Facial proportions can vary according to ethnic background and gender. Traditionally men have more angular faces and more pronounced brow just above the eyebrow line. Examine the images shown to see how the eyes fall in the middle of the entire skull, between the tip of the head and chin. In-between the eyes is a space equal to the width of one of the eyes. Halfway between the eyes and the tip of the chin is the line where the mouth opening will fall. Although the model on the left is a young adult female, the proportions are the same as an adult. Her features are merely softer and less angular than seen in an older mature looking individual.

Remember these are merely guidelines and will need to be adjusted to fit the subject that you are depicting. Below is that of a middle-aged male’s profile. When you are drawing a subject keep in mind where your light source is coming from, the same rules apply to drawing a human being as to drawing anything else. The trick is to be objective and to draw what you see and not what you think you know. Look at the subject carefully and try to look at the person you are drawing more than the paper you are drawing on. Always work from life whenever possible, if you can not find a model or do not feel comfortable doing so as of yet, just use a mirror and do a self-portrait.

 

Part Three – Palettes

Part Two –  Mediums

Part One – Materials

 

This week included a couple of head studies in oil, and an unexpected field trip.

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9X12″ Study Oil on Canvas

lucy

9X12″ Study Oil on Canvas

I had a meeting to go to this week in Garnett, KS.  You can imagine how pleased I was to see that their Public Library also included an impressive Walker Art Gallery.

I did not plan ahead and only had my cell phone to take pictures. And well my cell phone takes terrible pictures due to the lens being scratched up. The collection includes Manet, Chihuly, John Stuart Curry and Robert Henri. Pretty impressive for our little corner of Kansas!

IMAG0102Example of a blurry cell phone pic of Manet.
Yes, THAT Manet.

Next week I will have the fourth installment of the “Painting in Oil Series” :0)

We all know what the traditional artist palette looks like: Large kidney shape with a hole for your thumb. But as an oil painter, what are your other options?

Michiels Guillame

Michiels Guillame

Types:

Wooden – The most traditional.  Manufactured wooden palettes are sealed with varnish or lacquer, but I prefer to season them also.  If you make your own you will need to “season” it. To do so you rub linseed oil into the wood with a rag and allow it to dry.  I do this a few times before I use it and then at the end of my painting session 2-3 more times, minimum.

Seasoning Palette

Small palette made from one side of a wooden cigar box. The right hand side was seasoned with linseed oil.

Plastic – Durable and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually made of a white plastic that will not stain.

plastic

Inexpensive plastic palette

Disposable – Convenient for plein-air painting, and are easy to clean up, made from layers of a wax paper.   The top layer is pulled away and thrown out after use.

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Disposable palette with used layer torn away.

Re-purpose fast food containers – With the one shown below I use the lid as the palette and the bottom to seal it. I then place it in the freezer to help the paint stay fresh.

mcd

McDonald’s salad container as a palette

Glass – Can be placed on a work surface and any color of paper can be placed beneath to aid in mixing colors correctly. The surface can be scraped clean at the end of the session. Edges of the glass can be heavily taped to prevent sharp edges or a glass cutter can grind them down smooth. A glass thicker than 1/4″ works best.

glass

Reference photos can also be placed under the glass, so that you can mix paints on top and match realistic colors.

Other Variables:

Color & Tone – If you mix your paint on a dark brown, then go to place the same paint onto a white canvas it will not appear the same.  It helps to have a palette close to the color and tone of your working surface. Of course one option is to paint your canvas a closer value to the color of your palette. But this is not always an option.

Shape & Size – Rectangle or kidney shape are the most common.  A rectangle fits well in a paint box, while a kidney shape can fit more comfortable on the hand. Either way, in the end it is a personal preference.

Organizing Your Palette – How you place your paints on your palette is up to you. Some prefer light to dark, while others favor cool to warm.  Or even a random fashion, it is your call. It is only important that it makes sense to YOU.

Tips:

  • Place your colors along the outer edge so you have an open area in the center for mixing.
  • Start with fewer colors and add as you go, particularly if you are a beginner, so as to not waste paint.
  • Consider placing the colors the same location each time to build a reliable routine.

Note:  There is a new vertical palette on the market that intrigues me.  I haven’t tried it yet, but would like to soon. It is a vertical glass surface placed next to the painting, side-by-side.

These are designed by artist David Kassan and I believe they are available only online. If anyone has tried this I would love to hear your thoughts!

Painting In Oil – Part Two – Mediums

This week’s studio update is a bit different. I took a couple of days off to help move our oldest daughter and her family to Wichita. On the drive back I meandered and found a few interesting sites :0)

It does a spirit good to get out and explore a bit from time to time!

Yes Toto, we ARE in Kansas!

"Needle in a Haystack" Note there is actual rope (thread) hanging from the needle. :)

“Needle in a Haystack” Note there is actual rope (thread) hanging from the needle.

Taken at "Jurassic Art" in Rose Hill, KS

Taken at “Jurassic Art” in Rose Hill, KS

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Taken at “Jurassic Art” in Rose Hill, KS

Jurassic Park

Taken at “Jurassic Art” in Rose Hill, KS

I also ventured past “Sculpture Hill” which features the art of Frank Jenson. Sadly, I did not get any pics due to my own poor planning and my selfish desire to not get ran over by a roaring semi. But you can see his work at the Sculpture Hill website. And of course you can see a couple of his sculptures in front of one my favorite places, the Chanute Depot. The depot houses both the Safari Museum and the Chanute Public Library.

