Head studies are one of my favorite things to paint. For me, this preparatory stage blends curiosity, observation, and empathy. It can be a real challenge to forward this sensitivity and energy on to the final portrait, as it’s tempting to worry over details in a “finished” piece.
This study of my mom was a natural choice for a first attempt at filming. As with learning any new skill, I faced a couple of unanticipated challenges:
1. I shot this film with a Nikon D3200, which is not really a video camera. You can only take 20 minutes of video footage at a time, and the camera overheats within an hour of using the Live View Movie setting. While I wasn’t expecting this, it wasn’t too big of an annoyance as I’m well adjusted to taking a break every 20 minutes or so, thanks to life drawing. However, the battery overheating was a let down, as I was in flow and didn’t want to wait for it to cool down. Hence the missing documentation of finishing up the last few bits.
2. As any artist knows, lighting can be a challenge. And filming added another dimension to these potential frustrations. Fluorescent lights emit a specific frequency and if your camera is not adjusted to this, your film will end up with horrible flickering bands of light across the footage. This is easily prevented by adjusting your camera’s frequency under menu options. (Check your model’s manual for specific directions.) Generally, fluorescents in the states are at 60Htz and those in Europe and Asia, 50Htz. Changing daylight can be prevented easily with a sturdy pair of curtains.
If you have access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, you can download and use Premiere Pro for editing your footage. As someone who suspects that computers are sentient beings who actively hate humans, Premiere Pro was pretty intuitive. Not to mention the hundreds of free tutorials online.
Thanks for watching and reading. Feel free to post your comments or questions below.
I’ve been reading through Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is not a wikihow on creativity, but a comprehensive study spanning decades. Though I’m only three quarters of the way through, I’ve found it incredibly motivating. The participants interviewed in the study range from physicists to poets to business persons to entomologists.
If you want to give it a read you can download a digital copy on the Apple Bookstore or here’s a link to Amazon UK. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention
Or you can check out a few points that stuck with me specifically:
- From the numerous examples of creative individuals, the significance allotted to idleness struck me. We’re not talking laziness. All of them kept incredibly full schedules. But they consistently included simple tasks into their daily practice, such as walking, driving, gardening, etc… Try taking a break from intense work and let your mind breathe. Without the pressure, ideas rise to the surface, sometimes good ideas and sometimes poor.
- This leads me to another insight gained: the necessity of balancing free thought and objectively analyzing those thoughts. I tend to criticize an idea before it’s half formed. And I imagine others struggle with the opposite, nurturing all ideas, even the bad ones. If you’re akin to me, then you don’t produce enough. If you fit in with the latter, then it’s easy for others to get lost in your output and give up before they stumble across something meaningful.
- Thirdly, I have concluded that my concept of personal time is warped. I consistently feel like I don’t have enough time, no matter how I rearrange my schedule. What do I even mean by enough time? In my own twisted world, it makes sense to say to myself, “I don’t have time to complete an hour long drawing study everyday, I have too much work to do.” So I spend my morning doing a little of this, a little of that. Resulting in an hour of checking email, perusing Social Media, and reading an article about why cats like to sit inside boxes so much. And I don’t think this is necessarily procrastination, it’s more of an irresponsible understanding of my time. So to edify this, I am intentionally performing tasks that I find rewarding and dismissing those that I don’t, regardless of how much time I think I’m “wasting”.
- Alright, last point that has made a groove in my brain: the value of adopting interests besides art. When various fields collide, a foundation is laid for exciting and new ideas to build onto one another. Most of us develop hobbies naturally, but how intentional are we about integrating them into our chosen lifelong practice? Anyone out there feel like they do this regularly?
Thanks for reading and I do hope you check it out for yourself!
Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of participating in the Royal Hibernian Academy’s 184th Annual here in Dublin. These two recent portraits were exhibited alongside hundreds of other beautiful works from all over Ireland.
If you’re in the Dublin area, check out the RHA’s website for current and upcoming shows. They always have something beautiful there to see.
Join me at Block T, this Thursday, at 6pm, for the opening of this year’s Members’ Showcase.
You can check out my work, “A Shifting Perspective,” there from Thursday through August 28th.
The inspiration behind this piece:
I see myself as a work in progress. As such, I strive to constantly re-evaluate my world view. In this way, I hope to act as a compassionate and empathetic person. The unfinished surface and multiple head angles of, “A Shifting Perspective,” illustrate these ideas in very simple, straightforward terms.
Hope to see you there!
I needed to explore some color options for an upcoming portrait, so I decided to do a quick little Paul Henry inspired painting.
Previous to living in Ireland, I was unaware of Paul Henry’s work. I first saw it in the National Gallery. I admire his simple, and yet grand, interpretation of the Irish landscape. I realize Henry may be old hat to many Irish artists, so please bear with yet another embarrassingly enamored American!
Here are two more Henry inspired paintings.
This past year, I decided to seriously devote a chunk of time to anatomy. My education as an artist was highly idea based, while this does have some benefits, I felt that I needed more. As a representational artist, I don’t want to simply reproduce what I see, I want to understand it as well, inside and out.
So I invested in some books, videos, and a sculptural anatomy course. You can see my unfinished and VERY rough ecorche model above. I learned so much in a short period of time by challenging my brain to speak 3D!
I know not everyone has access to a sculpture class, so here are some easily procured resources that I keep going back to over and over again:
Drawing the Head by William Maughan
Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis
Drawing the Head and Hands, also by Andrew Loomis
(If you’re not a reader, which I highly recommend reconsidering, just go for the videos and app below. Many of them are based on Loomis’s methods.)
L’Ecorche by MD3D
And for anyone in Dublin:
Sculptural Anatomy Course at The Drawing Studio.
When we visited Denman’s grandmother in England back in September, she asked me to contribute an angel painting for a local fundraiser. Since Gran has been a professional artist all her life, I asked if she had ever painted an angel. She looked rather surprised and said, “No, I don’t believe I’ve ever considered it.” If prompted the same question, my response would mirror hers. However, her all around wonderfulness rendered me incapable of denying such a request. Thus my Mucha-Thayer-TiffanyStainedGlass mashup was born.
Merry Christmas all! Until next year.