LETS LOOK AT TWO OF YOUR PAINTINGS: 'JUNE'S VIVIFICATION' AND 'THE BRIBE.' CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH SOME OF THE TECHNIQUES USED IN EACH?
June’s Vivification (commonly called my Blue Dress painting), is a life-size, seven-foot-tall painting of a young woman in a blue dress reaching out to a swirl of flowers. In most reproductions, the face and figure appear soft and blended while the surrounding elements dissipate into abstraction. In reality, not much in the painting is blended at all. The technique used that best describes it is tiling (laying down pieces of paint next to each other). The pieces of paint on the face and figure are right next to each other, and the color/value transitions are carefully mixed, so the face looks very smooth with little to no blending. The further from the face and figure, the farther apart the tiles and bigger the brush, creating a looser look. This technique relies on careful observation and delicate color mixing, and ultimately helps shift the perception of the painting toward its aesthetic, rather than to specifically elevate the narrative.
'The Bribe', however, incorporates a variety of techniques for a variety of different purposes. The depth of the scene is broken into four fields (like the depth of field of a camera). The paint application is significantly more open with thin paint films used in the closest and furthest fields, while the two middle fields (incorporating the figures) are painted more solidly with layered paint built up and textured. This is a subtle use of technique that, while viewing the painting in person, can have an influence on what is believed to be “more in focus”. This was a technique that some naturalist painters, like Emile Friant, used to help establish greater depth of field. The parts in much greater focus, like the belly of the mother, are built up with multiple layers, utilizing a special paint (stack lead white) to create Rembrandt-like textural paint buildup suggesting greater volume. This is also used to create interesting elements like stretch marks. To boost the color beyond the limits of body paint, even glazing was used in the top right to shift and enhance the color of the lamp while keeping the value very light. Overall, the tricky part is integrating techniques that were developed over the span of 450 years into a painting without them looking out of place or distracting. One area that viewers can look to in this particular painting is the orange stuffed animal on the book case. As the foreshortening pushes it from the third field of depth to the fourth, the paint application moves from impasto to become loose and broken.
YOU'VE DESCRIBED YOUR TEACHING DVD'S AS THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE DIGITAL COURSES CATALOGING THE ATELIER APPROACH. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS A BIT FURTHER?
When my atelier class structure was very rigid (and some classes would only come once per year), I started filming the lectures and demonstrations for students that had to miss class for whatever reason. Over time, visitors to the studio continued to express interest in the videos and to encourage me to offer them to the public. I then embarked on a two-year project to film, narrate, and organize all the videos to be understood by someone not enrolled in the atelier, wanting to pursue a classical education in a structured format. I wrote two textbooks (one to accompany the drawing videos, and one for the painting videos), that are information-dense and include demonstrations, curriculums, and workbooks. We put these into a box set with a high-resolution catalog of prints (from the demonstrations), and released them as the Classical Drawing Bundle and the Classical Painting Bundle.
Not only do the bundles include 45 demonstrations, 32 lectures, and 44 assignment introductions detailing the curriculum of a traditional atelier, I also used the painting videos as an opportunity to describe the variety of techniques I have studied and utilize in my painting. Instead of 23 videos showing the same way to paint something, they explore glazing, direct painting, scraping and layering, and more. The textbook acts as a step-by-step guide for the videos and includes over a dozen more step-by-steps. Collectively, the Classical Drawing Bundle and the Classical Painting Bundle represent the most comprehensive, organized, representational virtual art school.
WHAT ARE YOUR "GO TO" ART SUPPLIES?
I have to admit, my large u.go Pochade Box is amazing. I have even started to use it inside the studio as well as traveling. I like to use my tripod to get the palette right in front of the area I’m painting when working on larger pieces (and I usually put my color study on the panel mount). I’ve been using it for almost a year now, and it has stood up to daily abuse like a champ. I love how insanely light it is, and the magnets are awesome (adjusting the canvas holder is so much easier than boxes I’ve used in the past). My favorite part might be the palette that slides in and out for cleaning, but it’s hard to pick- I like all the features. I guess I’m just a sucker for good design.
I prefer Rosemary Brushes to paint with – they are super well-built and they have a few brushes (like the extra-long comber) that are wonder brushes that seem to do everything to achieve a variety of marks.
The paints I’m in love with are by Michael Harding. They have no filler, have amazing tint power, seem to last forever before a tube runs out, and include a mind-boggling gorgeous range of color.
I’ve been using Artefex panels lately. They use aluminum composite panels to mount their linen to, which I love for its durability and resistance to warping.