Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Contemporary Masters Show

Hello All!!! I wanted to share photos of opening night at the Royal Gallery last December 9th. It was a wonderful night of friends, laughs and art. I was pleased with the turn out and also the many new faces that visited the gallery. For the first time I was able meet the other artist that are represented by the gallery. Over all It was a great time and experience sharing our art with Rhode Island.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Skull Demo

The Specimen

Hey Everyone, I wanted to take this time to post another painting demo base on how I paint red fabric. Countless times people asked how I did it, what colors that I used and what was my painting process. Well to start this is a technique that I learned while studying still life painting at The Angel Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. After cast painting learning to render red cloth was our first task to tackle in still life.
The idea behind painting red is having a wide range of value  maintaining a high chroma throughout. That being said how does one lighten red without changing it to pink or orange? Any addition of white will not only make pink but lower the chroma. Orange can work well to lighten red only a couple of values while maintaining its chroma but not 100% convincing. The way in which I was taught was a type of glazing technique. In the nature of glazing, applying a thin and darker value over a light ground will with most colors retain and heighten it's chroma. So in this demo I will be using the lightest value ground I can think of, the white of the oil primed linen. The majority of the glazing will be done with transparent and semi-transparent reds.

sight-size set up

I started the drawing for this still life using the sight-size method. I find it the easiest way to check my proportions, angles and form relationships. I can simply flick my eyes back and forth to check for drawing errors and then change them just as fast as they are noticed. Instead of drawing with oil paint directly on the linen I opted to start  by using pencil on paper. I find I have more control over the composition of the painting before I transfer it onto the linen. Starting in this way is also beneficial in this painting in order to maintain the white of the ground. Any stain or residue of color on the white ground will detract from the luminosity of the future red glazes.

The skull transferred to linen

After I have transferred the finished drawing onto linen I can then start the underpainting. I carefully wash raw umber into the background and skull being mindful no to contaminate any of the areas that will be red.

The Raw Umber wash drawing.

When the Raw Umber wash was dried I toned the background and shadows with Ivory Black.

Wash drawing toned with black.

The next stage is what they called the first painting stage at the Angel Academy. This is the stage where all of my first guesses are made in establishing all the other colors and tones. This is the first time that I visit the red cloth area. I used Scarlet Red from Winsor and Newton for the first layer in rendering the cloth. I don't use any medium to apply the red, I just scrub it in with a bristle brush. The important thing to keep in mind is to apply leave a thin even layer.

First Painting Stage

I continue to rework the skull and background elements trying to resolve drawing errors. Because I was able to state in a general way the the colors and tones I'll be using I can start to render and bring to a finish the small forms. At this time I'd like to finish as much as I can to let the red I just applied to dry thoroughly. Each layer must be dry so that older layers do not lift.

Refinements of first-painting.

I used Cad. Red lt.,Cad Red med. and Alizarin Crimson to scrub over the dry bright red base. I started with Cad Red lt. first working from light to dark. My brush was almost dry so that I could incrementally darken the cloth with the most control and not over work any of the areas. For every darker value red I added I had to let the previous layer dry. The shadow areas of the red I used a Persian Red base and glazed with Alizarin Crimson and Ivory Black.

The final Product.

With a lot of time and patience you can arrive at an impressive affect that is difficult to achieve with Direct painting methods. I hope that I could answer some of the those technical question people have asked me over the years. If anyone has any other question feel free to leave a comment. Thank you very much.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Landscapes

Hey everyone, I just wanted to share with you a couple of new Landscapes I got ready for my up coming show. Both of these paintings will be available for sale at the Royal Gallery in Providence, RI. I painted few others that are waiting for a coat of varnish, so I haven't bothered to take photos yet.
 The Tuscan Haystacks

Into the Fog

Into the Fog was actually a watercolor I had Painted a few years ago. I had decided to see what it might look like as an oil painting. I really had a lot of fun trying to liven up the neutral color of the fog breaking it up with some high chroma notes.
I hope that you enjoy and I hope to add the rest of the paintings as soon as they are varnished.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

American Art Collector Magazine

I am happy to announce that recently American Art Collector Magazine (Dec. issue, 2010) had contacted me to contribute a few words on my work in the up coming show at the Royal Gallery in Providence RI. This up coming January mark the two year anniversary of my involvement with the Royal Gallery. Since my first solo show with them it has been nothing but success and great reviews from the public and press. So I'm looking forward to this group show titled Collection of Contemporary Masters scheduled to run from Nov. 30, 2010 - Jan. 9,2011. I will be showing a portion of my work that I have been preparing for my next solo show in April. You can look forward to seeing many of my new landscapes I painted during my last stay in Italy. I hope to see you soon at the show and make sure to contact me if you need more information. All the best and Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The No Evil Series

The No Evil Series is a triptych that I worked on during my last stay in Italy. The idea actually came to me from a tattoo client. He wanted the typical monkey motif we all know. He being a client that I've tattooed for a number of years I was able to offered him an other perspective to his idea. I suggested that we come up with and alternative subject other than the monkeys and still keep with in the meaning of the piece. The best thing I came up with was an other typical tattoo image, the skull. We placed three skulls side by side with a red fabric and roses intertwined and holding together these heads. The fabric doubled as a device of unity and in covering the eyes, ears and mouth of the skulls instead of hands.
Ever since I made that tattoo I've wanted to reuse the essence of that image. As you will see I have again changed the objects but the meaning is still there. I hope that you enjoy the work and thank you for viewing.

