Sunday, January 10, 2016

Still Life Mentorship A la Sargent

As part of the Level 3 curriculum, we are assigned a mentor to paint along side with in their private studio for a 6 or 7 week cycle on Fridays.  The goal is to apply the principles learned into several completed paintings as the year progresses.  The instructor guides us toward completing paintings based on the perspective of the mentor.  I absolutely love this concept, one on one instruction with teaching fellow Natalie Italiano!

After visiting the Sargent exhibit at the MET, the painting I was most drawn to was "Portrait of Edouard and Marie-Loise Pailleron".  The network of cool and warm whites in Marie-Louise's dress were intriguing and I knew I had to tackle it.  The fiery red background and teal colors in the Persian carpet used in the composition would make great colors to enhance my painting.  I figured if it was good enough for Sargent, it was good enough for me.  

I have my white christening dress that I wore and passed down to my daughter that I have always wanted to paint...a perfect subject for a white study.  Simplifying the complexity of the folds, wrinkles and lace was a task I was reluctant to take on alone but with the help of my skilled mentor I wanted to give it a try.

This painting of Sargent's also caught my eye at the MET.  The blue gown shimmered with dazzling color and I wanted to find a way to bring that look into my painting.

During the set up, we decided to add a piece of teal fabric to the right side of the still life box to reflect color back into the white.  I carefully pinned the dress in places were I wanted it to stay put, the ribbons and opening of the jacket were important parts of the design so they had to remain constant.

My goals for the rest of day one:

1)  two black and white studies with three values only
2)  don't repeat aspects of light and shadow, compositionally speaking
3)  determine canvas size ratios for the final piece
4)  elements of a good artist are those that can separate the lines and see values in groups

Canvas size was determined to be 16x24, linen on Gatorboard

A color study and graiselle was my task for week two.  I was told to approach color study not in the traditional sense but rather focus more on subdued color then push in richer notes.  Ask yourself, "what do you see in each color?"  Meaning, what is the most purple, green yellow, etc. 

Painting in north light was a new challenge for me.  As soon as the clouds rolled in the light would change from cool to warm instantly.  Everything flip flopped, my lights would go from cool to warm which reversed all aspects of temperature in every other part of the painting.  I constantly had to stay engaged, always thinking about the task at hand and reminding myself how to analyze every choice I made.  I found myself loving it and hating it at the same time.  I have to navigate your own way around a painting, concept to completion, and be your own teacher once I leave school.  

The afternoon session was spent working on the graiselle and the drawing.  One value for light and one value for dark to separate light and shadow.

My goal for day 4 is to apply thinly the first pass of color.  Natalie said to start with the easiest to see and ease your way into the more difficult parts.  One color for the light mass and one color for the shadow mass plus a highlight and my darkest dark.


Day 5 was my most productive session.  I finally had all the groundwork done and getting the meat of the painting was something I couldn't wait to dive into.   My goals for that day were:

1)  Squint and look for the overall affect and how that communicates the light flow instead of rendering individual details.  Light flow is more important and will do more to creating something realistic.

2)  Don't stare into things, especially the shadows and record everything.  Scan your eyes back and forth.

3)  There is a huge difference between seeing the light bathing the form and just cooling details without considering the light and shadow and how they affect things.

4)  Don't overdue it!!

My final day was spent analyzing repeating what was done last week.  This is my final photo of the painting.  I don't consider the painting finished by I think I met my goals in that I was able to paint the effect of light, make white fabric more interesting and hold the relationships together in a way I'd not experienced before.  It was an amazing experience and I can't wait for the next rotation which will be copying a Nelson Shanks original painting.  I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Last of the Kool-Aid at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

My last session at the Philadelphia Museum of Art was spent working mainly on the face.  Correcting structure, building form with smaller and smaller shapes while trying to gain the effect of light.

Overall, I am pleased with my progress so far.  I chose The Lute Player for his expressive face and costume.  The feathers were an accent I thought would be fun to paint.  Everything I've been taught at Studio Incamminati was used to build the painting and it was an excellent learning adventure.

Due to family matters, I wasn't able to attend two of the session so I didn't get as far as I would have liked.  There is a possibility of being able to go back at the end of the semester and if that happens I will keep you updated.    

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Week Three of "Drinking the Kool-Aid" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

This is week three of my six week study of copying a painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  My reason for choosing the Lute Player to copy was to study the intense expression of the face.  So what do I do on week three...avoid it!  Since the eyes are so telling in the painting, I wanted to do a study of them but couldn't quite get to it last week.  The pope is visiting Philadelphia so the museum visits will resume the following week.

I adjusted the masses in the second pass of color in the background, feathers, lute and jacket.  Once I have the step completed in every area I will begin correcting them in relation to each other. At times it was a challenge seeing the darker areas of the painting.  Binoculars are recommended for close up views of the shadows hidden by the dimly lit room.

The photos below show where my painting stands now.  See you in two weeks!

