Month: July, 2009
“Lady Bug” 30×30″ oil on linen
If you visit the previous post, you can see how we got here. I detailed the edge of her skirt, touched her hands, and painted her blouse and the lower right foliage again.
One of the things that strikes me positively about this work is the depth. The contrast of the brightly lit skin on the little girl (positioned on a wonderful diagonal), with the deep dark foliage in the back hits me hard. The innocence and beauty of the young lady in the sun contrasted with the mysterious deep dark forest behind. To enhance the depth further, the brightly lit foreground foliage leading the eye into the composition on right. Careful attention was given to the layering of the background foliage to give this sense of 3 dimension to the work. It’s really pretty cool when a flat surface gives the illusion of depth. When I look at this background I really feel like Im looking deep into a forest. Close values and softening the right edges creates this illusion. I also chose to keep texture off this background and used it moderately in the foreground.
Of course, the eye is led into the composition on the lower left as well. The foreground foliage and flowers are intentionally not detailed so as not to distract from the focus of the painting which is the young lady’s face. This is not intended to be a highly realistic floral still life, rather it is intended to be a painting of a beautiful young lady in a semi impressionistic setting, and I believe it succeeded. This is one of my favorite paintings to date. Soft edges were used on this foreground foliage, but as the foliage gets closer to the face, the focus and edges become sharper.
As a Bethesda Maryland based oil painter, I particularly enjoyed working on this piece. We visited Landon School in Bethesda Maryland where I went to school very briefly and spent some time in the azalea garden last spring. Also being a professional Maryland wedding photographer (with site at MarkLovettPhotography.com ), I particularly enjoyed the photo opportunities there. Of course it wouldn’t have been half as nice without my favorite little young lady model in the world, Brydon, and her mom with me.
This is a natural unposed moment in time and it would be impossible to ever capture again.
I thought I would share a comment about “Lady Bug” with you, made by a man that I respect very much. Scott Usher is president of Greenwich Workshop, the nation’s leading publisher of limited edition fine art and his comment follows:
“This is very nice. It has a great presence. I know you’ve been doing
other work than the little ballerinas, but this stands out. The whole
scene really works together (figure and environment, lighting and
design). This is good work. The landscape and the figure really blend.”
Publisher and President, The Greenwich Workshop
Now the painting will be packed and shipped away to the very prestigious New York city gallery, ”Rehs”. I am very honored to be associated with such a fine gallery.
Rehs gallery specializes in 19th and early 20th century European works of art and displays paintings many important Barbizon, Realist and Academic artists including: Eugene Boudin, William Bouguereau, Jean B.C. Corot, Julien Dupré, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Louis Aston Knight, Edouard Cortès, and Emile Munier. In addition the gallery features works by mid 20th century American artists such as Ilya Bolotowsky and Ugo Giannini and represents a number of Contemporary Realist artist, including Allan Banks, Barry Oretsky, Gregory F. Harris and Sally Swatland.
I miss my new born child already
Closing in on the finish, I have added another layer on almost everything. I out a rim of light on her hand on hip and arm. It’s subtle but you can see it.
I certainly lightened some shadows, added some highlights, and put a finishing touch on the background finally deciding to graduate it from light on top to dark on bottom. Once dry, I am ready to sign it.
On a commission portrait, probably the most important thing is attaining a likeness, and better yet, a flattering likeness. The artist and client have different concerns. I may be more concerned with the light and shadow patterns on the face, but the client may be more concerned with how the dress compliments her figure. Here a compromise was reached. I would have preferred different lighting on the face, but given all the other positive attributes of the image the client chose this because it was a beautiful flattering image, but it certainly was not easy to convey in paint. It was a huge challenge but I think we succeeded. I usually like some shadow under the chin, nose and in the eye sockets. If you notice in this portrait, because she was window side lit, the edge of the chin disappears into the neck with no shadow.
Upon completing the portrait, I had the client come and view the painting. She loved it with the exception of a couple of small things. When painting a commission portrait, Im painting to please myself, but I also want to please the client. After she pointed out a couple of issues she was concerned with ………. the lips, shadow under her nose, and an edge or two on the dress, I decided to correct them on the spot with the client watching. I really do not want to receive a checklist from the client and spend another week working on them and find out later that we miscommunicated. What pleases me may not please the client and we may be back to square one. When addressing subtleties, there may be many ways to approach them and the finish can be very much up to individual taste.
I felt that maybe we had a better chance of straightening the issues out together in close cooperation. We discussed the pros and cons of making various changes and many were dropped. I touched the lips and nose shadow areas as well as one edge on the dress to her taste, and voila, twenty minutes later she was happy, she loves it and she took it home!
It was a great experience. It was a huge challenge. Although I’ve never had a baby because Im a man, it seems like it may be like giving birth. There were some frustrating moments as there are in all paintings, but we persevered. I did my absolute best, the clients really happy and it’s time to move on.
