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Old 12-16-2007, 04:21 PM   #11
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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Justin,
you certainly hit a sore dilemma of ours: to what extend shall we benefit from technical means?

I say that we shall use whatever means helps us to obtain our goals.

So what is our goals then?

I can only speak for my self of cause.

My goal is to express something painterly coherent, which means that the marks of the brush is the words that tell the story, I don't paint everything in front of me but choose some of the parts from my motif.

I may begin a painting by squaring up and transferring a motif taken from a photo, to get a certain composition. But once I start painting I will simplify, or summarize the elements in an attempt to make the painting live through the brushstrokes....the brush strokes tell the story. Does that make sense ?

I sacrifice the original picture and make my own story.

My story is not depending on the edges, values or colors of my motif, but is, of cause, inspired from it. That is how I paint even if I am painting from a photo or from life.

I admire the way that you answer to the critic of ( one of ) your methods, I think that it is important to focus on the matter and not take everything too personally.

A smile is the shortest distance between people.
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Old 12-16-2007, 04:58 PM   #12
Richard Bingham Richard Bingham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Snodgrass
. . . I was not seeking praise with my post. . . . there is a purpose and a place for such a method. [projection] . . .
Justin, the detail and presentation of your methods on your website belie this. Having painted a recognizable, workmanlike image, you are justifiably happy with the result. Good for you.

To instruct and/or delineate methods of working presupposes mastery. As you are a recent graduate with a baccalaureate, this is at best, premature, especially when you enter a forum where not only have a fair number of the participants been seriously dedicated to the practice and study painting for long years, but many are recognized, respected masters of national and international reputation.

Does painting from projections have a purpose and a place? Certainly. Graduates of trade schools where the skills apropos to the sign and display industry are taught become eminently capable at it within six months to a year, generally on a scale ten times or more of your 4'x4' painting. Most do not labor under the illusion that they are creating timeless art.

It's unfortunate you point to Leonardo's non-accomplishment of bloviating over a war machine that was never built. His dilettantism and puffery were his undoing on several occasions, when he had to flee the wrath of an unforgiving warlord for his non-performance.

Speaking of great masters, it's incredible how often a death-bed regret that life should end just when "understanding" of painting was within grasp is recounted. The biographies of Titian, Michelangelo, Tiepolo. Renoir and others include such, although all lived to ripe old ages. There's a moral for all of us in that.

Read, listen, converse, study hard and work harder, and you'll do great things if painting is your muse. God bless your youth and enthusiasm, but please, leave your ego at the door.
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Old 12-17-2007, 12:49 AM   #13
Justin Snodgrass Justin Snodgrass is offline
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Mischa,

No harm done. It is probably best if we end it at that.


Thanks,

Justin
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Old 12-17-2007, 06:34 AM   #14
Justin Snodgrass Justin Snodgrass is offline
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Allan,

Thank you for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Rahbek
My goal is to express something painterly coherent, which means that the marks of the brush is the words that tell the story, I don't paint everything in front of me but choose some of the parts from my motif.

I may begin a painting by squaring up and transferring a motif taken from a photo, to get a certain composition. But once I start painting I will simplify, or summarize the elements in an attempt to make the painting live through the brushstrokes....the brush strokes tell the story. Does that make sense ?

I sacrifice the original picture and make my own story.
I think I see where you are coming from with this description. This is something that I admire about art and its creator. Perhaps it can be compared to being able to see the world through the "mind's eye" of the artist. Would you say that you take those things from an image (or set of images) that "dazzle" your mind and then, through painting, try and make them "dazzle" for others as well? This is a very interesting concept to me.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Rahbek
A smile is the shortest distance between people.
Very true, and a challenge to accomplish through wires and waves!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Bingham
Justin, the detail and presentation of your methods on your website belie this. Having painted a recognizable, workmanlike image, you are justifiably happy with the result. Good for you.

To instruct and/or delineate methods of working presupposes mastery. As you are a recent graduate with a baccalaureate, this is at best, premature, especially when you enter a forum where not only have a fair number of the participants been seriously dedicated to the practice and study painting for long years, but many are recognized, respected masters of national and international reputation.
I spent a good portion of the last year building a depth-of-field lens adapter for my digital video camera. The majority of that time was spent on-line, studying text and images posted by others that have built the same. Once I had completed the lens adapter, I posted images and a detailed write-up of the process. This was not done as a statement of my mastery of the process. It was a way of sharing what I had learned and served as a means to receive feedback. Am I proud of something that I create? Absolutely! Does being proud or sharing the way in which I have created something make me a self proclaimed master? No.


