Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 3

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 3

Finally got a start on this portrait. In the end, I decided to block in the portrait with pastel rather than charcoal. I felt the lighter color would be easier to work with and allow me to gradually darken the figure without having to worry about covering the charcoal. I wanted to start the block in with a color that was just darker than the paper and chose light flesh.

The first thing I did was to estimate what size the figure had to be in a photo such that I could reproduce the figure on pastel paper at twice the size. Even multiples work out nicely. After figuring that out, I printed out the photo I would be working with. Next, I lightly ruled a painting area on the pastel paper 16” wide by 20” high. From the photo I judged where I would place the figure within the ruled area. I lightly drew a short line indicating where the topmost point of the head would be. Using dividers, I marked in the level for the bottommost point of the chin. The angle from the topmost point of the head to the bottommost point of the chin was then lightly drawn in. These would be my beginning reference points. I also marked in the levels of the top and bottom of the nose, and the mouth.

The next step in this block in was to roughly outline the entire figure. Rather than immediately trying to work in the curving lines around the body, I picked out important points around the body where there was an abrupt change of direction. Using dividers and judging angles, I found these obvious points and drew fairly straight lines connecting them. I was not interested in any subtle curves or details at this point, merely getting a somewhat accurate shape and getting the dimensions right. Everything would be refined in later steps.

Blocking in the head proceeded in the same manner. Using the reference points of the topmost point on the head and the bottommost point of the chin, and the center-line, I found the side of the head, the size and shape of the ears, the placement of the eyes, and their width, the shape of the nose and the shape of the muzzle. I constantly checked angles and distances from one point to another as I built in more features. As more feature edges were added I used those to check newer ones, and constantly back checked previous ones to make sure I was maintaining fair accuracy.

This all resulted in rough first stage. From here I’ll go back and begin to slowly refine it.

IMG_1906 Peaches Update 2

Work In Progress: Peaches, Update 2

Work in Progress: Peaches, Update 2

Although I haven’t made a great deal of headway on this project, I can see things beginning to clear a bit, enabling me to find more time to work on it. I just finished up a colored pencil class and it was great to see the progress made by all the students. I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. We were able to explore technique in detail, something that seemed beneficial to all – and something I will be stressing more of in future classes.

The Rainbow Springs Fine Art Festival is tomorrow and I’ve been busy getting ready for that. I’ve finished a commission piece and I’ll be delivering that soon. Although I have another class coming up in early December, my plate is beginning to clear some, so I’ll be able to spend more time on this portrait

As with all my projects, I’ve been doing some planning and preparation. This will be a pastel portrait to begin with. The size will be 12” by 16” high and will be done on Canson Mi Tientes pastel paper – colored. What color occupied my thoughts for a while and I decided on beige. It’s a warm color. Her fur is termed buff, a light beigey tan, and the surroundings are all warm in color. I think the toned paper will serve as a good base.

Backgrounds vary considerably from portrait to portrait. Vignettes contain no background, others just consist of abstract colors that complement the subject. Other portraits have realistic surroundings. It depends to a great deal on the client. I’m going to include a full background on this one. I don’t want the subject to appear isolated. Peaches was a part of our family and our home and I think including the surroundings she was a part of seems right.

I’m going to try developing the portrait directly on the final paper rather than drawing it separately and transferring it to the support. I drew directly on the final paper with my portrait of Savannah and, right now, it seems the right approach. By carefully and accurately working up the proportions, and re-checking them as I go, I think I’ll do better than having to transfer a drawing. Details can be altered or lost when transferring from tracing paper to final paper. I’ll work up the drawing with vine charcoal rather than graphite. It’s more easily erasable when necessary and fits in better with pastels. It can also be integrated into the pastels to create darker darks.


Hope to see you at the Rainbow Springs Art Festival tomorrow.

