Making it More

Friday at SAS we had a lovely model with a complex setup. Her outfit was shocking orange and bright white, silver sequins, ruffles, three large hoops woven in and out of her arms.

A wonderful costume for her performance on stage but how can it transfer to a painting?  I begin by asking the question

How do I create harmony ?

Minimize the colors, minimize the shapes, this means zooming in on a selected area which will create fewer shapes.

O.K. now I have a direction to take. Since there was a lot of orange in the scene I chose burnt sienna, this will give me a large range of values. Cadmium orange will be good for a strong shot of color in the midtone range. Cadmium red seemed a good choice for the duller mid to dark values (when mixed with white, it will actually appear grayish compared to the oranges.)
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Feeling that there is more energy in the head and torso area, this is where I will focus.acrobat2lr

As I took this further some things were gained, others lost.

Back in the studio, minus the model, plus a reference photo I have more questions, which usually start with…

If I saw a better version of this painting what would it look like?

It would have more interplay between the background and foreground, there is too much separation in this image. It would also have a livelier mood, more expressive brushwork. More texture, shine v/s dull, smooth v/s rough. And last but not least check the drawing for proportion errors.

The Acrobat, by Diane Eugster
The Acrobat, by Diane Eugster

In short how can I make this more of what I want, push it without breaking it!

 

Letting the Mood Lead the Painting

Before I began my latest painting ” Delilah” the mood I wanted to convey was in my head. The question was how do you translate a mood into paint?

First I come up with some adjectives;

  • Mysterious
  • Dangerous?
  • Rich
  • Surreal
  • Ethereal

Translated into paint, I have;

Color, Red, Violet, Black, Gold, Cold Blues and Greens

Texture, Rough and Smooth paint, sharp and smooth edges

Value, High Contrast

This appeared to be a simple subject, all the more reason to do an initial value sketch. When there isn’t a lot of “stuff” in the scene, every element has to work especially hard.

 

Sketch for Delilah
Sketch for Delilah

This really helped me to see some areas that needed to be adjusted, much easier to push a sketch around than a painting. I could see what needed to be done to her hands, the subtle reshaping which would help the movement, making a comfortable eye path around the painting.

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Why not start with a red underpainting to get the mystery started. Keeping a cool light, I washed in some Cadmium Red Medium plus Viridian green and white. The shadows were made from a mixture of Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow Medium and Viridian Green. The dark accents were Cadmium Red Medium and Cobalt Blue.

Delilah by Diane Eugster
Delilah by Diane Eugster

Working back and forth between the shadows and light struck areas I continued around the painting, scrapping off and building up, until there wasn’t anything else I wanted to say, and it was finished.

New Painting, Dreaming in Red

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Dreaming in Red by Diane Eugster

 

When I began “Dreaming in Red” , I knew the feeling I wanted, so it was a matter of taking the tools and making them work for me.

Soft and ethereal meant large soft brushes and a paint consistency that I could easily move around the canvas. Using vivid warm tones of Cadmium Red light and Cadmium Red Deep neutralized with Viridian green gave me the bohemian atmosphere I pictured.

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Beginning stage of Dreaming in Red

 

It was then a matter of how much and where it should happen to make the image materialize.

 

Yes! A Better Photo Shoot

I showed up at Ed’s studio at 9:30 with my bag of scarfs and gloves, clothes on hangers, cameras (always have a spare in case of a malfunction) and new 50mm lens. We pinned fabric curtains in the window,  moved chairs around and talked about potential poses before Harley arrived.

Harley , who is truly wonderful, was our model today. Always on time, upbeat personality, easy to work with, beautiful, what more could you want?

After experimenting on my cat and dog I was anxious to try out my new camera lens on a real person. After the first few photos, with some adjustments, I could see the images on my camera were nice and sharp in limited light, much better than my old zoom lens.

Both of these photo were taken using available window light, one facing south and the other west.

It’s always fun working with another artist, the collaboration of ideas expands the potential to get great shots exponentially.

Now to get the images off the card and start painting-

30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 20 and 21

SceneFrom-ItalyLRDay 20’s painting is a subject I would have never painted before this challenge. As I’ve said before in this blog, angles are a big problem for me, and an image like this would have sent me into a dyslexic turmoil. What I’ve discover…it’s all about the angles. Everything is angles, if I can master the angles, I can master the drawing. I’m learning to look past the complex and just compare one angle at a time.

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Day 21’s painting was about subtle color and textures. This is a photo of a model I took several years ago. I put her in a pink night-gown that looked like a dress and elbow length gloves. There was a cool light coming in the window that played nicely off the satin gown.

In this painting I worked from the obvious to the difficult. When I started, I had no idea what color her skin would be, but as the background and the dress developed they told me what the flesh needed to be.

30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 5

I’ve decided what I’m doing is a self-induced painting workshop, where I’m the student and the teacher. The down side is there isn’t the stimuli from instructor and other students, the upside is I have to learn to teach myself. Being that painting is a solitary pursuit, learning to teach myself more effectively is a very handy skill to have.

This painting, which is available on my Daily Paintworks site, is from a photo I took while being fortunate enough to photograph our Nevada Ballet. I found the time before the practice was the most interesting. Some dancers stretched, while others gathered in groups to chat. The girl in the painting was concentrating heavily on fixing the strap on her point shoe.

The palette I chose was Yellow Ochre, Cad. Red Deep, and Ivory Black.

MendingHerShoeLR2

Setting the Scenes, How I’ve Photographed the Artist’s Model

This is the fourth and final post in a series on how I work with the Artist’s model in order to get great photo reference for my paintings.

