Monday, May 27, 2013

Suchitra's Model #2 UPDATED

Nothing seems to expose problems in a painting like the old artist's trick of looking at it in a mirror.  It's amazing what jumps out as obvious when you do that.  In a similar way, taking a photograph and studying it later is just as effective.  After I made my original post of this particular painting, I saw several problems that bugged me and needed attention.  I think I have everything straightened out now.

I like this particular portrait study.  The blonde hair came out well....I stopped when I should have, successfully resisting the urge to start being clever and over painting it, as I often do.  The result is a light, airiness that feels authentic. The coloring came out better that usual as well.  The eyes are in deep shade which was quite a challenge to recreate.  It was a test of  painting values.  I also like the background.  I felt there were some lessons learned on this one. 

Suchitra's Model No. 2    12" x 9" Oil on linen panel

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Preacher - a sketch

When I paint portraits, I invariably start with a direct sketch on the canvas using a brush and thinned paint. I just use a lot of OMS in the mix.  That keeps the chroma a bit subdued and it causes the sketched lines to dry fast.  They are therefore less likely to mix into the skin tones.  The color varies, usually depending on the overall skin tone, but it's usually some variation of transparent oxide red or burnt sienna.  Sometimes a gray is appropriate.  The brush is generally a small bristle filbert, but I also like the sharp edges of a very small flat. (They quickly become 'filberts.'   I'm a bit rough on brushes.) 
Once the major facial landmarks are located, I typically establish the darkest darks and then begin to move to halftones and then lights in color.  In other words, I begin painting right away.  However, occasionally I take the first block in further using light and dark shades of the sketch color only.  I just love these block-ins, and frankly, I'm often more satisfied with them than I am with the resulting completed painting.  (I'm aware of the classical technique of grisaille, and I guess this is a version of that....but I don't think of it as an under-painting for glazes to follow, but just a 'black and white' sketch that will guide me as I paint -mostly opaquely- over it.)  Here's The Preacher in the first sketch.  I've gone past this point already and I'm well into the fully painted portrait.  In this photo I see some of the initial drawing errors that I hope I have corrected in the more complete painting...but still I almost wish I had stopped here!

I'll post the final version when it's done.  Still have a way to go.
The Preacher
Oil on linen   Approximately 20 x 16

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Suchitra's Model #2 Portrait

 I had the good fortune to spend another studio session with Suchitra Bhosle a week ago.  I've posted about painting with Suchitra before, so I won't go into it again, except to say that it is always a challenging and energizing experience.   Once again, I felt a bit like a child with his first finger paint set, except I wasn't nearly so free and unconstrained!  Values, values, values.  I learn a bit more each time about values. 

 My painting of the model was not especially good.  When I started, I felt that I was on the right track, but time was short.  For some reason, after about an hour, I felt completely lost.  The drawing felt completely out of control, and I realized my mind was a jumble of conflicting thoughts.  Once again I wiped my canvas down and determined to start again.  I'm not any more comfortable doing that than I have ever been - it always feels like defeat to me - but I've begun to realize that if I do not have a plan and if I am not careful and methodical in the beginning, there is very little likelihood of rescuing the painting no matter how long I dabble and poke at it.  Better to wipe it down and THINK.  Anyway, the remaining time wasn't enough to take the painting to any level of finish and I left with yet another panel to pile up in a stack somethere.

After letting it sit for a week, I decided to see if I could bring the painting to a higher degree of finish and at the same time, identify and work through some of the problems I had left unresolved.  Fortunately I'd taken some pictures at the very end of the session, so I had important reference material as a guide.

This is Suchitra's model #2 (of course, I've forgotten her name!).  I would guess that there is about five hours total in this small canvas, counting the 1 1/2 - 2 hours spent in the studio session.  I feel that I learned a lot by finishing up this portrait and I have a much nicer feeling of completion.

Suchitra's Model #2   Oil on 12" x 9" panel 

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Adapting in Locke!!

 Any plein air painter will tell you that a part of the process is adapting.  Wind, rain, heat, cold, various critters large and small, all add an element of adventure to the if getting a decent painting wasn't tough enough.

On Saturday I went to the small Delta town of Locke to paint.   I've mentioned Locke in many previous posts, so I'll just say that it's a favorite spot with endless subject matter.  It was a quiet morning, with beautiful weather.  I picked a building and started the block-in.

A tranquil morning in Locke...

As I sketched, someone mentioned that a Cinco de Mayo motorcycle ralley was on the way.  Motorcycles are nothing new in's a favored stop on most motorcycle runs in the Sacramento Delta area, and, of course, it's also home to the famous bar "Al the Wop's" ...a classic biker watering hole.  


And a deafening roar, they showed up!  I'd guess about 100 bikes rolled into main street.  I was surrounded!  

Adapt!  Paint Motorcycles!!

 There was nothing to do but adapt.  In a near-brilliant flash of self preservation, I added the bikes to my painting!

 And I even won over a few admirers.  I painted on.    What a blast!  My painting didn't come out that well, but it was a great morning...and I have a lot of material for future paintings.

Adapt!  Pretend nothing unusual is happening!  Paint on!

Here's my 9 x 12 painting.  A fun sketch...and maybe inspiration for a larger studio painting?  

Adapt, adapt!  There's really nothing quite like plein air painting. 

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Finally I set up an online Art Website!

Just finding time and energy to paint is struggle enough, it seems to me.  But art study and professional exposure are important as well, and I've finally begun to devote some much needed efforts on both. 

It's time to begin to establish a presence as an artist that will set the stage for the next phase of my artistic journey.  My friend Ruth Andre ( ) has long been sending me marketing (exposure) tips; she is quite accomplished at it.  And my online 'mentor' Dan Edmondson has included a huge amount of information about beginning to establish yourself as a engaged professional in his "Art Masters Program."   So armed with good advice I have finally taken a first,  small step and set up an online art website. 

I chose Fine Art Studio Online as my online service provider.  I'm sure there are other equally competent services out there...and I checked out a couple of them...but in the end I selected FASO because they seemed to provide all the necessary tools in a convenient and accessible way, and, maybe most importantly, nearly every current artist that I pay attention to and follow seems to have selected FASO as well.  That was important to me. 

I still have quite a few 'tweaks' to do to the website and many more paintings to upload, but it's in place and fairly presentable so check it out and follow along as I update and polish it.  You can find it at 

My next effort will be to set up an inventory tracking process.  I'm currently reviewing several programs set up do keep track of paintings, gallery submissions, sales, etc.  I'll keep you posted on that. 


My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art