Now, if the description of my process would have been titled, "How to Paint Oil Portraits", then yes, that would have been premature. But saying, "here is how I currently paint portraits" and asking for advise and input seems appropriate and timely (especially in the presence of masters). The forum's description states: " A Forum for Professional Portrait Painters and Serious Students". I can see that there is a wealth of knowledge here, so I truly hope that this statement is the case.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Bingham
Speaking of great masters, it's incredible how often a death-bed regret that life should end just when "understanding" of painting was within grasp is recounted. The biographies of Titian, Michelangelo, Tiepolo. Renoir and others include such, although all lived to ripe old ages. There's a moral for all of us in that.
Very interesting. It seems to often be the case with "understanding" the purpose of life as well. Strange how these two (art and life) have such similarities. They can both be acknowledged, but not clearly defined. It also seems that both can never fully be mastered, in that each seems to be effected by the cycle of change promoting change.


Among the biographies that you have listed, do you know if there is one that most touches on the point that you have made. I just might have to make a trip to Barnes and Noble tomorrow with the kids.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Bingham
Read, listen, converse, study hard and work harder, and you'll do great things if painting is your muse.
Advice that I will heed.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Bingham
... but please, leave your ego at the door.
I just hope I didn't trip over any on my way in.



This has become an excellent discussion of the process in question, and I am very grateful for that.

-Justin
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Old 12-17-2007, 07:24 PM   #15
Marvin Mattelson Marvin Mattelson is offline
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When I was in art school learning to be an illustrator we were taught to use a projector. When I traced the photos, It was my natural inclination to trace the shapes. Years later when I began working from life, I naturally went about it the same way, looking for shapes. When I discovered the Bargue plates (long before the book came out) I was amazed to see that mine was the same basic method as the academic approach used in the 19th Century.

Once I get my shapes down I find the next step for me is to garner an understanding from a structural point of view. Just getting the right part in the right place isn't really enough to convey understanding, which is the commonality I see in the work of all great masters.

I think there are many ways to skin a cat. Some people who eschew working from photos copy drawings. To me, both can effectively serve to train the eye. I think what you are doing is a valid start but we all have have a long path to traverse if painting mastery is our goal.
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:24 PM   #16
Julie Gerleman Julie Gerleman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin Mattelson

I think there are many ways to skin a cat. Some people who eschew working from photos copy drawings. To me, both can effectively serve to train the eye. I think what you are doing is a valid start but we all have have a long path to traverse if painting mastery is our goal.
This is a good observation, Marvin. I've been thinking about this thread ever since it was posted, trying to figure out how I feel about the issue of using a projector since I'm so enjoying working from life (yup, you guessed it; lots of time on my hands!) In school we too used a projector for one of our earlier drawing projects and although I don't feel compelled to use that technique at this point, in retrospect that was an immensely valuable experience in learning to see. Mostly because it forces your brain from thinking about WHAT something is ("this is an eye") to observing HOW something is put together ("this is a shape, that fits into this shape, that relates to that shape").
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Old 12-17-2007, 10:40 PM   #17
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Justin.

I have never used projecting as a tool, but back in the late'60s and early '70s i taught myself to paint by copying photos. I've never tried to hide this fact. I simply knew no one who offered instruction in traditional methods of oil panting (i.e. color mixing, etc) and I was impatient to learn. I was a teenager at the time. I actually learned quite a lot about color mixing this way, so I can honestly say it was of some use. Since then, I have completely re-learned how to see color by working from life. However, I still use photos in my work. Often I paint landscape studies on site, take photos, too, and use both to develop very large paintings in my studio. I do not copy photos any more, but I use all the information I have to create art that says what I want to say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Carroll
Q. Why would a "real" artist bring a camera and take pictures instead of sketching?

A. It's easier than drawing.,
I am not known for taking the easy road with art. There are other reasons for bringing a camera and taking pictures, as I have just explained. Photos give some very useful information, and digital photos, especially, can be very useful when making decisions about edges and distance. For the correct color I always refer to my oil sketches, but the color of dgital photos is pretty darn good much of the time if you know what a thing really looks like and can remember to put the correct amount of "punch" in the right places. I do the same thing when I paint large portraits. A pencil sketch would not give me the same information as a digital photo.

Real artists use all kinds of methods and references. Personally, Justin, I would encourage you to continue drawing from life. But I also think the large-scale portrait that you posted would be awfully hard to sketch out accurately from life. You would need a very long arm to get far enough away from the canvas. A grid would serve the same purpose as projection and allow for a lot of freehand drawing, especially if the grid is large. If you worked life-size, you could practice sketching out the figure freehand.

I want to say that I like your color and values. Your portrait does not look ameturish. I also think the composition is original and balanced, and you have not cluttered the composition with a lot of extraneous elements. Only the essentials are there and they work very well.
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Old 12-19-2007, 01:55 AM   #18
John Reidy John Reidy is offline
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I'm way over my head here compared to those who have already posted but I felt I did have something to offer.

In the larger scope, we have all seen traced drawings and can usually spot one a mile away. They tend to lack that certain spark that a "well drawn" piece has.

