After another long absence, some updates, awards, etc

I have neglected this blog (as well as painting), but it hasn’t been without a reason.

Some old (but still exciting) news is that I got some recognition from the Art Muse Contest for April 2016. Thank you so much to the judge! I was a finalist in the “Emerging” category and also got the additional honor of being eligible for Gallery Representation. Pretty cool, and I am honored and thrilled!

“The Greek Artist” 12″ x 12″ oil on panel. Finalist in the Art Muse Contest! This is a portrait of a fellow artist who has strong Greek roots—a detail that brings him great pride! I snapped an impromptu photo of him while he was attending a figure drawing session. The photo made a good basis for a portrait.

“The Greek Artist” also got a “Fav 15%” from the Bold Brush awards, so that was also very cool.

There were a couple of other honors, and I need to update my “About Me” page to include them! This Spring was especially good to me.

And for other news… the last several months I’ve been quiet on this blog. I also haven’t posted any new paintings for sale on DailyPaintworks or UGallery for quite a while.

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Levi portrait

“Levi,” 12×12″ oil on cradled panel.

I’ve been picking at this painting, nursing it along, and there comes a point where it has to be DONE. I think there might be a few dabs here and there I might add… but not now! Not today! Not tomorrow! I can’t take it anymore!

The back story on this painting is as follows.

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“Quizzical,” and various other updates

“Quizzical,” 12×16″ oil on cradled panel

I’ve agonized over this painting long enough, so even though I believe it’s not “quite yet” done, I am calling it DONE! I can’t take it anymore! This painting is more like abandoned, rather than completed.

This is just a study, slightly larger than what I usually do these days (which are mostly little daily paintings of 8×10″ and smaller). While 12×16″ is far from large, it seems “big” to me!

So, back to “Quizzical,” the subject of today’s post.

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Blast from the past—Rapidographs!

“Jon Erik Hexum” ink on paper, approx, 9×12″. Drawn many years ago, using my trusty Rapidographs.

I loved Rapidographs at art school. I didn’t “get” pen and ink at first, always having worked in pencil when I was a teenager and before going to Otis. But they were really stressing ink in the Illustration classes, so I wanted to learn.

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Micah, from life

“Micah,” 12×16″ oil on cradled panel.

This is a painting started about a year ago, and now finally finished!

The Winter of 2014 (January or something?) I was attending a local painting group run by a fellow artist (and my sometime teacher), Adam Clague. We’d get volunteers to pose for us each week. It was such a good experience for all of us and I hope we can start doing it again.

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A word about student paint

“Jorge – Zorn Palette” approx. 4×6″ oil on unstretched canvas. (From a canvas pad.) If loving Jorge Salinas is wrong, I don’t want to be right!

So… I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to do a review, or perhaps a treatise, on the subject of student-quality paints.

Lately I’ve had reason to shop at the North-American-based chain craft/art supply stores, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. I realized that for many people, these types of stores are their only access to art materials, at least hands-on. So, I thought I’d explore what it would be like for a new artist to try to select paints (oils or acrylics) from one of these stores, while also being budget-minded.

So I purchased some oil and acrylic sets from both stores (haven’t finished collecting my samples yet) with the intent of trying them out and reporting back what I experienced.

An overview of chain craft store brand paints.

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THE HEAD

“THE HEAD” (or “Roman Youth Plaster Cast Study”), 6×8″ oil on canvas panel.

An interesting little story behind this painting.

I had a simultaneously fun, exhausting, and crazy evening (and night, and morning!) at the studio yesterday. I was visiting with a fellow artist, we were yakking about art, doing some painting, just having fun, and some circumstances were created which made it necessary for us to both stay overnight at the studio. (It’s a long story.

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Hot and Cold

“Hot and Cold,” 6×8″ oil on Gessobord. Thanks to XNB Creative of DeviantArt for the stock photo used as inspiration!

Another exploration of cold and warm light playing on the face. I used a full-body stock photo as reference, and had to really zoooom in on the face, but there was a lot of fascinating information in the flesh tones! There’s also a bit of drama in the lighting as well. I found there were subtle pale blues in the highlighted side of the man’s face, and some warm burgundies and purples contained within the shadows. I left the collar and hair very loosely rendered, because I was most interested in the colors of the flesh.

It’s painted on Gessobord, a favorite “guilty pleasure” painting panel. I keep obsessively collecting Gessobord. It’s a hardboard panel with a wonderful, smooth eggshell-textured white coat of acrylic primer on top. I love this painting surface but try to control myself and don’t use it all the time!

