Ohh April! My very favorite time of the year is when the cherry blossoms are out in full bloom, and the great long stretch of summer is out before us in glorious, warm possibility. I spent some time this week painting the cherry blossoms and happily reveling in their heavenly beauty… I was in the park almost every day! Check out my time lapse of the painting done and a few of my other pieces. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in collecting any of these oil sketches.
White top and pink skirt: Forever 21. Lavender dress: true vintage. Blue dress: Urban Outfitters. Floral dress: true vintage. Striped top: Lucy Paris. Hats: Forever 21. Sunglasses: Green Street Consignment.
Which is your favorite look? What about favorite cherry blossom painting?
I can’t leave without posting the most epic floral painting ever. “The Roses is Heliogabalus” by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. Enjoy! Until next time,
This week I’ve been painting away at a new work. It’s got lush folds and fabrics that are delicious to paint, and some mouth watering fruit that’s nestled in the hand of a figure that’s not seen in the picture. It’s been fun playing with the different textures and colors in the painting, bringing the fabric, flesh, and fruit to light. It’s 10×12 inches, oil on board. No title yet. Still got a little ways to go on it.
Still from video Jessica Libor Artist Interview 2012
Hello friends! I am SO excited to bring to you a short video in which I explain what I’m working on and what my art is about. This was made yesterday, so it’s quite current. Click the link below to watch the video:
In this post, we’ll make the leap from just drawing in contours and lines to actually rendering. At this stage, you should have a very technically correct line drawing of the model in front of you. It may be a bit smudged and messy from erasing multiple times and retracing over lines, so you may want to enlarge your sketch onto another sheet of more high quality drawing paper.
The teacher transferring his drawing, 2011
The rendering stage of the drawing is completely optional in the painting process, although it was very helpful to me in learning more about value and contrast, something I’ve always struggled with. This post may get a little technical. If you have trouble following, read over it again, or feel free to send me a message if you’re having trouble understanding. I’ll explain it as best I can.
If you’d like to do the finished drawing, now is the time to make a photocopy enlargement of your drawing. Once you have it the size you’d like, turn the photocopy over, and sprinkle or rub graphite onto the back of the photocopy. Place the photocopy face up on the sheet of nice drawing paper, and trace over the lines you worked so hard for. Remove the photocopy, and hooray! A perfect, clean line drawing on pristine paper.
While you are transferring, now would be a good time to also transfer the line drawing onto your canvas. For best results, use oil primed linen, either stretched on stretcher bars or mounted on board. Artboard, a wonderful brand of archival artist boards, is based out of New York and sells from the Art Students League of New York supply shop. You can also order their oil primed belgian linen mounted on boards online, at Artboards.com. These are the supplies I use for my own work, and it makes painting so much simpler and easier, with a beautiful, professional finish. Also, I find the board mounted canvas much more durable than canvas mounted on stretcher bars. I’ve ruined more than one painting by accidentally poking through the delicate canvas!
It’s important to use oil primed linen rather than acrylic primed canvas for your paintings, if you want them to be of archival quality. Acrylic and oil don’t mix, so it’s not wise to build a whole oil painting on an acrylic base.
Natural Fiber Linen Panel mounted with Oil Primed Belgian Linen from ArtBoards
But back to drawing. Once you have your newly clean fresh line drawing in front of you, look at the lines you’ve drawn, and back at the model. The important thing is that the shadows are separate from the light. Completely flatten the shadow as an excersise…leave out the details of anything in the shadow. The details within the shadow are much more subtle than you think. Ignore reflected light within shadows (such as in the neck area) for now.
We have as humans a limited range in painting and drawing as compared to real life values. Therefore, your “scale” of light and dark will be more compressed and narrow than what you see in real life. Because we are limited in scale values, DIMINISH the contrast that you see.
The more perpendicular a surface is to a light source, the brighter it is. Form is all about the location of the object in perpendicularity.
Now, what about the tip of the nose, the light in her eye, the shine on her lip, the sheen to her hair? That is called “Specular light”, or highlight. The specular light moves with you as you move around the model, unlike form light, which stays static. Try it. As you move around the model, the highlights change, but the actual light on the model remains the same.
As you pick a value for your shadow, pick a dark value, but not the darkest dark.
