Monday, December 31, 2012

Up and Coming in 2013

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!

For those interested (which, by virtue of the fact that you are reading this page, I assume you are interested), Ryan Delgado Art on Facebook launches at midnight, with a new preview of a painting I started a while back, but never finished.  So I suppose one of my first 2013 resolutions is to finish it.  Here is a close-up detail of it, and there will be another preview on the facebook page.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.. I was very happy to get a couple of new books.  I have a third book on Velázquez now to add to my stack of Velázquez books to read.  This one is Jonathan Brown's Velázquez: Painter and Courtier.  Brown is considered the leading expert on Velázquez.  And even though he contends that the so-called "Portrait of a Man" at the Metropolitan Museum in New York is not a self-portrait, I still have respect for Brown.  I just think he's wrong about it.  I mean, come on look at it:

It's probably another topic for another blog, but trust me, it's a selfy.

Anyway, the book looks great.  Can't wait to get into it, but I just started on the other book that I got - Harold Speed's The Practice and Science of Drawing.  And simply based on the first couple of lines of the preface, I'm anticipating I will love this one.

Permit me in the first place to anticipate the disappointment of any student who opens this book with the idea of finding "wrinkles" on how to draw faces, trees, clouds, or what not, short cuts to excellence in drawing, or any of the tricks so popular with the drawing masters of our grandmothers and still dearly love by a large number of people.  No good can come of such methods, for there are no shortcuts to excellence.
It doesn't say who wrote the preface, although I assume it was Harold Speed.  Anyway, what a great line!  It definitely speaks to this generation that is incessantly looking for shortcuts to everything while also having high expectations to excel in its endeavors.  Indeed, shortcuts and excellence never mix.

So, hopefully what is to come for RD Art in the coming year is continued pursuit of excellence.  Before we know it, the Blue Springs Art Show will be right around the corner, so I am hoping to have some good work to show there again this year.  Stay tuned!




Sunday, December 23, 2012

Who "likes" art?

Well, then you'll love Ryan Delgado Art on Facebook... as soon as you "Like" it. 
New paintings...
New blog posts...
New videos...
New art shows...
Coming in the new year...

Ryan Delgado Art on Facebook, coming January 2013.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Underpainting video

This is a quick, condensed video of my latest portrait underpainting... because I haven't done one of those for a while.  This was about 50 minutes in real time.  I may do a video of the rest of the process as well.  We shall see.  Hope you enjoy!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Good news everyone...

...I actually do remember how to paint.  And I suppose it goes without saying that I am still alive.  So here's my first underpainting in months.  And hopefully in another few months, it will become a finished painting.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Longview Festival - October 5-7

Geez, where did I go? 

Well, it's been a while, so I should probably give an update.  I am still alive, first of all.  I attended the Raytown Artists Association Show in August, and was surprised to receive the 1st place painting award for The Artist.  Good times!

So coming up this week is the Longview Arts and World Music Festival in Lee's Summit, MO.  I will be featured in the Summit Art pavilion along with 12 other Summit Art artist members.  I hope that you will be able to come out and see my work.. and perhaps buy some too!

The Longview show is October 5-7, around the corner of 3rd St. and View High, and I believe there are around 80-90 artists showing their work, including some from the Lee's Summit middle and high schools.  This is my first time doing this or any outdoor art festival, so I'm pretty excited!  For all the information that you could possibly need, including a map, schedule, and list of artists, go to

The show runs Friday from 3-9pm, Saturday from 10am-9pm, and Sunday from 10am-5pm.  If you want a guaranteed shot at seeing me there, come by the big Summit Art pavilion from 3-6pm on Friday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

University of Central Missouri Exhibition, June 28-August 3, 2012

This is just an invitation for any fans out there to visit my upcoming exhibition at the University of Central Missouri Art Gallery from June 28 - August 3.  This is an exclusive exhibition for artist members of Summit Art, and I am told it should attract quite the audience of artists and art lovers.

