My small 6"x6" beach scenes are selling pretty well, so I searched through my collection of photos and tried to find some interesting pictures. Sometimes there is a good 'picture in a picture' and all you have to do is crop it and delete some other people or things that detract from the focus. In this case I added the bucket and the wave. The little girl is darling and I like the color in this small piece very much so I may do a larger version. The problem is that there is a definite lack of detail in the original and I'm not sure how much I could make up.
Last summer I was sitting at a coffee shop preparing to head out for a day of plein air painting at the Lakeside Plein Air Festival when I received a message on my phone from my fellow artist friend Jim White. Jim was at the event too and he had apparently already been at it for a number of hours. The pictures accompanying his message were priceless. Jim lets kids help him paint his paintings. He is one of the few painters I have seen who do this. Most of us have been approached by children who would like to try painting of course-- but few of use are brave enough to allow a child to touch our pieces. Jim is the exception.
I knew I wanted to paint one of these pictures so I asked him if I could and he is a really kind hearted guy so he said yes. I didn't change much in the painting. I simplified the background, which originally was a complicated looking fence, and deleted some awkward-fitting clothing form the younger girl. The child painter and her sister (or friend--I'm not sure) are absolutely delighted to be participating in the Lakeside Plein Air paintout and this is what I was trying to convey. Although I enjoyed painting the girls, it was also a lot of fun to paint Jim's worn and colorful French easel with all the years of accumulated paint drippings.
He posed for our Saturday drawing/painting group. I loved the hat and the scruffy looking beard. I used a 'reclaimed' canvas for this painting: an unsuccessful painting from a previous session at the Hyter Group. I like the fact that the white of the canvas is already gone and I don't waste a lot of paint covering it. Derrick posed in front if a green backdrop and hsi hat was green so it kind of faded into the background.
He wanted it so I sold it to him for a very good price. Two hour pose-- 11" x 14"
Until the major renovations on our home are complete my studio is temporarily housed in a small bedroom, along with my computer, my art books and everything else I do not want to have full of drywall dust. I don't mind because it will be worth it to have a new kitchen, bath and laundry room. It does limit the size of what I can paint though, so I may focus on smaller paintings until these projects are finished. There isn't much room for a large canvas after I squeeze my myself, my big Lyre easel, my paintbox, and assorted paints and brushes into this space. And I can't forget my dog, Jake, who likes to keep me company. It is quite crowded-- or should I say "cozy", like the realtors do?
This was a small painting of a subject I do often-- kids having fun at the beach. I spent a lot of time at the beach with my kids when they were young and it's one of my favorite places. I like to keep the palette high key and summery when I do these beach scenes.
If you need good reference material you must ask people to pose. The worst thing they can do is refuse and you've lost nothing if that happens. If you're shy--get over it.
As a teenager, I was very shy and it was difficult for me to make eye contact with strangers, let alone speak to them. As I moved into my twenties and entered the corporate workplace this attitude had to disappear, especially when every job I had seemed to involve sales of one kind or another. My fear of strangers is long gone and that has come in handy when I am out photographing reference material.
Last year a boy was fishing on the dock while I was out painting one evening. He was pleased and somewhat flattered when I asked him to pose with his fishing pole in hand. When you take the time to explain why you want to take a picture and that the subject just might end up in a painting, most people are eager to help. I kept this painting generic enough that a viewer can't really tell who the model is, unless perhaps the viewer is his mother. :)
Last weekend I took hundreds of invaluable reference photos. I used my charm, my wit and this well-rehearsed question: "Would you mind posing for a photograph? I'm an artist and I would love to put you into one of my paintings?" I was at a fitness exposition, surrounded by thousands of interesting individuals and my utter lack of shyness allowed me to take dozens of reference photographs.
My pastor asked me to illustrate one of his favorite verses from the Bible: Isaiah 11:1.
"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit."
This is from the Old Testament and is a prophecy of the birth of Christ. It's just one place in the Old Testament that signals us to watch and wait for God's Great Plan to be fulfilled. I have always loved this verse too.
At first this painting was pretty bland. He wanted a painting of a stump and I tried to make it interesting but it really is hard to interpret someone else's vision, no matter how hard you try. I paint realistically and fantasy is not my forte. After he looked at the painting Glenn asked me to put a stream in it to signify 'living water'. I was happy to oblige-- it needed something to break up all that monotonous green.
The second day of the Arnold Expo was a long one. Artists were required to be 'on stage' all day and we were to work on the piece we started the first day or start another one. I had a wonderful photograph of Allia and Janea, who are best friends in the WGP Spirit group that was competing over the weekend. The trouble was I didn't have a canvas with me so I decided to use charcoal and do a drawing. The drawing turned out great- both girls look happy and I wish one of the others would have purchased it, BUT although they loved it they could not afford to.
This is basically a three color drawing: black soft charcoal, with white conte and a cool gray conte crayon for accents.
This past weekend I participated in a juried competition in Columbus, Ohio known as Art at the Arnold. It takes place during the Annual Arnold Fitness Expo. Here is a link to their page, with more information. There were around 40 artists accepted and the premise seemed to be that art could be a competition and a spectator sport as well as just a pastime. Friday morning we had three models and we drew or painted from life in a central location while crowds looked on. In the afternoon we took pictures and used our references to work on another project all day Saturday. It was packed and I handed out all the business cards I had. Hopefully something will come of it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up around 3:00 PM to meet the artists and take a look at our artwork. Meeting that guy was the highlight of the day and of course I posted a picture of the momentous event on Facebook immediately!
Here is the painting I entered in the contest. It's a painting of Kyle Coombs, the bodybuilder who posed for us Friday morning.
There were some awfully good pieces in the show, and my painting of Kyle didn't win anything, but the judge was nice enough to come around and talk to us about what she did and didn't like regarding our pieces. That is unusual, but very appreciated. She told me they liked the expression on his face and the general composition but thought it was a bit dark overall.
So, I took it home and decided to do some 'fixing'. I eliminated his girlfriend, who had posed with him and lightened the background just a little. I'm a bit happier with it now and I think if I stick him on eBay someone will find him quite fetching and snap him up. :) Hopefully, anyway.