Friday, January 30, 2015

Caretaking Portrait Painting

Dear Art lover,

     In my last post, I describe a little about how I started a portrait composition of my landlords in Croatia.  Today I show you my experiments in adding oil paint.  I say experiment because I want to try to apply colors in a different way and with a very different palette than used when I was learning classical painting.  It is also easy since the oil paints that I was able to find in Croatia (quickly) are not the usual brands with which I am familiar.  A name is a name, but in paint, it is often just a suggestion:  Each manufacturer has a slightly or great difference in hue, chroma, and tone for any given common name.

     Now, I know you may find this hard to believe, but I am a bit dramatic at times.  Subtlety is a constant struggle for me.  So, when applying paint, I tend to apply everything wrong, usually with too much contrast.  Here on the close-up of the face, you can see that I am placing cold against warm.  I also wanted to leave high-texture strokes (from my usual “painting with no paint”).  While it looks a bit garish, I am trying to keep in mind the form.  Also, I never worry so much about getting it right in the beginning.  Some part of my brain is curious and wonders how the layers of paint that will be certainly applied during the process will play with one another and create beautiful effects.  Besides, it is important to start, even if not perfect.

     In this second image, I have added the purple top that Miranda is wearing.  I tried to keep my brush strokes very loose.  I was at a disadvantage here because I could not find a paintbrush wider than about one inch.  I thought to use sponges or something, but I forgot to buy any and was impatient to start. 

     Image 3:  Now that I have a context other than white canvas, it is VERY clear that the face and hands are too light.  Also, I had had the idea of painting loose and leaving much nude canvas, allowing the circular diagonal of the couple’s forms to be an obvious shape and linking them.   

     You may note that my table looks a little different.  When I painted the jeans, I found some small drawers near the coat rack in my flat.  I placed them at the back of the table, wrapping them in multiple layers of newsprint to protect them.  I double-stacked them when working on the lower parts of the painting and removed them completely when working on the higher parts of the canvas.  I do not like to work when my back is not straight.  My students have heard me speak of the physical situation in which one works.  It is so important!

    In today’s final image, you may see that I have blocked in something for the subjects.  I needed to finish there because much of the work happens in my head and often during the night, I realize what bugs me or receive another idea or two.  One thing to note:  You may see the photos I am working from on my laptop.  It is hard enough to work from photos (yes, actually WAY harder in many ways than working from life!), but also tricky working from a screen.  Depending on where I stand, the image could look light or dark.  Since I have a habit of standing back often to examine what I am creating from a distance, this can be tricky.

     You may also see here how much colder the overall image is compared to the palette I normally use.  When trying something new, it takes me a while to figure out if I hate something or am just not used to looking at it.  It is not easy being a self-critic, at times, and I have to allow the ability to really explore.  Often that means taking the unfamiliar path and seeing where it leads.  The tendency is to swing back to what I know, so I need not ever worry about straying too far.  Even when I would like to try it.

      I have been learning more about blog design and I hope that at least the online version is helping you find what you are interested in faster and easier.  Not only do I have the “search this blog” feature, but I have added a Google translate button at the top right column.  I will admit that it is not the best translation, but as we say in Italia, it is meglio di niente (better than nothing).

      Also, I have created header links or pages for quick reference to places that I hope interest you.  One of them is my information page for art models.  I hope the new features make things more convenient for you.
In addition, I decided to try out Pinterest.  And thus, I have made the images on my blog able to be “pinned.”  Just scroll over any image that you like, and you will see the Pinterest icon(s).  If it turns out to be a cool thing, I will add the ability to my Web site as well.

     And, as always, thank you for your continued interest.  Share this with anyone you think might appreciate it! 

~ Kelly Borsheim, sculptor, painter, writer, teacher

PS  My 15th Anniversary Sale (for taking the plunge to full-time artist) continues:  FREE WORLDWIDE shipping until 31 January 2015 (by midnight Texas time).  THAT is TOMORROW!  Where is the time going?  Let me know which artwork interests you.  I offer payment plans as well.  For more information on that, visit:

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