Category Archives: portrait

portraits of ladies / blind drawing exercise / mixed media

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A lot of contemporary artists do this blind drawing exercise so I wanted to give it a try.  I did double blind because I picked my colors blindfolded too.

Before I blindfolded myself I arranged my work table with a pile of my watercolors and a jar of water next to them, piles of oil pastels in groups of dark medium and light and a jar of terpenoid next to them, a pile of paint brushes and my paper. For my first experiment I put some watercolor on the palette which I could feel but then I couldn’t tell if my brush was going into the paint because I was blindfolded and I didn’t cheat by looking.  I stuck my finger into the paint. So, for my next experiment I picked up my random color of paint and opened the tube and dabbed it directly onto the paper in several places then dipped my brush into the water, which I could feel for.

It was fun! The first few blind paintings didn’t work at all and I wanted to keep trying. I did six and I’ll show you the two best two.

The thing I like about the one above, is the eye seems to have floated off her face to the right. IMG_2163

Her dad was a glass maker.

The funny thing about this one is, I did draw eyes nose and mouth, but they got lost somewhere and her head looks transparent.

So this is my latest attempt to be contemporary, though technically, all artists alive and working today are contemporary. But art style labels don’t always apply.

Did this exercise improve my drawing? Even though I goofed around with it most of the day, I’d say, no. It was fun, but it won’t help my drawing improve. So, what is the real point of this exercise? To make modern art easier for someone who draws and paints in an old style? If either of these looks like real contemporary art, then the exercise did that for me.

Also, sometimes if you’re working on a project and getting nowhere, you can play around one day with this blind drawing exercise and take a break from the thing that’s not going well. Then go back to the other project mentally refreshed.

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Diana fauve / try try again

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That painting I did last week was sooooo bad. How bad was it? Matisse rolled over. I tossed it.

They don’t give any information about technique in my Matisse book. It’s trial and error here. At least no one will ever say I fear failure. I’m learning something about fauvism by trying to copy the style. This is what I got so far.

Fauve means wild animal so my painting should be bold. Last week I was hesitant so I daubed. Matisse would h8 that. This time I was more deliberate with my brush strokes.

In fauvism you’re supposed to convey an emotion with your color choices. I hope I can do that. Imagine Diana, goddess of the hunt. She represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity. She can kill her own food so she doesn’t need to rely on some god to bring dinner home and she’s better off without being in a relationship with some god because those guys cause all kinds of mischief fooling around with mortals and chasing nymphs etc. She’s alert and at peace with nature. She’s strong.  I hope I can capture her attitude.

Trying to paint in a style I’m not used to is challenging. I’ll try again. If you know anything about it please advise me. Thanks for the likes on that last post which was a really horrible painting. I appreciate the support.

Diana Fauve / oil

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It seems a little ironic that my first subject to try fauvism is Diana because she’s the goddess of the hunt and fauve means wild animal.

Matisse said you should use color to express emotion and I thought he!!, I’m not emotional. Then I remembered the plaque at the museum said Diana represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity so I thought about those things when I was working on it and picked colors I like to work with.IMG_2078

Yesterday when I got home from sketching at the museum I knew my sketch wasn’t right. I wanted to correct it but not go back to the museum so I taped my sketch to the wall and taped a piece of charcoal to a yardstick so I could stand back and do it again. The first try I taped a sharpie to the yardstick and that sketch looked real bad. Almost human. So I tried charcoal and got this sketch which looked better than the sketch from the museum. You can see places where my charcoal on a stick went somewhere on it’s own.

I tried two more but this one was the best so I used it for my painting. I’ll do the charcoal on a stick practice again. I’m pretty sure Matisse did it thousands of times. It’s good to stand back from what you’re working on and you can’t really focus on any certain little thing too well. It seems like you have to draw a bunch of lines and pick the one you want. IMG_2081.jpg

Here’s a few fauve portraits for you. The one on the left is Matisse, Madame Matisse. Then portrait of Matisse by Andre Derain. Then portrait of Derain by Maurice Vlaminck. On the right is portrait of Vlaminck bu Andre Derain.

It looks like your sketch doesn’t have to be 100% accurate. That’s a nice thing about fauvism. I don’t know if mine fits in with this fauvism thing but it was kind of fun and easy to do. I’ll probably do another one from a marble bust.

An interesting story about Matisse is that he cofounded an art school with some other artists but he didn’t want to be paid because he didn’t want it to be an obligation. He went on Sat. and did the critiques. He must have been a harsh critic because another teacher said it took him all week to build up the confidence of the students and on Sat. Matisse would destroy it.

On the first day of school the students were so excited to do fauvism they hung all their bright fauve paintings in the room and when Matisse came in he was mad and told them to take all that garbage down. Then he made them sketch busts! The students were not happy.

