Thursday, December 31, 2015

DVD Review - Secrets of Portrait Painting with Cesar Santos

Greetings friends!
Today I wanted to give my little review of this new DVD series that was so generously given to me for Christmas from my family.  This is Cesar Santos' Secrets of Portrait Painting.  So let me start off with an overview, and then get into the highs and the lows.

This is a 4-disc series that features Cesar Santos giving a full demonstration of his impressive realist portrait painting technique with his wife Valentina serving as his very patient and excellent sitter.

Literally every stroke of his brush is shown (99.999% of them at least).  He begins with a basic drawing using a raw umber PanPastel, and then follows with a 3-stage painting process of dead coloring, first painting, and second painting.  And he explains what each of those terms mean as he gets into them.  From the first mark of the pastel to the signing of his finished piece totals about 18 hours.  And with that are a few extras, including a nearly hour-long interview with Santos.  Altogether, the content on this DVD set totals nearly 20 hours.  So you'll almost certainly need a few days to watch it all the way through.  I took about 3 days myself.

So let me start of with the low points, because there are so few.  But let me word this in terms of who should not get this DVD.  Obviously, anyone with a serious aversion to long demonstrations would probably not like it.  As I said, the demo itself consists of about 18 out of the 19-20ish hours of this DVD series.  It is a slow and tedious process.  Santos does not paint alla prima.  This is the traditional, academic indirect approach to portrait painting.  If you're looking for a quick-paced alla prima DVD, I would highly recommend Robert Liberace's "The Alla Prima Portrait".  That demo is around 3 hours.  Honestly, however, I think making a big deal about the length of this demo is a bit nitpicky because each stage of painting that Santos goes through is critical to the process and has its essential elements and principles that need to be understood in order to have a successful painting.

One low point that should be pointed out is that the promo for this DVD indicates that this is a great instructional tool for any artist, including beginners.  To that, I would say yes and no.  On the one hand, I do believe there are points to this demo that beginners will find very beneficial.  On the other hand, I also believe the demo leans towards the advanced painter.  For instance, Santos will occasionally use terminology throughout his demo that may be unfamiliar to the average novice painter, and then not define those terms or concepts.  So it presupposes that you as the viewer already know what some of these terms and concepts mean.  So would I recommend this DVD to a beginner - Yes and No.  It mostly depends on what type of beginner you are.  If painting is something you do part-time on the side, and you don't have any intention of investing 100% of your effort into it, then probably not.  I could see this DVD being overwhelming for those beginners.  But if you are a beginner who has decided to make the pursuit to excellence in painting a full-time effort, then absolutely I would recommend this DVD to you.

That leads us to the next low point... at least for some - those with a very tight budget.  Yes, it's a $200 DVD set.  I was fortunate as I said, because my family is generous.  But if this is something you are looking to purchase yourself, then I can certainly understand the price tag being an issue for some.  Especially for those of us artists who simply don't have those funds.  But when you think about it, $200 for a DVD that you can watch over and over again with a master like Cesar Santos versus $400-500 for a workshop that only lasts a few days, and you only get what you take with you.  Now it doesn't sound so bad.  Of course, the disadvantage of the DVD over a workshop is that you can't ask Santos any questions about what he's doing.  And you not there in person to see the demo, so you're at the mercy of your TV screen quality.  On that note, I might also point out that the camera angle on the sitter Valentina was different from the angle that Cesar was seeing and painting her.  So to make an exact comparison between the sitter and Cesar's painting is difficult for the viewer to make.

All in all, those where the only low points I can really make.  And they really aren't that low, to be honest.  The high points certainly outweigh the low.  First of all is the quality of instruction from Santos.  With the exception of some of his terms as I mentioned, he is an excellent teacher and explains his reasoning and methodology behind his process very well.  He not only explains what is important in his process, but why it is important.  You finish the DVD with enough confidence that you can take what he taught and do it yourself, or at least apply many of the principles in your own approach to painting.

Second, many instructional DVDs cover alla prima painting techniques.  There is no shortage of those.  But this is an excellent DVD for those of us still interested in the traditional, indirect approach of working a painting up in layers.  Above all, it teaches you the art of slowing down and treating your painting with reverence and care.  It teaches you to not take even the little mistakes for granted.  If you see a mistake, go back and re-work it until it is correct.  Don't settle for "That's good enough."  This is a DVD about the discipline of painting.

What I really loved most of all about this DVD is how genuine and honest Cesar Santos was throughout his demonstration, both with himself and with the viewer.  He never once pretended that he was flawless in his painting.  He made mistakes during his demo!  And he had the honesty to point out his mistakes, and then go back in and correct them.  In addition, he described and explained to us a clean-cut approach and process.  However, once again he was honest enough to show us that it's not always that simple or clean.  The process is messy, and sometimes you will find yourself in the latter stages of the painting, and you'll have to go back to an earlier stage in order to make corrections or refinements.  He absolutely did not settle for "good enough".  If something needed refinement, he worked on it until it was simply "good."  And he encouraged us to do the same in our own painting, and avoid taking the easy way out, lest we "cheat ourselves."

