Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Getting the Pose Right: Photography vs. Painting

"Gene" oil on panel, 18"x24." Photo by Saunders Fine Arts.
Gene is our Boston Terrier neighbor who comes to visit us every day. He's a sweet guy with a great face, and from the moment we met, I knew that I wanted to paint him. There's just no way that Gene would sit still for a painting from life. He's incredibly photogenic, and Kimberly was able to shoot a lot of great photos of him in numerous poses.

I chose the photo that I felt captured Gene's demanding personality. He's the kind of dog that will stare us down until he gets what he wants - usually treats. After spending a few hours on the painting, I realized that something just wasn't working. He looked flat and awkward. I realized I'd made a bad reference choice. Time to scrape it down and start over.

The photo vs. the painting. Excellent photo and very much "Gene."
I could tell very quickly after the initial block-in (even with my inaccuracies)
that the painting could not capture the same emotions.

Sometimes, a great photo doesn't make a great painting. Photography can depict things that a painting might struggle with. Our brains tell us that the photo is correct, and we don't question the accuracy of the image. That's not necessarily true of a painting. Paintings make us question odd proportions, and Boston Terrier's can have somewhat unique body proportions. It was clear that I needed a different angle to emphasize the forms of both his head and body.

Thankfully, as I said, Kimberly shot a lot of great photos. I looked for one that clearly showed his stubby muzzle and placed less emphasis on the imbalance between his body and legs. The second painting went quickly, and I am much happier with the finished result.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Portrait Class at Harold's Art & Framing, San Antonio

"Huey" (oil on canvas, 14"x14")
Yesterday, I held a portrait painting workshop with a wonderful group at Harold's Art & Framing in San Antonio, Texas. In the morning, I painted a full demonstration of Huey. I opened up the entire process to questions and comments from the students, inviting them to help decide what was working and where the painting needed additional work.. It was great fun for all of us.

In the afternoon, the students painted from the live model. It's always exciting to see the varied approaches of the individual students. Thanks to all of you who participated.

I'll be teaching one more class at Harold's next month.


Saturday, March 19, 2016

New Posts On PleinAirStreaming

I've been posting over on PleinAirStreaming this past week. Please check it out. It's more of the travel blog that I share with Kimberly as we trek across the country. I'll still be posting here, but this will be more thoughts on painting and studio work.