Now I get to play movie director, I’ve got my props, costumes, actors (models) and I’m ready to build some scenes. I begin by picturing my model in her “costume”, what could she be doing?

Here’s one example; I had this slender young woman coming to my house to be photographed in a blue night gown . I start walking through my house, room by room, imagining what she could be doing in a blue nightgown.

  • Standing by the bed, changing the sheets, making them billow in the air-
  • Walking down the stairs, dragging sheets behind her-
  • Standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes-
  • Standing with a cup of coffee and looking out my back door-
Back Window by Diane Eugster
Back Window by Diane Eugster

As ideas come, putting down some thumbnail sketches will help me to keep things organized. Of course there will be some good spontaneous scenes happening, but my head is like a squirrel on steroids when I’m actually taking the photos, so I don’t want to forget any good possibilities .

Taking advantage of natural light coming in a window is another consideration. I photographed this model in my dining room as the light streamed in the windows.

First Light by Diane Eugster
First Light by Diane Eugster

Putting something in the model’s hand, usually helps to relax them, notice the coffee cup, the flower above and the piece of fruit below.

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My painting with the model holding an apple

Always be respectful of your models, remember, even if you are paying them, they are doing you a favor by lending their likeness to be photographed for your paintings. So I’m sure to;

  • Provide a private room for them to change in, hangers included –
  • Never push a model to wear something they don’t feel comfortable in –
  • Give them breaks, offer a cold drink and some time to rest-
  • Explain what I’m looking for, casual poses. Many people’s only experience with having pictures taken of them is smiling and look at the camera, so I tell them, picture a Sears photo portrait, that is exactly the opposite of what I’m looking for –
  • Provide your model with a CD of the photos you took or download them to a photo sharing site like Dropbox –
  • Pay your model in cash, and gratefully thank them –

Start painting from those fabulous photos!

Equipment for photographing the Artist’s Model

This is the third post in a series on my experiences photographing people for artistic reference. Note: I’m not trying to sell or making any profit on anyone’s products that I suggest!

I have always used the simplest equipment to get the best results. For many years I  used a Sony 7.2 M Cyber Shot digital camera.

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Sony Cyber Shot

When I started joining photo sessions to shoot models at photography studios I had to upgrade to a digital SLR camera. Participating meant you snapped a transmitter on your camera which would trip the studio lights every time you took a picture. So I upgraded to a Canon Digital Rebel XT. It’s an easy camera to use, I’ve been very happy with it. As time goes by, these cameras have new models with more pixels per inch, but for my purpose, getting a clear, sharp 5″ x 7″ print is all that’s needed.

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Canon Digital Rebel XT

 

 

The only extra attachment I have is the 70-300 mm USM Telephoto lens, which was a great investment.

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The photo below was taken from a cliff hundreds of feet away from the subject with this lens.

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The Subject Photo

pain7The photo above, another beach shot from so far away, they never knew it! (notice the flip phone, this was taken awhile ago).

va010I caught this young woman in a rose garden in Portland, she never saw it coming!

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This one taken from 50 feet away, I love this lens!

Another piece of equipment that I sometimes use is a Chromalux Light for indoor shots.

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The only other thing that I use is a tripod for my camera.

Camera Tripod
Camera Tripod

 

When shooting picture indoors, it’s surprising how dark it is. Even with the Chromalux lamp, the camera shutter has to be open for a long time to get the light into the lens. When this happens it is virtually impossible to hold the camera steady enough, your pictures will end up looking like the one below-

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photo with no tripod

That’s it! In the next post I’ll talk about setting the scene(s).

Photographing the Artist’s Model, preparing the props

This is a part of a series on finding and photographing models for Artist’s reference. I’ve found like most things, the more I prepare, the more I’m going to get out of it.

The Inspiration

This is truly my favorite part, maybe better than working on the painting, because at this point, I’m a genius, I can do anything, I’m going to really create something special! Searching for inspiration, the magazine section of any large book retailer like Barnes and Nobel is a Disneyland of visual stimulation. I can find photos of everything from Cooks to Cowboys. A publication I really like for ideas is Belle Armoire magazine.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 2.47.19 PMAnother source of inspiration can be catalogs. A favorite of mine is the catalog for Free People clothing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 6.41.01 PM Finding a direction

I limit my photo taking sessions to 1 and a half- 2 hours max, so a focus is important to get as much accomplished in that time as possible. In this 2 hour time frame I limit the clothing changes to three.

Keeping your model in mind, begin tearing pages out of your magazines and catalogs, tape them to a wall. Now reality kicks in… which looks could I create the essence of? I could definitely use the pony tail wrap, the funky sweater could be purchased at  GoodWill , plus hot glue on some fabric scraps. The look on the right; some drapes from the thrift store or an old bed spread , some fake fur from Joann’s and a trusty hot glue gun.

Note: again I’m talking about the essence of the photo, not copying it. These props are for your photos, they can even be held together with double stick tape. It’s the clothes and props that set the mood. If you can sew , all the better. The outfit on the model below; a piece of fabric knotted and hot glued for the headband, sleeves cut off an old shirt for gloves, I made the dress from an old maxi skirt brought up and  stitched to a tank top.

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I always like to ask the model if she has something special or unusual to bring. The hair stylist in the previous post was a belly dancer too, who knew, she brought her entire costume! Another model, the young woman below had her own Victorian dress.

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In the next post I’m going to talk about staging the photos, my camera and lighting.