Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Exciting New Exhibit - Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends coming to NYC!

I am so excited to get my new book, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, which has been created in conjunction with an exciting new exhibit, currently being held in Great Britain. I decided to go ahead and order the catalogue online. It will be a welcome distraction from the sinus cold and bronchitis I am currently battling.

The good news is that this exhibit (curated by Richard Ormond, Sargent's great nephew) will be coming to North America. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City will be hosting the exhibit from June 29 to October 4, 2015.

If you like Van Gogh, there is also a concurrent exhibit of his flower paintings at The Met from May 12 to August 16, 2015, so if you time it right you can take in both exhibits. Also, Frida Kahlo is at The New York Botanical Gardens from May 16 to November 1, 2015.

I am already scheming a trip to New York this summer!

In related news, The Portrait Society of America is holding their annual convention in Atlanta this year and Richard Ormond will be giving the keynote address. If you are a portrait or figurative painter, this is am amazing event to attend, very inspirational, and with Sargent's great nephew presenting it will be even more special!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Free Book from Charlotte Wharton:

For a limited time (only until January 31, 2014) painter Charlotte Wharton is generously making her book, The Language of Energy in Art: Finding Your Vision available at no cost to other artists!

This the full book with all illustrations as a digital download, to your computer, dropbox or kindle. You will need Adobe Reader which is available at adobe.com if you don't already have it installed on your device.

To get your free download, go to this link and click on the tab for a "free" copy.

Thank you, Charlotte!

Friday, August 29, 2014

More Free Art & Drawing Books!

I just discovered an amazing resource for creative individuals and students - 100 Best Free Art E-Books!

Anyone can get an account through The University of Michigan and if you attended one of the institutions they list, you can even download the books.

The list of titles includes "The Human Figure" by John Vanderpoel (one of the best books on drawing, according to several of my teachers, including master painters Cedric Egeli and Dan Thompson) and many Loomis drawing books.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Attention Fine Art Painters - Two Free Painting Books to Download!

First wife of John Collier, Marian Huxley, also a painter
This evening I stumbled upon an interesting article while doing a little aimless internet searching. I don't know why I was not already subscribed to the blog I will share with you now, entitled "Studio Rousar". The name of the blogger is vaguely familiar, but I can't think from where at the moment. Anyhow, I am now signed up, as it does seem like great information.

Posted in this article is a link for two books you can download absolutely free. The books are both written by a fantastic painter of the past, John Collier. John Collier was an Englishman who painted in a Pre-Raphaelite style. He was a leading portraitist of his generation.

Check out an article about Collier and his sight-size method, posted by Darren Rousar, with some samples of Collier's work here. Collier really knew what he was doing so having these books will be a valuable resource for any realist painter.

Download A Manual of Oil Painting and The Art of Portrait Painting

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bid on a Pet Portrait at Wine Celebration!

One of my custom pet portraits is going to be up for grabs at a posh Wine and Cheese Celebration, which will include entertainment, hors d'oeuvres, dinner and dance, on August 9, 2014 in Wellington County. 

This fundraiser is to support upgrading of the Millenium Trail.

The scrumptious four-course meal (including a vegetarian option), created by Michael Hoy features locally grown products.

Tickets are $100 per person and is a great value for it includes:
  • A ticket for a door prize of County products.
  • A souvenir wine glass.
  • Wine and cheese tasting plus hors d'oeuvres from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Auctions - live and silent
  • A 4-course sit down dinner
  • Two bottles of wine per table at dinner
  • Dancing to midnight.
If you would like attend this event, you can order tickets online at www.wellingtonrotary.ca.

If you would like to commission a portrait of your (or a loved one's) furry friend (which is also a great value) go to my pet portraits website to reserve the next spot on my waiting list: http://petportraitscanada.blogspot.ca

Friday, May 30, 2014

Academy of Realist Art "The New Masters" Exhibit

These photos were taken at the opening of "The New Masters" exhibit at The Academy of Realist Art. The paintings will be on view until June 21, 2014 if you would like to take a look!

