Friday, November 22, 2013

Open Studio: Every Portrait and Figurative Artist's Best Friend

Open studios happen every day, everywhere more than one artist gathers. It's just a shared environment where artists bring their materials, and jointly share the cost of a model, who will sit for usually 3 hours (although many open studios are offering longer sittings,,which I personally love) The 3- hour sitting usually offers about 2+ hours of actual painting time, after model breaks.

There are a number of artists I can think of  who regularly produce spectacular works in the 3 hr time slot (for example, Harley Brown, Mary Whyte, Shane Neal, John Howard Sanden, Michael Carter - I could go on and on...) , but most artists need more time, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact it is a  liberating experiences to say to yourself:,  "I have three hours, to work on doing one thing really well." It might be just working on drawing, or on color, or on values. Doesn't matter. What does matters is that your time at the easel is productively spent, so that when you pack up, you can say that you did just one thing just a bit better. The result on your canvas has nothing to do with the value of your time in open studio.

And no matter how frequently or well an artist paints from photographs, without refreshing your eye and brain by working from life,you'll get rusty. So in any case, when I am able, I paint with a great group of artists in Prescott on Friday mornings. This is from this morning, Carl. Terrific model, gentlemanly and at home in his wintry western garb, with a hat rivaling the Canadian Mounties.I took photos at three different point.

Step 1 Drawing and measuring. I will usually devote the first 20 minute sitting to simply placing marks, and developing a visual road map.

Step 2. Laying in color. My goal for this morning was to experiment with more dramatically pushing cools and warms in the skin tones.

Step 3. Modeling the color patches into shapes. Then I ran out of time. But man, was this ever fun.

and below, BTW was last week's model Kelsey. Both are 20 x 16, oil on Fredrix Blue Label Polyflax canvas. I used Gamblin's new Solvent-free Gel Medium on both paintings as well.


  1. Chris...the handsome little boy portrait at the top of your blog is so stinkin gorgeous...what a great job you did!!

    1. Isn't he gorgeous!! I'm heading south next week to paint his sibling!