Fill in the shadows you see, and ignore detail.
Unfinished sketch of Maria done by Joshua LaRock, 2011
As you are shading, keep this idea in mind that will try to decieve you. Simultaneous contrast: it’s when a light object (your model, if against a dark background) is contrasted against a dark object, your brain wants to exaggerate the contrast. Think I’m lying? Check out this shadow illusion.
Ask yourself these two questions again and again as your draw and shade:
1. Which plane is most facing the light? The form light is peaking at the place most facing the light, NOT the highlight.
2. Where is the highlight in relation to the lightest form light? They may be in very different places.
Caravaggio, a famous Baroque painter from Italy, was a master at using subtle contrast to bring out the fullness of the flesh on human form. Look at the exquisite subtlety in the changes in skin tone and value in the painting of his below.
Baccus by Caravaggio, 1597
Don’t think about copying the exact values–it’s impossible. Think about creating an object with the same scultpural integrity as the object you are representing. It may help you to make a mental hierarchy of the brights, and a mental hierarchy of the darkest lights. Again, keep the actual shadow all one shade for now.
Keep in mind that the larger forms are more important than the smaller forms. And don’t give up! The results are worth the work, I promise!
Portrait Study by Joshua LaRock, oil on linen, 2007
In this post I just wanted to share my extensive notes from a very helpful workshop that I took this summer at the Grand Central Academy of Art. Joshua LaRock was the instructor, and it was one of the most thorough and helpful classes I’ve ever taken. Joshua studied for four years at the GCA and now teaches there in addition to painting. If you’d like to visit his website and see his work, visit www.joshualarock.com. I would highly recommend any of his classes to artists who want to learn more about traditional ways of painting and add extra dimension to their work.
It was a two week workshop, and I’ll break down the instruction into a few posts, day by day: the drawing first, then the painting. First, came the drawing, something that many of us want to skip through because it’s not quite as fun and instant-gratification as painting. He made us slow down and take and entire week to draw the model, with only the next week to paint a complete painting. Through that, I learned a lot about value. “Value makes the painting,” he told us. After thinking about it, I came to agree. I couldn’t think of any major painting I didn’t have carefully chosen, subtle values. My hope is that you’ll be able to utilize these notes and use the information in your own work!
Drawing Demo by Joshua LaRock 2011
Note: All these instructions are made with the assumption that you have a live model in front of you posing.
Blocking in. A messy, sketchy, but important step. Focus on LINE and FORM. Classically, the picture frame is supposed for be vertically tipped (window shaped), not horizontal (landscape shaped).
Notice where you are drawing the model from. (At this point Joshua put a piece of glass up on the easel and did a line drawing on the glass, tracing only as a demonstration)
Find a horizontal and vertical reference point on the model.
To begin blocking in, hold the pencil loosely. If it’s a portrait you are doing, imagine it’s not a head–take yourself away from the psychological attention of features. Establish a scale. Some tools to do this are:
1. Find points on the face/model and mark them on your paper.
2. Notice the tilt of the head.
3. Notice how the shapes interlock
4. Use comparative measuring.
See what’s actually in front of you, and draw on medium to fine tooth paper. Block out the larger masses. In comparative measuring, use your left eye with the left arm to measure, or right with the right. When you do comparative measuring, lock your arm, so that it’s the same distance each time you measure.
Take a central point between the face. Check distances to/from everything. Start with the VOLUME in the shapes, not the contour. This will give your drawing a feeling of sculpture and fullness, like Michaelangelo’s drawings.
Archers by Michelangelo, 1533
Seated Male Nude by Michelangelo, 1511
Choose one part of the face and make it fact–build around it. Use halves and quarters. And most importantly, don’t get too detailed to fast! Work on all the proportions at the same time and it will come together.
After blocking in, start getting more into the shapes. Start inside the face and work outwards, slowly raising the 2-D drawing to 3-D.
Watch the terminators–they’ll help you find the right shapes and fullnesses in the form. Terminator is the edge of form where light no longer can pass over a form–it turns and curves away from light.
Know your bad tendencies and guard against them (For me, this means guarding against overemphasis on contrast). Move from the center of the face and build out. Move forward from your easel when needed to investigate the shapes, especially around the eyes.