The first five paintings of Portraits of American Teens were a perfect fit for The Warehouse Theatre’s lobby. Here are some photos from my artist reception. Had a great time meeting new Greenville folks and catching up with friends. What a nice surprise when my oldest daughter who lives out of town showed up for the reception.
Packed up the painting series “Portraits of American Teens” yesterday for the first exhibit at the Warehouse Theatre. I hope my visitors don’t touch because the paint is still wet although all the hard work paid off. I finished the painting of Violet just in time. In fact, I had to hang the show on Monday and was still painting on Saturday and would have been painting on Sunday if it wasn’t Mother’s Day. Yikes!! Talk about cutting it close.
I think they look great in the space. Don’t miss the artist reception next Friday night, May 26th at 6 pm. Hope to see you there.
I am thrilled to be one of the accepted artists from 9 different southern states to be part of Artfields 2017. This was also the first year I applied, so it was doubly wonderful when I got the news. My painting “Francesca” will be exhibited in the Seven Monogram Boutique which is located at 130 East Main Street. If you don’t know about Artfields, it is one of the premier Art Shows in South Carolina to honor artists of the Southeast with a weeks worth of celebration, events and competitions from April 21st – 29th. It is held in a the small town of Lake City, where the whole town basically becomes a living gallery.
Hope you have time to check it out!
Grace is the fourth subject in my current body of work Portraits of American Teens. She is a young woman who I met through my daughter Megan when they took classes together at the Fine Arts Center. Although Grace is the typical teen who loves to laugh and goof around with her friends, this is not the side of her that struck me most and what I really wanted to capture. Rather, it was her strength of character, work ethic and just like her name says, her grace.
I discovered these personality traits during our first chat session at Barnes and Noble where I sat down with Grace, her mom and her little sister. We talked about a number different things including school, dance, family and faith. I learned that she is a very dedicated dancer and has been dancing since a very early age. Dance was actually a family affair as she and her sisters spent hundreds of hours in the studio each year. It only made sense to do a photo shoot in this environment.
When we took the photographs, Grace’s little sister came along which helped immensely. Friends and family members sometimes assist me during these photo shoots as they can interact and engage the sitter in a more personal way allowing me to capture a more authentic view.
My biggest challenge during the shoot was the lighting. The studio was off campus from the main dance building where I originally thought we would be. The main studio, where I wasn’t allowed to shoot, had clerestory windows and white walls. This studio was dark, not very well lit and had some really weird yellow paint on the walls. So what do I do in these situations? I change my original thoughts and adapt. Even though the location was different than I originally intended, in the end, I really liked that strange yellow. It added some interesting contrasts to the cool color of her skin and leotard. Even though the location of the shoot changed, I was happy with the end result in the painting. I think I was successful in capturing what I was after in telling Grace’s story.
I thought I would take a break from posting about my project “Portraits of American Teens” and show you my most recent commission, especially since it’s a departure from the oils I have been working on. This piece was done primarily with colored pencil with a little pastel.
Gavin and Cole are twin brothers who live in Michigan and this portrait was commissioned by their grandmother for her husband’s 70th birthday. I just delivered it a few days ago to another happy client. I always feel very blessed when I am able to create a piece of art that has so much meaning for families. It truly is special to be able to share in their experience. I was also able offer a giclee of the portrait to pass on to another member of the family.
The pose was perfect for capturing the boy’s personalities as well as their special relationship. Cole, the twin on the right has cerebral palsy. Gavin’s arm around Cole captures the special bond that exists, yet also portrays Gavin as Cole’s protector.
For my primarily colored pencil pieces, as this one is, I adopted using pastels for my backgrounds after participating in a workshop by fellow portrait artist, Judy Carducci. She does amazing pastel portraits and uses a sponge to wet the pastel after blocking in the back. I have experimented using various sponges and sometimes big brushes which add cool textural and abstract effects.
The following paragraphs are written by Robert Genn and shared from his twice weekly newsletter. For those of you who are not familiar with his work, he is an amazing painter and writer.
Not being in the habit of making comments on international affairs, I asked my American friend Elmer Waite what he thought of former U.S. President George W. Bush’s portrait paintings of world leaders. “Everyone,” said Elmer, “no matter how exalted or humble, has a right to the humility that comes with trying to paint portraits.”
Looking at some of the collection currently on show at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, Texas, I couldn’t help but notice our Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. To my eyes, Bush’s rendition is a dead ringer for the guy who rents us canoes on the Yukon river. To his credit, George tried hard for the niceness of the Harper smile, but in real life Harper’s is a forced little one that happens more toward the outer ends of his lips and nearer to elections. Bush missed that completely.
Portraiture is a difficult business. Bush might have benefited from pointers from any of the several hundred professional U.S. portraitists who, I’m sure, would have put down what they were doing if they knew who was calling. Pointers might include: How to get the spaces between facial features and allot proportions. The high importance of silhouette in getting a likeness. The value of soft and hard edges in portraits. How to use moderate caricature in serious portraiture. What to do about teeth. The pitfalls of working from photos, etc.
Feeling bolder about mentioning this stuff, I have to say that I also never discourage anyone, no matter how important, from getting started. The real payoff is in the doing, as Winston Churchill noted in his brief but insightful book, Painting as a Pastime. Churchill took up painting in 1914 and continued through wars and political ups and downs until his death in 1965. Bush has only been at his easel since leaving the Oval Office. If George happens to be reading this, I suggest it might be an idea to do some relaxed and more casual sketches–perhaps a hundred or two. Good luck. You never know.