Contemporary Portrait—Teenage Boy

Again from a photo from Unsplash, and again really fun to paint! The steps of my process are outlined below.

Contemporary Portrait-Indian Girl

12 x 16 ins, oil on canvas panel

So much fun! This portrait is based on a photo from Unsplash, but adapted according to my memories of our 4 month stay in India in 2014. One overwhelming impression there was the riot of color—in clothing, outside temples, in decorations. It was a beautiful feast of color!

Here’s a gallery of some steps in the process:

Contemporary ‘selfie’ Portrait

Oil on canvas panel, 12 x 16 ins

This is from a selfie photo, but not of me! As I was looking through the photos on my ‘phone I discovered several ‘unauthorized’ selfies of my teenage daughter. I told her that her ‘punishment’ was that I’d paint from them! She was horrified at first, but now actually likes the painting!

I painted this after watching a video lesson series (Contemporary Oil Portraiture, by Torsten Wolber) on the European site Domestika. His instruction is in German, but there are subtitles available in many languages. He’s a really fun teacher and opened my eyes to some new methods which I am loving trying out.

Composition 5

Oil on Panel, 8 x 10 ins
Sketch book Notans from a photo I took in a NY cemetery last spring.

I liked the lower left design best, so I chose that for my painting.

I applied the paint with a palette knife throughout. I like the sunlight effect in the lower half of the painting.

Composition 3

8 x 10 ins, oil on canvas board

This painting was developed from the notan on the top half of the sketch book page, 3c. I used the value pattern on the top right, although the tree/bush at the left side of the road really ended up being a dark shape. I thought it looked a better balance as I was painting.

This time I painted entirely with a palette knife. I enjoy the thick and expressive paint!

Composition 2

8 x 10 ins, oil on canvas board

The painting above was developed from the thumbnails on the bottom half of the sketchbook page, 2c. I have the 3-value sketch on the left and then four Notan possibilities to the right. I chose the lower left one from which to paint.

I think that this time I kept to the value pattern more accurately, but I lost it a bit at the left end of the tree line—the values of sky/trees/field become too similar there. I like these colors better than my Composition I painting.

Composition I

8 x 10 ins, oil on canvas panel

Mary Gilkerson was an artist and teacher from South Carolina, whose art and videos I have liked for a while. She painted colorful landscapes using a palette knife. Sadly she passed away in April 2022.

The people in charge of her estate decided to offer her video classes to the public on YouTube at no charge. Thank you!

I have been following her ‘Composition, Color and Light’ course and it has been extremely helpful in learning how to compose a landscape, and in fact a painting of any subject.

She makes the process of developing a Notan (black and white value pattern) from a photograph understandable in a way I’d never seen before:

1. Develop a 3-value study of the scene in question.

2. Make several thumbnail variations pushing the mid-value to either black or white.

3. Choose the one that is most pleasing to you as the value pattern for your painting.

Below is my sketchbook showing this process, and indicating the value pattern I chose. But then I didn’t keep exactly to it, and I used strange colors, so I was not entirely happy with the painting above. I have since practiced quite a bit more and have some better results—in future posts!

Big Summer Project

Helping Others Soar, Oil on Linen panel, 24 x 36 ins

This project has been occupying a lot of my summer painting time, and has now come to a happy completion!

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year and wanted to celebrate by obtaining artwork from local artists, illustrating in some way their work and impact on the community over the past 30 years. In April they put out a call for submissions of ideas and current work. I made a proposal and was one of 15 people selected to complete a piece of art. The plan was to select and purchase six of those completed.

I visited their offices and studied their history and work. I was drawn to those people who had used their wealth to set up educational scholarships. I chose to focus on this couple, both now deceased, who were successful local, family business owners. (The business continues in the hands of their son, who was very helpful in giving me access to photos of his parents).

They were both keen pilots, owning several of their own airplanes (one is pictured in the back right of the painting) and they established a scholarship for students in the aviation program at Indiana State University, administered by the Community Foundation.

I learned last week that my painting was one of those selected to be purchased and will hang in the offices of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation in Terre Haute.