Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Artist of the Portrait

As an oil painter, the one type of painting I really admire is skilled portrait painting.  Even though I've drawn and painted for most of my life, I find it endlessing challenging and am still fascinated by the process.  Last Saturday, I went to see a portrait demo by one of my former instructors Ron Hicks.  It was only a 2 hour demo, which as those of you know is a fairly limited time for an accurate alla prima (in one sitting) portrait or head study.

Ron starts his work in neutral, monochrome thin washes on primed stretched linen canvas, then builds up to the heavier/more opaque oil paint layers. It's fascinating to see the live model and then the portrait come to life as he continues to fine tune his shape and value relationships. 

This portrait was a study in light and shadow. The main thing I learned painting with Ron was to accurately record how the light moves across the subject (model, wall, etc.) not only from right to left, but also from top to bottom.

Ron's known for his lower key painting and always seems to have some interesting colors on his palette. This time I noted that he was using a great looking blue and crimson from Robert Doak, which I'm looking forward to trying.   

Before I head off to the studio myself, quick note of welcome to all my new January oil painting students--I look forward to painting with you in the studio!

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