Friday, October 28, 2016

Another Go

I decided to give it another go, see if I couldn't paint a more finished portrait instead of stopping at a sketch.  Below are three stages of the painting on a 16" x 20" canvas: the drawing, the block-in and the nearly completed piece.

This certainly looks more like my Zach, though there is an undefinable difference that just misses a bit of his essence, leaving me with the challenge to keep working at finding a way to achieve it.  In laying out the features, I have used the standard approach of drawing the vertical center of the face and locating the cross lines for the eyes, the bottom of the nose, the mouth.  But once I was nearer the end of the painting and trying to make small adjustments to reach a closer resemblance, I found that using the points used in facial recognition software - which look to be based more on a three dimensional approach, rather than a two dimensional one - seemed to help.  I will look into that a little more on my next portrait, though I don't think the software points of reference would be as useful in initially laying out the drawing.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


9x12 Oil on paper

Last night I made a little time for painting again, and not ready to start a large landscape, I decided to do a portrait sketch of my youngest when he was about 12.  My problem with portraits has always been an undesirable blotchiness from not blending well, perhaps because I don't use enough paint, maybe the Liquin dries too quickly, or maybe I still don't know what the hell I'm doing.  But achieving a reasonable likeness is coming a little easier now, and the colors don't seem to be so hard to chase down.    Maybe it's true that we need patience, because all these hours of practice will finally lead us closer to our goals.  My goal has never been to sell a painting, or even to paint in a way that would sell, but to be able to put down enough of my idea or catch enough of the emotion that I can share it.  That seems to be reward enough for me.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Light Begins To Fade

Morning on the Willamette

Now that we have tipped toward the coming of Winter, the days are shorter, the light less intense, and the colors are often richer, or at least I am more likely to be out and about during the hours around dawn and dusk.  The camera, though, is really useless for trying to catch the quality of the light and color I see, and I continue to try to hone my ability to remember long enough to get home and get it down on canvas or board.  This isn't one of my natural strengths, as it turns out, but I do believe it is possible to get better with practice.  And in the end it becomes a matter of relying more on imagination and making it up, rather than trying to recreate what is before one's eyes.  I still argue you can't do a good job of making it up or trying to recreate the emotional experience if you can't also match what you see in front of you.  The skills required to mix a color or match a temperature are hard-won.  But without them, how can one practice Intention?