I am also very excited to be flying to Britain next week and then taking the Eurostar to France! It is going to be interesting attempting to drive a stick shift vehicle on the wrong side of the road. The plan is to visit some gardens and palaces, then a few days in London before crossing the channel. We are heading west to Bristol and Bath, then south to Brighton. I hope to gather lots of reference material, especially for a series of paintings I have in mind, focusing on Parisian city life. Au revoir!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Academy of Realist Art Toronto "The New Masters" Annual Juried Exhibition Opens May 17

I hope you can join me this coming Saturday at the opening for an exhibit of realist art at 2968 Dundas Street West in the west end of Toronto. All the details are in the poster above.

Two of my paintings will be on display, including a really big one of Canadian athlete, Donovan Bailey, who was twice an Olympic gold medal winner! 

The location is in the west end of Toronto, in the area known as "The Junction", just north of Bloor West Village. 

There are some great places to shop and dine in the area too! I love The Sweet Potato (a mini Whole Foods) and Bunner's Bake Shop for gluten-free baked goods. Their cinnamon bun is delish!

See you there!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Portrait Society of America "The Art of the Portrait" 2014 Conference - April 27 highlights

Demo by Robert Liberace and Rose Frantzen on big screen
The final day of the conference, there was a panel discussion with a number of distinguished painters, including Wende Caporale (who acted as moderator), Daniel Greene, Burton Silverman, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Rhoda Sherbell and Mary Whyte.

I especially enjoyed Daniel Greene's account of dealing with clients and Wende's comment that she had never heard him speak so much (after she, unfortunately, had to cut him off in order to get to the next speaker). It was also a lot of fun to hear Mr. Kinstler talk about his experience working with Katharine Hepburn (hint: she drove him crazy!) and how things worked out in the end!

I love the stance Rose takes when painting, very assertive!

The final demo was by Rose Frantzen and Robert Liberace, both amazing painters. James Gurney was also busy to the right of the stage, capturing the artists as they worked!

A few painting notes:
  • Rose said that she wants to try all the ways to back the cake so is open to many ways of painting.
  • Robert used the handle of his brush to scratch out details like the eyebrow hairs, which I thought was a nifty trick.

The Start

On a final note, the conference next year is going to be in Atlanta from April 30 - May 3, 2015! I would strongly encourage any figurative or portrait artists out there to make plans to attend and get inspired!

James Gurney
Model checking himself out

Rose's materials
James Gurney capturing the action
The materials of James Gurney set up at the edge of the stage.
You can see the flyer for Rose's book also.

Oil Painting by Rose Frantzen
near completion (detail)

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Portrait Society of America "The Art of the Portrait" 2014 Conference - April 26 highlights

The Legendary Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler
One of the highlights of the conference was when Everett Raymond Kinstler spoke and gave some enlightening critiques of a selection of paintings. Mr. Kinstler (even though he says to call him Ray, I have trouble doing that, I have so much respect for the great man!) is a really great artist, true gentleman and so popular, there is always a line-up to speak to him but I finally managed to get a chance to say hi and renew our acquaintance. He is still (at age 88) as passionate as ever about painting and he can't wait to get up every morning and get to work! His talk on Saturday emphasized the need to paint what you care about. He always keeps his eyes on the past and draws constantly in his sketchbook, in addition to his painting projects.

Some notes from his talk:
  • There are no shortcuts, but there is nothing better than making a living doing something you are passionate about. 
  • Keep learning and being stimulated. 
  • Keep in mind the essential character and not the accidental appearance. 
  • Go beyond the photo into what you want it to be. 
  • Don't render everything.
  • Get the feeling and take out anything that does not contribute.
Mr. Kinstler had an interesting story about juried shows that should be a lesson to artists everywhere. He said we should not get too excited about awards and honours but on the other hand we should not become depressed or dejected over rejection either. He told of being rejected twice from a watercolor show and could not figure out why the painting had been refused. He entered the exact same painting to the exact same organization a third time and ended up winning the top prize!  So, his advice is to never take anything too seriously, just get on with your work!

