Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Well, the best laid plans of mice and men, etc. etc. Murphy's law and all those sayings struck yesterday eliminating the daily post. A technical glitch with my computer put the kibosh on what I intended to post. Now that it has taken the better part of today to get fixed, I am re-posting the small portrait study I showed at the beginning of this series of "one-a-day" posts. I did not say much about it previously, but will get into it a little more now.

About six months before I moved here from Arizona I did two portraits. One was a single 16"x20" portrait of a friends wife. The other was a portrait of the husband the same size. These were my first forays into doing portraits. I was probably more surprised and happy with both pieces as the couple was. Adding portraits to my portfolio was still not part of my future goals.

When I arrived here in Texas and got my studio set up and began painting it was more landscapes and florals. I got a call from a long time friend who still lived here and he wanted a portrait done. Not having a local gallery outlet here yet and like most artists and happy to get a commission I agreed to do it. I used photographs and several sittings and again pulled it off and had a very happy client. this lead to another portrait and another happy client and taking with a few other people about commissions. Consequently, I have decided to also pursue doing more portraits. This painting is a study for my next one.

                      "Portrait Study of A Young Woman"  12"x9" oil on panel. This piece is available since I have made another, the client likes the pose better.

I would also like to say something about my method of drawing. I stick with the basics of drawing the human head or in some cases the full figure . The very fine figurative artist Steve Huston has some excellent, detailed, easy to understand instructional videos on YouTube on the same method I use. I truly believe it is why I have been successful doing portrait, achieving a likeness of the subject withou no experience doing portraits of actual people. Sure I have done a lot of figures, nudes and otherwise, but those rarely, if ever included a good portrait quality likeness. The lighting and design the pose made were the focus of those paintings, not a perfect likeness of the subject, as a portrait requires. So I encourage anyone wanting to do figures or portraits really get these basics down so you do them with every drawing and painting you do without think. In other words do it automatically, just like breathing. Not only will it make everything easier, it will improve your paintings quicker. And we all know a better painting is what we are all after.

For this study I made some quick marks, measuring with a proportional divider. Once I had the accurate locations of each facial feature and their shapes, I switched to a bristle filbert and raw umber from Daniel Smith. I love using this brand in this color because it makes such a nice full range of very neutral grays using LaFranc titanium white. There is no yellowish cast as one sees in many other brands of raw umber. It has several other advantages also. It is very fast drying and speeds the drying of the white, making the grisaille ready to paint over the next day. It also works well in flesh color mixes. Don't get me wrong, it is not mixed in every color I make when I get into the full color work, but is in some transitional areas and maybe some shadows. I use a limited palette for figures and everything I paint, no matter the subject. It consists of a warm and cool of the three primaries. The exceptions to this only occur in a few florals, where I might add or substitute a color due to the color appearing on the actual flower.

My basic palette I use at this time is:
Titanium White                       LaFranc
Winsor Lemon                        Winsor Newton
Cadmium Yellow                    Utrecht
Cadmium Red Light                Utrecht
Permanent Alizarin Crimson   Winsor Newton
Ultramarine Blue                     Utrecht
Cobalt Blue                              Utrecht
Raw Umber                              Daniel Smith

Occasional additions to my basic palette might include:
Transparent Red Oxide             Rembrandt
Permanent Rose                        Winsor Newton
Magenta                                    Winsor Newton
Viridian Hue                             Holbein

My brushes are mostly bristle flats and filberts from Trekell. Mongoose flats and sable rounds from Rosemary and Co.  I also have a couple of cheapo bristle brushes from Home Depot for toning a canvas or massing large areas when first laying in a painting.

Trekell brushes are excellent brushes and probably equal in quality T Rosemary and Co. for hog bristles that I use. I am in the process of changing to all Rosemary and Co. brushes when I need to order more. This decision has nothing to do about the quality of the Trekell brushes. I want that clear. I am only changing to all Rosemary and Co. to make ordering easier and stay with top quality brushes. It is strictly for my personal convenience and no other reason.

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