I'm still going at it, practicing portraits, and still using some of Joe's genealogy reference photos, since they're just so appealing to me. What a handsome young man James Tracy Cullen was, wasn't he? (This isn't a scan, but a photo, so it's not the best view of it here.) I think the colors in person are more subtle than they appear here. Below is a picture of the reference photo, so you can see what I was attempting:
...and yet closer:
I have seen this Sargent quote (above) before, and I had to use it for this post, because just a little while ago, I had commented to Joe that: "There's definitely something wrong with the mouth in what I've done so far." I still have a lot of fiddling I want to do with this one, but it's a neat photo, isn't it? A fun reference to use, indeed. I've just begun this one, and will develop it some more, but it's a start. Incidentally, I am aware that a centered, full-on portrait is not compositionally considered a smart thing, but I'm just practicing "getting it" at all, at this point!
Ted Nuttall, in his workshop I attended, discussed "cast" vs "form" shadows and their inherent properties. I was aware of what he was saying, but it bears repeating here. Cast shadows (such as the shadow you see noted below, cast from the sphere) are typically going to be hard-edged shapes to paint, unless they are further off from the object casting the shadow, in which case they becomes softer and less defined. A form shadow, on the other hand, is usually going to have a softer edge, and should be painted to indicate that. Notice the differences in the shadows and their "edges" below:
I definitely tried to observe the way Ted Nuttall continually softened edges or parts of those edges in almost everything he painted, losing some and finding others to define objects.
I'm becoming more comfortable getting these initial washes down; it's the subsequent washes I think I'm still struggling with, and building up the painting. I'll keep practicing and gaining some confidence. I need to work on a background for this image as well.
Here's a peek at my new tabletop easel that I'd purchased when I headed to my workshop: it turns out I love the darned thing! I think it helps to be looking at your subject head on, and I really think it keeps the image from becoming distorted when it's "flattened out" on a table before you. Anyway, I like painting with it a lot, and what I didn't show you here is that it has a nice drawer on the right side that pulls out and stores paint tubes, etc in it nicely as well. I got mine very inexpensively from ?Jerry's Artarama? I believe. It adjusts in size, depending on the paper size you're using, and it folds up really easily, it's lightweight, and has a leather handle to carry it from place to place if you want to move it around. If you've never tried one, go for it--it's a pleasure to use.
"A man walks through life painting a portrait; not of what he would have done, should have done, or could have done, but of what he did." (--Unknown)
1 week ago