January 14, 2011

Jane Red Chair

Acrylic on Canvas Panel - 9 x 12 Ω
Just got back from a week of painting at Craig Nelson's workshop in Pescadero, CA. If you ever get the chance to study with him, jump at the chance. I had a great time and learned enough that it'll take me years to digest and incorporate a tenth of it.
It was quite a humbling experience to say the least. Most of the workshop's I've been to feature a wide sampling of artists at different levels of experience and abilities. Almost everyone at this workshop was quite serious (about painting at least) and very skilled. I felt like a I still had training wheels on the whole time!
I'll spare you the truly horrific attempts I did, plus any that I didn't actually finish. I'm not used to running out of time, since I tend to work quickly. Most of the model sessions were either four or eight 20 minute poses. However, as I was trying to follow Craig's method, which is quite different from my normal process, I never really quite got into the flow of things, though I did fully grasp the concept (especially while watching the maestro painting a demo or two).
My biggest stumbling blocks were:
1. Drawing. I really haven't kept up with life drawing and it showed. I've just gotten in the habit of using drawing from flat screens and photos, ones that already have been cropped to the right dimensions, that I wasted a lot of time figuring out how the figure should be rendered.
2. Color and value. Apparently there's a lot more shades and subtlety of tones in the human form that we feel we'd like to see to affirm that it is a face, rather than, say a tree, which still looks very tree-like with only two or three colors.
3. Brush work. I generally attack the surface with every stroke, but Craig's technique employs a range of strokes from firm to barely-there. These lighter strokes are key in developing softer edges and transitions – something I had not really focused on prior to the workshop.
I'll add some specific knowledge I picked up as it relates to the handful of images I'll be posting this week.
As far as this piece is concerned, it was the first one after two days of miserable failures that actually didn't involved all those stumbles. The color's dull, the brushwork boring, and there's an overall flatness, but it's fairly proportional and not too hard-edged. At last, something not too bad for me, but if you could see the skillful versions my classmates did, you'd agree this one is ready for scrubbing out!


Chartan said...

If you are interested in practicing your technique on "models" there is a flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitparty/

we paint/draw each other from each other's photographs, it's a very well run group. Julia Kay is the administrator, she would need to approve of you. I'm sure she would. There is a very broad range of styles and aptitudes.... check it out.

Avocaken said...

Hey there Mr. Zero! I feel your pain BUT, podnuh you gotta start at the beginning. There's going to be bumps and frustrations, I can testify to that. The group mentioned by Chartan (above) sounds like a good idea. Flickr bugs me, though too many restrictions.

Hang in there, good buddy.

Ken B.

Avocaken said...

Hey Mr. Zero. I just looked at that Flickr http://www.flickr.com/groups/portraitparty/ site and you can do that! No problemo!

Ken B.