I have tried my hand at using the projector, experimenting with it's allure of a shortcut to capturing a drawing. Whenever I did I always had to abandon the tracing at some point because it became false and limiting.

However, I will employ the projector on large canvases but only as a quick guide to the very largest shapes. I always go back on my drawing experience to create the real drawing that I will utilize for my painting.

Other times I employ the wash-in, which coflicts with any other drawing method I know of.
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:28 AM   #19
Justin Snodgrass Justin Snodgrass is offline
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Thank you all so much for sharing such great replies. This thread has turned out to be much more than I had expected (in a great way).


I took 6 life drawing classes while getting my degree and had the opportunity to create two sculptures from live models. I have spent a fair amount of time completing studies from magazines and from several of Burne Hogarth's books. All of which have inherently taught me to work from basic shapes and from simple to complex. The good news is that I think I have created a good starting point for myself.


I know that my eyes are keen and that there is more talent inside, but the fact remains that I have only touched on the training and experience that I want and need.


I have no qualms with using a projector to create, any more than I do using a welder to piece together a sculpture. I have no less respect for the work of Chuck Close knowing that he used a small celled grid. In my opinion, one of the biggest questions that should be asked of a work of art is whether or not it touches the viewer(s). This of course raises many questions as to the definition of "art" (something that simply cannot be accurately defined).


I remember watching one of my professors give a demonstration on painting skin tones. She had a student sit in front of her and then immediately starting mixing and painting as she talked. In less than 20 minutes she had amazingly recreated the young man's face. She did this with several other students and with the same amazing results. Come to find out, she had been a portrait painter for 20 years. She completed the painting via pure instinct and without thought or care. I remember thinking to myself, "THAT, is what I want to be able to do". This thread has brought me back to that feeling and re-sparked that same flame.


I honestly cannot pinpoint why this drive exists. Can art be created from grids, photos, or projectors and still move a viewer. I say yes! The question that I cannot seem to answer for myself is why that desire still exists within me to have the same ability displayed by my professor and her 20 minute portraits. Is it so I can "say" that I can do it? Is it because the most typical route to success is long and challenging? Is it because of the unexplainable joy that comes from drawing from life? I can't answer these questions at this point. I just know that the drive is there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexandra Tyng
Real artists use all kinds of methods and references. Personally, Justin, I would encourage you to continue drawing from life. But I also think the large-scale portrait that you posted would be awfully hard to sketch out accurately from life. You would need a very long arm to get far enough away from the canvas. A grid would serve the same purpose as projection and allow for a lot of freehand drawing, especially if the grid is large. If you worked life-size, you could practice sketching out the figure freehand.

This is a great point and excellent advice. Thank you. I think that one of the drawbacks of using the projector with large-scale work is that the shapes within the image are so large that the drawing process in somewhat lost in that you must stand within arm's reach of the canvas. The shapes come into play when I start painting and am able to step back and compare the work with the image. I think that using a large celled grid is an excellent idea and would allow me to work out the shapes during the drawing process. This would be much more productive in terms of training my eyes.


This discussion has stirred up so much in me. I have much to think about as to my next step. I will be buying Charles Bargue Et Jean-Leon Gerome: Drawing Course as well as Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice. I have also started looking into taking some more life drawing classes and finding an open studio in my area.


Again, thank you all so much!
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:19 PM   #20
Chris Kolupski Chris Kolupski is offline
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Justin, boy you hit a nerve! You remind me of me during the 1999 ASOPA portrait festival when I innocently marched up to the microphone and asked the panel on stage if it was alright to use an opaque projector. Dead silence. They himmed and hawed uncomfortably while I stood there clueless. Sandon finally mumbled something about an opaque projector being a crutch that could be overrelied upon and would stifle my development. Well, I used my opaque projector anyway, but Sandon was right. It became a crutch. In 2002 I attended a week of Incaminati http://www.studioincamminati.org That was the end of my opaque projector.

Justin, there is simply more joy and excitement from painting from life. There are also many color and value discoveries to be made that will not be made by copying from photographs. My suggestion: have some friends over for dinner every month with the following proviso: You cook for them and they sit two hours for you to paint. Give them a glass of wine after the first hour and maybe they'll sit for three. I did this and it turned into a business- without the dinner and wine. I still use photographs for traditional portraits, but the jobs I favor are the faster portrait sketches from life.

When you work from photographs try this instead of the projector: squint at the photo just as you would a live model. Place the photo on a music stand nearer to your face than the more distant canvas. Paint with your arm extended holding the brush way back from the ferrule, not up close like your pictures show. Start the same way you already do: with a thinned umber. But paint larger tones more freely and flatly, painting over the line. Focus on big angles and geometric shapes, zero in on more precise drawing from a larger view. Check out the student gallery here: http://www.studioincamminati.org/gallery.php -All of it painted from life, and painted very very swiftly.

Happy painting!
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