I also attended a very early morning session of The Cecilia Beaux Forum. Chris Saper, Judy Takacs, Kate Stone and (the sole guy) David Gluck spoke about self-publishing, social media and blogging. I wish I could have attended all three of the sessions that ran concurrently!

Saturday's program also included a demo by watercolourist Mary Whyte and an oil demo by Daniel Greene.

Mary Whyte and her favorite model answering questions from the audience

Daniel Greene recommended using a mirror to check for grievous errors in drawing. When starting to paint, he goes from dark to light, with darks a little lighter (and thinner) and lights a little darker (and more opaque) than they actually are. This leaves a little room to progressively alter things. After massing in the shadow pattern, he scribbles on colour in the light areas of skin.
Daniel Greene's precise start to portrait of Jack Richeson
I didn't attend the evening banquet, but Facebook soon announced the William Draper Grand Prize Winner - Bryce Billings, who accepted the award with his son (who is also in the painting). I was not surprised to hear that he had won the prize, as his painting was not only beautiful and technically well done, it had emotional impact and the guy even made his own, very unique wooden frame! Those piles of paint on the palette were also really 3-D, which I loved.

I also really liked the figurative work by Olga Krimon, which depicted a young woman reclining beside a table. It was colourful, had great composition plus brushwork and is a painting I would love to hang on my wall!

More highlights tomorrow - don't miss the final day! 

A Father's Dreams and A Son's Love (detail)
photo by Connor McBrine-Ellis - Hyperact Media

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Portrait Society of America "The Art of the Portrait" 2014 Conference - April 25 highlights

Morning view of Reston Town Centre from The Hyatt Regency Reston Hotel

On Saturday morning, two of the demonstrators from the previous evening, Quang Ho and Jeffrey Hein painted together while engaging in playful banter.

Quang Ho mentioned that he has lately started working with a verdaccio (a green tonal underpainting), focusing on values and then glazing over that, which is a new way of painting for him. He also stated that while painting alla prima he destroys and then brings back the image. To challenge himself, he plays with color concepts, going into the studio with an assignment to work with a certain color scheme. He mentioned that the main thing is to be excited about whatever you are painting first!

Sharon Sprung, of New York,  talked about the narcissism of small differences - how colors look the same when far apart, but very different when side by side. She emphasized the importance of stating everything loosely at first  since every color (and value) is influenced by what surrounds it. Her palette consists of 9 colors: yellow ochre, raw sienna, bright red (transparent and chromatic), scarlet sienna, alizarin crimson, raw umber, red umber and payne's grey, cobalt blue plus white. She sometimes uses prussian blue and indian yellow for cool or dark skin tones. Sharon mixed a multitude of skin tones from her limited palette and showed how she matches skin tones by actually placing swatches on her model's skin. She mentioned that the strongest color is in the half-tones where form turns.

As I watched her paint swatches on her model (plus a few brave volunteers possessing varied skin tones) with flake white based colors it occurred to me that I might try something similar but probably use some plastic wrap for protection! It is a little risky for the health of your subject to apply lead based paint to their skin, but Sharon mentioned that she and her models get tested regularly, so I guess it is possible to get away with a little exposure in that manner.

The next presentation I chose to attend was a panel talking about lighting, materials and posing for portraiture. Jennifer Welty, a charming and experienced portrait painter, talked about how she proceeds to get the reference material she needs. She prefers to use natural light whenever possible but has an Omni light with barn door, umbrella and an LED light with a warm, transparent overlay. She uses a Canon 50 mm or Tamron 18-270 mm lens with a reflector on a stand. She likes foggy weather for the intense color, conditions similar to those favored by daVinci or Bougeureau. She mentioned that you ought to have a composition in your head before taking photos and early morning/late evening has the best light. She uses a 22x14x10 Pelican case to carry fragile gear encased in foam layers.

