Saturday, January 27, 2007

Another silverpoint

These last few days I've been working in silverpoint, drawing skulls. Drawing skills are crucial for portraiture, particularly to understand the underlying bone structure and musculature. So I've been doing some skulls as a way to better understand the face. As to why I use silverpoint (a more demanding medium) instead of charcoal or graphite, the answer is mostly because it interests me and because it forces accuracy. With silverpoint I can't achieve truly dark darks the way I can with charcoal but on the other hand, close attention can give enough value steps to provide sufficient definition of form. It's rather like an exercise with paint wherein one starts with a relatively lighter color and can still manage to achieve decent contrast between cast shadow and light. And since silverpoint is pretty much indelible, intial accuracy of drawing is crucial if the drawing is to be even close to representation. Here's one of the skulls, done on an 8"x6" gessoed hardboard panel. The grouond is actually white, not gray, but that's the limitation of my photographic skills.

Monday, January 22, 2007


I've started doing a few drawings in silverpoint as a way of working on my skills. Silverpoint is in some ways a delightful medium because of the soft gray tones you can achieve but it's also demanding because it isn't erasable. The tool is a rod of annealed silver that lays down a line that eventually tarnishes (just as real silverware does), turning a lovely gray-brown when exposed to air for varying periods of time. Early Renaissance painters who used tempera often made careful underdrawings in silverpoint since it doesn't smear and remains intact. Like those artists, I did the drawing at right on a small panel prepared with traditional gesso (hide glue and whiting) because I like the smoothness of the toothy surface and the sturdiness of the board. This one is "The Dying Woman," and measures 7"x5".

Saturday, January 13, 2007

A New Study

Let's make it a record: two posts in one long weekend. This is a study I've been working on (now approaching completion) of an old Saturday Evening Post cover of George Washington by Joseph Leyendecker, one of the premier illustrators, along with his friend Norman Rockwell, of the golden age of illustration. This one was from the late 1930s and was featured on a February cover.

My version is 12"x 9" on panel and is a bit different than Leyendecker's; I added background wallpaper to emulate the Stars and Stripes and used my own palette of colors rather than trying to match those in the original. If you'd like to see some more of his works, try this website: for a huge list.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The New Year

If you haven't looked in here in a while, welcome. If you've checked in regularly, mea culpa for the hiatus. Life got complicated during the fall, mostly because of the illnesses of two close family members. Henceforth, with family emergencies finally ended and life back to normal, I expect to post here considerably more often. So if I've disappointed you before, take heart and come back again, 'cause there'll be new stuff here on a more regular basis.

Studio remodelling is done and I've moved in (although there is still a lot of "stuff" in boxes) and gotten back to a wider variety of work. During the fall I managed to complete a portrait commission, which I've posted on the Heartland Studio site, and worked rather sporadically on sketches, drawings, and other items. Here's a look at the new space. Notice the commissioned portrait on the easel. This is the painting I delivered only a few days ago. Tough to work in the midst of such confusion...

Thanks again for being patient (if you are) and checking in once in awhile. I'll be in touch.