I hope to see some of you out there for the opening reception on June 28th from 5:00 - 7:00pm.  And a huge and heartfelt thanks to all of you that have supported and encouraged me in what I love doing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Still Life: Peppers

So today, I just did this quick little impromptu still life.  I did some touch-up on another painting (and honestly debating about whether or not it actually got better), and since I had some paint left on my palette, I decided to do something quick for the fun of it.  And here it is:

Still Life with Peppers
oil on canvas
8x10 inches
I am currently in the process of working out some details for the Longview Arts and World Music Festival, which takes place in October.  Summit Art, of which I am officially a member now, has released a call for artists to show work in the main pavillion at the show.  There are only 13 spaces open, so I'm trying to get on it ASAP.  I've already responded that I am interested, and will hopefully get officially signed up this week at the Summit Art meeting.
I am also getting in touch with an organizer for the upcoming Raytown Artists Association Invitational, which takes place in late August.  They have not released applications for the show yet, but I have expressed interest.  Apps are supposed to be mailed/emailed on July 1.  So hopefully I will be heading back to the old 'hood in Raytown this August!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Woman Bathed in Light

I actually finished two paintings this week, but the other one is going to need some touch-up before I can get a good picture of it.  For now, here is what I finished today.  I actually worked on it yesterday and scrapped it, and wanted to move on to something new.  Just one of those frustrating things where I wasn't properly focused.  But I decided to give it another go today, and got a little bit better results.

Woman Bathed in Light
oil on canvas
16x20 inches

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Portrait of a Gentleman

Latest from the studio..

Portrait of a Gentleman
oil on canvas
14x11 inches
I probably won't have a new painting to show until next week, so everyone have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Portrait of a Young Girl

And here's my latest just finished today.  Another pretty tough one.

Portrait of a Young Girl
oil on canvas
All in a day's work... more to come soon.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Biker Chick

It was a much tougher one than I thought, but she finally came out okay.
Biker Chick
oil on canvas
20x16 inches

I may start another underpainting tonight, but I'm definitely on to the other portrait tomorrow.  More to come soon...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

New projects - May 2012

Well, today was a pretty good and productive day.  I finished a couple of underpaintings for two new portraits.  This one is a simple (yet very difficult) portrait of a young girl:

The problem is... the portrait is a bit off-centered, and I'm not sure if I should do something with the top right part of the picture.  We'll see.
The second painting is just a fun subject of a tough-looking biker girl.  I hadn't planned on this one until today. 

Right now I have these two projects started, and I would like to get a third and possibly a fourth one going as well.  I find that the more projects I have going at once, the more productive I actually am.  I finally cleaned and organized my studio yesterday too, which also helps with my productivity.  I've set it up so now I have two work stations.  I have my regular easel, and I set up a desk so I can work on drawings and smaller canvases with my table easel.
I also purchased some more paint recently that I am really excited to use.  I've been wanting to broaden my palette, and I'm getting started on these two paintings.  Now my palette will consist of:

titanium white
cadmium yellow
yellow ochre
cadmium orange
cadmium red light
vermilion hue
scarlet lake red
cadmium red deep
indian red
alizarin crimson
sap green
viridian hue
pthalo blue
prussian blue
french ultramarine blue
burnt sienna
burnt umber
raw umber

Each of my paintings will use some variation of this palette, give or take a color or two.  The underpainting for the young girl is exclusively burnt umber, and the biker girl portrait is done with raw umber.  I used to mix up sap green and crimson to create the brown tone for my underpaintings, and that was pretty much the only brown I used for any painting.  So hopefully now that I have some other browns, I will be able to cut back on my usage of sap green and crimson.
Well, that's all for now.  Hopefully I'll have some updates on these two portraits, and some underpaintings for more new projects on my next post. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Still Life with Apple

Sorry for the lack of updates... here is my latest.  Actually, it was an underpainting I had lying around for a while, and I finally got around to it today.