Diana after Powers / charcoal

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Yesterday was too hot to draw outside so I went to the Chrysler Museum to sketch. I worked on it for a little over an hour and went back today and was there  for another hour or so. I can’t tell if this looks like the marble bust or not.

I’d like to try to paint a portrait but I don’t want to pay a model. I could do a self portrait but I don’t enjoy looking at my reflection. So I’ll see if I can paint Diana like a fauve. If it comes out ugly she won’t be offended.

I don’t care too much if I mess it up. I’ll do my best, but no guarantees. I have practically no ego for an artist. Should I blame my parents for that or thank them?

My art school was a trade school but I learned to draw and paint in the traditional ways. That doesn’t mean I don’t like modern art.  Is it really important to stick to a certain style? I don’t think so, but there are people who tell an artist to pick a medium or style and stick to it. I heard a juror say, “Don’t mix two different styles.” I didn’t ask for the reason and I don’t know the styles well enough to know if I’m doing that, but I thought she was talking to me.

I like looking at photography even though I don’t do it. I like a lot of modern art even though my attempts to do it don’t usually work out. Most artists try different things and go through their phases. Matisse, who I always liked, tried fauvism so I want to try it too. I’ll use this sketch.

Ariadne charcoal after Ives

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Isn’t she beautiful? She’s made of marble and you can find her at the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk VA.

Continuing with my portrait practice, I went to the museum because it was raining. I have all my practice portraits of the famous dead artists taped on the wall and I don’t like any of them. They’re all going out with the garbage. I’ll keep this one. This gives me some hope that I’m getting a little better at portraiture. Why did my sketches of the dead artists come out stiff looking compared to this? I think it’s because this time I had a more graceful model.

The myth of Ariadne goes like this: She was the daughter of King Minos. She helped her lover Theseus escape from the labyrinth then they ran away together to the island of Naxos but Theseus abandons her there. The plaque says Ives made her looking down because she had a broken heart but not for long. Bacchus, the god of wine sees her on Naxos and immediately falls in love with her and they are happily wed.IMG_2054

Durn, my photo looks fuzzy. I’m not a real pro with a camera, as you can see. I’m including this pic so you can see for yourself if I got a likeness.

Wine makes her happy

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When I started drawing this statue I thought she looks high. She’s smiling and her eyes are half closed. Then I saw she has grape leaves in her hair. She must be drunk!

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This is my model. She’s in a large formal garden at Norfolk Botanical. I’m still doing portrait practice by sketching statues because they’re free and they don’t move. My friends and family don’t want to pose long enough for me to get a finished drawing. At least if I do find a free live model some time in the future, the time I’ve spent sketching statues will help me get a likeness.

After sketching a bunch of statues of male artists, it was nice to draw a pretty girl. I’ll go back to the sculpture garden with the famous dead guys again and do more of them but I took a little break from them.IMG_2049

This is another pretty girl in the same formal garden. Unfortunately, her nose is broken which will make it more of a challenge to draw her. I’ll have to use the magic of art to fix her nose after I get a little better at portraiture.

About ten years ago I practiced figure drawing and portraiture in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. I got the inspiration to draw the stone angels and was working on that for about six weeks when a good friend died suddenly and I was totally shattered. I hung around in the cemetery a lot for a couple years and drew most of the angels. It was the best therapy for me. Every day I was reminded that I’m still alive because I was standing over all these dead people. Hollywood Cemetery is very special. I’m not superstitious. I never saw a ghost, but the cemetery was my refuge from the world and it made a better artist out of me. And it helped me recover in some weird way, when my life went down the tubes back then.

After spending a lot of time sketching in the cemetery I wanted to draw some angels that were broken. I figured out how to draw a missing hand on a broken angel by copying a hand of another angel to fit. I felt like I kind of fixed the broken one when I could do that, and I knew my drawing skill was improving. That’s why I want to try again by putting a nose on this broken statue’s face.

I was very happy to find all these statues at Norfolk Botanical so I can continue to what I started ten years ago.

Can you name this famous dead guy? part six

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I’ll give you a hint. Italian neoclassical sculptor.Amore_e_psiche_(1)

This is one of our dead guy’s masterpieces.

The plein air report for today- Flies were biting my legs. It must be that time of year I have to pack bug spray with me. Then it started raining. So, that’s my excuse for not finishing this sketch.

Previously on “Who’s the dead guy?”

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Can you name this famous dead guy? part four

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I’ll give you a hint. He liked to paint curvy women. No teenage nymphs for this guy.

When I was working on this study I thought this hat is too much. did he really wear a hat that partially blocked his vision and then have to tilt his head back to see? Or is that only how he looks in this statue. I thought he seems kind of snobby. In the future, whenever I see one of his paintings, I’ll always wonder if he was really all about that hat.

This is my second try. If I transfer this to another paper and try again I could make some corrections and it would come out better, but I don’t want to. This is only a practice sketch so that my portrait drawing can improve.

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”

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