Friday, May 24, 2013

Even MORE layers, giggles, and "holy crap this is awesome!"

I am pleased to announce the completion of this little experiment and even more tickled to announce it wildly successful!  Sure I'm a little sad it is seemingly over so soon, but hey, that just means the inspiration is still here and I'm still ready to paint!

Here's a breakdown of the final phases:

Let's start with the background.  I glazed a layer of Ultramarine Blue and Prussian blue mixed. Of course, with the Yellow Ochre from before, I made a very nice shade of green.  (but but, I want bluuuueeee!!)  No worries, I'm not done yet.  I brought in Titanium white to the areas I wanted lighter that had gotten too dark from my indecision.

This is when I noticed my dust problem.  I'm not sure what the Old Masters would have done about the dust, but I know it was giving me grief.  In an attemptto hide it, I dabbed the still wet blue with a lint -free cloth.  Bam!  Cool texture.  I'll definitely remember this!

The coat saw another layer of Ivory Black and Titanium white.  Just building volume without attracting a lot of attention with colors.

The skin tones is where this is getting fun... (Getting fun?  Haha, this has BEEN fun!!)  Along with the Yellow Ochre/Cadmium Red/Titanium White mixture I'd been using all along, I added Burnt Umber, Payne's Gray, Ultramarine Blue, and some Lavender.  My goal in this sitting is to create the most realistic skin tone possible, and while I'm at it, really nail down the details.  I also painted the flesh tone over where his eyebrows are and the very short hairs on the side of his head.  Because you can see the skin through his hair, I thought it best to paint it along with all the other skin.  This way there wouldn't be a weird line.  The only problem was he look WAY too weird without eyebrows!  So I painted those back on.

A little more details added to the phone and the board is covered with wet paint.

Portrait of Paul, Phase 4.  Bringing in colors and form. © 2013 Maranda Schemanski 
Aaaaand it's time for the paint to dry again.  *sigh*

My fifth sitting with this piece everything really falls into place.  I went over his coat again, and made the highlights a bit brighter than I want in the final painting.  This is so I can glaze lots of black over them and I won't lose them later.  I went over his face one more time and fine-tuned all the details, using Ivory Black and Burnt Umber on a tiny brush.  I also painted in his hair.  It's getting so close!

Portrait of Paul, Phase 5.  Adding contrast and fine details. © 2013 Maranda Schemanski 
In the final (bittersweet) sitting, I glazed Ivory Black over the background and coat, adjusted the hairline above his ears, finished the phone, and painted in the buttons.  Threw on some highlights on the far side of the coat, and that's it.  Just like that I'm done.

Portrait of Paul, Phase 6.  Finishing touches. © 2013 Maranda Schemanski 

I am so totally pleased with this experiment that I will most definitely continue painting with what I have learned.  For starters, painting on a gessoed hard board is amazing.  I didn't once fight with the surface and could devote all of my attention to creativity.  Add to that the longevity I have added to each piece, I see no reason to paint on canvas ever again.  (A little too dramatic maybe?)

I am torn on the drawing and preparation involved in a piece.  This is probably an old dog hesitant to learn a new trick, or maybe I just lack the confidence in my skill to just start creating talking.  I have always planned planned planned.  To sit down at a blank board and just start is terrifying, and also liberating at the same time.  Like swinging on a trapeze without a net.  Well okay, I can't fall to my death while painting... but you get my point.

Welp, that's all for now.  We'll end here on this being wildly successful and until next time, keep those creative juices flowing!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Layers, Giggles, and Waiting. I hate waiting.

Here it's been a couple weeks and my lack of sleep just might be getting the best of me.  (I may have made a phone call from the calculator.)  I can't help it though, the creative bug has bitten me and I'm in full blown reaction.

Portrait of Paul.  Phase 1, Burnt Sienna and Ivory Black
underpainting. © 2013 Maranda Schemanski
Since I last updated, I have been busy with layers of paint creating form and volume in my experimental piece.

I started this one with a preliminary layer of Burnt Sienna and Ivory Black, then added his cell phone to the bottom right corner to give balance to the entire piece.  Without it, there was a little too much negative space down there and the eye easily trailed off the image.

I cannot begin to tell you the beauty of painting on a gessoed and sanded surface.  In all my time painting on canvas, I never felt the technique I was using (with the the washing and glazing with linseed oil) ever found the perfect consistency.  I always felt I struggled so much with the mechanics of the paint itself that sometimes the image I was creating lost some to the shortfalls in my medium.  Painting is not so with the hard board.  I could use a little to a lot of oil and still have no struggles with pooling, running, or clumping.

Pleased with this start, I stepped back and decided this was going to be awesome.

Then the hardest 3 days of my life happened.

I had to wait for the paint to dry.


Fortunately, I have a few other art projects to keep me busy while I wait... and there's all the house work too.  Lucky me!

The second layer of paint found me working more detail into his face, more volume into his coat, and
another layer on the background, while finding the proper placement for eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.  I also added a layer of Yellow Ochre to the background and a layer of Ivory Black to his coat.  I have not yet added other colors.  I'm focused on finding my form.
My palette for the second layer of paint.  Was everyone who got married in the 80's given a blue Corell dish set, standard issue?  Thanks, mom, for the plate. :)
Some of my brushes.
Portrait of Paul.  Phase 2;  Second layering of paint.
 © 2013 Maranda Schemanski

Again, the agony of waiting for paint to dry..... killing me slowly.....