Still Life with Apple
oil on canvas
8x10 inches
So a few updates:
I have applied to become an artist member of Summit Art, a local art league/organization, and my jury was today.  Basically that means a committee of artists looked at some of my work, and will decide if it's good enough for me to be a member.  Kind of like a proficiency review I suppose.  Anyway, I should know soon if I've been accepted.
Other than that, I have a couple of projects ahead of me now that this still life is finished.  I felt bad just leaving it there unfinished, and I didn't want to move on to anything new until it got done.  I've also had a couple of commissions recently that I have finished up.  So unless any other commissions pop up, I'll be working on some projects of my own, which will hopefully be decent future show works.
That's all for now... keep on the lookout for some new stuff coming soon!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ecce Homo Painting

Here is the final painting called "Ecce Homo."  It's inevitable that I'll be oiling it back up and doing some touch-ups once it's completely dry, but it surely won't look much different than this.  Hope you guys like it.. more to come later.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

~Isaiah 53:5

Ecce Homo
oil on canvas
30x24 inches

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Ecce Homo

I had an idea yesterday for a painting based off of one of my recent figure studies.  So I did the study again, along with a few anatomical studies.  Hopefully this will make its way to a canvas within the next few days.

Study for "Ecce Homo" (or "For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion")
graphite and conté on toned paper
I got a little carried away with the drawing... it's a bit overdone and redone.  I was going back and forth and making quite a few corrections and revisions, and honestly overthinking out the details of the figure.  It was around 8:30 tonight (after about 3 or 4 hours of drawing) when I finally had to remind myself that it's just a study.  But it's a fairly decent idea of what I have in mind.  I have a few more studies to do before I get started on the canvas.  That will be my objective this week, and hopefully by the end of the week, I will be ready to start painting.
To be continued...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Figure study soundtrack

One of the things that makes drawing, painting, sculpting, etc. such a demanding craft is the fact that it is often so tedious.  I typically need some kind of musical score playing while I'm drawing or painting.  Such was the case this week as I worked on a few figure studies.  I did two sets this week - a male and female set of three figures.  So as you can imagine, the laborious task of quite literally getting my hands dirty... and every tedious hatch of my pencil... it's enough to make me go mental. 
So with that, I thought I would share a sampling of the music I listen to during my long hours of drawing and painting.  I love a whole bunch of different genres of music, but the kind I most frequently play in the studio is classical, and old Renaissance a'cappella choirs especially.  I know, pretty odd.  But take a listen to one of my favorites here.  This is called Trahe me, post te, by Francisco Guerrero (1528-99), and it is without question one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.

Female figure studies
graphite on toned paper
Male figure studies
graphite and conté

Friday, April 6, 2012

Updates 4/6/12

No new art to post just yet... just a few updates on what I'm up to lately.

Wow... so lots of stuff going on.  First, I went to my first meeting with Summit Art in Lee's Summit so I could see what they're like and get an idea of what they do around the K.C. area.  And from what it sounds like, some pretty big things are starting to happen with them, and it is the perfect time to join them as a member.  So I've decided to do so.  I'll be submitting my application soon, and they'll be having a jury review a sample of my work in May.  I'm pretty excited, and hoping you all will be seeing a lot more of my work hanging up in galleries in the area a lot more often.

Apparently, some people are seeing my work that is currently exhibiting at Blue Springs City Hall.  I received an email this week from one such person who is helping to organize an art/antique show on April 28 in Blue Springs, and she has invited me to participate (even though the official app deadline has passed, she's offering me the opportunity anyway.. pretty cool).  I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to do it, but if I can I will let everyone know soon.

Speaking of, if you haven't seen my paintings at the Blue Springs City Hall yet, I hope you will!  They are my two award-winning paintings from the Blue Springs Art Show, The Artist and Juan de Pareja, and they will be there until the afternoon of April 20th. 

In other art show news, I am looking into applying for a show that will take place in... wait for it... Nashville, TN!  The show is called Artclectic, and it is an indoor show (one of the main reasons I'm looking into it).  The show itself takes place in October, however the deadline to apply is April 27th.  So it is really just a matter of deciding which paintings I want to submit, and making sure I have good quality digital images of them to send with my app.  From the looks of it, they don't appear to get a whole lot of contemporary realist paintings, so this could be interesting.  Hopefully they'll like what I have to offer.

So that is all for now, stay tuned for more paintings soon!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Blue Springs Art Show: The Aftermath

This was a long, surreal weekend for me! 
It started it off on Friday, as I dropped off my paintings The Artist and Juan de Pareja in Blue Springs for the art show.  Then, since I was in the area, I went about my rainy day over to Burr Oak Nature Center for a nice long hike.  And I finally capped off my evening with a hilariously fun night with the youth group at my church. 

