Sunday, September 30, 2007

Portrait Sketch

This is a sketch for one of my current commissions, a portrait of the president of Des Moines University. If the university accepts this compositional design, the final painting will start in a few weeks. This sketch is 11x14 on panel. The final work will hang in the university library. The intent is to emphasize not only the sitter's current occupation but also his past as a four-time governor of Iowa. So the golden dome on the right is the Iowa capitol and the dark shape on the left will eventually be the university's tallest building, the Clinic. This will be completed and delivered by spring of next year, in time for an unveiling during Commencement Week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Another portrait

Here is a portrait in progress. This is oil on 2x16 panel. The portrait itself is posthumous but since I knew the sitter I think the colors and likeness are pretty close. I posted the sketch on this blog back in March and since then I've worked sporadically on this one.

My palette generally doesn't change much. For this one I'm using cad yellow, cad red, irg ruby, burnt sienna, raw umber, cobalt blue and ivory black. My mixing white is zinc w. and I also use lead white, mixing in about 1/3 titanium white for added opacity.

This one will be finished in a week or two, I think.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Starting Fresh

Yesterday I had the opportunity to start a new portrait. I love the beginning of a painting. Lately I've been toning my panels (I like linen panels from New Traditions) with Mars black. I take the paint, which is relatively lean, and add some underpainting medium from Studio Products, then thin with turp to a consistency of thin cream. I brush that on and then wipe back to about value 5. Then I'm ready to paint.

My sitter arrived right on time and we took some time to look around the studio before choosing a spot for her chair. After a few false starts, we settled on a well-lighted spot in front of the studio door. I shot perhaps a dozen reference photos and then started an oil sketch. I used zinc white and lead white, cad yellow light, cad red light, irgazine ruby, burnt sienna, raw umber, and ivory black.

I don't paint the the same way every time, but these last months I've been using raw umber thinned with turp to lay in an initial, rough drawing. The drawing is mostly simple outlines and landmarks at first, but then I begin to lay in the darkest masses. The toned canvas is the mid-range of values, and then I can add lighter values.

Here's a glimpse of about 90 minutes' work yesterday. I clipped the reference photo onto the panel this morning as I began working on the likeness. While the sitter was here I was much more concerned with color notes. Today we work on the resemblance.

Also, I put the finishing touches on that streetscape I sketched and posted below. Here's "Victor's," oil on panel, 12x16. It will be shipped as soon as framing is completed. I sent a jpeg to the patron and he was delighted. It's great to make somebody happy.