"The Girl in the Blue Dress, 16x20, oil on linen
I really think I could get hooked on painting portraiture. There is something so very satisfying about painting flesh and blood! It's not the skintones or the hair color and the sparkle in the eyes that's so intriguing- it is the intrinsic quality of the person- his or her unique characteristics translated into pieces of paint that makes portraiture such a challenging and deeply satisfying craft.
During my David Leffel workshop a couple weeks ago I started a painting of the workshop model, on the third day of the workshop. I worked on her for two days straight and discovered on Friday morning (the last day of the workshop) that the model would not be sitting for us until the afternoon session. So rather than waste time, I started another still life in the morning and worked on it throughout the day, and was very happy with the end result. That left an uncompleted painting of our model and a very unsatisfying photograph of her in which to work from.
In the past, I have had the wonderful opportunity to study with talented artist and friend Jon Greeley. Jon is a fantastic figurative artist and although I am sometimes overwhelmed by his talent and knowledge, I recently decided to begin studying with him again to hopefully increase my own ability to successfully paint figurative work. This past Friday was a real treat for me! I took my unfinished painting of Claudia to Jon's studio and we worked on it throughout the afternoon. Jon studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago and has been painting portraits for many years, rigorously studying the techniques of both the Old and contemporary Masters. He has been showing me different palettes of the Old Masters and how to apply paint so as to sculpt, rather than just render, people and objects. When Jon applies a piece of paint, it is carefully thought out and applied with a sensitivity to the subject matter, much as David Leffel demonstrated in his workshop. Jon has won numerous awards for his figurative work, and I feel very fortunate to be able to study with him again.
In the painting above, Jon reworked the skin tones and model's features somewhat, and demonstrated how to apply pieces of paint with the same lovely abstract quality and sensitivity to the subject that I so enjoyed during David's self-portrait and still life demonstration. Today, I made a few minor adjustments to the painting but in the end I cannot truly take credit for the overall beauty and sensitivity of the model's face. I do hope that one day, I'll be able to apply paint with similar finesse!