Unfortunately, google has decided to update blogspot so that my browser can no longer work. I do not wish to update my browser and therefore I will now be posting my process shots and tips at my own websites blog www.Shawnsullivanpaintings.com click on "Rants and Raves"
At this point everything has been painted in using a finishing pass. I'll go back in and tweek a few things in a week or so. I switched to using slightly larger brushes and I'm trying to hold off on the details, putting in only what's absolutely necessary to create form and surface. I want there to be a little bit of painterliness to the work, more Sarah Lamb than Edouard Manet.
The study is about 5"x7". Even though I tried not to over model it, I didn't want it to look like a poster. It's surprising how little noodling is required to create form on these little studies. I guess there's a lesson to be learned there. Ebauches, or color washes, can be very frustrating. The thinned down paint just doesn't work the way it normally does and it takes a bit of adjusting. I was looking at the ebauches of Charles Bargue who is one of my artistic heroes, and they really inspired me to stay with the technique until I get the hang of it.
"Red Delicious" 12"x16". I have this set up next to a window. The tricky part is that the light on my easel is coming from the right and I'm right handed which means I'm often casting a shadow onto the place that I'm working. It won't be a problem once I start to paint because I use long handled brushes and a maulstick. I had this one all done and I was ready to transfer and I thought measure twice and cut once so I found some egregious errors and had to do dome major surgery.(I'm glad I caught it before the patient died. I fiddled with the idea of placing a mirror in the background, you can see a faint imprint, but I decided I liked the simplicity of the arrangement. I've been letting myself off too easy on the drawing part as of late and I've decided to really bear down and get the drawing absolutely right before I transfer. I chose the all red apples because for one thing, I like the deep reds, but most importantly, they're usually sprayed with something that causes them to last forever.(which is why I don't eat them!)
I've completed the underpainting for "Prometheus" (16"x20", oil on board). Things are pretty much going as planned. Painting directly on the white ground has kept the colors a little pale which will work well when I proceed to do the overpainting. I didn't know if I was going to like the lamp, it was a last minute decision to add it in, but now that I see it I think it fits. I'm debating whether or not to oil out before the next pass. I guess I'll try a little bit without it and see how it goes. I'm off and running on a series now and I'm going forward with a take no prisoners attitude.
"Prometheus" oil on linen on board, 16"x20". I've been wanting to do a still life based on the theme of Greek mythology, and this image has been spinning around for a while, so I thought I'd give it a go. The mannequin is changed to a rock. The mannequin was blocked in using the sight-size method and the rock is from a litle boulder that I've chained a small wooden mannequin to, in order to get the light. At this point I'm roughing in the first layer paying careful attention to the large shifts of light and form. In the next layer I'll go for thicker paint and a bit more detail. I didn't bother toning the canvas because frankly, I just didn't feel like it. I'm trying to rattle my own cage and break out of my comfort zone. It's lit with daylight simulating bulbs so I'll be able to work on it at night as well. Yippy!
"Julia" oil on linen on board, 11"x14", "Dome and bottles" 11"x14" graphite on paper. I finally got that overcast day that I've been waiting for, to finish Julia's portrait. I'm pretty happy with it but there are some things that I've learned that I'll be looking for in the next one. I'm going to make a conscious effort to keep the shadow areas simpler, thinner and more unified.
I've started a new portrait, the model that I had for the last portrait can't or doesn't want to do it anymore. I wish she'd told me before I transferred the drawing to a canvas! Oh well, I'll have to reprime it now which will cause it to lose some of the tooth. My daughter volunteered (with pay of course) to step in. I tried to graft her head onto the painting but it wasn't working out. With what I know about the way that everything in the figure links up organically, I'm not surprised. She was supposed to pose for me today but I guess she had a little too much St. Pat's fun, so that gave me a chance to finish up both squash. That's good because I think they're starting to smell (or maybe it's me!) Anyways, I plan to do another session refining the drawing and getting itready for transfer. As they say measure twice, cut once!
The ebauche (color wash), is on a 11"x14" canvas on panel, and the study is on a 9"x12" panel. I decided to do the wash in after doing the color study and realizing how complex the lighting was going to be. I was thinking about starting directly in on the vegetables but I decided to do things the way that I needed to and if I end up having to replace the squash, so be it. With the daylight savings time change, I may end up being able to get a few hours in after work each day, so maybe I'll finish before they spoil. This composition is a little different for me, obviously inspired by some of Jacob Collins' earlier still life paintings, meant more as an homage than a rip-off (hopefully it comes off that way).
