Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mother Reading still in progress

This week has been a tough one, but I still have managed to get a bit more time on the Mother Reading painting. For the figure, I still need to work on her hands and arms. Her hands got a bit too big and clumsy and the color on her left forearm got too muddy. I also have much of the background to work out still. You can see some of the books have found their place, but even the more fleshed out books have missing details, that painting from life (since this is my living room) can afford me to get into. I'm trying to remain conscious of the focus of the work and I'll try to not let these details overpower the figure. Also, some fun things to see out the window (and the structure of the window). Oh and straight edges are hard! So, as you can tell, I'm still working on this one. Have patience... it's getting there.

Mother Reading
oil on panel
20" x 16"

Monday, May 18, 2009


Aristide Maillol, Flora (French 1861 - 1944) 65 x 19 x 13 1/2 in. Bronze Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott

I want to share with you a bit of insanity. This is from an article that I came across that was printed in 2006 in the New York Times, so perhaps this is old news. But I fear we have not come far in the past few years.

Apparently, an elementary Art teacher in Frisco, TX, was dismissed from her classroom and banned from teaching anywhere in the county, because she brought her fifth graders into an Art museum in Dallas that exposed them to Nudity. She let them pass by "the marble torso of a Greek youth from a funerary relief, circa 330 B.C.; Auguste Rodin’s tormented “Shade;” Aristide Maillol’s “Flora,” with her clingy sheer garment; and Jean Arp’s “Star in a Dream.”images and sculptures". Wooooh. Can you imagine eleven and twelve year old students put under such duress?

Is this why the average American adult has an Art's education up to about the 6th grade level or is this the result? I'm so disappointed by our society. How can we allow images and videos of guns and violence to permeate this age group and then complain about their exposure to Fine Art that celebrates the human body, human condition or beauty?

Please share your thoughts. Perhaps, you have suggestions of how we can help to change this for the betterment of our society.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

she's still going...

Mother Reading
oil on panel
20" x 16"

Flesh Tones

There are so many ways to get flesh tones, but I thought perhaps I could share my flesh tone palette with you (who are interested). My two strongest mentors in school were Stephen Douglas and Wade Reynolds (as far as I can tell, Stephen doesn't have a website, and his current work holds much less sway on me than his paintings from the era when I was his student, so I've included a picture from a catalogue of a show that was at the Arnot Art Museum at the end of 1999). These painters have extremely differing approaches to painting the figure and differing palettes as well. But as often happens, I used what I thought was best from each and tried to make it all combine into my own.

Stephen Douglas, The Artist Advances Toward Middle Age, 1998 oil on linen 88" x 33"

Wade Reynolds, Seated Figure, oil on canvas (size unknown)

In one of the previous posts I mentioned the colors I place on my palette, but I didn't say how I mix them. As a reminder, here are the usual colors on my palette in the order placed counter clockwise on my palette (note this time my white is different from the Flemish White previously mentioned, and unless otherwise noted, all colors are manufactured by Old Holland):

Lead White with Mica (purchased from Robert Doak),
Green Earth,
Lead Tin Yellow,
Yellow Ochre,
Raw Sienna,
Burnt Sienna,
Manganese Violet,
Raw Umber,
Burnt Umber,
Cobalt Blue

(occasionally I will add Cad-Red Medium, Olive Green, or Vine Black)

So off to the mixing... I use a palette knife to pre-mix my flesh tone starting with a mid-color-value. That approximately consists of 1 part Raw Sienna, 1 part Yellow Ochre, 1/2 to 1/4 part Burnt Sienna (depending on the ruddiness of the model). Without cleaning my knife I then start making tints of this by adding white to separate pools of this mid mixture. I also then add Green Earth to this mid mixture to aid in neutralizing some areas (bottom left mixture). I then clean off my knife and start my shades. Again, using the mid mixture, I add about 1 part Manganese Violet (for warm shadow masses), then the next puddle is that plus about 1/2 part Raw Umber. The next puddle is that mixture plus a tiny bit of Cobalt Blue and then the last puddle is that mix plus white. This also gives me a cooler neutralizer which doesn't affect value in the mid to light areas (as much as if I were to use the darkest puddle). These pre-mixed puddles act as a starting point. Once I get into the painting, I often add colors to these mixes using my brush. I find having these puddles at the ready speeds up my process greatly. It also gives the painting good color unity. The Lead-Tin Yellow is a really strong beast but is a clean yellow which I can add a tiny amount to my light flesh tones if needed. I use Vermillion in the same way.

And voila... now go to it and see what you can do!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Seems only fitting that I should post my progress on this painting today. I was hoping to have more done by now. I've had one more 2 hour session from life and then another session (longer, but I lost track of time, so I can't be more specific) using photo reference. There is obviously much to be done still. Happy day to all the Moms out there!

Mother Reading, detail
oil on panel
20" x 16"

Mother Reading
oil on panel
20" x 16"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Family

Maybe it's like when you have a crack in a large dam, holding back the nourishing flood waters. Or maybe it's just a coincidence or strange timing, that has opened me to the idea of painting my mother. She is visiting from Boston this week to celebrate a birthday. Although now she gives much support to me being an artist, she wasn't always so enthusiastic. She's often warned of the hazards of pursuing a career in the Arts (that I would become a perpetual waitress). Her scientific mode of thought and her fear of what the future may hold, has until recently, prevented her from seeing the value of a career as a Fine Artist. She once told me that she NEVER wanted me to paint her portrait, because I make people ugly. To be fair, at the time I was in college and I was really pushing the psychology I found in my sitters (although I never considered that to be ugly). Having recently finished the portrait study of my son (and I am still working out the larger full figure composition), I must be more open to painting those I love because I got up enough courage to ask my mother to sit for me. Much to my surprise she complied. This is the first pass (about 2 hours in). I hope to get her to sit at least one more time before she leaves and then finish the background on my own time.

Mother Reading
oil on panel
20" x 16"