Welcome to my blog! I hope you enjoy visiting from time to time. I will have fun posting information related to current projects, my travels, or just random thoughts! Feel free to post your comments anytime.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mr. Sargent

I can never spend enough time with the indomitable Mr. Sargent. His paintings that is....which is as close as we get to the man. On Sunday I could not tare myself away from this portrait of Joseph Jefferson at the Players Club in NYC. Here is a neat shot that really shows his mastery of value, color, and edges. The head is so solid, so subtle that the great actor comes to life over 100 years after the final brush stroke!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Value of Sittings from Life

Last week I had the most wonderful experience with a family I am painting from Florida.  They were gracious enough to pack their bags and come for sittings in my studio.  A very large portrait, I have enjoyed the challenge of composing the painting and developing the diverse elements of the portrait.  Although I request sittings with most of my subjects, this session was particularly valuable for refining likenesses and altering several of the important details.  Working with my sitter, I gained invaluable insight as to the character of the dress and how the folds should fall while seated. We had a chance to create the "ideal" shapes for the dress and my composition.   I also find that I adjust key values especially the darker tones.  I usually discover a bit more "air" in these areas that I simply can't see in the photographs.  Time and time again I find that having the input of my sitters gives me great insight into my subjects and the elements included in the painting.  It also connects everyone to the adventure!

P.S. They left "Mountain" the dog at home with a sitter....probably a good idea!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Portrait Society of America Meeting April 23-26, 2009

The Portrait Society of America will hold their annual conference in Washington D.C. in a few weeks.  If you can make the trip, it is well worth it!  There is a long list of artists who will demonstrate and lecture on the field of portraiture from setting up studios to marketing your work.  

Click here for more information:  http://www.portraitsociety.org/

I will be speaking and demonstrating during the weekend.  In the upcoming issue of International Artist Magazine, my portrait of Judge Tony Scirica will be included along with a description of the process of creating the portrait. The magazine will be available soon, but here is a preview:

I begin the process of creating my portrait of Chief Judge Scirica with a visit to his chambers in Philadelphia.  A big believer in homework, I read a great deal about my subject before our first meeting and we enjoyed a nice lunch together shortly after I arrived.  To be his official portrait for the court, we completed a photo-shoot in his chambers.  I made numerous digital photos trying multiple poses and also created a quick sketch in oil on a canvas board as my first introduction to my subject in paint.  No matter how brief the sketching encounter (in this case 40 minutes), I find it to be a very valuable part of the process of getting to know my subject.  It will also help me to select good reference photos that more accurately capture the gesture and character of my subject.  Like sketching the landscape, I remember more from this experience than I do from any snapshot with a camera.  This entire process took most of the afternoon.  I am now ready to return to the studio where I will study the reference and begin the portrait.

Step 1: Drawing
I love to draw (it was my first love as an artist), but I love to paint even more! Consequently, I begin by sketching out only the major proportions in soft charcoal. I fear a detailed drawing will lead to a filling in of the shapes and not the massing of the major proportions. The latter I believe can help to create a more “painterly” approach throughout. I want to feel the major proportions on the canvas hopefully with accuracy and energy. Once established I can refine the drawing with paint.

Step 3: The Particular
Now that the canvas is fully covered and the major effect is established, I can now spend time developing the areas of focus such as the head. I am only now thinking of likeness in a more specific way. In the previous steps I was only seeking the character of my model, the gesture of his pose, and the overall effect of the scene.

Step 6: The Finish

In the finished portrait I have spent considerable time on every area of the portrait. No area has not succumb to numerous adjustments as I worked to find my subjects likeness, quiet strength, and character. I am constantly striving for simplicity in effect, brush work and composition. Often I edit once more where I can as I near the finish with the simplicity of my earlier stages in mind.

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