Of course, by the end of the night, I was a little bummed because I was hoping to get a phone call from the art show saying I won some award.  Last year, they called on Friday night to let me know that my painting Camel in Giza won 3rd place in its painting category.  Naturally, I assumed if I had won anything this year, I would have gotten the same courtesy call at the same time.. Friday night.  But it didn't happen.  But I just thought, "Oh well.." and went home with the hope that maybe next year I could paint something that would really WOW the art show judges enough to award me with something.

Then Saturday morning came.  And this is when my plans for the weekend suddenly changed.  All I wanted to do was go to the art show for maybe an hour at the most to check out what was there, and come home.  I wasn't even planning to go on Sunday except to pick up my paintings.  But at around 9:00 or so on Saturday morning, I got the courtesy call I didn't expect.  The lady said that The Artist won 2nd place Best of Show!  So I left a quick message on Facebook telling everyone to get to Blue Springs, and then I was right on my way over there! 

I stayed for most of the day, had lunch/dinner with mom and dad, and came back for the reception.  There was a private and public reception that attracted what seemed like at least 300 people.  Everyone at the receptions and everyone who came throughout the day received ballots to vote for the "People's Choice" for fine art and photography.  I at least knew that I had the votes of my family and friends that came during the day, but with the number of people present at the receptions, I pretty much figured my chances of winning the People's Choice were not so great, unless by some freak miracle I had enough strangers voting for my work... but honestly, who does that?  But at least I was going home with the 2nd Best of Show prize, and that made me happy enough!

So at 8:00, the awards ceremony began.  They started with the awards for the high school show, and then went through all the categories of the main show.  Then they handed out the Best of Show awards.  After all was said and done, they went right into the results of the People's Choice awards.  I was exhausted, but curious to see who won.  First they gave out the People's Choice for photography, and the lady who won was, of course, pleasantly surprised.  Then they announced the People's Choice for fine art.  "The award for 1st place People's Choice in fine art goes to..."  And I looked on with utter amazement as the lady struggled to sound out the words.. "Juan de Pareja."
Whaaaa??  I won 1st place People's Choice?!!? 

So Saturday morning started off with me simply hoping to enjoy a relaxing day.  Twelve hours later, I finally was relaxing after a very long yet amazing day of winning two awards for my work and meeting a LOT of other artists and art lovers who were kind enough to shake my hand, congratulate and compliment me on my work.  Some flat out told me how inspired they were by my paintings, and hoped to see a lot more from me in the future, and that is what I hope to give them.  I was presented with opportunities from other artists and art sponsors to get connected with other art leagues and exhibitions in the area as well. 

Sunday was a lot more relaxing.  It started with a nice morning at church, a quick lunch, and then I was headed back over to the show to say hi to a few more other friends that were coming out to see the art.  I didn't even have to take my paintings home with me.  Since they both won awards, they went straight from the art show to Blue Springs City Hall, where they are currently being exhibited until Friday, April 20th.

So, for those who missed the show and would like to see my newly award-winning paintings, I hope you will visit Blue Springs City Hall at 903 W. Main in Blue Springs, MO sometime between now and April 20th.  And for everyone who did come out to the show over the weekend, thank you all so much for your support and your congratulations.  It meant a lot!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Still Life with Tomatoes

Here is my latest still life... the second in a series of them that I'm doing.  I have two more in progress.  The underpaintings have been done, and I am still waiting for them to dry a little more before I work on them. 

Still Life with Tomatoes
oil on canvas
11x14 inches
On another note, the Blue Springs Art Show is this coming weekend, and I'm getting pretty excited for it.  I hope you all will come out if you are able!  And here you can see my version of Velazquez's awesome portrait of Juan de Pareja getting ready for his first public appearance:

Unfortunately, the lighting at this event won't be nearly as awesome as it is in the picture, but the painting itself is way better in person.

Youcef completed

Here is the finished portrait of Youcef.  For more about this portrait, see my previous post.

