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!