Sunday, February 8, 2009

Laker's Girl

This piece requires a small amount of back story.

A good friend of mine has a painting I did back in high school, and much to my surprise he loves the bloody thing. He loves it so much he's kept it up in his house and apparently it's the topic of conversation when people come over, all of which I discovered when I showed up to visit him one New Year's Eve. He was so proud of a painting I had done what seemed to me to be a lifetime before hand. Needless to say I could not stand idly by and have people believe that to be an accurate representation of my work. I just couldn't do it. So, as a result I vowed to do a new painting for him. He could keep the older one up, just as long as people didn't think I was still as bad as I thought I was in high school.

This is not that painting, but a different friend of mine saw it and wanted something similar. As with most personal pieces I dragged my feet putting it together. First I had to find a willing model. Then I had to find the appropriate accessories. Of course the project as a whole gets pushed around as I take on other assignments. And lastly I have to find the motivation when the model has the free time; assuming she's still willing. (Thank goodness she was!) So I shoot the reference and I'm excited to work on it, but then something else entirely comes up. To cut to the chase, this painting has been seven months in the making.

Of course, this is the problem with having friends that are sports fans. No sooner had I finished this piece that a coworker of mine says he wants one for his favorite team - and the cycle begins again.

Personally, I'm really happy with this piece, (even it is partially responsible for ruining my sleep patterns) to the point where I threatened to not deliver it to it's intended owner. I think my recent experimentation and exploration has paid off as I can see a certain amount of confidence that I haven't seen in my recent work. I put down a brush stroke and I left the sodding thing where it was without much fussing over it. The only area that I slowed down on was the face, but really that was the most important passage to get right. Speaking of which, I tweaked her features a little so that it was more an approximation of my model rather than an accurate portrait - I don't know, I figured she'd appreciate it.

Oil on canvas. 20x30

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Back to the 4x6

My freshman year in high school I had an English teacher. (Most of us did...) This just happens to be my freshman year English teacher.

Kind of. I started rooting through old photographs the other night during a particularly vicious bout of insomnia and decided to give this one a shot.

Up until now I've been limiting myself to about an hour on each of these 4x6 portraits. Firstly, I cut that time in half. Then I tried to work with a bad piece of reference (there was no real shadow structure to speak of) and I cut the time in half. While I was in school the mantra "you're only as good as your reference" was drilled into my head. This compelled me to learn to take good reference photography. However, sometimes the client provides you with the reference - and when that happens there's often something to be desired.

All in all I think it turned out decently. My wife could tell who it was from twelve feet away, so that's something. Next time I'll keep one of my limitations; good reference and half an hour -or- poor reference and an hour time limit. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Carbon pencils.

Years ago a buddy of mine told me about Wolff's carbon pencils. I'm pretty sure I gave him a I'm-very-satisfied-with-my-drawing-implement-thank-you-very-much raise of my eyebrow at the time, but I logged the information away. And, as it tends to, the information got buried. Oh, over the years as I was shuffling around in my head it would come back to the surface, but all too often I would just promptly drop something else right on top of it.

Until the other day.

I was in the vicinity of one of the art stores I frequent the other day and Wolff's carbon pencils just happened to be on my mind. I popped in and quickly found what I was looking for - though the decision on whether or not to get the four pack or a few individual pencils took me longer than I care to admit. New supply decisions always do. When the internal quarrelling quietted down I left with the four pack (it's like getting four toys in one!) and headed home eager to test them out. Instead I fell asleep on the couch, but it didn't take me long to crack those babies open and get to doodling.

I've only braved using the B pencil so far, but as of yet they totally live up to the expectations I had built up in my head. There's a blurb on the back of the package that claims these pencils have the best qualities of graphite and charcoal with none of the flaws and so far I'm inclined to agree. The application is smooth and velvety and the lines are nice and rich black - not the shiny silvery quality graphite pencils tend to have. I'm in love.

I'm really happy I've decided to pick these up. Lately I've been more satisfied with the opaque application that you get with paint, and when I do draw I've been drawing on the larger scale so that I use more of my arm and less of my wrist/fingers, but I've been carrying my small sketchbook with me to work more frequently . In the drawing above you'll find a quick portrait of my old friend Graciela and drawings I've done at work - a coworker slacking off on the computer and a cheese shaker. Man... I'm in love with drawing those shakers. They've quickly become my guilty pleasure. Maybe I'll post more drawings of them in the future.