This is a subject I’ve been wanting to paint for some time. When John and I visited Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia this summer we had to see the Woodshop, of course, John being a woodworker and all.
What was so awesome about it was these men were dressed in 1800’s era clothing and building real furniture, filling orders for pieces built with only hand tools, unplugged, as they did over a hundred years ago. As we listened to this woodworker talk about constructing these pieces the wonderful smell of sawdust filled the air while the sound of hand sawing hummed in the background.
A sketch helped me to explore some possibilities within the scene, but more importantly it’s the bridge between reality and the painting; it gets me even more excited about the potential in the subject!
During this block in I could fully see where I wanted to go with this. On the left side of the image were a jumble of chairs in various stages of being built. I wanted to include them, but a sketch would help me to boil them down to their simplest form.
Again, the bridge between reality and the painting. Thinking shapes, not things makes it so much easier to decipher what may first look like a complex area.
So many times I’ve heard John say “it’s all about the wood”, so that title just seemed my natural choice for this painting.
Many years ago when I took a figure painting workshop from artist Robert Lemler at the Scottsdale Artists School. he said something that really stuck with me. “When painting a figure, the head leads the way”.
This idea has served me well. In my newest painting, “Changing Seasons”, I first establishing the placement and general lighting condition of the head which helped me to move on to other areas, bringing them up to the same level. Than going back to the head with a second pass of development, more specific placement of the features, more sophisticated broken color areas.
This is where I really need to slow down, keeping in mind the vision I have for this painting. Suggesting form and shape, I need to be careful not to over render. Some areas I actually needed to scrape back and build up again. Always keeping an eye on the path through the image.
When to stop? When there is nothing more you feel you need to say about the subject!
About every six months or so I like to slow down and really look at what I’m doing with my painting. This kind of keeps me from aimlessly painting away without a focus.
Searching for some inspiration I came across this YouTube video by acclaimed artist Jeffrey Watts. During his drawing demonstration of a figure from life he had some very profound things to say, “a good drawing is a combination of what you see, what you know and what you’d like to see”.
That was it, the thing I’d been missing lately, painting what I’d like to see, using more exaggeration, manipulations, in short taking more liberties with my subjects.
In order to paint more of what I’d like to see, I need to get more of what I know.
Looking at drawings by masters like Michelangelo, I find myself asking; “did his models really look like that?”. More likely he probably was able to draw what he wanted to see, because he had the knowledge to manipulate his subjects.
I’ve decided to focus on drawing hands. Why hands? because I think the hands are the next most expressive element after the face in a figurative subject.
I found a free pdf download of a 1920 book by anatomy expert George Bridgman. His book plus photos I found in magazines and ones I took were the source for my drawings. A good practice is drawing from life……alot. The second best is drawing from pictures…..alot. After all a painting is just a drawing done with paint!
Southwest Art Magazine has always been one of my favorite art magazines. The October issue has just come out which includes a section on the American Impressionist Juried Exhibition to be held at the Trailside Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ., October 1-29. My painting “The Day Begins” will be in the show.
I am also glad to have been included in their special section “Women in Art”.
I was happy about how the article came out, click the image below to make it readable.