Brother Youcef Nadarkhani
oil on canvas
14x11 inches

Friday, March 16, 2012

Painting Youcef

As of right now I have two still life underpaintings drying, and an in-progress still life drying so I can begin glazing later.  So I figured, while I'm waiting for those to dry, why not start on a 4th project?

The other day I was thinking about a certain current event story that has really gripped me for the past several months.  An Iranian man by the name of Youcef Nadarkhani has been incarcerated in Iran since 2009, and is currently being threatened with execution simply because he has recanted Islam and accepted Christ into his life, and has served as an evangelical pastor.  With the dangerously radical Islamic theocracy that Iran is, anyone accused of abandoning Islam to preach the gospel of Christ is at a huge risk, as the penalty for apostasy is death.  So that has been Pastor Youcef's fate, except that it has somehow been dragged out since 2009, and there has been just enough international pressure on Iran to release him... which has delayed his execution.  Youcef has been pressured several times to recant his Christian faith and "return to Islam," but each time he was asked to do so, his response was, "I cannot."
So in short, Pastor Youcef has become a sort of hero for me, and certainly a champion of true faith.  I haven't been following the story for very long, but I've felt compelled to honor this courageous warrior for the faith by painting his portrait.  I wish more people knew his story, and hopefully God may use me to help make that happen.  The latest is that Youcef is still alive, and hopefully by a great miracle we'll see him reunited with his family some day.  But I suppose the fact that he is still alive after all this time is a miracle as well.

Underpainting for "Brother Youcef Nadarkhani"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Still Lifes and such

Yesterday I did a second effort at the figure in motion.. slightly more finished than the last.  There is something very mesmerizing about the drawing technique of Rob Liberace... it's a 3 hour long dvd, but I love watching it and seeing this fantastic drawing come to life from the first mark on the paper to the very last detail.  I am hoping to get a couple more of his dvds at some point, particularly The Alla Prima Portrait and The Figure Sketch in Oil.  After all, I am a painter, so I'd love to watch Liberace do a painting in the same manner as I love watching him do a full drawing.  Though, I'll have to wait until I either have some money ($85 per dvd), or I can find them on ebay and luck out with a winning bid at what would hopefully be a lower price than $85.

Figure in Motion II
graphite on toned paper
On another note, I received my official confirmation from Blue Springs, so I am definitely set to go for the art show on March 24-25.  I will be sure to let everyone know how that goes. 
In the meantime, I am working on a little series of still life paintings, and today I did a small and simple still life with pears.  I'll be doing several paintings like this, but of course I'll also be continuing to work on portraits and figures.

Still Life with Pears
oil on canvas
8x10 inches
For those interested in buying some work, I also have 7 new paintings just posted on Ebay this week (10 total as of now).  Please check those out... it is the cheapest you will ever get any of my work!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blue Springs Art Show

It's that time again... Those of you in the KC area, mark your calendars:

Due to the limited space, they only allow each artist to display two works.  This year, I'll be showing my portrait of Juan de Pareja after Velázquez's masterpiece, and The Artist, my latest self-portrait.  We'll see if I get a Best-of-Show prize yet from this exhibition.  This will be my third time exhibiting at the Blue Springs show, so I'm due for one.
In any case, it's an interesting show.  For those planning to attend, I would encourage you to come on Saturday, as they will be handing out ballots for you to vote on the "People's Choice" artwork, which will be awarded later that evening.  Your support with that would be greatly appreciated!  All Best-of-Shows, 1st place, and People's Choice winners will have their works displayed at Blue Springs City Hall for the following couple of weeks after the show.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Challenge accepted...

A few blogs ago I talked about cast drawings and paintings, and how they really test you as an artist.  So a few days ago, I was thinking about what was the most challenging cast to draw or paint.  What was the one cast above all others that says you are a master of the art of realism if you can conquer it?  Immediately I thought of the one... the only... Laocoon.  Naturally, given my ambition to be the best that I can possibly be as an artist, I decided I must conquer it.
So, the other day I did a very quick sketch of it just to see if I could even come close to capturing the general rendering of the sculpture.  In other words... was it "close enough"?

