8x9" graphite and colored pencils on Fabiano Artistico smooth paper. The photo reference is mine. This was drawn while caring for my sick Mom in Florida. The photo and layout were started and abandoned some months ago, so when I packed up my stuff, I decided to bring the project along. Good thing because it was a much needed break from a deplorable situation. The image depicts my Diva cat Charlotte peeking behind a tree. The full color red leaf was added for fun. This drawing is available for $385.00. If interested in purchasing, go to SHOP, which will send you over to my ETSY site.
I recently started to teach Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil to the brave souls that also took my Pet Portraits in Graphite class. This is my sample. The photo reference is from a series taken while working on a commission. The Border Collie Marley was particularly photogenic. This piece is 9x11"various light fast colored pencil with solvents on Rag Mat Board. I used many of my tricks on this.
OK, you heard all my whining and complaining over my first covered bridge painting: how I shouldn't of done this- should've of done that, yadda-yadda! You will be shocked to know, that not only did it sell, but a photo of the finished piece on my cell phone, managed to procure a custom ordered rerun. This time, fall or winter and more than twice the size. Am I nuts? There is much to be said about the value of iconic scenery. Lets see if this time I will remember to do what I should do and leave off doing what I shouldn't.
When I was a small child visiting my grandparents at their seaside cottage, I spent many happy hours exploring the rocks that reached like fingers into the ocean. Those rocks held cupped in their crevices, the coming and goings of magical things. See the Hermit Crab dragging its stolen home, bumping and scraping across the rock floor, while glinting black mussels, periwinkles and barnacles occupy their own rock real-estate. A flash of movement as a baby crab with antenna eyes darts sideways to hide in a clump of seaweed. Shadows play and water sparkles as waterbugs and dragon flies skitter across the surface. I have never lost my my fascination for these places. Have you ever walked along a Maine shore line to see millions of periwinkles piled up along the tide mark? Periwinkle Pileup is a "child's" closeup view, its diminutive size only 4.5"X 9.25" It is painted with Prismacolor, Luminance, Derwent and Soho colored pencils with the occasional brush of spirits on linen mat.
Ha ha, Just kidding! My recent post of the "finished" commission was about two more full days and a lot of erasing away from being finished. My client was happy with first edition, but not completely. She asked me to make the bangs more "blonde" and soften the bags under the eyes. And if I didn't mention it before, she asked me to change her teeth a bit from the photograph. She never liked them. So this is what doing commissions is all about! And this is why contracts are a good idea. Changes take time. In this case though, I couldn't charge her for my extra efforts. The changes were too subtle. And the teeth were part of the initial agreement. Unfortunately, working this small, forced me to erase back almost all of the cheeks and face in order to lighten the bangs and find the correct over all values. Once completed, this little graphite drawing took as much time and effort as a full color 8x10"! It was very difficult, but worth the tricks learned. At one point I was terrified that I would have to start all over again. But, the Fabiano Artistico 150 wt Hot Pressed paper, which was recommended by an amazing artist friend of mine Alan Woollett, turned out to be quite forgiving. So here is the really, not kidding, for sure, finished 7.5x 8.5 graphite commission of a small girl.
This little portrait (7 x 8.5") was created from a 3.5 x 5" vintage photo. I don't normally consent to doing such a small human portrait, especially from a client provided reference. I prefer to photograph the subject myself. It allows me to see the subject clearer. What is her attitude about things? Does she have a sense of humor? From the many photos I take, I will be able to make compositional choices that allow me to say something specific about the subject. With one client reference I have nothing but a 2 dimensional image. There is no way to know the subject. Hence I meticulously copy, as best I can, the photo. This kind of interpretation leaves very little, if any room for creativity. I depend on the medium and the character of my technique to make the difference. Though, I carefully warn the client that to work this small makes it difficult to nail likeness, that all it takes is one tick of the pencil to completely change an expression, does she hear me? Once the piece is finished and a photo sent off for approval, I sweat it out. Did I communicate well; did I capture whatever it is the client sees as likeness or will I have to start over again? Weighing challenge against risk, did I quote the proper price? One could say, that each time I do a commissioned piece I learn something new. That is invaluable right? I've been doing portraits for 15 years. It should be effortless by now, (smiley face with tongue in cheek and wink.) Good thing I have another commission to get to!
Looking through reference material, I came across a series of photos taken in Cape May New Jersey and immediately thought "scale of justice." The scale is associated with Anubis. The idea of a guardian protector of the dead, who by weighing the heart, determined a soul worthy of Heaven or Hell, originated with the Egyptians and was later adopted by the Greeks, who named the God Anubis. In this image, two helmet-shaped, Horseshoe Crabs, deemed to be living fossils and estimated to be 450 million years old are held at arm's length by the beautiful yet indifferent young woman, who hides her slight amusement behind dark glasses. The white dress reminds us that our fate is yet to be determined.
Anubis is painted /drawn with Prismacolor pencil French Grays 10%-90%, black Verithin and some solvents. It measures roughly 39.5x 36". The photograph shows up blue at the bottom. This is some kind of reflection that I haven't figured out how to omit. Stay tuned.....
Please allow me to toot my horn! "Departing" is accepted into the Manifest Gallery DRAWN exhibit. 36 pieces form 27 artists chosen out of 1188 entries by 394 artists. Opening reception April 17th. This is a big deal for me. Manifest Gallery is an amazing non profit organization that shows and promotes very current work through its publications as well as exhibitions. Acceptance into DRAWN makes me feel relevant. And believe me when I tell you, it has been a long windy road to arrive at this point!!
This latest drawing -painting uses all my technical tricks to tell a story. You will notice the rich color and texture of the red coat in contrast with the barely there background. It is 27"x20" colored pencil on rag mat board. I haven't decided on the title. For now I'm calling it "On The Bridge" It was conceived while visiting The Brooklyn Bridge last November. I came upon this scene and found it interesting. The bridge itself is an amazing place to visit- all those cables slicing patterns through the New york sky. But it was the gush of human traffic over the bridge, people from all over the world, some commuting, some tourists, some on foot, some on bikes, I found most fascinating. In this scene you have the juxtaposition of three self absorbed young girls taking a group shot with a smart phone, while a serious young woman photographs scenery with her SLR and zoom lens. The progression of technology- what is gained what is lost? The three girls capture three faces, together in the place, in the moment, while the more mature woman takes photos of what is beyond.
In addition, I like the humor in this scene. You have me taking a reference photo of a young woman taking a photo in front of three younger women taking a group selfie, all of us standing on the same bridge seeing completely different things!