Frank Jensen Sculpture in Chanute, Kansas

Frank Jensen Sculpture in Chanute, Kansas

Meanwhile, inside the studio there is a new item on the easel I will share next week.

Two commissions are being painted at the moment. The plan is to wrap them up by the end of the month.

In about six months time I think we need to look at increasing prices. So just a heads up!

pup

Underpainting 8X10″

girls

Oil on Canvas 9X12″

I have an obsession with chandeliers and things sparkly.  I took some time yesterday to take a few reference images for a future project at a local shop. The last one, the little black chandelier, I am thinking would look cute in my studio/office. 🙂

chand3 chand4chand5

mediumsMediums used with oils modify the character of the paint.  I personally like to not have my paint dry too quickly, unless it is an underpainting, and with a medium I have more control over this factor. I prefer to work wet-in-wet whether I return to the canvas an hour later or twenty-four.

Linseed Oil – Made from the flax plant it is the binder used in most oil paints.  There are a number of different types due to consistency, color and drying time.

  • Refined – An all purpose medium.
  • Cold Pressed – Dries a little faster than refined and is considered to be of better quality than Refined.
  • Stand Oil – Thicker with a slower dry time, to touch in one week.
  • Sun Thickened – Syrupy version thickened by leaving a slightly open container of Linseed Oil in the sun (Is actually a bit more complicated than that, but for our purposes here….)

Safflower Oil – Dries faster than Poppyseed Oil but similar characteristics.

Walnut Oil – A thin oil it makes the paint more fluid.  Dries in 4-5 days.  It also yellows less than Linseed Oil

Turpentine – Can be mixed 50/50 with Linseed Oil for a medium. Use an artist grade quality and not household.  Can be purchased in low-odor varieties.

There are a number of other mediums for oil paint, enough for a book. It is all a matter of personal choice.  The point is this is another area that an artist can gain control.

Painting In Oil – Part One

So, what has happened in the last week?  A small local exhibit of paintings began with a reception on the 12th. It will run until mid Feb. See pics/post of reception here.

smaller

Current piece (commission) on the easel – Underpainting 9X12″

I have also managed to do some boring but necessary office work: New letterhead and decided upon a new basic bookkeeping system. Other than that the focus has been to adjust to a work schedule that allows me to get things accomplished, but also have my lazy time 🙂

Getting the new year rolling along. Made new brochures, ordered more art supplies, touched up work for, and hung a small exhibit.

1

After touching up the edges of the oil pieces, they were left for a few days to dry before hanging. I had them all over my work area.

2

……more paintings with wet edges.

3

Hung a small show, in local gallery.

I sent a “heads up” email to everyone that mentioned on facebook they were interested in setting up commissions this year. If you are interested and we didn’t get an email sent to you, drop us a line!

Next week = Images of new paintings. 🙂

Note: This is the first in a six-part series on my oil painting studio practices, that will be published every other Monday.

Materials for painting can be as flexible as the artist, or as ridged. Below is an example of how I handle the task:

supplies6

Containers for holding mineral spirits.  I prefer to use recycled jars.  I keep several in the working area to reuse again and again.  For those that do not know, if you allow mineral spirits to sit overnight the oil paint will settle into the bottom of the jar. You can then poor off the clean liquid and use it again. Of course you can purchase a much more sophisticated system, but this works for me. Plus I get to feel like I am being a little green in the process.

supplies7

The paint brushes I use are rounds or filberts. I have purchased them from a number of companies over the years, now I just go to Utrecht.

supplies5I have used a variety of palettes over the years, wooden, glass, plastic, all different shapes and sizes. I now prefer to use a discarded salad/pie container. I use the clear lid to place my paints.  I then use the bottom as a lid and slip it into the freezer when not in use. Cooler temps keep the paint fresh.

supplies3As you can see from the current assortment of paint tubes on my table, I am not a purist when it comes to brand. Right now I am wanting to use up what I have. Maybe in the future I will be more brand loyal?

supplies2I don’t use a medium very often, if I do it is straight Linseed Oil. But, depending upon the effect and drying time there are a number of options. FYI Poppy Oil will extend the drying time, allowing you more open wet-in-wet time.

studio1An easel is always handy.  Again it depends upon your needs, but I prefer a french-style easel. I can keep the legs up, as I have here, and use it on a table top, or use with legs extended. The built in drawer of course is handy for storing and carrying supplies.

Lighting is of the utmost importance. North light is traditionally considered the best. But with the amazing full spectrum lights now on the market it possible to work just about anywhere. If you are like me and live in a rural area with few options, the internet is a wonderful thing!

I use a number of re-purposed t-shirts for rags in my studio area. I cut them into pieces about 8″ square and keep them near my work area at all times.

If I am working from photographs they are taped to the easel for easy access. If painting from life, it is placed to the right, away from the easel.

Note: I also use a small hand head mirror to check for accuracy. The fresh perspective it gives is wonderful!

So there you have it! 🙂

 

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