Strength and Storm­clouds

International Artist - - The Art Of The Portrait -

Re­cently, my pas­sion for paint­ing the fig­ure has be­come an ex­plo­ration of un­con­ven­tional poses, color har­monies and com­po­si­tions. When­ever I go some­where that is part of everyday life, such as a park, a restau­rant or the gym, I be­gin to muse about what those or­di­nary places would look like if they were the set­ting for an in­ter­est­ing and care­fully de­signed paint­ing.

Such was the case last sum­mer when I started work­ing out at a lo­cal Cross­fit gym. There,

I had the plea­sure of get­ting to know some ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple, in­clud­ing Jeremy, one of my coaches and the sub­ject of this ar­ti­cle’s demon­stra­tion piece. In this paint­ing I tried to unite a sense of clas­si­cal timelessness with a con­tem­po­rary sub­ject. Strength and Storm­clouds de­picts a modern man but is rem­i­nis­cent of the Norse god Thor, who wields a ham­mer and is as­so­ci­ated with strength, storms and oak trees. While pre­par­ing to work with this par­tic­u­lar model, I was greatly in­spired by the draw­ings and sculp­tures of Michelan­gelo. The Re­nais­sance master would have loved Cross­fit ath­letes!

I like to ex­per­i­ment with all kinds of paint­ing sur­faces, and while I do have my fa­vorites (lead-primed linen is at the top of the list), I de­cided to use an Am­per­sand Clay­bord panel for this project. To give the sur­face some tex­ture and vari­a­tion, I ap­plied a thin coat of Hol­bein Foun­da­tion Green with a putty knife and soft brush, al­low­ing it sev­eral weeks to dry be­fore start­ing the paint­ing (you can see some of that tex­ture in stage 1).

For large stu­dio pieces like this one, I pre­fer to block in the main shapes and pro­por­tions with vine char­coal first. I re­in­force my ini­tial draw­ing with some thinned down earth tones, as the vine char­coal rubs off very eas­ily. Once I’m happy with the place­ment, I be­gin paint­ing, and I al­most al­ways start with the face. For me, the face will make or break the paint­ing. I give my­self per­mis­sion to move on to the rest of the paint­ing only when I’m sat­is­fied with the ex­pres­sion and over­all qual­ity of the por­trait. Jeremy’s face was al­most en­tirely fin­ished in one paint­ing ses­sion. As you can see, I started there and be­gan to work out­ward. I try to paint the sub­ject and the back­ground all at once. In this case, I painted the sky tones up to his face to help cre­ate in­ter­est­ing edges while the work was still wet (see de­tail). With smaller paint­ings, I can sim­ply put them in the freezer if I’m un­able to fin­ish them in one sit­ting; that way they will still be wet and ready to work back into at my con­ve­nience. How­ever, with this 24-by-36inch panel, I didn’t have that lux­ury. I had to care­fully plan my paint­ing ses­sions, mak­ing sure that when­ever I stopped it was at a good place to re­sume the next time so that the paint­ing would con­tinue to look fresh and painterly.

The col­ors I used in this paint­ing in­cluded: trans­par­ent ox­ide brown, alizarin crim­son per­ma­nent, per­ma­nent mauve, yel­low ochre pale, cad­mium scar­let, ra­di­ant yel­low, ti­ta­nium white, ra­di­ant vi­o­let, king’s blue, virid­ian, ul­tra­ma­rine blue, ivory black and Sevres blue.

I con­tin­ued work­ing down and out from the face, fo­cus­ing the most at­ten­tion on the ar­eas of warm light hit­ting the torso and arm. I wanted to give these il­lu­mi­nated forms the great­est level of fin­ish, while sur­round­ing el­e­ments could lead the eye in by way of sub­tle di­ag­o­nals in brush­strokes and shapes. The left hand was painted di­rectly in one sit­ting. I also be­gan to block in the back­ground us­ing


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.