the coast with some great photographs, including the portrait I recently posted, "Squinting in the Sun."
This young woman, who doesn't look so young at this stage, caught the largest snapper of the day. I assure you, the men were all jealous.
As for me, I was busy painting the world's worse landscape.
Even though I think of my blog as a place to let it all hang out - the good, the bad, and the ugly - I'm not quite that brave!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Creating a Palette for Flesh Tones

"Revised Flesh Tones Palette"
Oils on Glass,  c. Catherine Vines
This is my newest palette for painting faces. 
I'm still not happy with the red madder substitute for alizarin crimson; but I have such a large pile mixed, I can't stand to waste it.
I noticed I was a little reluctant to start painting today, just as if that wasn't what I most wanted to be doing. I think it was a superstitious response to how well yesterday's sessions went. Pretty silly, huh?
Once I started, everything went swimmingly!