Hear No Evil

See no Evil
Speak No Evil

Monday, October 4, 2010

GCA Drawing Competition Update

John, Pencil on Paper.

So here is my drawing for the  GCA competition. I had a wonderful time and learned a lot from the other competitors. It was a joy to watch how the other artist approached there drawing and each take them to a finish. I don't believe I had ever worked so intensely on a single drawing. We all started our days at 9 am and finished at 6 pm with only an hour break for lunch. This went on for five days and we were all tired by the end of the contest. My hat goes off to our model John for standing there and posing the whole time. John was really a trooper and not once did we need to crack the poseI hope to participate next year and work amongst those great artist another time. Thank you all who was following the event and encouraging me the whole way.

GCA Drawing Competition Awards Reception

Drawing Competition Awards Reception

Here are some photos from the reception on Friday night. I'm still waiting to receive photos of the drawings themselves, so keep checking back! I will post them as soon as possible. Meanwhile, American Painting Video Magazine posted a little video of the reception on their facebook page that briefly shows the winning drawings, so check it out.

The Judges: Michael Klein, Edward Minoff, and Scott Waddell

Edward Minoff shakes the hand of first place winner Darren Kingsley

the crowd goes wild!

The Winning Drawings

Here are the winners!
Drawing skills are the bedrock of good painting, and the foundation on which form and color can most truthfully be expressed. It is incumbent on the artist to routinely sharpen and develop these skills from life. The intent of this competition is to bring greater prestige and honor to those artists who have devoted time and energy to honing these abilities. It will be a pure test of drawing skills.
The draftsman who executes the most beautiful drawing will be awarded the Grand Prize accompanied by the title, Apelles. The second place prize includes the title, Protogenes. The winning draftsmen will hold these titles until the next annual competition.

by Darren Kingsley: Grand Prize, Apelles

by Will St. John: Second Prize, Protogenes

by Carla Crawford: Honorable Mention

Viewing the drawings at the awards reception

Camie "life of the party" Davis, we love you!

The Giust Gallery

I recently took a visit to The Giust Gallery in Woburn, MA. This Place is a real gem and I can't believe I hadn't heard of it sooner considering that I am from Massachusetts. I stumbled upon it on-line while looking for plaster cast to buy for my own studio. When I arrived I was greeted warmly and taken on a tour of there studio. I was amazed at the bulk of there collection. One could tell that The Giust Gallery really took pride in the work. They took time with me to thoroughly explain each step of  there working practices. Later they described a little about there history in the States and how they came to acquire all of these wonderful molds.

"The quality of a reproduction is of the greatest importance. In an original work of merit there is a subtleness of treatment- a certain feeling which, if captured in reproduction, places the finished piece within the realm of art itself."

- Pietro Caproni, 1911
Florentine master craftsman Pietro Caproni practiced the art of creating quality reproductions. During the last two decades of the 19th century, he traveled through Europe making molds directly from masterpieces in museums such as the Louvre, the National Museum in Athens, the Vatican, the Uffizi Gallery, and the British Museum. Considered the greatest craftsman of his time, Caproni was one of the last to be allowed the freedom of casting directly from museum pieces.
In 1900 Pietro Caproni constructed the Caproni Gallery building, at 1920 Washington Street in Boston, to cast and house his reproductions. He made them available to museums, schools, and private connoisseurs through an illustrated catalogue which listed over 2500 casts, including such extraordinary pieces as the full-size Winged Victory of Samothrace and Michelangelo's head of David. The Caproni Gallery became the leading art gallery of its kind in the world.

The Water Falls

The Water Falls finished painting
The Water Falls is an example of my work that is partly conceptual with references of nature. My main concern was to create  some sense of movement. I did not want to limit that movement to just the rush and thrashing of the water but a movement that drifted with the mist into the atmosphere of the background. The running water posed a problem to paint in the fact that it just doesn't stay still long enough. I also tried to take a few photographs to see if that would solve the problem which only made for poor results. All of the photos I took made for a very still and dead feeling. Using my imagination I tried to make a base of non-repetitive natural shapes to run through the whole painting. All of these shapes more or less going into the same direction over the edge of the cascade. It was also important for me to make the reflective parts of the water interesting. I knew I needed to have these little mirrors in the water to be influenced by there surroundings. With this in mind and the idea that as thing recede they may also become cooler ( lower in chroma ) came to mind. To solve that problem I was able to place a cooler green color in the back reflected from the background trees. I then placed a higher chroma color in the foreground to catch the eye and hopefully pop it forward. I am aware now in writing this that there are many schools of thought in making objects advance and recede by attention to edge, tone ect. At last I am not stating that there are better ways to paint. I am just describing my approach to this particular painting.