The problem I have run into when it comes to cast drawings and paintings is my inherent lack of patience... one of the very things such a drawing or painting tests you on.  That being said, I have also never completed a truly finished, polished drawing of a cast before.  They've always been mere sketches such as this one (I would define a sketch as somewhere between 30-60 minutes). 
So now I have this ambition to turn the little sketch above into this:

By the way, in case you were wondering... this is not a photograph of the cast.  It is a painting of the cast done by Andrea Mosley, from Angel Academy of Art in Florence.  In a perfect world, I would be able to go to Angel Academy so I could learn how to do this from real masters.  But unfortunately, I must learn it on my own. 
One of my favorite pictures is of a student from Angel Academy standing next to his painting of Laocoon. It is practically the same painting as Andrea's, and next to his painting is the actual cast of the Laocoon from which he painted.  By the amazing sight-size technique, he was able to paint the cast in actual size, so it is as though you are looking at two casts... except one of them is a painting, and the effect is somewhat surreal.  Here's the picture.  Take a close look at it, and allow your mind to be blown.

The artist's name is Mathew.  I am positive that I have not accomplished this level of craftsmanship... for now.  But I am equally as positive that even Mathew studied and worked hard to build up his skill to the point where this photograph was possible.  And the same is true for absolutely anyone who is serious about learning this craft we call realism.  There are two underlying statements that are made whenever someone says, "Wow, I could never do this."  1.  It is an excuse not to work at it, or 2.  You don't care enough to try.
Either way, it is most certainly not a matter of whether or not you possess some magical "art gene" that automatically gives you the natural ability to be an artist.  It simply does not work that way.  When you were a child, drawing and making messes with fingerpaints were awesome, and you know it.  But somewhere along the road of life, many of us lose interest or we quit trying.  It is exactly the same as whenever a young person gives up playing piano or violin.  Simply stated, becoming a master at anything is a choice we make, not a gift we possess.  The only gift we possess is the passion to do so.  And the question is whether we nurture that passion, or let it fizzle.
So, I have not conquered the Laocoon yet.  But you can't really conquer something like that with one little sketch like the one I did.  It may take me a while, and I may be doing several other projects in the meantime because I'm so scattered like that.  But that is truly the best part about being an artist.  I don't have to be organized.  Only my paintings do.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Self Portrait - Day 2

After about 5 hours today, the underpainting of my self portrait has become this:

The Artist (Self-Portrait)
oil on canvas
28x22 inches
And on that note, yay the weekend is here!  On to the next project...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Self Portrait - Day 1

Today I happily spent about 4 hours working on the preliminary underpainting for my next painting - a self portrait.  This means I spent 4 hours doing a very simple, reductive grisaille using nothing but brown paint.  When I say "reductive," I basically mean that I coated the entire canvas with a layer of this transparent brown paint using a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil.  The result is a very thin coat that I am able to scrape away with a dry brush, and then later on add darker layers for the shadows.  The result is much like a reductive drawing... only with paint.  This is typically the first step to every painting I do. 
I don't particularly like doing self portraits, but I haven't done one in years, and I figured it's a good thing to add to my collection.  And perhaps it is something I can show later in an exhibition or two.  I also thought that it would be a good update for where I am now as an artist.  The last self portrait I did was many years ago when I was very much an amateur, and as you might suspect, it looked very amateurish.  Hopefully, now, this self portrait will portray me in a much more sophisticated light as a much more sophisticated artist.  And, for that matter, it will be painted using a way more sophisticated technique and method.

Self Portrait (The Artist), underpainting detail.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Juan de Pareja

Here is the latest in a series of Velázquez copies I've done.  This is Juan de Pareja, one of my very favorite portraits by Velázquez.  Juan de Pareja was a slave in Velázquez's workshop, which basically meant that he was the assistant to Velázquez and helped with mixing pigments, stretching canvases, etc.  However, he was also quite the painter himself, and has at least one painting hanging in the Prado along with the numerous works of his master.
  I've attempted to copy this portrait before, but never had success.  Now that I have finished this one, I would contend that it is reasonably successful enough to say I won't need to do it again.  After all, it's not necessarily about making a perfect replica as it is about trying to better understand the style and technique of a genius.