Working with photo reference (slide by Jennifer Welty)

With regard to painting, she advises to take things out rather than put them in. Look for the wrinkles that tell the story! Don't slavishly copy every wrinkle simply because it is there. What remains will have more prominence. This is good advice that I have heard more than once from top portrait painters. She recommends the principle of selective focus. Painting every line and wrinkle works against the illusion of reality as that is not how our eye sees. Our mind edits and knows what is most important.

Jennifer also gave a few tips for dealing with difficult children (she does a lot of kid's portraits) and recommended Apple photo booth to get them laughing - it distorts the face and is quite entertaining for a young child. She schedules the whole day, with a lunch break, for a photo shoot to give the subject time to relax in front of the camera.  It is best to keep the head small in proportion to the body (I have noticed this in Sargent's work, some of his paintings are 9 or 10 heads high) and to not have a static pose, always including a twist in the body.

Paul Newton (the artist who brought all his enormous lighting equipment) is from Australia and uses a different electrical system than we have here in North America. Since I prefer to use natural light with maybe a huge piece of white foam core as a reflector, I am not going to go into huge detail about his particular choices. He does emphasize the need to reflect back some light into the shadows since we all know that the camera does not portray reality and shadows are often black holes rather than airy and subtly light filled areas even though a darker value than anything in light.

Main light is placed VERY high to light model

Here is Paul Newton adjusting his fill light - as you can see, this is serious photography equipment. He mentioned that you can use a white wall instead of this light. These are monolights which consist of a lower intensity constant light that shows you the effect and a strobe that goes off when you click the shutter of your camera. He uses Prophoto (a Swedish company) since they have dual voltage and 250 watt bulbs.

The final speaker was Virgil Elliott, who spoke about oil painting materials and showed us how quickly a number of colors (such as many brands of alizarin crimson, even the permanent type) faded. He encouraged us to do our own testing, since some colors he expected to do well faded quickly and others were fine.

Don't miss the next blog post - third day at the conference coming up!

Portrait Society of America "The Art of the Portrait" 2014 Conference - April 24

Watching the proceedings

After a short flight from Toronto Island Airport via Porter Air, and a quick shuttle ride to our event hotel,  I immediately had the pleasure of observing simultaneous demos from a number of skilled portrait artists. This event, called the "Face-Off" marked the beginning of the exciting annual event, The Art of the Portrait: National Portrait and Figurative Artist's Conference. There were five models from which 15 artists created 2 1/2 hour sketches, which were later auctioned off to benefit The Portrait Society of America's charitable endeavours.

Painting by Jeffrey Hein

Drawing by Daniel Sprick
Painting by Ellen Cooper

Painting by Scott Burdick

View of Reston Town Centre - Location of 2014 "The Art of The Portrait" Conference

*Photos by Connor McBrine-Ellis - Hyperact Media

Friday, January 31, 2014

Portrait Society of America Conference April 24-27, 2014

I am so excited to attend "The Art of the Portrait" annual conference of The Portrait Society of America this year. It is being held in Reston, Virginia at the Hyatt Regency Reston on April 24-27, 2014.

This is such a wonderful opportunity to see many of the top portrait artists in the world demonstrate and share their knowledge. It is going to be great to see some amazing paintings plus get inspired to continue my own path of growth as an painter. There is also a small trade show for supplies at discounted rates and books too. If you have not been to all the wonderful galleries in nearby Washington, D.C. then that is a must-do activity on the Sunday after the conference ends.

If you like to create portraits, I'd love to see you there as well! It is a pretty short drive from Toronto, but this year I am going to fly down on Porter airlines. As a side note, Porter is the most awesome way to fly from Toronto. Instead of the insanity of Pearson Airport with 3 hour waits for customs (last time I took a trip out of Pearson I almost missed my flight) you get to relax with a free snack and cappuccino! Even better, my firstborn is going to tag along to keep me company.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reilly or Mattelson Palette vs. Colourist Oil Painting

I recently received this comment from "anonymous":
I found your blog while searching for the Mattelson pallette. Thanks for posting it. I noticed this painting was done using Reilly or Mattelson technique. Yet your other paintings are done in a colorist impressionistic manner. My question is can you start a portrait with the earth colors and then bring it up in chroma? Or should you decide on one or another approach before you start the painting? You seem to use both approaches.
Hi there, anonymous! Thanks for stopping by.