The third sitting brought in Titanium White and Payne's Grey.  The goal for the next few steps of layering will be a battle between bringing up the highlights and darkening she shadows.  This process will create an illusion of a three dimensional object sitting in front of the viewer, as opposed to the two dimensional board that is actually there.  I'm still using the Yellow Ochre/Cadmium Red combo as in the previous layer, adding the Payne's Grey to cool and dirty the shadows.  I'm being stingy on the Grey so far because I'm finding form at this point and not making the colors.

My Palette for Phase 2, flesh tones.

After a little discussion with my model, we settled on a blue toned background.  (Blue symbolizes strength.)  Of course, we decided this after a layer of Terra Verte Green went down.  But that's okay, easy to change the colors.

Portrait of Paul.  Phase 3,  Addition of Titanium White to draw out highlights and create volume.
 © 2013 Maranda Schemanski
And with that, you are all caught up.  

Do you think the paint is dry yet?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Inspiration, Epiphanies, and Insights

March 28th, 2013

Upon arriving to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) for a recent show  (The Treasures of Kenwood House, London), I found the majority of the exhibit being works from English painters.  Included in the exhibit was Rembrandt's "Portrait Of An Artist."  (Yes, I know, Rembrandt is Dutch and technically didn't fit into the crowd, but who was I to tell them to take it down?  I sat on the bench and stared at it in awe like everyone else.)  I was unprepared for the impact this venture was about to bring.

"Portrait Of An Artist" -Rembrandt, painted c. 1665–69
This wasn't the first time I viewed Rembrandt's originals; it was the third. While each time I've reveled in the privilege of seeing his masterpieces, none has had such an impact of the third viewing.

The first time was several years ago at the Portland Art Museum (PAM). Haha, SAM and PAM.....
The trip to PAM certainly changed my entire attitude about art and how I saw it.  I always knew I wanted to paint like the Old Masters, and I've tried to learn as much as I could through books, online images, and the never-ending pit of knowledge that is my mother.  (Not to mention she's the inspiration for my love of art.) But, nothing can prepare a person for standing face to face with (in my opinion) one of the greatest artists of all time.

The second time I saw Old Master originals was in the National Gallery in Washington, DC.  What was so impacting in that gallery was the vast quantity of works.  I was able to walk through art history and see first hand the discoveries made by the greatest artists who ever lived.

And yet, after all of that, I still felt something lacking in paintings I create.

Sitting in awe of Rembrandt at SAM, I decided to pull up one of my own pieces (on my nifty new iPad) and actually put it side-by-side with the "Portrait Of An Artist."  That's when I saw it; the one thing I was missing.  It was so simple.  How I never saw it before I'll never know.  I was missing black.  Yes, black.  All my life I've heard so many artists and teachers tell me how to keep my paintings pure, I must never use black.  Ever.

So I never did.  I mean, sure, if I were painting something that actually was black, I would pull out Ivory Black, but only with an immense sense of guilt that I was betraying some unwritten code.  (Which is another thing, I don't get my attitude here. I mean, I was standing in front of a Titian in the Washington Gallery and I SAW the dirtied colors; the "real life" essence he put in his work that changed art forever.)

Nonetheless, there I was, sitting in the gallery with my mom and sister, having an epiphany of epic proportions.

It just so happened that upon my return home, I had a modeling session scheduled for a portrait idea, with my inspiration being the old famous photo of Humphrey Bogart in a trench coat.  My friend (and now star model) has a coat I saw as perfect for the "feel" I wanted to capture.

© 2013, Maranda Schemanski
I was still unaware of the connection this art show and my friend turned model shared.

As I began pouring over my reference photos and brainstorming the perfect pose, I settled on a position and began drawing.  I'm sure I will paint this one; I love the idea so much.

Then another artsy friend came over to see what had me so excited and losing sleep.  I showed her my reference photos, my inspiration photo, and we discussed technique, lighting, positioning, and all the things that go into a masterpiece.  Then I showed her the "Self Portrait As Apostle Paul" and she had one little thought...

A little work in Photoshop, some sketching on vellum, a little mock-up, and her idea came to life.  I. Was. Stunned.  This was the culmination of everything I've absorbed over the last several years brought to life in one afternoon.

"Self Portrait As The Apostle Paul"
- Rembrandt, painted c. 166
Preliminary sketch for Rembrandt inspired portrait. © 2013, Maranda Schemanski

I knew that I had to abandon the modern conveniences and take this on like the production art as it used to be.  I bought a hard board, gesso, and sandpaper.  I spent a day prepping, sanding layer after layer of gesso until my board was as smooth as eggshells.  Perfect.

Usually, before I paint anything, I painstakingly draw everything exactly how I want it, transfer that to canvas (using some very cool technological methods) and only then start painting.  This time, that just felt wrong.  I penciled on a few key points for proper placement, then grabbed my brush, took a deep breath, and began.

Beginning work for Rembrandt inspired portrait. © 2013 Maranda Schemanski

This changes everything.