Thursday, July 16, 2009

cherub portrait complete

The portrait is complete. Done. I had not anticipated getting it finished quite so quickly. I always struggle with small details and fuss and anguish over little things in the final stages of a portrait. Probably because it has to look like the actual person and the closer you get to completion, the more these small aspects become like beacons of distraction.
When looking at masters of portraiture I see two main directions: Loose and expressive and controlled and detailed. I cat keep the portraits of Michael Deas out of my head...his manner of working haunted me throughout this piece...every glaze and every brushstroke seemed to ask me if this was how he would do it. Nearly drove me bonkers. If it hadnt been for Jeeves and generous libations of tincturet of juniper and other aromatherapeutics, I may not have made it to the end.
What makes it so devilishly difficult is the absolutely cherubic goodness of this little face. Its still so unblemished and perfectly shaped and hued. I wanted to achieve this perfection and desperately tried to channel any 17thCentury old master who would be willing to step in. Alas, none appeared in my hour of need and it was up to me to twiddle my brush and smear the paint.
One always hopes you keep growing and perfecting your craft and I think I may have wandered a few more steps forward on this path even though I rather regard myself as a practitioner of other kinds of visual trickery. Nonetheless this one makes me happy and even though painted this piece, there is as usual a sense of surprise and wonderment at achieving the end goal. At the start of a portrait or other realistic work, I never manage to assume that I will be able to pull it off and get it the way I want it, so the final image most often comes with huge relief and some surprise at how it turned out.
There was last moment jitters and a last application of some pale salmon to sharpen a highlight and then a satin glaze to give it the final rich depth that only a satin glaze can.
I now embark on a painting of a beautiful house which stands on the steep inclines of Table Mountain in Cape Town. A house once owned by a very good friend. Its a place full of happy memories of wonderful times. Its a place I have stayed at and felt comfortable in. It will be a whimsical image... with recognisable exterior, but I shall not be inclined to adhere to any accepted perspective.
Jeeves has the day off and I am stranded in the solarium without tea. Thank goodness Im not helpless and can research the recipe for making tea online....IF I can find my computer's "ON" switch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

cherub faced portrait

Layers of subtle glazes more and she is darker and the image seems to be developing depth. I went in with glazes made with Van Dyke brown and ultramarine...oh and there was a soft pinkish glaze too. I put them on with a large soft brush and then remove smaller areas with a smaller soft brush while the glaze is still wet, allowing me to add soft areas of tone and then bring smaller highlights out. This gives a softer effect...especially when working with something as delicate as a child's face.
Today is time to go in with a brush and some pale peachy, pinky warm glaze in pick out highlights... and go lighter and lighter...
I've had Jeeves take my easel out to the upper solarium in the east wing where we normally put up our visiting upper class guests. The light is better and the sun is out again today. The only possible problem is that its rather further from the kitchen and it may mean that my tea could cool by a degree or two whilst in transit... or worse, my gin and tonic may not be quite as cold.
Nothing is ever perfect.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

cherubic face

The picture is going in the right direction (thankfully) and its progressing well. Possibly due to the rain outside which is keeping me off my bicycle. This summer certainly hasnt been known for its heat an sunshine in my part of the world. Im not impressed.
I have two canvasses distracting me... one is still pure virginal white and requires another liberal coat of primer... then the drawing can begin...I'm still not decided which colour I'll use as ground and which I'll use to draw with... something earthy in both cases...reddish?
The portrait is taking glazes well and its growing steadily... Im trying to balance a looseness and also an accurate detail here and there to nail the delicate facial features. Its fun to see the glazes illuminate and build depth into the image. Every step of the way I have images of truly great portraits haunting me...but also inspiring me...

Monday, July 13, 2009

chubby cherub painting

Here is the start of the cherubic portrait I am doing right now.
When I was visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, I took a lot of hard long looks at the 17th Century painters and how they managed to do such beautiful work. Im still rather at a loss to explain how...but I did notice a lot more loose brushmarks than one sees in reproductions. Seems like a lot of very subtle glazes too.
There recently was a fabulous portrait of F D Roosevelt on the cover of Time magazine by Michael J Deas... just wonderful to see how subtle a portrait can be..... But dont get your hopes up that this cherub will be anything like Deas' work.... but one aims high and tries hard. He paints in oils and I play with acrylics.
Time to drag myself to my easel and lift the heavy brush.... in between hefting the leaden brush I am also prepping a canvas for a painting of a house...the home of a good friend of mine who moved away and misses the place. Right now the canvas is white...I didnt think to show it here yet. As soon as I have anything apart from the gesso, I'll reveal it.
Oh and tea will be served shortly..... one cannot imbibe gin and tonic too early in the day. Frightfully elegant and refined if I may say so myself.
"Jeeves! I am in the painting studio. You may bring the tea!" (I hope he is wearing his clean white gloves)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

too silent

Sorry...I have been busy. Attending to my son during his races at the Canadian National road racing championships (thats him in the red jersey) and coming down from my visit to New York (thats me with the coffee in front of the library) for a few days and seeing sublime art and reveling in the fantastic culture of the beautiful city! It was incredible to have been there. Certainly will be going back again. (part of my mind is still there... like the legend of the Flying Hollander ship which sails mind is caught between MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Right now a portrait is beneath my brushes and it has to be done by end of this week. I shall be putting up imagery as I go about my craft. Its of a 3 yr old child, chubby-cheeked, cherub face. I always find it rather daunting when doing the portrait of a child.... they are such delicate features and Im not an old master from the 17th Century....all of which makes me try even harder!
Global warming is a myth, judging by the very cool summer we are experiencing.