Painting…Again

WinterScapeWeb

It’s been a long time since my last post. I’ve needed to try some new adventures and experience some challenges. I’ve been walking outside my comfort zone. If you want to see what I’ve been up to, here is a link to my new website. It’s been a wild ride.

A friend asked if I would paint a watercolor from an old photograph as a gift for a couple who are retiring from a ministry in Canada. This ministry helps and encourages indigenous people in the area. When I was sixteen I worked as a cook and kitchen helper in this building. The image stirred so many memories.

Sketching Joy Hill From Facebook Photos

Many of my friends on Facebook post such excellent photos. The light or composition might be stunning, but honestly, I’m looking for the love: love of nature or the love of a dad for his son. It’s the element I’m drawn to more than light, color, and composition. It’s where beauty finds a home. It motivates and stirs me. The photos I find and put in my “to sketch” file are mere ghost images of what my friends love. Sketching them is like holding a precious jewel for just a moment.

Since the past two images I sketched were of living beings, I thought I’d mix it up a bit with a structure. My husband’s cousin owns a beautiful home in New Hampshire she calls “Joy Hill”. She is an excellent photographer and has posted many lovely images, but this one caught my eye.

Deanna's Joy Hill

Joy Hill web

Sketching and Cooking

I found this fun website of artists illustrating recipes. I entered a contest where the artist illustrates one ingredient used in three simple recipes. I got my entry in twenty minutes before the deadline. I’d like to have you think this is unusual for me. Here is my entry:

Carrots Times Three

                                                             Carrots Times Three

Our family loves carrots and Alaska’s are fabulous.

Illustrating recipes is so much fun. In fact, I’m planning on creating twelve of these and giving them to my daughters-in-law for Christmas using Blurb or some other site that prints books. That might mean I need to plan ahead a bit. Maybe a little more than twenty minutes. Please feel free to print this for your own use, but please, don’t share, post, or sell the image. Share this blog site all you want.

More Facebook Friends sketches coming. I’m looking at a photo of the most lovely farm. It’s almost finished.

Here is the website with the contest: They Draw And Cook

Sketching Facebook Photos-Stalking in a Good Way Part 2

Neil ptg

My Facebook friends have no idea I am going to paint one of the photographs they have posted. It makes me feel like a stalker…in a good way. When I emailed the above image to one of my friends, I waited to have him tell me if this watercolor looked like his son or if it looked like a distant cousin or the kid down the street. With portraiture, it has to be right or it is all wrong. I hoped to hear back from him within an hour or two. I figured the more time it took, the more likely he was trying to work out how to tell me it didn’t look like his son. In less than five minutes, he called. “That’s awesome!” This guy loves his little boy so much. Can you tell by the photo he posted, below? The light on his face is so strong and tender. I just couldn’t resist. Neil 2

Some people want to know details and a bit of my process. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if I don’t explain something you might want to know. I took several workshops with Jan Kunz, so much of what I do is similar to her process. She is a great teacher and her book is excellent. I’ll post the colors and brushes I used in another post.
I started with a Bic mechanical pencil using a .7 lead. Don’t press too hard and don’t even think about using the eraser on the cap, unless you like permanent gray smudges. I use a gray kneaded eraser.
Below is the drawing with the first and second wash. I let each wash dry before adding the next. For the record, a wash is the same as a glaze, which is how some artists refer to it. It just means a layer of paint. I intended this layer to be bright so his skin would glow underneath the glazing layers. I have a friend who paints in oil and she calls her first layer “underpants”.

Neil process 1

Pretty scary looking, isn’t it? This is progress, but still scary:

Neil process 3

Below I’m starting to glaze over the yellow to get skin tone and facial shapes. Children’s faces are more about what isn’t there. No defined nose, eyes or lips. Lots of softening of lines and little bits of shading.

Neil process 2

It would have been good of me to remember to take more pictures, but at this point, I become focused on painting and forget. I take photos at the end because I am more objective with a photograph of the painting than the painting itself. In the image below, can you see the back of his head and his ear is too light? His left eye is too squinty, the shirt is too yellow and so many other details, but this is when his character begin to emerge. Neil process 4The final stage is an elaborate game of hide and seek, glazing correct colors and values. I mold those delicate features with a little bit of cool blue or warm purple or the reflected yellow light bouncing off his shirt up onto the bottom of his chin, under his nose and the brow bone. One eye might be just right and the other one…not so much. Or the mouth might be just a little bit…odd.
There is quite a bit of mumbling in the studio during this stage. I don’t talk to myself, but I talk to paintings. Especially when they talk back. Or if they are giving me grief. This piece didn’t give me grief, but I did have to encourage him to have both eyes going the same direction. Some people think expression is held in the eyes, but it really is in the mouth. The mouth affects the eyes, not the other way around. If you smile really big, those facial muscles will push up your cheeks, making your eyes squint. His mouth is very, very soft with more transitions of color than lines. Neil detail

“Well, hello, Neil!”

On to the next one…

Sketching Facebook Photos-Stalking in a Good Way

I must have a stalker’s heart. My Facebook friends post photos which only tempt me to see more. More of that road trip. More of that family (oh, look! they have twins too!) More of that building project. More of those crazy pets. Some of those images reached out and grabbed me by the leg. Well, sort of. They spoke to me in one way or another. Usually it is the lighting in a photo that catches my eye. If it makes me catch my breath, it goes in the file. I’m not going to tell you what images are there, but judging by the contents, I’m eclectic.

This is the first one. My friend, Heather, feeds all sorts of birds. I’m jealous that she has Stellar Jays. She is only a hundred miles and a mountain range away, but those jays don’t live near us.

Stellar Jay Watercolor

Stellar Jay Watercolor

She feeds them from her hand and captured that expression with her camera. How could I not paint this handsome dude? I’m a sucker for electric blue eyebrows.

The next painting is on my painting table. I’m going to send a photo of the painted image to the “owner” and wait for a response. This one has to look just right or it is all wrong. Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

Stay tuned…

Painting Kids and Cars

Elijah

It is always an honor to paint a person. There is the responsibility to “get” the expression and put the eyes and ears in the right places, but there is a level of tender intimacy found when I look so long and carefully at just that nose, that ear, that personality. It isn’t the same as painting, say…cars!

Arizona Cars

These cars are all in Arizona. People drive golf carts around, too. I wasn’t sure what to put in the bottom middle spot. It would have been difficult to draw a small car across the gutter of the page. My friend, Elinor, suggested an Arizona license plate. Pretty cool idea, isn’t it? The page needed some text, so I added words from an old Country Western song. I sang it for my husband and he laughed.