The Water Falls pre-sketch in pencil
The Water Falls pre-sketch in pencil

Here is a preliminary sketch to get my bearings on the composition and tonal relationships. This drawing was made three times smaller then the finished painting. Working in this manner I am able to get an idea of how things are working together. At this stage I will know to improve on the idea or scrap it completely.

The Water Falls oil sketch
The Water Falls oil sketch

The oil sketch or poster study works similarly to the pencil drawing. Because I was able to establish in a general way the composition and tones in the previous stage I am now able to embellish them more in color. Again this is a small painting, the same size as the preliminary drawing. For me this cuts out a lot of guess work in the finished painting. All of my experiments can be done here without fear. These studies are best done from life then taken back to the studio for referencing throughout the entire painting process.

The Water Falls finished painting
The Water Falls finished painting

Lastly we have the finished product. Here you can see minor changes in both color and tones from the oil sketch. In the oil sketch I left the upper right hand corner lighter in tone. As the painting progressed on a larger scale my eyes seemed to exit the corner every time I looked at it. To remedy this I decided to apply a sort of vignette to the corners to hold one's eyes in the painting a bit longer. There is much more a level of finish and detail added to the finished painting. Also in the lighter foreground area I added much impasto to emphasize the frothiness of the crashing water. I imagine with a coat of varnish and the gallery lights it will sparkle like a gem furthering the sense of movement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Master Copy Challenge by Brian MacNeil

Master copies have always been a joy for me. I feel I am really able to learn the language of oil painting by trying to reproduces these amazing works. With each painting I witness may vocabulary broadening with new understanding of how the materials flow. Another benefit I've found with Master Copies is a new sense of design. The painters of the past, well at least the painters I look up to seem to portray there subjects with more style and vigor. For example the elegance of many Van Dyke's portraits is experienced by the elongation of the body, more commonly noticed in the neck and hands he paints. On the other hand the artist Rembrandt designed many of his figures quit stubby and round. In Rembrandt and his many self-portraits the drawing of one is often rather different from an other. The beautiful and amazing thing is that no matter which portrait you are looking at you know it is him. Rembrandt has a way of presenting an intimate scene were we relate and feel apart of. I once heard a story about Annigoni where a lot of his portraits didn't look much like the sitter. The point wasn't so much to get a photo realistic image of the persons but there essence. The part of the person that is felt and not seem by eyes. A sentiment that one feels like a memory or a dream. I believe that is why so many flocked to have there portraits done by Annigoni. They wanted to be transformed into something deeper then the way they looked.
So the importance of Master Copies is that they provide you with information that painting from life cannot. There are tricks and techniques that are not always visible in nature so one can either get real creative or look back to the masters to help us tell our stories. They teach us how to paint lips, what edges to blur, and open our eyes to see what colors are used to make a white drapery.
The Cornelis Van Der Geest has been one of my favorites since I first laid eyes on it. Even today it still gives me goose bumps looking into the gaze of it's eyes. Every time that I am in London I go straight to the National Gallery to see it like i'm visiting an old friend. I never get tired of it. It becomes a new painting every time I study it. Often it makes me want to give up painting all together when I think about the fact that at the age of 19 Van Dyke painted this marvelous and sophisticated head.
First off i made a pencil drawing to place all the features to get familiar with the shapes and tonal relationships. I find it useful to make this drawing first because the whole time that I am drawing I am imaging my plan of attack. It may seem like an extra step but in my experience it saves me time in the long run. By the time I have brush in hand I have already painted it several times in my head working out all the kinks.
basic block-in
pencil drawing heightened with chalk

After I have transferred the drawing to canvas I use Raw Umber and Lead White to tone and lighten the drawing. I am in a way making a map for my self to follow later on with color. In this study this is the last time I will use Raw Umber.
The underpainting

I left the painting to dry over night and to be economical with time I started in at the lower portion of the head letting the opaque passages of white dry a little bit longer. The colors I have chosen are limited to just Lead White, Yellow Ocher, Burnt Siena and Ivory Black. Also I am using a Sun-Thicken linseed oil medium that I have been told was used by both Rubens and Van Dyke.
First placements of color

In this stage of the painting I have a majority of the colors and tones placed. I'll spend the next day or so fixing the drawing and adjusting the tones and colors. I am very careful no to work too add much color to the forehead at this point. I have keyed the values lighter there with some heavy impastos. I did this because I wanted the the forehead to be of lighter value and higher chroma. To get that affect I will carefully make thin semi-opaque passes over the forehead. Modeling the forms just enough not to end up mud.
Color and tones

More correcting and modeling of small forms. The fancy brush stokes I leave out until I am confident enough that the drawing, hues and tones are relatively in the right places.
smaller forms being modeled
Now with all the guess work behind me I decided to repaint the entire head all over again. I wanted all of the strokes of paint to be painted into the one beside it. Also I was noticing that the flesh was looking a little dull and grey. I tend to like broken color and cooler flesh tones in paintings but this to me as it was lacking uniformity and life. I repainted the head and half the collar in a day. I haven't touched it since because other paintings are taking up my time. 
The unfinished end result
Thank you very much for viewing this work. You may check out the Pushing Pigments Blog to see other artist take on this same task.