Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Portrait Featured on the Cover of Leawood Magazine

My portrait of the Reynolds family is featured on the cover of the Leawood, KS magazine Pavilions Life. The magazine also features an interview with Eva Reynolds of Eva Reynolds Fine Art.

"One particular artist that I enjoy working with is Patrick Saunders. He specializes in painting family portraits. He involves the entire family in the process. He comes to the home to get to know the family members, and takes photos of the family. He will then create a few sketches for the family to pick from to create the final oil painting." - Eva Reynolds

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Olivia and Emma - Portrait Demonstration

Here's one from way back (notice the hair I still have).

After the sketch is approved and the canvas stretched and primed to size, it's time for the real fun to begin. I let the girls start the painting for me. This served a double purpose of involving Olivia and Emma in the process as much as possible, and setting up unexpected areas of color, some of which would show through in the final painting.

Painting with the girls.
The final underpainting. Thanks to my two assistants.
I next dive right into painting on top of the girls work.  I decided to start with Emma. Her head is smaller than Olivia’s, due to her standing farther back in space, so I realize that she must have the most detail to achieve a balance between the two figures.  I always try to start where the painting requires the most detail, so I can set up my boundaries which the remainder of the painting must relate to.  I’ll also draw more attention to Olivia by placing a dark behind her head which contrasts well with her blonde hair.
Detail of Emma following the first painting session. Emma’s face is by no means at a finished point, but I don’t want to spend too much time and overwork it.  
Next, it’s time to start on Olivia.  In order to correctly measure the distance between the two figures, I feel it’s necessary to rough in the rocks of the waterfall between them. Once this space is established correctly, I can rough in Olivia’s face.
At this point I also rough in the shapes of the tulips in the foreground, knowing that these will be the most vibrant of all the colors in the painting.  These colors also help set up a comparison point for color throughout the remainder of the painting.

A detail of Olivia in progress.
The third element that requires precision drawing is the dog, Priscilla.  Again, in order to establish the correct position of her head, I must rough in the elements between Emma’s face and Priscilla’s face. I also feel that at this point I have enough spontaneous paint on the canvas that I can do some “drawing” with a thin brush to establish some of the secondary elements positions.  Notice the blue lines in the image below.
Detail of Prissy.
Now that all of the elements are correctly placed, it’s a matter of refinement and balance.  By balance, I’m refering to how much contrast should appear in each area, where hard and soft edges should appear, and how vibrant colors should be.
I paint and scrape down Emma’s face several times until I feel that I have captured the correct balance of drawing, spontaneity, and color. Scraping the paint off is never a waste of the previous painting session, because each time some of the color remains behind shaping the final result.
Detail of Olivia.
The final painting. Olivia and Emma, Oil on Canvas.

Mrs. Walter Rathbone Bacon by Anders Zorn

Another great painting from the New York Metropolitan Museum of art. An absolutely effortless (or so it appears) portrait of Mrs. Bacon and her dog. The dog is the real star of the painting. The fluid nature of the brushwork gives the impression that the dog could jump right out of the scene at any moment and shows a true mastery of the medium. According to Walter himself, both Sargent and Whistler admired this portrait when it was exhibited in 1897.
I've been searching for a better reproduction of this piece, but have yet to find one. It's difficult to photograph in the museum in the way it's currently displayed.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Carolyn Anderson Portrait Demonstration

A few years back, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop given by Carolyn Anderson in Logan Utah. I captured a step by step portrait demonstration in photos and have pieced it together in the movie below. Check out more of Carolyn's paintings at

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s

Fantastic book. Makes me wonder what life would have been like during the pre-stock age when illustration was still king. This book is filled with a variety of great work showcasing amazing technical skill, beautiful compositions, and interesting stylizations. I'm anticipating the next in the series.

Here's the description from
The 1960s was an optimistic era of unprecedented change, and its heady zeitgeist was captured in the amazing range of artwork that adorned the magazines of the time. Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s is a colossal survey of magazine artwork from the Swinging Sixties. It not only provides revelatory insight into the extraordinary artistic talents of the illustrators featured--such as Austin Briggs, Lynn Buckham, Antonio Lopez and Coby Whitmore--but also tellingly elucidates the social aspirations of this era of political optimism and sexual freedom. Featuring over 1,000 gloriously inventive and stylistically diverse illustrations, Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s traces the decade's dizzyingly swift evolution from the homemaking ethos of romantic coupledom to the stylish liberation of mini-skirted Chelsea girls and the psychedelic palette that evolved towards the decade's close, conjuring a fabulous and euphoric pageant of 1960s pop culture from rediscovered artworks by the very best illustrators of the day. An inspirational sourcebook for contemporary designers and fans of 1960s culture, Lifestyle Illustration of the 60s provides a wonderful, nostalgic adventure into an aspirational world of stylishly sophisticated living, revealing just how much life has changed in the intervening decades.

Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-Lepage

Yet another gem at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Located in a busy hallway, most visitors rush by this piece to view work by Degas, Van Gogh and Monet. The painting is large enough that it's difficult to take in without standing across the hall much to the annoyance of everyone moving through the space. The tapestry effect of the composition and paint application is amazing and truly worth viewing in person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Nana by Lovis Corinth

Of all the work in the St. Louis Art Museum, this stands out above the rest. A painting that must be experienced first hand, as no photograph can reproduce the quality of the brushstrokes and the thickness of the paint. The entire image has a movement that is rarely matched. The unfortunate part of it is that this is not always on display, and I was denied a viewing on my last visit.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A few more gems from the Met's Visual Storage. Sorry for the occasional glare on the glass, or my reflected head.

John Singer Sargent's Madame X is currently on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Visual Storage room. If you have never been to the Visual Storage room, it's a collection of some of the finest paintings not on display in the museum. The beauty is that that they are packed floor to ceiling into display cases and give views of paintings which are impossible in the museum proper. Madame X is too large to store in it's frame, and is currently displayed sans frame which is a real treat. I've included a shot of the edge of the painting below.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Abbot H. Thayer from the Brooklyn Museum of Art

Some work must be viewed in person to be truly appreciated. This is especially true for Abbott Handerson Thayer's work. The following three images were shot with my iPhone, which is less than ideal, but even with a professionally shot photograph, the color, depth and subtlety of these paintings is impossible to reproduce. The fourth image is the shot from the museum's website. There's a glow to every element in this piece, from the background to the faces of the children.

Abbott H. Thayer, My Children, ca. 1896-1910. Oil on canvas, 48 1/16 x 60 3/8 in.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Favorite painting: Brooklyn Museum of Art

John Singer Sargent
Val d'Aosta(A Stream over Rocks; Stream in Val d'Aosta) 1909. Oil on canvas 21 5/8 x 27 1/2 in.
Even more amazing in person, this painting perfectly captures the flow of water over the rocks and it's effect on the sunlight. Unfortunately, this painting is rarely exhibited.