Keep in mind when viewing the pictures of the various progressions of the painting that there are variances in the photography. Meaning that the same painting image may look warmer , cooler, brighter or darker in the photograph posted when the painting hasn’t changed.
Thanks for visiting. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings.
24×32″ oil on linen
To help Dave Chappell raise money for recent hospital bills, the below listed musicians performed at the Surf Club in Hyattsville, MD on July 16, 2009. I had the pleasure of lending a hand by photographing the event.
MUSIC BY the NIGHTHAWKS, PATTY REESE BAND, BRUCE SWAIM, JOHN PREVITI,
CHICK HALL, BILL STARKS, MARY ANN REDMOND, DAN HOVEY, JIM ROBESON
BOB BERBERICH, MARTHA HULL, PETE KANARAS, SCOTT RAMMINGER, MIKE LESSIN, ANTOINE SANFUENTES, CATHY PONTON KING, JUNKYARD SAINTS, RICO PETRUCELLI, BIG AL SEVILLA, KING SOUL , BIG JOE, JIM STEPHANSON, and others— MC’s by DAMIAN EINSTEIN, WAYNE KAHN, and RON GOAD and REVEREND BRIAN FROM WESTMINSTER CHURCH.
I created a photo gallery with many images from the night. You can help Dave Chappell by visiting this photo gallery and purchasing prints or jpg’s. A portion of the sale proceeds will go to Dave.
Below is a little slideshow that will give you a taste of the evening. The music was really outstanding. If you click the small icon at the bottom right of the slideshow window you can view the images full screen, and if you would like to see more, and perhaps make a purchase and help Dave go to my Photo Gallery.
Another layer on the face…. I decided to increase the light coming in from the left side. This caused the lips to appear to dark …… so I had to repaint the lips a lighter value. This sometimes can get frustrating but it’s part of the push and pull process. I darkened the shadow side of the face under the eye. I added another layer on the chest and arms.
A few days later, I got a new attitude and decided to continue striving for perfection. I decided to focus on a couple of areas that I know I can improve upon. Today I chose to work on the hands. Before laying a stroke down on the hands I began working the areas around the hand. I needed to warm up first. Hands are extremely difficult and I dont stand a chance until I get the surrounding areas strong.
Once I brought the areas next to the hand up, it became easier for me to see the subtle changes that need to be made ………. using the surrounding areas as a reference. As a result, I probably worked a couple hours on the dress, scarf, and background before touching the hand.
Even though I was planning on just focusing on the hands today, I ended up noticing areas in the dress and scarf to improve upon…..so I tweaked them again. Notice that I darkened the left bottom background as I painted the scarf edges again, and I tuned the values and temperatures in the scarf.
If I do say so myself, I’m really very happy about how the hand on her hip and the surrounding scarf looks now!
Notice that I added another layer to the hand on the table. I also added one more finger. You can barely see it back in shadow. The fingers were too narrow and the values needed to be corrected. I’m really loving this painting now and I’m ready to set it free.
Below is what the work looks like after some another long focused session. Painterly brush strokes, bold colors and texture were added to the dress. I also worked on many other areas of the painting as well.
By the way, below is a PHOTOGRAPH of the beautiful Adriana. Do you think I captured a good likeness of her?
PHOTOGRAPH of Ardriana
Portrait Painting (Continued)
If you compare the below painting with the previous stage, you will notice that I completely repainted the dress with a focus on values (meaning light and dark relationships). It is very difficult to read values correctly with saturated paint colors like the reds in this dress. One can easily get caught up in the excitement of the colors and paint the light and dark relationships wrong. It’s all part of the process. When the paint dries, and after a good night’s sleep and a fresh cup of coffee, it’s always easy to spot areas that can be improved upon. I suppose I could spend a lifetime on one painting.
I also painted another layer on the face and chest.
It’s always easy to spot the flaws in realistic work, and an artist could spend a lifetime on one painting and never get it perfect (whatever perfect is!) So when encouragement is needed, we can always look back and see how far we have come. Just for fun I’m going to post the stages of the face , big and bold, below:
OK I feel better now. We have come a very long way, especially considering I was not painting on a line drawing so the edges will be very nice. There does come a point where an additional session (and an additional layer) does not translate to an improvement in the work. For you photoshop junkies out there, can imagine not ever being able to go back to a previous layer? I can tell you that there have been many times that I have painted a long six hour session only to wake up the next day, and upon seeing the painting in the morning light my wife says I liked it better yesterday!! This can be very frustrating.
The moral of the story is to step back and squint down alot and look at the painting in different lighting. Constantly try and determine if you are improving or hurting the work. Knowing when to stop is important. After all, this is paint on canvas, not ink on paper. It needs to look like a painting….not a photograph. If we wanted it to look like a photo we would have skipped the painting process and framed a photograph. We want a great likeness and we want it to look like a painting. We want it to be beautiful, and fresh and not overworked. Having said that, I’m getting pretty close to kissing this one goodbye.
After additional layers and sessions we are now a little softer as show below: