Home Studio Setup

Finally got a mockup for my still life setup in my den! The studio is starting to come together! Still plenty to do, I may make my own easel as I’m not happy with the height on the Dick Blick one I’ve been using (5’11” isn’t THAT tall, sheesh!). But I have an easel, some lights and a place to set up a still life, so I’m happy. Here also is my drafting table and out of frame to the left is my desk for painting minis. I need more shelving!


Speaking of still life…this morning I went to an old barn and bought a box of doodads for ten bucks. Great start to my still life objects! I tried to get a few things similar to what we have on the shelf at school. I particularly like the slim mini-pitcher thing. Need to clean them up and get some fabrics for the table and a backdrop…


Sorry for the ‘noisy’ photo, didn’t realize the paint rack was going to interfere with things!

Monday Night Drawing

Was so nice to get into the studio tonight for some fast drawing. The instructor is bringing in value this week, using a toned ground. Kinda got a late start, so it’s unfinished and pretty much a mess, but I feel there are a few successful spots, given the circumstances. Just a 2-value study, I tried to use line weight to suggest a 3rd value but got too carried away in some places. 2 value is really tough!


Conte on a charcoal toned ground, 18×24 bristol paper.

Wednesday Night Oils

Tonight was local color lay-in for the skin. I remember how rough it made the drawing last semester, so I was better equipped to see it turn into a bit of a mess at this point! The instructor continues to really challenge and push me, which is awesome (though I still ask a million questions!). She has my number and realizes I like to push myself to improve!

So I did a bit more with the tones this time, rather than the relatively flat light/dark split I did last time. I think I had 5 brushes going (technically 8 if you count a small round for fixing stuff, a brush for the lips and a dry brush for smoothing). Again, the loveliness of how oil slides against oil…just wonderful to paint with.


I have next week off, but more color and values to come, as well as a return of lost detail! Onward!

Wednesday Night Oils

Tonight’s session with the model was a curve ball…the instructor changed his position slightly and also the angle of the light. I was going to complain, but decided it was a great chance to learn to move some things around, an extension of what I’ve been focusing on in drawing class!

Then she had me put in the background tone, along with the shirt and hair local colors. A change of pace from last time, but it frames things nicely. Nothing too fancy, yet, but I do like how the cool shirt color I whipped up at the last second to suggest the shadows turned out. And drawing class is paying dividends in freeing up my hand a bit, visible in the suggestion of hair, so it no longer looks like a helmet…


Oil Portrait Homework

I decided to block in the light side of the face at home. I hope I didn’t mess things up too badly by ‘rushing’ things, but I did refer to my notes from last semester. I had some notes in my notebook but also it was nice having the blog to refer to! Keep a blog! My two worries are that I corrected a bunch of stuff at this stage last semester, and this time I’m just working off the drawing; and also I’m hoping my technique is correct, as I’ve only done this once and my first time was rough… Anyway, here’s the initial blocking:


Then I smooth over the transitions to remove any hard edges. I took a pic partway through this step so you can see how it softens the edges.


And the completed blocking of dark and light masses for the head.


I like it overall. I did shift the center slightly to leave some more space to the right, where he’s looking off into the distance. Not sure if that’s good composition, but I like it๐Ÿ™‚ So Wednesday I’ll be ready to start putting in local color! This weekend’s homework moved me from one week behind to one week ahead! Next big challenge is remembering how to mix flesh tones from primaries…

Oil Portrait Homework

After work I hit my temporary basement studio and worked on the portrait. I had painted on a classic ground of burnt umber and burnt sienna previously. Tonight I transferred the drawing over by rubbing the back with charcoal and using a point to transfer the lines to the canvas.


Then I began painting the lines in with a thinned raw umber. One some lines are down, I go back and soften them to try to remove any hard edges that may interfere with later layers. This is still a tough thing for my to pull off, so it gets messy! I left some freshly painted hard lines so you could see the difference.


Once I had all the outlines in and softened, I block in the shadow masses. Another softening pass, and then a smoothing pass, removing any texture from the shadow masses.


It was difficult getting a pic of that last step without glare, so I stepped outside the room and took another, but it ended up smaller. But you can get the idea. Just adding that one value in makes a dramatic difference!

Monday Night Drawing

Because Rhonda asked for it…here are a couple examples of the stuff we work on in Drawing 101. Focus is on drawing fast and big, getting a light gesture drawing in and then going back to get the size, placement, etc correct. Just using linework, the smudges are from using my dirty old chamois to erase lines. I’m trying very hard to avoid jumping into values, because that’s my drawing crutch. Need to focus on my linework in a serious way.

This class helps so much, great for fundamentals in a guided environment. And learning to immediately correct mistakes and not try to commit to a wrong line is surprisingly difficult to learn! But it paid off well last night in the portrait class when I started to instinctively just erase bad lines rather than try to work with them.


Conte on 18×24 newsprint.