Life Painting

For one of my Life Painting classes, the teacher set up a model stand in the center of the cast hall. However, for the first class there would be no model. My teacher encouraged us to think about the space (Foreground, Middle ground and Background) and how to compose it.

For the next class, we had to incorporate a model into our started paintings. This exercise was great because, I had to consider the background elements of the painting before focusing on the model.

Zoo Competition

Last semester, PAFA and the Philadelphia Zoo held a school wide competition. The challenge was to create a 2D work of art highlighting an endangered species. The competitors were given a list of endangered animals, a month long pass to the Philadelphia zoo, and the opportunity to create.

I, of course, chose the African Lion (I have a fascination with lion imagery).
I decided to draw on scratchboard, which is a medium that I had never worked in before. To prepare, I did tons of online research, checked out a lot of library books, and bought many practice scratchboards.

I went to the zoo a few times to sketch and take photographs. After observing the lions, I had to decide what aspect about them I wanted to capture. Did I want to portray the strong, aggressive, predatory lion? Or did I want to show the wise, noble lion?

Of course, there is a high sense of drama and excitement when a lion is in action. However, I decided to show the lion at rest in the jungle with the light shimmering through the foliage.

After determining the basic layout of my drawing, I created a quick sketch.

Next, I made a refined drawing and a tonal study

Then it was time to get scratching. I transfered my drawing onto the scratchboard using transparent paper and white pastel.

My Scratching Supplies:

Ampersand Scratchboard 16X20
Ampersand Black Ink (for Re-inking)
Ampersand Scratchboard Tool Set: Steel Wool, Fine Point and Curved line tool, Stainless Steel wire brush, a Parallel Line tool
Xacto Knife

I started with the lion’s eyes, hoping to capture within them a spark of life and intelligence. In order to create visual interest I paid special attention to the different textures in the drawing.

Controlling the organization of the lights and darks was tricky. Due to the nature of the scratchboard, it is hard to hide mistakes. Some of my values did not separate as much as they should have, so there are some areas of visual confusion.

Even though I did not win the competition, it was an incredibly valuable experience. I was forced to go through the entire process of art making, from conception to final product. In the end, I was proud of what I had accomplished and had learned an entirely new medium.

Final version of my self-portrait in oil, charcoal portrait and figure sketches and an anatomy study of the foot.

This is a pastel drawing on regular dwg paper for Scott Noel's class. I would not recommend using that kind of can see how lovely it turned out. I learned that I change my drawing strategies with the medium automatically. That's not always a good thing and I need to be conscious of the changes I am making. Originally the figure was smaller and more isolated in the page. Scott pointed out that there are much more dramatic ways to use that rectangle and I will certainly try to do that in the future. The time to do this is while capturing the gesture. A gesture line is the condensation and organization of a whole lot of information...whew. The idea is to tack on just one more utility.

This is anatomy study I did last Saturday. I think I will keep working on specific problem areas like heads hands and feet.

This is study for the 15 week painting. I gotta admit I freezing up on how I want to use this....

So this is the final version of the self-portrait. I was extremely happy with how this turned out even though my professor thought it was too tight. The pictures don't do it justice. I worked this out on a smooth panel. I had been having lots of problems with those panels but, it worked out great for this project. The first session proves to be very hard to control and very greasy. That worked out great for the pickout I posted previously. The subsequent sessions grabbed onto the first layer rather nicely. Even though I did this over multiple sessions there is no glazing which is something I hope to employ on the next project. I have submitted this to a show at the Plastic Club on Camac St. in Philadelphia.

New Semester

Hello everyone, I hope your semesters are going as well as mine are. This post contains some early work that took place within the first and 2nd week of the semester. This was a one session study done on my own time in the cast hall. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I have never painted a cast before and I thought it would be a nice challenge.
I may be going back into this painting to polish things up a bit.
(oil on pre primed cotton canvas)

This was a one session painting done in Pyform's life painting class. The objective of the assignment was to use a limited palette to distinguish the values of the still life. Over all I think it turned out pretty good. The darks could have been a bit darker in the shadows and the light shining through the doorway could have been brighter.
(Oil on pre primed cotton canvas)

I have been looking forward to this class ever since i head about it. Having John Horn for anatomy only insured the knowledge I was going to get out of this class. This is the 2nd step to sculpting the head. This image shows my pre structure before adding any facial features.
I was very happy by the end of the day with my finished results, but im looking forward to finding out what needs to be fixed next week.
( grey clay)

This was my first wipe out I have ever done using paint. I have to say the values are very limited, pushing more towards highlights. I think this is due to pulling out to much paint and in a sense "over blending" the values.
(Oil on pre primed cotton canvas)

This is my second wipe out painting done in Jill's Basic Color class. In some aspects it is much better than the first one I did. I feel I have captured a better sense of form, weight, and space.
The face is pretty sloppy, but it was not the main focus of the study.
(Oil on pre primed cotton canvas)

This drawing is of a cast using charcoal on strathmore drawing paper. the drawing was done in Connors cast drawing class, which by the way is a great class. The drawing is a huge improvement for me in learning how to handle charcoal as if it were a painting.

