Friday, November 9, 2012

Plein Air and Portrait

Wickford Front Yards, Oil on Canvas, 16x20"
In between the rain storms, a plein-air painter is able to tackle more complicated scenes such as this one painted from a viewpoint afforded by a seafood shop.  It was an afternoon with uncertain light, but the scene before had actual elements in place that drew attention to the tranquil scene.  First, of course the dinghy, moored where it was.  Such an element is not only inviting, but assists in adding dimensionality to a scene containing distant horizontal elements.  Note the presence of verticals that help here: the pilings supporting the dock, the tall trees, and the (lucky) appearance of the sail returning at the end of day.  This October painting was also blessed with some accents of autumnal color.

Becca, Oil on Canvas, 14x18"

 I paint portraits not only because I enjoy doing so, but also because they exercise many skills that are necessary for all painting, whether still life, landscape, or seascape.  Again, the process of painting a model in under three hours is akin to plein-air efforts in that (1) there is a time limitation, (2) subtle changes in the model must be detected before corrections can be applied, and (3) The value structure and preliminary block-in stages are very important.  The major differences in approaching the subjects of landscape and portraiture are the following (1)  The portrait demands for its completion a good likeness of the model whereas the landscape is more forgiving on that score to the artist, (2)  adherence to the nature (hue and temperature) of skin tones in shadow and light is required both to aid likeness as well as help convey the mood of the model , whereas in landscape these elements may be "designed in" to convey mood.  I find both landscape and portraiture, however, demand strong drawing skills -- at least for the representational lean of my own work.  Personally, I find both landscape and portrait wonderful exercises in the management of color and tone.  So the painting of a three-hour portrait can be likened to an etude on the piano, keeping the color and tonal senses sharp!  My thanks to artist Kate Huntington for hosting portrait and figure sessions on Monday and Wednesday nights in Providence!

No comments:

Post a Comment