Archive for June, 2009

An Early American Portrait – Part 4

Week of June 23


Simple and sincere… I think Susan and I both resemble those Limners’ style characteristics. My head is way too big for Susan’s body, but according to the disproportional figures of the Early American timeframe (circa 1700-1800) I’m allowing myself to ace this portrait. I completed my face in less than two hours which is a big accomplishment and I much prefer this end-product to my self-portrait. I do not have this much hair, although this 1980’s hairstyle definitely adds personality and character to our figure’s drab militaristic appearance. “Figure” seems like an odd descriptor for Susan and I combined but I don’t know how else to refer tNicola-in-Park---webo us.

Now onto self-criticism. My eyes should definitely move further to the right; nobody has a cheek that wide and crooked. I am clueless about how to capture my mouth’s gesture in the photo so I settled on a more flattering “blob” of paint. I am still imperfect with a few idiosyncracies, but at least most of my features are in proportion.

Q: What size is this canvas and why does it matter?

A: 18 x 24 inches. Unless I’m having a lackluster day, the canvas size often determines how quickly I’ll complete a painting.


An Early American Portrait – Part 3

Week of June 15

Photo 3 (right): Next I went on to better capture Susan’s feminine movement (or lack of it) and gesChallenge-2-no-3-webtures, by adding texture and attaching buttons to her “straight jacket.” She even has a bag over her shoulder. Hopefully my sister will appreciate her more robust torso to complement those hips. On second thought several days after this session, the colors of her outfit almost resemble a Civil War soldier’s uniform! Ironic considering the war began in Charleston which is where I stumbled upon one of these portraits.

Limners.” My research on Early-American portraiture revealed that this was the name for the group of early 1700’s portrait painters. Limners were self taught craftsmen who knew little about the fundamentals of art and lacked a personal style. They painted what they saw, used color arbitrarily, and the end-product was often flat and lifeless. I hope nobody says that about my paintings… if anything I can always be known as the woman who paints in pink and purple! “Despite the Limner’s inadequacies as an artist, their paintings have a special simplicity and sincerity,” claims the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.

An Early American Portrait – Part 2

Week of June 8

Challenge-2-no.-2-webPhoto 2 (left): Pink and purple…again. I am wondering about my color choice 24 hours after returning to this Early-American portrait. You would think these were the colors of the year based off their frequency in my paintings. A quick google search of “colors of 2009” reveals that several sources, including PANTONE®, included variations of pink and purple in their 2009 trend reports. On the bright side I suppose I can consider myself in vogue for a change, although I prefer the original background that once livened up the Central Park setting.

If I thought capturing a nude model’s curves was challenging, capturing them fully clothed is even harder. I think Susan will be flattered by the slightly more curvaceous hips I gave her, although she looks like she’s wearing a straight jacket! Without having to worry about her “face,” my attention is turned towards capturing accurate value contrasts and perspective, instead of becoming bogged down with skin color. I think I am on the right track.

An Early-American Portrait AKA Merging Two Images Without PhotoShop

Week of June 1 (Part 1)Challenge-2-web

Photo 1 (right): I am known for selecting two images and combining a few elements of each towards an imagined end product. I guess that is what PhotoShop was designed for. I am attempting to combine two photos – one of myself; another of my sister Susan – that we took turns shooting in the Big Apple’s Central Park.

Wondering why? A few days after an April business trip to Charleston, South Carolina I visited Magnolia Plantation. The highlight of my guided tour of the rice plantation’s property was the Plantation House, where a guide explained the 1800’s Modern American painters’ approach to portraits. Oddly enough, in the winter they began indoors by painting one individual’s body, headless. Several months later the same artist returned to paint the head of another person to complete the figure. Hence the body and head were never quite in proportion to each other. This eases the pressure as I begin Susan’s torso. I accidentally included her hairstyle in my initial value sketch.NY NY March-April 2009 188