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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In the Zone

"Squinting in the Sun"
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
Sometimes - some times - the paint just flows off the brush. Halleluiah!
Of course that belies the question, "Should the title have been, 'Something doesn't smell good here?'"
My biggest reservation is in the photo the highlights in her hair look flesh-colored rather that blond,
which means not only does the painting have to be right, but the colors have to photograph right. Now that can be a lot to ask.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oil on Canvas, 6"sq., c. Catherine Vines
This is a thank-you for my cousin, Linda, who has become quite a patron of the arts, and not just because she buys my paintings! 
She freely admits she was mad at her husband when he brought "Tater" home, and now she's just silly about him - just like the rest of us about our dogs. He really is a doll though, and thinks he belongs on Mama's lap.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

An Acrylic Portrait of My Daughter

"Sheila in Pink"   
Acrylic on Masonite, 36x48", c. Catherine Vines 
Since I am on a family roll, I thought I would post another painting of my favorite model, my daughter.
This is part of a larger family collage, painted in acrylic paints using a palette knife.
I love the colorfulness and clarity of acrylics; but I have to admit, when I am using them, I miss the smell of oils.
On the other hand, acrylics seem to encourage me to paint with a playfulness missing from my use of oils. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Watercolor Portrait of My Mother

"Ginny at 19"  
Watercolor on Paper, 16x24", c. Catherine Vines
Having posted a picture of my father at about the same age, this posting seemed only fair.
While there is much about this painting I could improve, I got the expression in the eyes exactly right.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Neighbor Does NOT Make Her Daughter Practice Piano

 "Where Art Meets Local Values" 
Photograph, c. Catherine Vines

I can hear your gasps now. About the headline, that it. Though the photo's pretty cool too.
But about the practicing: between lessons the 9-year-old generally does not touch the piano. Her mother doesn't want her to get tired of practicing and quit playing altogether.
I, who had to practice every day, quit piano but somehow ended up still ended up firmly believing in the power of practice.
And not just practice. I especially believe in practice with intent, for example, the intent of exploring color.
Which makes days like yesterday - when I can't paint my way out of shoebox - manageable. I just need more practice!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Painting My Father

"Dad in His First New Suit"
Watercolor on Paper, 16x24", c. Catherine Vines

Not only was this his first new suit, it came equipped with a second pair of pants. Those were the days.
My older brother and I frequently argue whether Dad had red hair or nor. Guess which side of the equation I come down on.
I loved painting watercolor portraits. I like the combination of realistic features in an abstract setting. Eventually I hope to aim for that in my oil portraits.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Painting Children's Portraits

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I rephotographed this painting three times and now - that I am actually posting it - I notice she's pop-eyed, in my painting only. In real life her eyes are an exciting feature, so full of energy and life, as is she.
I can't say that I'm satisfied - when can I ever say that - but it's time to let it simmer on the back burner.
I'm having such difficulties lately I'm beginning to think my previous success at painting portraits was a fluke.
But I still believe in practice!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Working in Shapes for a Portrait

"Lauren" - In Progress III 
Oil on Canvas, 6"in sq., c. Catherine Vines
I am trying not to overwork this portrait. My strategy is to concentrate on the large shapes and work from there. 
Unfortunately I notice that among my large shapes I have moved the nose off-center. Remind you of anything?
I need to come up with a system to keep some reference marks until towards the end. At least, I think that's what I need. Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mixing Enough Paint

"Lauren" - In Progress II 
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I am not good about mixing large piles of color. And the one time I finally do ... I don't really like the color mixes! Too cool for my tastes but I can't bear to waste the paint and start over.
The good news is I am introducing some more neutrals; the bad news is I don't have a lot of free space to mix in.
I am starting to see some progress on the hair, mainly because I am looking more at shapes rather than individual strands of hair.
So much to learn.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment about a Painting

Lauren - In Progress 
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I was disappointed in yesterday's portrait, disappointed enough to question what I am doing. So - without thinking too much about it - I got back on the horse and started today's portrait. 
But maybe I should think about it more. Just because I love children doesn't mean I can paint them. Then again, aren't you supposed to paint what you love?
I can give you the perfect example of why I love children. When Lauren (above) saw yesterday's painting, she said, "It looks like Savannah, only some thing's wrong with her face." Everybody should have a nine-year old in their life!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Painting Hair is Tricky

Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines
I still see some opportunities to improve this, but I seemed to be loosing my ability to make a decision. Definitely time to quit.
The whole hair thing: way harder than I realized.  Most important seemed to be to frequently get back from my canvas. It still bothers me that the darks are not well integrated, but for now - it's finished.
Not incidentally, she is an amazing child.  She once confessed that sometimes she studies on her own, "just for fun!"

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Photo Can Show a Painting's Weaknesses

Portrait - In Progress V
Oil on Canvas, 6" sq., c. Catherine Vines

I thought I was done until I saw the photos. Even bad photos like this (low light and reflections) can show where a painting still needs work.
In this case, her left jaw line is still wrong. And the dark accents in the top of her hair stand out like a sore thumb. Her lips don't have enough dimension. Stop!
One thing at a time.
Until tomorrow.