It has been said that there is no better exercise than to paint from life. It teaches you to observe and analyze your subject and make decisions on the spot. I learned this in graduate school and I would agree, it's one of the best ways to improve yourself as a painter. The problem is.... how do you find a way to do it regularly?
Well, I am lucky enough to have a portrait group in my area that is run by the East Aurora Art Society, of which I am a member. Despite my busy schedule this winter I have been able to make it to a couple of the Friday sessions and have been so inspired by the experience I wanted to share it with you all! Above you can see one of my paintings and a little bit of my process. I blocked in the shadow shapes first to try and capture likeness. I was working with a limited pallet of colors and I did not have violet, or anything to make the violet color of her scarf, so I had to borrow a dab from a friend. I love the triadic color scheme it created. When I was done with this painting I thought I could use this study to create a "mom" character for one of my picture books. She looks young and fresh and very French with her scarf on her head.
At portrait group there is usually about 5-8 of us and a model in the basement of this quaint church in East Aurora, New York.
It's a rather simple setting of a yellow cinder block Sunday school room, but once we begin and are focused on our subject I find more than enough inspiration in the model who is sitting right in front of us! I paint in oils on canvas paper because I only consider these to be studies and I am experimenting with a limited pallet to see what I can produce. The sessions go about 2 hours with a little break in the middle for the model to grab a drink and for us artists to gab a bit. I can't decide what I like more, the painting or the conversation between the artist, all of whom are there to improve themselves.
Here are a few more my studies here for you to see. To me each one represents a little bit of learning that is turning me into a better painter:)
Another obscure holiday feature is in order. Today is national love your pet day. It's a day to pamper your favorite pet whether it is a cat a dog a snake or a frog! If you don't own a pet maybe today is the day to adopt one. Go to the local animal shelter and bring home a pet that needs you. You both will be happy!
This little illustration is a color study of a painting I plan to do. It seemed appropriate for today's holiday. I'll post the finished illustration as soon as I have it done:)