For this recent portrait, the palette is not exactly from Reilly or Mattelson (although you are right that it has been an influence on some of my methods) as I have added a few extra colours and do not pre-mix the strings of colour. Although I think it is an excellent approach, I personally find it too tedious and time consuming to mix up all those values. By the time I am done, I am too exhausted to paint. Also, I can never seem able to keep track of all the brushes and end up using a dark value brush for a light value, not to mention having to wash all those brushes at the end (which is why I sometimes paint solely with a palette knife)! It just doesn't work for me so I just mix values and colours as I go along.

My subject in this case posed in a north light studio. For reference, I use a colour study I painted from life and however many live sittings I can finagle, plus photographs. I do use a variety of approaches, depending on the subject. I tend to use the underpainting approach for indoor portraits, since the chroma (especially in human flesh) is naturally subdued. It is all about the light.

When painting out of doors (and for still life indoors) I usually use more of a colourist approach. I will sometimes use a "wet" underpainting, using various colours, not necessarily raw umber. Sometimes I use the Cape method of patches of bright colours, starting with a palette knife. Also, when doing alla prima portraits I do not use an underpainting and my palette would include more colours since it is necessary to get the final effect in one session. I don't think that high chroma is necessarily desirable throughout a painting, especially a portrait - greys are important so that the touches of chroma can stand out, although outdoors under the sun you will have more brilliance and less greys.

I am showing this painting as a work in progress and the stage you commented on needs more colour, it is still at an underpainting stage, so you will see more life in her cheeks soon.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Sargent Student in Paris - James Coutts Michie

As I mentioned previously, this painting was created by James Coutts Michie, a fellow art student with John Singer Sargent of Carolus-Duran's Paris studio.

Unfortunately, this used to be a much larger painting. Someone in the family, at some point, decided to cut it down to better suit their modern decor, so now it measures 24 x 18.

I will post a close-up of the features soon.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Genius Artist John Singer Sargent on how to avoid false accents in your paintings . . .

Sargent on painting - how to avoid false accents:

"You must classify the values. If you begin with the middle-tone and work up from it towards the darks - so that you deal last with your highest lights and darkest darks - you avoid false accents. That's what Carolus taught me. And Franz Hals - it's hard to find anyone who knew more about oil-paint than Franz Hals - and that was his procedure. Of course a sketch different. You don't mind false accents there."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Article Published in Journal of Portrait Society of America, Volume XIV

Article on Mary Cassatt on Page 4 and 5
I just got this in the mail - there seems to be a delay in receiving these journals up here in Canada, so those of you living in the U.S. may have had it for some time.

When I have time to find and hook up my scanner, I will post the text of the article here. I moved both house and studio recently and still can't find half my stuff!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Studio Incamminati Palette

Palette as Abstract Art
The pictured method of palette maintenance would drive me bonkers - I have to clean off my palette almost every night! The "pile it up" style of palette layout comes, I think, directly from the top at Studio Incamminati and those who decide to just let the paint build up say they can still dig into these towers of hardened paint and find useable, liquid gold in there somewhere. This palette belongs to one of the top instructors at the school and he gave his permission for me to photograph it.

The palette of colors used at Studio Incamminati generally consists of more than 20 colors, (click here for an example from the supply list for a winter program) which are laid out in the same order every time. And, no, you don't have to be this messy about it!

The provenance for this extended palette of colors comes from Henry Hensche, who was a mentor to Nelson Shanks, the founder of Studio Incamminati.  Nelson Shanks traveled to Provincetown and The Cape School to study how to enhance his ability to see color, following in the footsteps of the Impressionists, such as Monet. This atelier is unique in that, in addition to the requisite charcoal drawing and cast paintings, artists study color combined with tonalism! Graduates have all the tools necessary to go ahead and be truly creative with their concepts and ideas. Their work has both the sculptural form and shimmering color of a marriage of classical training and Impressionist color.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Studio Incamminati - 2 week Advanced Portrait and Figure Workshop

During this initial stage, the gesture and what they call a "grisaille" drawing are established using a wipe-out technique. All paintings are done on a Golden Acrylic Grey No. 6 toned canvas. My canvas looks brown here because we did a whole series of one minute poses and then rubbed them out. This was a longer pose.

