Commissioning a work of Art Commissioning a portrait, landscape or special event is an important undertaking for generations to come. It requires creativity, imagination and academic training to create a portrait which is full of character. A skilled artist brings their experience of working from life to improve on the photo and will impart the crucial element which the camera cannot express. Please contact the studio at 781-443-4014 if you'd like to discuss a commission or to schedule a visit.
Portrait Demos & Presentations
I'm often asked to do a portrait demontration at art associations or galleries. This was a two hour session so I had only enough time to get the essential elements of my model down on the canvas.
If you have an event where a live demo would add to the exitement, please contact the studio. I'm also available to speak and give a presentatation at educational and fundraising events. Contact the studio at 781-443-4014.
A Work In Progress The process of creating a painting varies but there is a heirarchy of procedures that I try to adhere to as I move from the blank canvas to the final stroke. There are many ways to begin a painting and usually the subject will suggest the best course of action. Below is a general outline of my working method. I don't rely on formula because the best way to communicate my message to the viewer is to to be sensitive and open to the subject.
I normally stretch my own canvases using Claussens, triple-primed linen. If working on a quick study or painting en plein air, I'll mount linen on a 1/4 inch, birch support or use a, panel primed with gesso. I use a variety of brushes, from stiff bristles to soft Royal Langnickle. My palette is somewhat limited - I feel can mix just about any color with a basic palette.
I spend a lot of time with preliminary thumbnails and until I nail down the composition and value study, I don't begin painting. I like Faber Castell graphite pencils for this purpose. They have a nice quality which allows me to work broadly as well as in minute detail.
Typically I'll tone my canvas with a cool or warm, neutral wash - often the opposite temperature of the key of the light. I put down a few directional lines to indicate the placement of the important elements. I don't spend a lot of time refining my drawing at the outset, choosing to do this with paint as I progress. I lay down thin washes of color to suggest the big masses and set up my value scale. I try to work from the big blur to the details - letting the image emerge as though through a fog. This allows me to maintain a freshness to the work and keep areas which are not my focal point soft and incidental. I often leave the edges of my painting unfinished as in a vignette and tend to work on the areas that I want to direct the viewers eye. It's amazing how much you can say with so little. With each stroke, I try to put it down, and if it's right, leave it alone. However when working outdoors I find that my initial block-in of generic colors will need to be constantly modified in order to get a sense of the light and maintain a "unity of the whole" in the painting.
Copying the Great Masters
The tradition of copying the Masters is a wonderful way to learn their secrets and develop similar skills and sensitivities to form and composition. Through the process, I'm able to acquire a deeper understanding of both aesthetics and technique. I'm often struck by the simplicity of the paint handling and limited palette with which they managed to achieve a brilliant effect of light. By deconstructing the value patterns, I can appreciate how the underlying design provides a solid foundation for the bravura, brushwork Sargent so masterfully employed.
The image on right shows my priliminary color notes for a detail of Sargent's painting "The Fountain"