Saturday, November 12, 2011

In Search of Loose Portraits


Edge Lighting 
24 x 20

Even the most relaxed, loose painters can seize up and paint uncharacteristically tight when they tackle portraiture.  I own the gorgeous book about the Russian-born Impressionist Sergei Bongart.  His work is as loose as it comes with the exception of a few commissioned portraits.   When you look at those, you'd never know it was the same hand that made them.   In order to secure a likeness, painters often have to push their paintings further than they normally would, connecting all of the dots that they'd rather leave separate.  

That effect was what I struggled against recently when I painted this model in dramatic side lighting.  To avoid getting too picky, I'd occasionally obscure an edge or mash the paint of her features together ("smooshing" is the highly technical term for this) in order that I could find them again with less precision.  I'm pretty happy with this piece, but know that I'll continue to strive to capture a likeness with fewer small brushstrokes.  My ideal and goal is to do most of the painting with a brush of at least 1/2" width.  There's no way that could look precious!  I'll let you know how it goes.

Happy painting!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Course at Calgary School of Art

Summer Table
18 x 36

I announced a new session of my course "Painting From Life" at the Calgary School of Art.  Gratifyingly, the Tuesday class filled right away.  There are still a few spots available on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9 pm if you are interested in joining.  We begin the class on December 7.

The response to this course of study over the past year has been amazing.  People who have long painted from photos and had plateaued in their progress, have been making huge leaps in their skill.  Quite simply, that's because when we paint from an actual object, there is no need to guess or interpret in the way that we have to when working from photos.  Our eyes see more than enough concrete, verifiable information and that can launch our work to a new plane of sensitivity.  

So whether you can take the class or not, I hope you'll take a shot at life painting. You'll never regret the time spent.