This is the second stage of the painting, where a general tone for the light areas is applied.
My 2 week Advanced Portrait and Figure Workshop was an intensive bootcamp for figurative painters. I wish I had a photograph of the very first stage of this pose, which consisted of a gesture drawing with Ultramarine Blue mixed with Burnt Umber. Following that, a procedure of wipe out and drawing, which is shown in the first picture above, establishes the drawing. I really loved this way of starting a painting because is it so flexible - you are able to capture the spontaneity and freedom of the gesture and then start making corrections as you refine the drawing enough to nail the pose.

The second picture above shows the stage where light is separated from shadow and a darker general skin tone is applied to those areas and then lighter values go on top.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Too many blogs!

In the process of trying to simplify my life, I have finally turned my attention to my numerous blogs. My intention in the beginning was to compartmentalize things into categories. I think this idea fits into the "seemed like a good idea at the time" category. I have come to the realization for quite some time now that I can't maintain all these blogs in the manner they deserve.

For anyone who is unaware of and maybe a little curious about my other work, please click on the links below:

My non-portrait paintings
Information for artists
Pet Portraits

Photographs of Paris
Photographs of Prague

Holistic lifestyle information (my other gig is nutrition)

I think I am going to consolidate all the multiple art blogs into one under my name (the portraiture site) so if you are interested in updates, please click on the link at upper right of this screen to receive emails.

I will probably leave the original sites as an archive, perhaps re-posting some of the entries in future at this location.

Thanks for your interest and happy painting!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

View from the air enroute to Philadelphia
I arrived home this past Saturday after an intense two weeks in Philadelphia studying at Studio Incamminati. Painting the figure and portrait for two weeks solid, as well as attending lectures, demos and a wonderful dinner at the home of Nelson and Leona Shanks was a memorable experience. The teachers at Studio Incamminati are very helpful and consistent yet each had different ideas and knowledge to impart.

Right now I am deeply immersed in another workshop, one that I signed up for two years ago since this instructor is so popular and in demand, so no time for blogging until next week. Stay tuned for more information on the Studio Incamminati method of painting.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Scholarship for Studio Incamminati!

I have some very exciting news - tomorrow I am traveling to Philadelphia for a couple of weeks of intensive life painting!

I received a scholarship to attend an Advanced Portrait and Figure workshop at Studio Incamminati (Nelson Shank's atelier) starting on Monday. The lead instructor is Stephen Early. There will also be a bunch of extra presentations, lectures and demonstrations by other artists.

I am really interested in learning more about how to merge tonalist volume with wonderful color. The impressionists focused on color, but if you were to look at one of, for example, Monet's paintings in black and white you will not see a lot of volume and structure since his work is all about light and color. Most classical ateliers are more focused on tonalism than color, so Studio Incamminati is rather unique in that it includes color. I have also studied with Cedric and Joanette Egeli,(who, along with Nelson Shanks, were both former students of Henry Hensche) both on the beach in Provincetown and at their month long winter workshop.They are both exceptional artists and I am grateful to have learned from them as well.

My approach to continuing education has been to regularly take workshops. I find I always learn something new and crucial from every experience and I am so thankful to the talented artists that wholeheartedly share their knowledge and skills.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Perette - study from life

A closer look at my study of Perette's profile.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Perette - Profile in Oil

Perette was a very interesting model who is also a writer and techie - my son was very impressed to read that she developed UNIX kernel components as he is an avid user of Linux.

Photo Credit: Loree Harpole

Marisa - Painting in Progress

This lovely young model is an artist who designs the most delightful brass jewellery!