Painting Demos

Wayne - portrait demo

Lauren - portrait demo

I teach two classes a week at the Calgary School of Art and I do a demo of some sort in most of them.  And every demo is done on the same canvas board.  I call it the Lucky Demo Board now because, while countless studio paintings flop, the paintings that I produce to illustrate a lesson seem charmed.  Though I'm tempted to keep some of them and a model once asked to buy a portrait of himself, I've become superstitious: that board is the only one that I want to use for each class.  To get a new one is to tempt fate.  Besides, there's a touch of the Buddhist in creating something and then eradicating it twice a week, every week.  Everything is impermanent.

My students are currently working on painting alla prima portraits from life and we've had two excellent models to work from.  Wayne's dark skin was a challenge after weeks of painting fair-skinned models.  We discovered, however, that the same palette that we'd used on Caucasians worked for him; just the proportions of each colour changed.   Strong, pure ochres, blues and purples were believable in this painting.

Lauren was a challenge because her complexion has the creamy softness and opacity of children's skin.  She has few obvious colour and plane changes, though, as I studied her, I began to see tiny, subtle ones.  This demo was significantly slower because I struggled to describe the dimension of her face without exaggerating or inventing colour changes.  I had to keep the colour delicate and smoothly applied to avoid hardness in her expression and in the mood of the painting.

These two paintings don't exist anymore but the Lucky Demo Board is cleaned up and full of the promise of another painting.  The joy is in the creating, not the keeping!


Gaye Sekula said…
I LOVE your style and your approach!
Tim Robinson said…
These paintings are really nice. I really like the mix of warm and cool colors in the second demo.
Thanks, Tim! I was browsing your blog and really enjoyed all of the drawing that you do: caricature and realistic. It's inspiring to me. I always intend to draw more and never actually get to it. New Years resolution perhaps...
Dean H. said…
Eradicating all the beautiful alla primas is simultaneously sad and exhilarating,Ingrid! It sure teaches that the marks we make aren't all precious and that fact should lead to more freedom in painting.

Loved your least they're saved in digi form.
Hi Dean,
I agree with your thoughts on freedom of expression. Too often, I get caught up in editing while I paint and the piece doesn't stand a chance. I think that's why the demos are successful: I know they will be wiped off so I just "go for it". There's a lesson in there for me. I don't always keep it in mind in the studio though!
Happy painting and happy holidays, Dean!