Back to School

It does not seem to matter that winter break has come and gone. Despite that fact that I hardly dented my long list of things to accomplish, I am ready to get back to PAFA. I miss the structure, the guidance and of course, my friends.

It has only been a few days and the work is already piling up. For life painting, we are beginning a 15 week pose. I am excited because I get to work on a large scale and have a chance to bring my painting to a more finished conclusion.

Here is a sketch I made of the model. I took time to analyze the pose and gesture. Next, I will make thumb nail sketches to experiment with possible compositions. Then I will make black/white value studies, as well as, color studies.

I know that this is going to be a great year!!!

Charcoal preparatory sketches, an oil self portrait in progress and an oil sketch.

I have the opportunity this semester to do a very long painting. 15 weeks long. I spent today trying to get a handle on the pose. These are all 20 minute sketches from various angles around the room.

Here's an self portrait I'm working on for Al Gury. I am doing a burnt umber pick-out style underpainting here. I wanted to try and emphasize better control over the value by limiting it to 5 tones. I acheived some limited success..this time.

And finally, here's an oil sketch I did in Bruce Samuelson's life painting class. I have heard very good things about this instructor and I have high hopes for the semester in here.

Memory drawing and quicks in charcoal

Finally, PROOF that I don't know what I'm doing.
I love to rise to a challenge. It brings out my contrary nature. My first day back at PAFA brought me just the sort of test I like. One of my all-time favorite instructors at PAFA, Scott Noel, asked us to prove just how much we really knew about the human figure. SO, without presenting us with a model to study or any other preamble..he asked us to draw a figure from memory...just like that. On the first day of class!...just "GO"! I thought that this was a profoundly useful diagnostic and just the sort of thing I need to start doing all the time. I like the idea of confronting my weakest areas and looking at the ugly deficiencies in my skills. That's why I like quicks or croquis, because there is not enough time to hide your errors. Anyway, here's that drawing.

Interestingly, he said that these drawings also showed evidence of what we thought was important in a drawing...I'll have to give that more thought.

Today in one of my other classes, taught by Renee Foulks (another phenomenal instructor and painter), I had to do some 5 minute quicks. They're ugly too.

So, when I got home today,I decided to do a memory drawing of that seated pose. Here's that dwg.

No pain, No gain right? My tentative plan is to combine anatomy studies with quicks and memory drawings until I feel more confident. I have no doubt that I will see major improvements by the end of the semester.

New classes at PAFA and quick oil painting sketches

I don't know how it happens. It does it everytime though. The break is over! School starts back up on Monday...and I, for one, am PSYCHED! I am truly excited about the line-up of professors that I will be studying with this semester. Here's some links for ya: Scott Noel, Al Gury, Renee Foulks, John Horn, Bruce Samuelson, Steve Weiss, and Patrick Connors

I had lots of plans for the break but I accomplished relatively few things. I was crazy busy for awhile. It was hectic up until about 10 days ago and then... it all stopped. It was all too much. I fell into a funk and couldn't get things started again. Feh...

The thing that helped me get revved up to go again was the loose micro-community of painters we've put together over at PAFA. A few friends of mine have sort of banded ourselves together to help each other squeeze every last opportunity we have out of our time at PAFA. We call ourselves The Dirty Palette Club. My tuition was worth every penny just because it put me in the same room as these awesome people. We meet up, paint and talk. We've done lots more talking and laughing than painting so far but, here's a few of the sketches I've done.

Check out their work from our meetings here.

In other news, my brother-in-law donated his old laptop to me. It was a fixer-upper but, I think the system is stable now and that should allow me to edit photos and create the website I have been talking about. SWEET!

Recovering from the Semester

Hey everyone!

I'm sorry I've kind of fallen off the face of the earth for a little while...the end of the semester was extremely busy and ehxausting and I've been spending all of Christmas break trying to recover from it. I've finally gotten around to photographing all my work from last semester and so I'll be posting alot of it over the next few weeks.

I'm starting off with posting some of the final work that I did for my portrait class with Al Gury. The first one here is a quick self-portrait study that I did as one of the final assingments for that class. My goal was to really work very loosely and quicky with it; I completed it pretty much all in a long one-day session.

The is a portrait that I did of my sister from a photograph. I posted a photo of it in progress earlier in the semester. I was surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed working from a photograph. I found that it gave me the time that I needed which I would not have had working from a live model, and I also liked being able to work alone without the presence of another person there. I didn't find that the photograph flattened things too much, and it actually created some really interesting color distortions which I wouldn't have observed in real life. I'm definitely planning on doing some more portrait work with photo references in the future.

This is one of my portrait from in class. Towards the end of the semester we had a six week pose where we were able to do larger "formal" portraits. I wasn't taking the uninstructed for that class, so I didn't have as much time as I would've liked, but I'm still relatively pleased with how it turned out.

I've lots more to post still, so stay tuned!