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New Paintings, New News!

I feel bad for neglecting the blog for a little over a month! But I was waiting for my “big announcement.” And that is, I am now being represented by a fairly prestigious online gallery, UGallery. I learned that I was accepted to the gallery a few weeks ago, but it took a while to get everything set up and actually have my art go “live” on the site. I wanted to wait until it was all a done deal before announcing it.

They say that about 10-15% of artists who apply to UGallery get in, so I’m flattered to be among those accepted. But I must take into account that any gallery, anywhere, has an idea of what niches they want to fill, and so if they don’t accept every interested artist, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rejected artists are “bad.”

My first day on the site was this past Thursday, and I was greeted on the main page with a graphic containing my cat paintings! Squee! Yes, I have no shame, I took a screenshot of it:

UGallery main page graphic. With my cat paintings! I thought that was cool.

To any fellow artists who may have questions about UGallery, I have only been with them for a short time, so I can’t say much yet. Other than they seem to be detail-oriented (that is a good thing), friendly, and attentive to artists.

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Pretty Boy

“Pretty Boy” 6×6″ oil on linen panel.

This is a bit of an experiment, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.

I didn’t use a model or a reference photo for this painting, but instead made it up completely from my imagination. While this portrait is not that unique (I make up faces all the time, for fun), it’s not typical for me to do what I did with the color on this one. Instead of simply inventing the flesh tones, the lights, darks, pinks, greens, warms, cools, I consulted a photo (with a different pose, with a different person) just to “get” the color. Not sure I was completely successful, but I think it’s a worthy exercise and made me really think.

After studying with Adam Clague, I am taught to look for the warms and cools on an object, as well as value, and what color is it (blue? green? magenta? orange?). One of the “rules” is that if you have cool lights, you have warm shadow. If you have warm lights, you have cool shadows.

I applied this rule (as best as I could) and so this portrait has cool lights (flesh tones with a more magenta tint are “cooler” than flesh tones with a yellowish tint) and warm shadows (I used a lot of Transparent Red Oxide in the shadows). While this portrait is just getting me started, it was gratifying and fun to do it.

The title “Pretty Boy” refers to my penchant to draw pretty people when I am inventing faces. I guess this harks back to my childhood, and all the handsome TV heros I grew up with, and sketched in my sketchbook.

EDIT: Ah, such is the life of an artist. A crazy, crazy artist. I pulled an “all-nighter” in my studio and tweaked this painting. And tweaked it. (And constantly updated this page with a picture of each new tweak.) I’m not saying it’s better or worse now, just “different.” Oh boy.

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Jason in Shadow, oil on Gessobord

“Jason in Shadow” 5×7″ oil on Gessobord. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the stock photo I used as reference.

I classify this as oils, but to be more specific, I used fast-drying oils (alkyds) on this painting. They are one particular flavor of oils and have been around for a while. (Read more rambling from me about them on this post.)

I’m a big fan of Jason Aaron Baca’s stock photos on DeviantArt. So much drama! Dramatic poses, dramatic lighting, what’s not to love? So here’s another little oil sketch based on one of his photos.

With this painting I was working again with trying to capture the light and shadow, and of great interest to me, the warms and cools. He had a lot of cool tones in the highlighted parts of his face. I’m also working on making more pronounced brushstrokes, more strong and visible. I love bold brushwork and want to get more proficient with that!  So exciting!

So, another one done. Put a fork in it! Now onto the next oil sketch. I have several in the works!

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“Stare” oil on Gessobord

“Stare,” 8×8″ oil on Gessobord. (Buy original from DailyPaintworks.) Thanks to djwar93 of DeviantArt for the stock pic I used as inspiration!

I forgot to post this painting earlier. It was completed in August. I loved the intense look on the model’s face, but when I compare my finished piece with the stock photo used as reference, I realize that it ended up being more “inspiration” than a literal reference. I changed the expression, the intensity, the contrast, a lot of things. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still obviously painted from that particular photo, but the jawline, the shape of the head, and the tilt of the head, among other things, were all changed. I don’t consider it a good likeness of the model anymore. But I have no intention of changing it.

What attracted me to this particular stock photo was the expression of the model, as well as all the variety of colors in his face—the pinks, neutral greens, and even some pale lavenders. It was a challenge trying to capture all of that in the painting. Not sure I succeeded completely, but I tried!

I used Ampersand Gessobord this time, which has a luscious, smooth, eggshell-like surface. I love it. I don’t always want to paint on that type of surface, but it is one of my favorites. It works especially well with smaller works.

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