Copy of Juan de Pareja, after Velázquez
oil on canvas
20x16 inches

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grisaille sketches I

The word grisaille come from the French word "gris," or gray.  It largely refers to a painting done entirely in a monochromatic color scheme.  Gray is not necessarily the base color used.  Often one may use brown as I have below, in which the painting is technically referred to as brunaille. 
The purpose of a grisaille as a matter of sheer exercise may involve a number of things.  Mainly, it is an academic exercise that can serve two purposes:  1.  To test an artist's understanding of value.  2.  To test an artist's ability to manipulate paint.
Since it is monochromatic, it is not really an exercise in color.  Although, there may be a bit of color manipulation involved.  In a nutshell, the grisaille painting is an exercise in drawing with paint.  Rather than using charcoal or pencil, the medium is oil and a brush.  For the grisailles I've done, it was also an exercise in figure drawing and painting.  I wasn't necessarily concerned about finishing every intricate detail of the figure.  I was mostly interested in painting the poses and gestures, and the general idea of light and shadow shapes.

Female figure grisaille painted sketches
oil on canvas
24x18 inches
So for this grisaille, I painted exclusively female figures.  Part 2 will be the male figure version.  Like this one, it will include a series of figures with one focusing on the torso, and another specifically on the portrait.  I may also incorporate the echo, or "ghost" image as in the top left figure on this painting.  Overall, it will be a similar exercise, and hopefully I can have it posted by next week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Figure in Motion

Hi all,
Just a quick update.  Today I thought I would try my hand at drawing the figure in motion in the style of Robert Liberace, and working from his dvd "The Figure in Motion."  I didn't quite have the time to do everything he did, but this is the result of my attempt, and I'm looking forward to doing some more later on.

Figure in Motion

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Portrait of a Lady

Hello all... here is the latest from the studio.  I was reminded of a painting I did last year as I was working on this one - the Infanta Margarita.  This had to do with the painting of the dress... and how messy and loosely I was able to paint it.  It was one of those things that Velázquez did when he painted fabric and clothing with elaborate designs that is visually mind-boggling.  Capturing a certain texture could somehow be done by throwing spontaneous, yet intentional goobers of paint on the canvas.  Just like that, it comes together and just makes sense.  So once again, I tried to exploit that technique in this painting, while being a bit more deliberate with the painting of her face and skin.

Portrait of a Lady
oil on canvas

Monday, January 16, 2012

Alla Prima Velázquez

Tonight I enjoyed a 3 1/2 hour alla prima session in the studio.  I thought I'd do a copy, and of course I chose a self portrait by Velázquez. 

Master copy of Diego Velázquez: Self Portrait
oil on canvas
14x11 inches

He was certainly a master of alla prima painting, though in most of his portraits he used a technique called scumbling, in which he would paint over surfaces that had already dried, ensuring that the paint he was applying would not mix with the layers already on the canvas.  This gave his paintings their trademark appearance, with individual strokes of paint that you can see seemingly dancing on the canvas.  He certainly did some alla prima paintings, but the one I copied tonight was probably not one of them, as the dry brush scumbling is very clearly evident in the original. 
Whatever the case, all I can say is what the infamous Salvador Dalí said of Velázquez:  "His genius surpasses the art of painting itself."

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Cast

If you really want an exercise in patience, determination and skill, then do a cast drawing or painting.  As far as academic drawing goes, the cast is meant to test your ability to see - to see light and shadows and their relationship to form.  The problem with my university-based education in art is that we did the classic exercise of drawing a sphere, and that was it.  After the sphere, I guess we were just expected to understand light and shadows, and depict those elements flawlessly in the rest of our work from that point on.

