Sunday, November 20, 2011

Overheard, II

6"x6" oil on gessoed masonite artboard

It has been such a delight painting faces again after such a long time lapse since I have even thought about it. Over a dozen years ago I had started taking life drawing classes in earnest. And yes it was a bit of a struggle at first. But over time it got much better, even though the challenges are still great. And I've found whether I'm painting faces/figures or objects or landscapes, I love working from life. There are things you see & notice with your own eyes, that photographs just don't reveal. The human eye and a camera lens are not alike. Now, all that said, there are times when working from life is just not possible. And as one drawing instructor recommended, it is incredibly helpful to draw faces as often as you can, over and over, just to get it into your memory the 'average' human face. From that average, you will tweak the planes of the face, the slope of the eye, the length and width of the nose, the fullness of the lips, etc. So yes, some of that 'practice' can be done with photographs. Repetition, lots of it, getting those shapes into your 'muscle memory' then you can observe the specifics. Practicing both truly enhances each other. These last few oil sketches are from photos. I had painted one of these faces about a month ago and was unhappy with the results and swore it would never see the light of day again. But I kept thinking about those reference photos I had, and promised myself I would tackle it again, taking the time to really look, judge proportions AND- focus on the brush work.

One of the things I've been happy with over the last 4 years of working almost exclusively with a palette knife was getting comfortable with using a lot of paint. I LOVE knife or brush work where there is a lot of paint and it is not scrubbed out. Not blobs of it falling off the canvas mind you, but enough to honor the beauty of what oil paints can really do! It's just a matter of taste, that's all, there are beautiful works that are slick and smooth....but seeing the brushwork in a painting (that really looks ' painterly)' really makes my heart sing! So I concentrated on laying down the paint one deliberate stroke at a time, no going back to scribby-scrub in the paint and obliterate the surface.

So, with Thanksgiving upon us, I'm getting the house ready for my daughters to come up to visit. My favorite models are cooking for me on Thanksgiving day. I'm hoping to get in a small painting or two while they're here....or at least lots of reference shots to keep me painting faces through the coming winter!

For more information about this painting, contact me here.

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Blogger Diane Hoeptner (hep-ner) said...

The "no scribby-scrub" thing is workin' for ya, Roxanne. (: I've always admired your application of thick paint, it has sooo much depth... Love what you so eloquently wrote here, great post.

November 23, 2011 at 12:27 PM  
Blogger Roxanne Steed said...

Thanks Diane! I've been wanting to take the time to put more thought into my writing, rather than just cram it in after a day of painting. (I keep thinking of all that I've gleaned out of your Mullet-Over Mondays...which I love!). Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family (& the lovely kitties- they are gorgeous)!

November 23, 2011 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

Roxanne.. just found this and you answered some of the questions that i just put in an email to you.. practice it is! Your work is so lovely and I agree about the brushstrokes.. !

December 3, 2011 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Roxanne Steed said...

Thanks Rose! I'm glad that helped! I'm hoping to post one that is more of a step-by-step demo type thing....(I always forget to start photographing once I get into the painting! Hoping I can share some more thoughts that were helpful to me over time.

December 3, 2011 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger Rose said...

You certainly are very helpful, and I thank you for your personal email to me as well! I appreciate all you do and looking forward to more of your posts. I know how hard it is to photograph a painting when you're in the zone! :) Have a beautiful day! xox

December 4, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Roxanne Steed said...

Thanks so much Rose- you made my day! :-D

December 4, 2011 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Rose said...

I'm glad, thanks again Roxanne!

December 4, 2011 at 3:58 PM  

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