Painting From Life

Last week we had a live painting session at Bill Whitaker’s studio. Leslie, an awesome artist who also apprentices under Bill, asked her lovely sister Camille if she would be willing to model for us, to which Camille kindly agreed (which was super cool of her considering it was during her spring break!).

Here’s my setup.

In about forty minutes I had my portrait blocked in. I oiled my surface using Rublev’s Oleogel medium and used a large bristle filbert and the color Terra Rosa for the initial painting. Later on I added Lead White and a touch of Ivory Black.

I’m painting on an odd, but beautiful surface called ABS. This is one of the primary surfaces Bill uses which was recommended to him years ago by a chemist. ABS has multiple purposes and is most commonly used as light switch and outlet covers. It is both durable and archival, and once it’s cleaned with a mild detergent and sanded down, viola! A gloriously smooth painting surface.

Who would have thought?

Bill remarked that artists tend to be too tentative (guilty), especially when trying new things. Masonite, for example, was invented in the 1920s and ever since has been a primary painting surface for artists, albeit not a very good one. It deteriorates rapidly and swells when exposed to the elements (lesson learned!).

Here is Bill doing a drawing demo for Leslie. Our beautiful Bouguereau model, Camille, is posing on the sofa.

Rather than focus on a linear drawing, I am blocking in shapes of color focusing on accurate value and placement. In this photo I am placing thick daubs of pure Lead White to model the face and give it dimension. I then took a soft dry brush and dabbed at the thick paint to soften the edges. When I paint this is a continuous layering process. Daub. Soften. Repeat.

This is where I ended on the last session Friday. We could have painted longer, but it was Camille’s nap time. Which is a much better way to spend one’s spring break.

Work In Progress

So. New blog. First post.

I really like how brand spanking new blogs, fresh out of the shrink wrap, say, “Hello World!” I like to imagine some random person running outside with their arms wide and declaring to the heavens, “I am unique! Behold, here am I in the Cyberspace Sea sharing my thoughts and skills and overall awesomeness.” Just like everybody else with a blog.


Or I suppose this could just be the cool way of staying in touch with the family and friends I left back in Ohio. Especially my artsy friends. Shout outs to David Shankland, Heath Bennett, Robyn Helsel, Dorenda Watson and Batman, and my favoritest art student ever, Nicholas Bastaja! You have all helped shape me as an artist and I miss you very much.

If you are not from Ohio, that’s cool. And welcome! I moved to Utah a few months ago to apprentice under the incredible master artist William Whitaker. Through this blog it is my goal to record my artistic experiences (snore) and maybe some other stuff too (I recently took up rock climbing since, you know, I now live in the mountains and all. So maybe I’ll write about that).

Here’s a work in progress shot of one of my recent projects.

This painting is my first experience using Lead White. Before I’ve only ever used Titanium or Zinc. Each white has different qualities. Titanium, for instance, is very opaque while Lead is very transparent, allowing the underneath layers of paint to show through and giving the portrait a luminous quality. Lead White, however, looks horrible in photographs. I’ll try to do a more extensive post on the different whites in the future.