Torso of Satyr

Take this drawing above, for instance.  This is the third time I've drawn this sculpture.  It is obviously a sculpture of a male torso (actually, a torso of a male satyr), which can be found at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.  I frequently go there to do some sketching, and this is one of my favorite sculptures to sketch.  What makes it so appealing to me is that I am always seeing something new and different with it.  I've also found that my drawing of this torso has improved each time.  It looks pretty good here, but if you were to look at the actual sculpture and compare it to my drawing, it doesn't look that impressive.  The shadows, angles, and proportions are not perfect by any means.  But it is so much better than my first attempt almost a year ago, which I drew from a different angle:

Torso of Satyr

And... this is the problem with a liberal arts education in art.  In college, this sketch is probably as good as it would get.  It would have been a single exercise, never to be revisited again.  And this is why I would discourage anyone from getting an education in art at a typical liberal arts university if you are truly serious about learning the discipline of drawing and painting, and becoming a master of it... but that's another blog for another time. 
The work I do today is the result of self-teaching, reading lots of books, studying the techniques of the old master artists, and working to evolve in my ability to draw and paint.  Not that I have perfected anything... I am certainly still learning.  This is the beauty of being an artist - constantly learning new things and improving in skill (provided you keep working).  A prayer of Michelangelo was "Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish."  This is a profound sentiment, because it actually petitions God to allow us to remain imperfect.  And to embrace that imperfection so that we may continue to want, but that we work toward what we want.  It is too easy to ask God that we may be the best at what we do.  It is much more fulfilling to work toward becoming the best, and then thank God for the opportunity to become it.
I finally did my first cast painting, and it goes without saying I am not completely satisfied with the outcome of my effort, but it was a good exercise and experience.  I had it partially completed last week, and when I came to a stopping point and cleaned up, I walked away from it disappointed.  There was a certain angle that was off, and I knew it was too late to correct it.  Usually, my inclination when this happens is to scrap the painting altogether and start over.  But I decided to keep it and continue working on it with the hope of finishing it as best as I could.  Now that it is finished, the error in the rendering is still hanging over my head, but it will serve as a reminder to pace myself and to be certain that everything is accurate before moving on to the next step - whether in a drawing or a painting.  As I said, patience is one of the many things in which cast drawings and paintings test you.  But the work of being an artist must go on, and hopefully with each failure, and new lesson learned, the task will become slightly less daunting.
Cast painting
oil on canvas
20x16 inches

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Studying Portraiture

Portrait study of a woman
oil on canvas
14x11 inches

Those that know me well are well aware that my favorite artist of all time is Diego Velázquez. Another book I happily acquired for Christmas is Velazquez: The Technique of Genius by Jonathan Brown and Carmen Garrido, which goes through and discusses the painting technique used by Velázquez in several of his greatest works, including close-up images of the paintings showing the brushwork. Though my only issue with this book is that it does not include two of his greatest portraits ever - Juan de Pareja and Pope Innocent X. Otherwise, it is a fantastic resource for studying his method and mastery of paint handling and manipulation.

The miracle of Velázquez is that his brushwork is so effortless and unsophisticated, and yet it comes together to create a perfect image. I've always been fascinated by the way he paints portraits - particularly the eyes. There are so many intricate details that go into painting or drawing eyes, and yet Velázquez seems to pull them off with just a few swipes of his brush. Take Juan de Pareja, for instance:

detail of Juan de Pareja
I can make out 3 steps or layers to the eyes - black, mid tone, and highlight. On a better detail image, you can also see that the small amount of light on his earlobe is a single, simple stroke of red. It doesn't seem as though Velázquez was a perfectionist that liked to spend a whole lot of time on a painting. Many of his works, such as this one, were alla prima (at first attempt/all at once).
I still attempt to work paint in the same manner as Velázquez, though as simple as his method was... it is by no means easy. One of my favorite pieces of his is the Coronation of the Virgin because it is also one of his most colorful pieces, and I could go on and on about everything else that draws me to the image. It is also an excellent example of his mastery of portraits.

detail of Coronation of the Virgin
As I continue to study the technique of Velázquez, and also continue to paint some studies of portraits, I am looking forward to my own technique to evolve into something much more loose, and yet even closer to an academic style than it has been... something I've been trying to do for a while.

Monday, January 2, 2012

And we're off...

Here is my first painting of 2012 - a quick little alla prima landscape.  Kind of sketchy and random... I just wanted to do a fun little landscape, and hopefully I will have a more elaborate Grand Canyon painting at some point.  For now, I will be focusing on figure and portrait paintings, and some still life.  Unless of course I am commissioned for a landscape at any point.  More to come soon...

Grand Canyon from the Colorado River
oil on canvas
16x20 inches