"So Blue" oil on linen on panel, 11"x14", "Dome with Bottles" pencil on paper, 11"x14". I decided to get started on the painting, I'll try and finish the drawing and painting simultaneously. It was too cloudy for natural light and I wanted to paint so I roughed in my artificial light setup. I laid in the colors without thinner over an umber wipeout. I used bristle brushes and I kept the film fairly thin so That I can do a finishing pass over it. I'm really starting to love painting on New Tradition panels covered with Classens linen. I'm getting tired of having to restretch linen canvases and these are easier to store as well, and best of all they are great to paint on! I didn't really start out with a blue painting in mind, one thing led to another and there you have it. It's giving me a lot of room to play with chroma and a variety of blue hues.
"Flowers, Mask, and Beads" oil on linen, 9"x12", "Spaghetti and Butternut Squash" 11"x14". I managed to finish up "Flowers.." just in time , I'm putting it in a show next weekend. This was another still life set up next to a window. I really enjoyed painting the flowers and I think I'll do a few more. The squash are left over from a demo I gave on Friday, doing the demo painting kind of wet my appetite so I set something up in my studio. I'm playing with the light set up a bit, I hope it works. I have the window blacked out except for the top six inches, where the light comes through onto my canvas and the setup. I wanted the light to look more directional and angling down from above. It's a little bit harder to see but I think the trade off will be worth it.
"Lily Painting a Cast" pencil and white charcoal on paper, 16"x20". "Mask, Flowers, and Beads" oil on linen, 9"x12". I just about have the drawing of Lily ready to transfer to a canvas. I need to do a little more work on the cast. I should have it ready when she comes next week. I'll also prepare a little poster study which I'll concentrate on at the next sitting, to get the color and tonal scheme worked out. I'm having so much fun with this one that I wish I could afford to hire her for a week straight and get it out of my system. I decided to do a re-load on the flower painting. I wasn't happy with the way that I painted the white flowers and I didn't like the way that they went with the red background. These colored roses sem to work better and their red fringes help to merge with the background. I'm on vacation this week and my version of a great vacation is to paint until my fingers bleed!
I've started the block-in for a new painting, "Lily Painting a Cast" 16"x20". The model got lost on the way to my studio so I was only able to get in two hours. At the start of the next session I'm going to triple check my measurements before I do any refining. Basically I have her posing as if she's painting flesh colors onto a cast of the "Dying Gaul". I'm thinking about having her turn her eyes up towards me as if someone just called to her, rather than looking down at the cast, as she is now. "Dome with Bottles" 11"x14" is slowly crawling along. I'm not in any rush.
Almost done with Julia, just have to wait for a cloudy day to complete the background. "Mask, Roses, and Beads" 9"x12", oil on linen, was started in response to a juried show theme "Mardi Gras". Every once in a while I will take on a theme to break out of my usual subject matter. The first pass is almost done, next week I'll have to get new flowers and go fo a finishing pass (no football puns intended).
I'm getting a little closer to the finish on "Julia". The hardest part is getting used to painting the model in daylight while using daylight as the sole illumination on my canvas. I'm used to painting in pretty glaring light so this has been a bit of a challenge. Sometimes I'll turn my studio light on after a session and the values will look a little off. I want to resist the temptation to retouch under different lighting. What I think I'll do in the future is put the studio light on every once in a while, have a look, and then do the retouching back in the daylight. I'm not going to beat myself up about it, I haven't painted a portrait in daylight before so I know it's going to take me a while to get it right. I'm loving the daylight setup so much that I'm using it for still lifes as well, that's one of the reasons why "dome" is being finished as a drawing because I'm doing it at night after work.
"Julia Back From Moscow" oil on linen, 11"x14", "Jug, Pan, and Vase" oil on linen, 9"x12". I'm at a stage in Julia's portrait that I find very exciting. Blindly windowshading my way along, using my study to stay on course, and watching the portrait slowly reveal itself. I'm always hoping to get everything exactly right the first time, but that almost never happens. As I was telling one of my students the other day, you don't want to have a half-hearted stage, planning to be bold later on because that first stage will carry through. It's better to go for broke and then if you have to make changes at least they will be over something worthwhile. The painting is, as I had hoped, starting to take on the mood of the sitter, even the background, so I can't wait for the next session. "Jug..." is finished. This one took a lot of hard looking. I'm painting in north exposed daylight and I'm really paying careful attention to textures and edges. I'm pretty happy with this one and I think it's pointing the way that works best for me; simple objects, well observed.
I've been alternating between these three works, "Dome with Bottles" 11"x14", "Julia Back From Moscow" oil on canvas 11"x14", and "Jug, Pan, and Vase" oil on canvas, 9"x12". The jug is my sunny day painting, the background in the portrait my cloudy day, and the drawing I've been working on at night with artificial lighting. Eventually I will turn "Dome" into a painting but for now I've decided to complete it as a fully rendered drawing, pulling out all the stops. It's been a while and I'm prepared to stay on this one for as long as I need.