A portrait swap!

This is a painting of Josh Bills. Part of a portrait swap we are doing on my artist forum. OpenStudio. Learning to Paint Realism with Oils

Josh Bill oil on linen panel 18 x 12 2018

Josh Bill oil on linen panel 18 x 12 2018

There are 4 pairs of painters. Each painting the other from photographs provided. There are to objectives in this challenge. First assuring that a good photograph is provided and understood. Second objective is managing value and color focusing on spectral color.

I added to my personal challenge by selecting Geneva Paint as my palette. Geneva is a more liquid self leveling paint with a slow drying formula, I started by mixing my 12 color pallet from Ultramarine Blue, Cad Yellow and Pyrrole Rubine. Then mixing set of tertiary semi-neutrals.


The painting got it’s start as a half size touch painting on paper. I worked out rough color, value and likeness. I tried to get a handle on the Geneva and groused a lot. The color is good but it hard to handle the paint with an expressive brush.

sketch 9 x 6 on Strathmore oil paper

sketch 9 x 6 on Strathmore oil paper

I made a outline “master” from the painted sketch. I projected to sketch to the final canvas. A panel I had made with Raphael linen on wood panel. I had to make a lot of corrections to the features. The Painting took over a week because off the slow dry characteristic of the Geneva paint. It would have been 3 or 4 days using Lukas paints.

It is still not finished. Some spots are still wet. Very wet. Need to do a little glazing. All in all I happy with the painting and the experience.

Palette at the end showing tertiary neutrals and mixes

Palette at the end showing tertiary neutrals and mixes

Justin #2

The is is Justins 3rd pose with use. It’e His third pose ever.. He’s a great model it turns out. He hold a pose for a half hour and gets right back in after a break. Long distinct features and a unique look. This pose is a serpentine hind of thing. Resting back on a stool in extension. Foreshortening, backlit, and the changing lighting condition of a pose over three sessions. 

It’s not finished very much to do but I very much like the direction. For over a year now I’ve been trying to understand the Sloan Triangular color wheel. The concepts of semi-neutrals and hues produced by using the triangular configuration. I and starting to get it enough to apply a bit of the knowledge on the fly. 


Justin #2 Wip  30 x 24 o/c 2017

Justin #2 Wip  30 x 24 o/c 2017

Justin. First new model in 2 years!

First week finding the pose with sketching . Week 2 a couple of hours of painting. 

Justin is a first time model. He's a natural. His body is long and limber. He can hold the psi for a long time.  

One more painting session in 2 weeks. Maybe a little fussing in between. 


Painting effort on the previous non-pose

This is three weeks of painting effort on the last pose. The pose lasts 1 more week but I 'll be in the city. I'll work on this in the studio over the next week. It is intentionally not a polished realism. It is an exercise in neutrality even exaggeratedly so. When I painted with watercolors I thought of neutrality as earth tone thing. Making grays from colors mixed with various earth toned pigments. These neutrals are created with compliments. The effect is a lot like my acrylics from the 70s, transparent layers that created neutrals achieved unconsciously. 

Our painting group works on.. the pose

This is a continuation of my last post on finding a non-pose pose. The chosen pose. This is week two of over painting efforts. We have a good mix in our group. Johan Sellenraad a long time local artist transplant from NYC. We work in his studio along the Delaware River in Millanville, PA. Johan makes big, Subaru sized, paintings of canvas in a strong confident style full of reference. Judith Reeve paints with a expert feel for the figure and gorgeous approach to color.

Over the past several years this has been a tremendous education for me. The simple length of time that we have painted together has allowed me to observe and absorb knowledge and attitude that has helped me along my journey. Please visit their web pages to find out more about Johan and Judith. 



It's all about gesture. At least for me. This is alive.

At our weekly long pose painting session, every Thursday for 3 hours, it was time to find a new pose. Johan likes to find poses that are interesting and not posey. These are the quick 2 to 5 minute poses I did while we searched for the pose. I used grey pastel on bristle plate. Our model Cathrine strikes poses as naturally as breathing. I like all of these gesture pose sketches.

This is the 'non-pose' that we decided on. Not a real expressive gesture but very strong and complicated. Again in chalks.

This is the first session in paint. I'm working on a 24 x 36 canvas. All the colors are roughed in. The drawing needs some adjustment and the color has to be warmed. More next week.

Back to life drawing at the AFA

Tonight I returned to life drawing on Tuesday nights at the AFA Gallery in Scranton facilitated by Ted Michalowski. This evening we had the best model I seen in 8 months. An anatomy lesson on 2 feet. 

There were 10 of 15 people there. What amazes me is that most of them are drawing in small (9 x 12) sketchbooks with little sharp pencils. They can draw but they even put two or three poses on a page. I paper so expensive? Drawing is a physical thing. You have to move and gesture. And they mostly sit at a table or in a chair. I stand for for 3 hours and I'm an old guy. Most of them are young kids.  It takes me an hour and a half driving each way. then 2 or 2 hours of poses. It's a days work but worth it. They have better pizza in Scranton. We have better cow pies.

Here are a couple of tonights poses.


I'm developing a technique using a sharpie to set the key points and gray pastels to give the form mass... stay tuned

This model was fantastic... really fantastic.

A 3 minute pose... I like this a lot 

Life drawing tune-up

Every week I do at least 1 life drawing session. That's no easy task where I live in Northeastern PA.  I find it essential in my ability to see. I been doing this for about 6 months and it's made an enormous difference in both how I look at thing and how I'm painting. After a very long layoff from drawing and painting with my hands  I'm kinda loving this. Every week I experiment with different tools and techniques. 

It's quite different from painting plein air which I suck at. I am most definitely a studio painter. I feel too clumsy when outdoors painting. I do like to do quicky line art even if they nothing more than minute or two. The radiograph pen has something to do with that.


At Ianni's 9//3/13