Sneak Preview of Hydrangea Painting Class Project

I’ve gathered together some images that will be part of my forthcoming class. The project we’ll be tackling is a colored pecil painting of a Hydrangea flower. The flower itself is composed of soft blues and lavender tints. I think it’s going to be a good project for those who have taken my Introductory classes and want to do something a bit more complex. The class will be held next week at one of the Master The Possibilities classrooms at On Top Of The World Communities in Ocala, Florida. I’m excited about leading this class and hope I to help some others improve their skills.

There’s no text here – only a progression of images from start to finish. The full discussion will be part of the handout each student will receive.  You can get an idea, anyhow, of how the painting matures.

IMG_1864 Interm Hydrangea 1AA    IMG_1875 Interm Hydrangea A2A    IMG_1888 Interm Hydrangea A1A

IMG_1889 Interm Hydrangea 1AA      IMG_1891 Interm Hydrangea A1A

The classroom handouts will have more images and a detailed discussion.

Update – A Lot Going On!

I’m still gathering my thoughts for my next project – a portrait.The portrait will be of a very close companion that recently passed away, and who was very dear to my wife and I. Peaches, our sweet cocker spaniel, spent fifteen years with us. We received her as a six week old puppy and she instantly won over our hearts. I talk a bit more about her when I get started on the project.

Something else that’s keeping me busy is a commission to do a Home Portrait. I’ve been working on that for a number of weeks now and it’s nearing completion. The home is a lovely historic structure in Ocala, Florida and I’m pleased to have the opportunity to paint it. After I’ve completed it and presented it to the owners I’ll post an image of it here.

Another thing occupying my time now is preparing for an upcoming fine art festival in Dunnellon, Florida. The Rainbow Springs Fine Art Association is hosting it’s first Rainbow Spring Art Festival on November 21st. I’m in the process of building some display stands to hold my paintings. If you live in the area consider coming to this event. The Association has been working hard putting this one together and it looks like it will be a great event.

Finally, I have an upcoming art class I’m teaching in November, and I’m getting ready for that. I thought I would have the project pictures available by now but it’s taking a bit longer than expected, especially with all the other things going on. I’m excited about this class. Florida Champion Live Oak Art Walk


What’s next?

Just a quick post this week. I’m gathering my thoughts together concerning my next project – a portrait, I think. However, in the meantime I’m working on a commission piece ( which I’ll eventually post here). Next week I’ll post a discussion and series of photos for a class I’ll be teaching next month – painting a Hydrangea flower in colored pencil. So, anyone who will be attending that class can get a preview of the work – up. In the meantime, here’s a photo of the flower we’ll do the painting from.


Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 15

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 15

            This painting is complete! (except for some touchups here and there, and some minor changes).

The birds didn’t take as long as I thought they would. The nearer, larger bird has the most detail, but the smaller, farther birds are simpler. Surprisingly, I used a large range of colored pencils to do the work. The pencils used were: white, French grey (10%, 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, 90%), dark sepia (FC), Cadmium yellow (FC), Raw umber (FC), and Yellowed orange. I also used a bit of cloud blue and Sky Blue (FC).

I worked on the largest bird first. I also used a magnifying glass to more easily work in the details. Yellowed orange and Raw umber were used on the beak, with a bit of Dark sepia for detail. The eye is Dark sepia, some Cadmium yellow and Yellowed orange. The legs are Dark sepia. All the French greys were used on the shading. I added cloud blue and Sky Blue to the greys for shading to liven it a bit.

The moss in the trees was completed with Moss green (P) and 10% French grey.


I will be looking over the painting here and there to see if any additional work is necessary. There is always a bit of touchup, something I forgot or something to go over.

IMG_1785 Withlacoochee Flight Update 15


I’ll be taking a week off after this to get out into the mountains of the Southern Appalachians for some hiking and photography.  I’ll also be doing some thinking about my next project – and it may be a portrait.

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 14

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 14

            Using the same colors and technique, I completed the grasses across to the right side.

