Friday, December 30, 2016

Sneak Preview - 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Untitled (after Harley Brown), Acrylic on Gessoed Mat Board, 10"x7"

Theme for 30 Paintings in 30 Days - Painting People

Sunday the new 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge begins. I have decided to make my theme people, or perhaps more accurately, faces. I'm not calling them portraits for now because I have never painted people's faces before and don't expect to be able to get a good likeness right out of the chute.


Before beginning, I wanted to define what my goals are with respect to painting people. I came up with the following:
  1. Get the proportions, shapes, and values right.
  2. Get a sense of life - I want them to look like real, living, breathing people.
  3. Make it painterly and expressive.
  4. Look for and paint variety and diversity - black and white, men and women, old and young, fat and thin.
  5. With luck and practice, sneak up on likeness.


Since I am just beginning, I thought I would start by copying the paintings of someone who knows what they are doing. To that end, I pulled out a pile of my old International Artist magazines and turned to Harley Brown's wonderful articles on painting people. Many of his paintings are done in a way that makes the individual shapes that make up the face and their values easy to see.

Once I have done a few, I plan to switch to photographs for subjects. One thing I have already discovered as I search through my files for photos is that I can use Photoshop to increase the contrast on a photo to make the individual shapes easier to see.


Since one of my main goals is to make expressive paintings, I decided to forego drawing entirely. I am starting with black and white paint on a colored ground and roughly blocking in the big shapes that define the face, taking time to make sure the shapes and values are good and placed properly. Once that's done, I finish with whatever palette I choose for that piece. In the painting above, I used only black and white paint to create the face. It was my very first try - it doesn't look exactly like Harley Brown's portrait, but it does have life and energy. I am happy with it.


Because I am learning I decided to use scrap mat board gessoed on both sides to paint on. I make lots of repro prints and the cut outs from the mats generally get thrown out. I decided that using them to paint studies would be a good use for them (they're archival - Bainbridge Alphamat Artcare). Unless I decide to get crazy and play with collage, the paintings are done with Golden Acrylics.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

January 2017 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

Hot Rides, Collage/Acrylic on Watercolor Paper, 6.5"x6.5", $175
It's hard to believe that the end of 2016 is almost here already. I just signed up for the January 2017 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. The idea for the challenge was dreamed up by artist Leslie Saeta as a way to jump start the new year. I have been participating in the challenge (January and September) for several years now. For me, having to finish and post a new painting every day forces me to work a bit more quickly, think in series, and put a work aside after several hours rather than picking at it for a week or two. I don't want to do that for every painting (some work just needs more time and effort), but it is a good way to work out some new ideas or try out a new technique. I haven't come up with a theme yet - that's what December is for.

Note: The painting above is currently at the Bryan Gallery as part of their holiday small picture exhibition/sale called GEMS. You can call them at (802) 644-5100 or e-mail at My painting, "All the News...," (shown below) is also in the show.

All the News..., Collage/Acrylic on Watercolor Paper, 6.5"x6.5", $175