I could go on and on, but these are some of the main points I got out of the DVD, and overall I would give it 4.9 out of 5 stars, and would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to invest in the pursuit of excellent, high realist portrait painting techniques.  God bless, Happy New Year, and happy painting!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

NOAPS Online International Exhibition Results

Hi friends,

Today I am so thankful and humbled to hear that of my three entries to the NOAPS Online International Exhibition, my painting The Blood of the Martyrs was accepted as a finalist!  To the Lord God be the glory!

Here is the official letter:

Dear Ryan Delgado:
Thank you for entering the 2015 Fall National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS) INTERNATIONAL ON-LINE Exhibition. The participation and quality of work submitted was excellent. NOAPS is pleased to inform you that your entry has been selected for the exhibit. The jurors had a very difficult job of selecting 150 paintings from the over 700 paintings entered.
Many of the paintings entered were EXCEPTIONAL and you can feel very proud and honored to have your work: The Blood of the Martyrs, Oil on canvas, 2014, accepted.
Your paintings will be proudly displayed on the NOAPS website:

As I've mentioned before, joining the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society was already a big step for me, and it took me a year before I thought I was ready to do so.  And even when I did, I still wasn't sure I was good enough.  But now to have this acceptance to my first national competition, I am so thankful and looking forward to the Best of America Exhibition in the coming year.

The Blood of the Martyrs is my dedication to all the brothers and sisters in Christ - men, women, and children all over the world - who refused to deny the name of Jesus even in the face of their own persecution and death.  In Christ, they may lose their lives, but will gain eternity (Philippians 1:21).  They are the blessed disciples who truly understand they have nothing to lose in death.  And so they go willingly, sometimes with the name of Jesus literally and joyfully on their tongues and in their last breath just before they are executed.  There truly is joy in our suffering (Romans 5: 1-3).

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."
~Matthew 16: 24-25

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All Things New

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"

It's amazing how powerful mere words can be.  They can feed your soul, or they can shatter you to the point of harming yourself.  If the words of man can cause such damage, think of the healing power found in the words of the Almighty.  Words such as,

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:6)

Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

She is worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10)

I wish I could say to every young soul who ever felt so worthless as to hurt herself what she is truly worth in the eyes of her Creator.  The One who knew her name long before He breathed the universe into existence.  That she is worth more than rubies.  She is worth more than she could ever imagine.

She is simply worth more than words can say.  She is worth the life of God's Son.

All Things New (Revelation 21: 4-5)
oil on linen
36x24 inches

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Every Knee Will Bow

Hi friends,

Today I finished up the latest piece for my God-Breathed series, and after about 3 weeks of work, I'm happy to reveal the results.  This one's called "Every Knee."

Every Knee (Philippians 2: 5-11)
oil on canvas
40x30 inches
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
but made Himself nothing, 
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name above every name, 
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and under the earth, 
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Every single one of us will face our day of judgment before God.  It is certain that whether we believe in Jesus as Lord or not, we will ALL ultimately bow and confess that He is Lord (Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11).  Not a single one of us knows when it will happen.  We don't know when that day will come, but all I know is that I want to be ready.  I want to be able to stand before God with the comfort of knowing that Jesus owns me, and He was Lord of my life on earth, as He will be Lord of my eternal life in heaven.

That is a reality we can all have, simply by confessing we cannot live without Him, and that we need Him every hour.  The pride of living for ourselves is a small price to pay for an eternal life in Paradise.

Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

News from the Studio 12/2/15

Greetings friends, in the name of Christ.

It's about time for some updates from El Estudio Delgado.  So here we go:

I am still working on this series that I'm calling "God Breathed".  I haven't decided on how many pieces I will do, but I'm currently working on the 8th in the series to be titled Every Knee.  This is the largest of them all, and I'm working in the traditional manner of building up color in layers of glazing and scumbling.  So it will be a while before it's finished, but in the meantime, I'm working through a few other ideas and deciding how I want to go about work on the next one.  Here is the latest in-progress picture of the current one:

As I announced earlier, I am a new member of the National Oil and Acrylic Painters' Society, and I recently went ahead and took my first leap as a member by entering the latest Online International Competition.  Basically, it's a completely virtual exhibition, and I entered 3 paintings (well, digital pictures of my paintings).  I will be finding out later this month if any of my pieces made the final cut, which would be an honor in itself.  One of the paintings I entered is my favorite out of the "Convicted" series, called More Than This.

More Than This
oil on panel
10x8 inches
For those interested in seeing my work in person, I am still showing as part of a group exhibition at Got Art Gallery in Lee's Summit for the Summit Art Winter Exhibition.  That show will be up through the rest of the year, and will be coming down January 3rd.  
I am also still showing at Jones Gallery in the Crossroads, in downtown Kansas City.  The next First Friday opening is coming up this week, December 4th from 5-9pm at the Gallery, 1717 Walnut.  

That's about all the news for now.  But check back again very soon for more!