Week 3 vs Week 4

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Week Two of "Drinking the Kool-Aid" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

After asking the advice of one of my teachers at Studio Incamminati, my approach for the second week at the museum began with a small value study.  If you didn't read what I did in week one you can catch up here.  Before adding color I wanted to be sure I had a clear vision of the lights and darks in the painting.  Value studies are meant to be the simplest shapes of light and dark with the basic position of the big proportions.  My aim was to have two values in the dark and three to four in the light with a goal to squint to see the correct value.  This study took about 40 minutes.  On to color...

8"x10" Oil on Linen Panel

My palette consisted of the traditional Studio Incamminati set of colors.

Alizarin Crimson
Cadmium Red
Cobalt Blue
Pthalo Green
Burnt Sienna
Cadmium Scarlet
Dioxazine Purple
Pthalo Turquoise
Cadmium Green
Cadmium Yellow
Indian Yellow
Raw Sienna
Cadmium Green Light
Cadmium Yellow Light
Permanent Rose
Titanium White
Cadmium Orange
Cerulean Blue
Perylene Red
Ultramarine Blue

I tried to state the simple color masses in the first pass of light and shadow.  My choices are based on the first impression of the color I see at a quick glance in each area.  As much as I tried to get the first color notes correct I waited until all the colors are stated to really begin adjusting them.  They influence each other and this affects the choices you make when adjusting them.  I should have stopped and taken more step photos along the way but in trying to work instinctively, I neglected to document my progress.

First Pass

The three questions I ask myself when comparing colors to see their relationships are:

Is it lighter or darker? (Value)
Is it warmer or cooler? (Temperature)
Is it brighter or duller? (Saturation/Intensity)

This is the result of a full day working the colors back and forth.  I pushed the colors are far as I could to bring them up before the next pass is added on week three.  Then I will adjust the masses of color in relation to each other more.  As I tried to mix what I saw in the hat I couldn't seem to arrive at a color I was happy with.  In researching artists in this era, they had Prussian Blue on their palette so I incorporated that into list of colors.  That seemed to work so I will keep using it next week.
First Pass of Color Completed

Close Up

My biggest challenge for next week is being able to see the dark areas of the painting.  The room is dimly lit and that makes it hard to see the eyes and hair.  I plan on using binoculars, we'll see if that helps.  

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Drinking the Kool-Aid" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Part of the 3rd year curriculum at Studio Incamminati includes the requirement of painting a master copy at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Students are challenged to find a master painting on exhibit, and copy it through a series of six on-site painting sessions.   I chose the "Lute Player", by Theodor Rombouts, after making several trips to examine the lighting, traffic, and narrowing down the paintings I found most interesting.

Theodor Rombouts c. 1620, Oil on Canvas

Museum Label:  "Lute players were often ridiculed for the inordinate amount of time they devoted to tuning their instruments. The intense look of this street musician seems to underscore the difficulty of the task and suggest that perhaps more than musical harmony is at stake. Showing a musical instrument being tuned was a veiled reference to striving for harmony in love. Stringed instruments could also symbolize temperance, especially when shown in the company of a tankard and a pipe, as here." 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Level Two - Studio Incamminati

It's hard to believe my studies at Studio Incamminati are half finished.  Level three is about to begin in a few weeks so I thought I'd share some of the work done last year.  These pieces I felt pretty good about.  

Graphite Drawing, Fall Semester

Figure Color Study, Warm Light

Figure Color Study, North Light

Graphite Drawing, Spring Semester

Still Life

Form Painting, Spring Semester

Figure Color Study, Warm and Cool Light

Structural Drawing

Cast Drawing, Fall Semester

Form Painting, Fall Semester

Looking back on level two, I have to say that I learned an incredible amount of information.  Before enrolling in Studio Incamminati I kept making the same mistakes over and over.  My goal was to learn to see and this opportunity has given me the skills to grow as an artist.

Check out my blog entries I wrote for school.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Level One - Studio Incamminati

After completing my first year as a full time student at Studio Incamminati, I thought I would share a bit about my experience and a few drawings.  It was an incredible year and I saw how much more there is to learn.

Our work began with learning to see simple light and shadow shapes using straight lines and angles to construct form.  My biggest hurdle was trying to cultivate the proper posture and work habits that help you see those forms.  We were told to stand back and squint and keep your arm straight out in front of you in a fencing type stance.  I can't tell you how many times I wasn't doing that and immediately saw it in my drawings.  

Our first still life charcoal drawing was composed of simple boxes that increasingly got more difficult.  Simple shapes were replaced by more advanced items which lead to more complex designs.  Fabric, irregular shapes (like skulls), glass and textured items all added to the challenge.  

We copied Bargue drawings for nine weeks, one day a week to learn to judge angles and proportion.  As painful as they were, I can say that it did help.  Some were more challenging that others but all helped strengthen my seeing skills so it was worth the effort. 

Ecorche drawings were done from life using red chalk to illustrate the muscles of the body.  This concept was completely foreign to me but we had anatomy books to use as reference material for laying in the different muscles.  

In figure drawing class, the concept was the same.  Squint to see large shapes in light and dark.  Initially we worked on getting the gesture and worked our way down to smaller shapes.  The goal is to eventually work toward the effect of raking light on form.