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The “People” Series

June 11, 2010

The subject this week was “people”.  It was a challenge all the way.  Most of them, as with the previous series’, are quick and sketchy.  I’ve posted some of these on my “showcase” blog, but for my artist friends, I’ll post all of them here, the good, the bad and the ugly.  For those who struggle with their art, I would say ‘you are not alone’.  It’s not all easy.  We do a lot of not so great stuff, and some really crappy stuff, and every now and then we do one that’s not too bad.  It’s all part of the learning process.  In my case, people, especially faces, are not something I do very often.  After this week, it’s obvious to me that I need to do it more often.

"Tourist" 5x7

 Just to get comfortable, I started off with bit of a cartoon approach.  The Tourist was quick and fun.  Next, I pulled a photo that I took at a parade out in west Texas…

"Tuba" 5x7

I never had any idea that I’d ever use the photo of the tuba player, but this was the perfect opportunity.  It also allowed me to focus on body movement without worrying about the face.  With almost all of these, I merely wanted to focus on the people, without worrying about a recognizable background.

"Bored Meeting" 5x7

After the Tourist and the Tuba player, I decided to get a bit more serious.  A photo a friend had provided me has always intrigued me.  These four Italian men were just sitting and watching the world pass by.  It was quick and rough, but all I wanted to do was pick up on the body language.

"Waiting" 5x7

A sketch from another photo from a friend.  The body language was interesting, showing a bit of boredom and a “waiting” attitude.  I got this far with it, then decided I really wasn’t happy with it.  The feet were huge, and I didn’t feel that I had shown him leaning against the wall.  I could have kept working on it, or started over, but I felt that I had learned from it, and that was enough.  The important lesson here is to not fall in love with a small piece of work.

"Walking the Rocks" 5x7

This is from a photo I took of a family member last summer.  She couldn’t wait to kick off her shoes, get her feet wet, and walk on the rocks.  I’ve come across the photo a number of times, and have felt there was a larger painting in there somewhere, but I’ve never felt ready to do it.  Doing this sketch at least gave me an idea of what I’d have to think about if I ever try it larger.  So… another learning exercise, and a step closer to another painting.

"Cowboy" 3"x3.5"

A really quick sketch.  Straight in with the brush without any preliminary thought.  The shadow over his face, along with a pair of sunglasses – and a great mustache – were too much to resist.  Just for fun.

"No Pressure" 9x12, Gouache

 This goup of men playing boules was another opporunity to just play with a grouping and a variety of body language.  The smallest man seems to be the judge or referee, and is holding a measuring stick.  The big guy standing over him said it all.  I just wanted to see if I could get them all in the right perspective and in the right positions to tell the story.  It would probably make a great little painting someday, but probably not for me at this time.  This sketch wasn’t in my original post, but still was done this week.

"Woman with Basket" 5x7

The photo of a young woman at a Renaissance Festival was in the Reference Image Library.  I have become fascinated by the romantic paintings of Australian painter Robert Hagan.  The reality check here is that he’s been doing it for a very long time.  Still, I’ve been wanting to at least try something like this, so I did a small study of the Renaissance Festival woman.  Then I put her into a larger painting:

I tried to stay reasonably loose, but still describe her properly.  That frilly white blouse is an intriguing subject to paint, and actually turned out to be one of the easiest parts of the painting.  I made up the background, keeping it very loose and a bit abstract.  I really didn’t want the background to steal anything from the star of the show.  This actually was not a difficult painting – until I got to the shoulder and face.  Finding the right values, and then the right color palette took some time.  I still don’t think I hit it quite right, but I was at the point of producing “mud”, and decided that, for this exercise, this would have to do.  I’d still like to try something like this again sometime.

Now to see what subject Nell’s going to draw from the hat for next week…

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