Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Painting from Life - And the Essential Homework

Since my (semi) retirement in July of this year, I've had more time to paint.  I can't say that I've taken full advantage of the increased opportunity, but as I make the mental transition from the regime of the past (sometimes very comfortable) to the freedom of the present (sometimes very disorienting), I begin to see new pathways and new ways of thinking about what I do and how I do it.

One thing that should have been clear all along, but strangely wasn't,  is that although increased painting time is invaluable to growth, particularly in the handling of materials and the resolution of painting problems, mere repetition isn't enough. Doing the same thing over and over - or to put it another way, making the same mistakes over and over - just reinforces current approaches both good and bad.  So for the last two months or so, I've begun to add a level of "study" to my painting efforts.

Among other "homework" I've spent some time reviewing Andrew Loomis's books on drawing the head and the figure.  Originally published in the mid- 1940's, both books have been reissued in very affordable editions.  They are treasure chests of information on the subject with wonderful and detailed information on proportions and shapes.  Studying and practicing this foundational information has helped my life painting sessions as I spend less time fixing drawing errors and more time trying to create an artwork.

I also continue my study of limited palettes.  "Gary" was done with the Zorn palette of white, black, red and yellow.  "Sassy" was done with something closer to the Kathleen Dunphy palette of yellow, naples yellow, red, and ultramarine blue, to which I added transparent oxide red.  These limited palettes are so wonderfully freeing.  You would think that it might be just the opposite, that not having 20 colors on your palette to choose from would be constraining,  but after a very small learning curve, I've found that the limited selection has many, many benefits.  But that's a subject for another post.

For now, here are two paintings done from life this month.  Both took about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. 

"Gary"    Oil on linen  11 x 8 1/2 
  

"Sassy"   Oil on linen   12 x 16 

My Art Site: Bruce Hancock Fine Art

3 comments :

  1. good observation - making the same mistakes cannot be regarded as worthwhile practice.
    I like limited palettes too

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  2. Hi again Neil! Yeah, I have really adopted the limited palette this year. I began to understand and use it as a result of a workshop I took with Kathleen Dunphy in Murphys. In fact, I now use exactly the one she uses with the exception that I generally add transparent red oxide because it is such a useful color in both landscapes and portraits and because when mixed with ultramarine (one of Kathleen's colors), it gives beautiful, rich darks. More recently I've used the Zorn palette (two colors plus black and white!) for portraits and I think it is fabulous.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting Neil!

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