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.

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