I say “completed”, but I always reserve the right to touch up or modify parts. As I said before, I work on areas until I’m satisfied at the time, but I always check back here and there, glancing at various areas of the painting to see if anything “jumps” out and needs work. Many times I do find something. I’ll have to eliminate or add to an area, or add more detail.  For instance, one place I worked on over the past week was the entire mid ground tree mass on the right side. There seemed to be still some white showing here and there, so I went back over it, burnishing with more color until it seemed denser and more solidly filled in. I’ll probably do this with other areas if they appear to need it.

So, what is left now are the birds – the subject of the painting.

IMG_1782 Withlacoochee Flight Update 14

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 13

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 13

            The grasses across the midground are one of the most complex areas of the painting. There’s a complex pattern of flower stalks, complexity in the bunches of grass in how they lay, and the line of pickerel weed that stretches across the lower third of the mass of grasses. I worked in a lot of colors as I tried to represent this vegetation.

One technique that I used often to indicate the thin leaf blades was impressing thin lines with an embossing tool. The light colored leaf blades were achieved by first laying down irregular patches of chartreuse (P) and other light colors, such as cream (FC), cadmium yellow (FC), light ochre (FC) and naples yellow (FC). Then darker colors, chromium green opaque (FC), chrome oxide green (FC) and raw umber (FC) were used on their sides and stroked across the impressed lines. This produced darker shadows behind the lighter leaf blades.

The lines for the lighter leaf blades were put in with very light pressure with the embossing tool and the darker colors were used with care. Heavy pressure on the embossing tool would produce larger, wider lines that wouldn’t look real. The impressed lines can be done prior to any color being laid in, and this would leave white, sunstruck leaf blades. White lines have to be minimal in number or they become too noticeable. That’s why I did most of them after putting down some color first. The lines can also be colored in later with a sharp colored pencil.

The darker shaded areas behind the light leaf blades are the darker, deeper areas between clumps. They’re irregular in shape and transition into the lighter tops of the grasses. I also lightly impressed thin lines here and there before putting in the dark shadows to indicate stems of grasses rising out of the shadows.

The yellow flower heads and the leaf blades were set off against the dark shadows of the trees in the same manner. The flower heads were colored in with naples yellow and yellow ochre (FC) and then further burnished or impressed into the paper with cream. In most cases the stalks below the flowers were impressed in with an embossing tool. Then, the dark backdrop of the trees was colored in with chrome oxide green and Tuscan red (P). The pencils were used on their sides at first until the grasses were outlined well. Then I carefully worked around them until the background was dark enough. In drawing them in I tried to include variety in height and spacing.

The line of pickerel weed (the darker stretch of plants) was drawn in first with a graphite pencil, then colored in with chrome oxide green, chartreuse, naples yellow and chromium green opaque.

Some the darkest shadows and dark colors at the water’s edge were done with burnt umber (FC). A bit of orange here and there resulted from goldenrod (P) and mineral orange (P).

IMG_1773 Withlacoochee Flight Update 13 IMG_1774 Withlacoochee Flight Update 13

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight, Update 12

Work In Progress: Withlacoochee Flight Update 12

            The water is now pretty much complete. I continued to add layer upon layer to the roughed in reflection pattern in the lower right. Doing so intensified the colors. For the most part I kept the margins of the light and dark colors quite sharp. Within the lighter color patterns I did mix some colors, chromium green opaque (FC) and chartreuse (P), to mimic the gradations in value seen in the tree foliage.

The water near the shoreline takes its blue color from the sky overhead because the surface seems to be disturbed by wind. The blue color was achieved by combining sky blue (FC), cloud blue (P) and a bit of cobalt blue (FC). Further to the right, beyond the wing of the egret, where there is an area of dark shadow close to the water’s edge, I added indigo blue (P) and chrome oxide green (FC) to the mix.

The blue sky reflections in the middle were further strengthened with sky blue.

IMG_1768 Withlacoochee Flight Update 12

I’ll be tackling the strip of grasses across the midground next.