Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Features Within the Shadows

It's been a slow couple of weeks in the studio for me. I haven't been painting much. It is not because I don't have any deadlines, I have a two person show coming up in August with Julie Nester Gallery, and it's definitely not because I lack inspiration. I have three pieces drawn out just waiting to be painted. I guess lately I just haven't been motivated to paint. I realize that motivation can come and go, but for someone like me who always seems to be working on something, this was not something I wanted. I wasn't too worried about it at first since I am supposed to be relaxing more. My stress levels can get pretty high and it has been affecting my health so I have been trying to do more "calming" things like massages, exercise, naps, and reading. But now it has been over two weeks, I'm bored, and I need to get back to work. So how does one motivate onseself to get back "on the saddle again"? I guess for me I need to be a Nike ad and "just do it". I find the hardest part is just getting myself downstairs into my studio. It may seem silly considering my studio is in my house, but sometimes I have to trick or bribe myself to get down there. Once I am there, it's usually pretty easy to get some work done, even if it's for a short while.  Coincidently, Brooke Shaden, a photographer in Southern California, recently wrote a blog post on how to get motivated. Between reading her article, and dragging myself downstairs, I actually got some work done yesterday.

The man looking down on the right has almost no visible details on his face.
My two current pieces that I worked on have a lot of interesting shadows on the subject's face. I love painting high contrast pieces and these, with some of the faces in mostly shadow, were especially fun. One would think that it would be easy to just paint a dark, abstract shape and the face would be taken care of, especially in the case of the first piece where the second man's face really doesn't show much of the features, but there is more too it than just a dark mass. Even when I can't see what is going on, I imagine what shapes are underneath the shadows. I paint slight gradients of the dark color in order to give an impression that there is a face there. Even though you can't see much of the details I am adding, if I didn't do this, the shadow would look flat, as if some 2-dimensional absract object just landed on his face. I'm pretty sure that is not the look I want to achieve. I do this with clothing that looks as if there is not much detail because the fabric is black or in shadow. Sometimes if I squint really hard I can see some gradients in the reference photograph, but more often than not, I have to imagine what is there. This is true for white areas where the sun is bleaching out any details of the subject.

The little girl on the left was fun to paint. I had to get the profile perfect since
once again, there is not much detail in the face.

The two paintings I am working on are still in the very early stages so I still have more details to add in the really dark areas. Once I finish painting and waxing the piece you may not be able to see what I did in those areas but I can guarantee that if I didn't add details there, you would notice the flat objects that mysteriously landed on their faces.

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