After I got about 3/4 done on this painting, I turned off the reference photo and proceeded - something I frequently do when I'm at a point of boredom. It's a good habit - I do think it improves your intuition.
I am so thrilled with this painting - the marriage of olive greens with deep reds and blacks. After I finished this, I jumped right into using those tones with two other small pieces - seeing if I could resist adding more, which was tough. I can't plan and paint. As soon as I concentrate on color wheels, I get too rigid. Best to leave it all up to intuition.
added note....... the article in Southwest Art Magazine, which is in their October issue, is online as well. A big thank-you to the editors and writer for the featured article about my work. Makes me very proud.
There are a few things with respect to painting I'm sure of - whether you're working from life or a photo, paint what you see and not what you know. When I started this series of faces, I didn't consider myself a decent portrait artist - so I approached it, much like I do in any subject, as a landscape of colors and shades. Yes it's a man, yes it's a nose - but not much different than hills and valleys. There's depth, dips, protrusions, highlights. You just map it out like any other subject or scene. I try hard not to start with the greatest intention of 'likeness' - I just work with areas and count on the end result - a leap of faith every time.
I've said this before, but I'm sure that my brain follows the general mood of a subject or scene - not so much consciously, it just seems to happen. If a face is somewhat soft or delicate, my painting turns out soft or delicate. In this case, the face is harsh, rough, aged. I ended up with greys mixed with colder reds - took an old, worn out brush and scrubbed the background around the head. Very cool result.
I'm very sure that if you paint, you should constantly challenge yourself with different subject matter. Down the road, you'll feel a lot more confident with larger, more realized paintings. My best analogy is cooking - the more recipes you try, the more natural it comes to you when you decide to use pork instead of chicken.
I had just finished a really complex painting, a scene that includes twenty people - one of those where I didn't think I could pull it off. It just takes patience and I think it's a winner. You'll see that piece in a few weeks - it'll be included in Howard/Mandville Gallery's Small Works Show. Needless to say, after that one, I felt the need to loosen up with a quick, simpler scene - a lifeguard on Hilton Head Island - a job where the uneventful is a good thing.
After I had finished this painting, my guy, my best critic, commented it had a Lucian Freud feel to it - which made me beam with pride. Freud is the master of figurative painting, in my opinion - and a huge influence on my desire to paint with oils and understand the complex colors of skin tones.
My favorite accomplishment with painting seems to be how I handled the edges. It's usually what makes or breaks the overall finished piece - and it can happen in the last few strokes. I find myself being too tight through the process most of the time, losing interest in what is before me, even after hours of work. Maybe it's the desire to finish up and move on - that's when I seem to let go and allow the unpredictable to happen - let the paint move where it wants to. If it was early on that my edges were wavy and passing in and out of the main subject, I'd probably work on tidying it up. Close to the end, I'm inclined to leave it as is. And that's what I end up loving about a painting the most.
close-up of edge-melding
Look at Carol Marine's work - which is an excellent example of not overworking the edges - melding the surrounding colors/areas with loose brush strokes. I just love that.
Anyways...... I'm back in the hut, after a nice, unplanned road trip, ready to get busy with my paints with refreshed inspiration. That is, after I get in some end-of-summer pool time. Ode to September. I thought it never would get here.
"You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is... unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far." ~ Alice Neel
"If I had the energy, I would have done it all over the country" - Edward Hopper
"It's what you carry to an object that counts." - Andrew Wyeth
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"When I'm old and gray, I want to have a house by the sea. And paint. With a lot of wonderful chums, good music, and booze around. And a damn good kitchen to cook in."