I am currently working on a show of lovely portraits that will be going up on the 4th floor of the BYU Harris Fine Arts Center and am facing a huge dilemma – I don’t know what to call it! I was hoping to use your collective creativity and brilliance to help me.
The show consists of six portraits of and my roommates and I as well as (hopefully) two other portraits of wonderful people in my life. Here is an initial painting for my self-portrait to give you an idea of style.
So, what do I call it?
Here’s where you come in – but wait, there’s more!
If I choose a name you suggested I will bake you your choice of one of these delectable desserts:
Apple Pie with Dutch Crumble Topping or a Lattice Crust
Caramel Apple Cake – (I omit the frosting and use apple butter with fresh whipped cream)
Banana Raspberry Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Also, don’t feel too bad if you don’t win because you can come to my opening reception and try these confections there!
* I shamelessly got these images from Google, but I promise I am a pro at making all of these tasty treats from scratch
Remember that portrait I posted a while ago? Well after getting some good feedback and re-evaluating the progress of my show I decided to start over. I painted over all I had done on that portrait and am feeling tempted to do the same with the other two I had finished to the same point.
While backtracking like this will probably condemn me to an even crazier and more stressful month in order to finish my show I think it will be worth it. Here’s why:
Last summer I was working on a piece for class and brought it in looking like this
It was supposed to be an African/tribal retelling of the nursery Rhyme Higglety Pigglety. The rhyme goes like this:
Higglety, pigglety, my black hen,
She lays eggs for gentlemen.
Gentlemen come every day
To see what my black hen doth lay.
Sometimes nine, and sometimes ten.
Higglety, pigglety, my black hen
Before painting I was pretty excited about my design then I killed it when I painted. I suffered through the critique and my professor made the suggestion that instead of trying to fix it, I start fresh. I grumbled a bit but thankfully decided to follow his advice – here’s what I got the second time:
Much better, right? It also had the added benefit of taking much less time to do.
Back to my current project. I have six pieces that are absolutely critical to have finished and framed by Nov. 1st. If I don’t start over I would only have serious work to do on three. The question is, do I want a show like the first image or the second? I hope starting over will be worth it and will just pray I can finish on time.
This post needs to start with a shout out to my Momma. As one of my only readers she suggested that I explain more about what the projects I post are about and what they are trying to accomplish. It seemed like a good idea, so here I go.
The landscape studies posted earlier were short studies done in a range of 20-45 minutes. The point of these quick studies is to train your eye to simplify what you see and to translate that in to basic values (lightness or darkness), hues (color) and temperatures (warm or cool) of those hues. Learning to simplify while is the perennial challenge of an artist. We see so much detail that it is impossible to paint it all. In fact if you try the painting usually looks less real and loosed it’s impact. The challenge is multiplied in nature where there are literally millions of leaves, stems, branches, etc. to get caught up in. I am trying to learn which things to include and which to leave out as well as how to make myself see and design those divisions in nature.
Things farther away become lighter and more blue because of atmospheric perspective, or the effect of all of the particles of air between you and what you are seeing. The effect is particularly noticeable on distant mountains – purple mountain majesties anyone?
Vertical planes are darker that horizontal planes because the horizontal planes receive the light. You notice this in the difference in value between a tree and the field it is standing in. The field is closer to the sky in value.
Things in shadow and things in light generally are different temperatures. Each main color has a warm and cool tone. There are warm and cool reds, yellows, greens, blues, etc. If the scene is being influence by a cool light, then the shadows are generally warm and vice verse.
Squinting helps to let you simplify what you see into these basic values, colors and temperatures. Go ahead and try it out, you might enjoy it.
So these are some of the concepts I am trying to incorporate into my plein air painting and I have a long way to go. Practice, practice practice, right? Here are my studies from this week’s class. I probably spent about 1hr 45min on each.
This has definitely been the most busy and demanding time of life up to this point. There are so many demands on my time and it is impossible to fulfill all of them with the kind of attention that I would like. It becomes even more depressing when I remember the many times my parents and professors have told me it only gets crazier from here.
Art is important and even essential in my life. I really do care about presenting myself well and constantly improving my work and myself as an artist. I treat those goals as guiding principles in my art. Lofty goals aside, reality hits. I have two jobs to help me get through school where I am also trying to enjoy social opportunities and dating because my parents and professors also often remind me I won’t ever get these chances again. Then I try to exercise and actually cook something a couple times a week so I can maintain some semblance of a healthy life.
How do people do it?
Nathan Fowkes, an amazing concept artist, just visited BYU and I was lucky enough to get a lot of interaction with him. The subject of balance came up and we asked if he does anything but art. Mostly in seriousness he said no, he didn’t. He said he has time for art and family and there is nothing else. I admire his drive and his work and believe that to be at his level in his industry that is true, but I don’t know if I can make that commitment. I want to be able to have more in my life and to have more experiences to incorporate into my art.
I’m trying my best to be a student, friend, daughter, sister, employee, and simply myself. It seems like a perfect balance is impossible, but perhaps in the constant struggle I am getting close enough.
This semester I am in an environments class. Every Friday we take a six hour field trip to a painting location and attempt to represent nature in a convincing and pleasing way. As a first-time landscape painter so far I think I am failing, but hopefully persistence will pay off. Wish me luck!
Here a couple of my studies.
This summer I took a head painting class and I fell in love with portrait painting. So, this fall I decided to do a directed studies class to put together a show of portrait paintings including a series of my roommates. This week I’ve been working on Lyssandra’s portrait. She has big, beautiful, glorious, and extremely curly hair. This is the reference I am working with:
I am lucky to have such lovely friends to paint! However, I have been struggling to represent her hair. Blonds are particularly hard to paint and curly hair is also a challenge. I have been looking at tutorials and found these on James Gurney’s blog helpful.
This is what I have so far. I still have a lot to do, but I think overall it is coming well.
I am excited to keep learning and experimenting. If you know of any other portrait-painting resources please send them my way!
I am Rebecca Lynn and I am an artist. I have loved art all the 22 years of my life to this point and feel like the immature affair is over, infatuation has past and I am safely in true love territory. I am also in love with spending time with my family and friends, volleyball, cooking and reading, but art is my forever fling. So, I will mostly be using this blog to talk about my projects, artists, and artsy things in general but I don’t guarantee the other stuff won’t slip in. I want to share my experiences and learn from all of you so please comment and share your ideas. Welcome to the blog!