Howdy – Portrait Painting Tips from Los Angeles Gallery of Art K.L. Britton

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Howdy

Oil on Panel 8″x8″

Available at Flower Pepper Gallery 

So this was an interesting small portrait I wanted to do because, as you may know, I am a Southwestern type, and I love Western Art.  I grew up in Arizona, which had a huge influence on me as I was surrounded with traditional realism and fantasy combined.  When the rest of the art world went modern, Western art stayed strong, depicting gorgeous images of desert landscapes, horses and cowboys, Native Americans, and so many other wonders of historical and modern times in the West.

Growing up, my home was full of artwork, from a detailed landscape with lightning, to some fun plein air paintings in the bathroom, and colorful coyotes in a bedroom, art has influenced my life forever.  I stared at paintings for hours, picking out details I’d never seen before or simply wanted to appreciate one more time.  I plan to enter more into the world of Western art, because it’s so much in my blood.

Thank you for reading.

Sean Cheetham Day Two – Portrait Painting Tips from K.L. Britton

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The finished painting!

 

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Here is step one.  Day two was almost completely painting, with Sean walking around to help individual students with their issues, instead of simply demonstrating.  This is great for most people, because it gets from general, to what am I doing right?  I know I wrote this about yesterday, but it was VERY tough for me to work from dark to light and paint as I put down, I usually block in my lights and darks and then work into them, so it was a struggle!

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Here is with the shadow side of the cheek, not even completed.  I probably could have ended up spending 10 hours on this, frankly, because it was such a challenge.

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One of the main takeaways I got from the workshop was to create huge piles of your lights, darks, and for each area.  I did a huge background tone, and worked all my paint into it.  I did a huge pile of shadow face, and I worked into it.  Awesomely, I could have worked even further into it after I was done, simply because I’d mixed so much.  Same goes with lights, and this was invaluable for me to learn.  I usually paint very thin and end up spending a lot of time re-mixing a colour instead of painting.

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The finished product with some thumb shadow 😀  I am pleased.  It’s quite small, only 9×12, but it took the whole time to finish AND with a migraine the second day.

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Here is my set up as I tried to see what issues I had.  There is Natalia Fabia’s setup next to mine.

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Me and Natalia’s work in progress

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My awesome new friend Marian made this gorgeous painting on the right in such a short amount of time!  It was a very large canvas and so exciting to see her progress as we went along.

I’m glad to answer any questions you might have about the workshop, feel free to leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

Sean Cheetham Painting Day One and Art Tips by K.L. Britton Art

Over Cinco de Mayo weekend, I had the pleasure of painting with Sean Cheetham at his workshop.  I knew I’d be integrating this information into my painting and drawing classes at Los Angeles Academy of Art, so I wrote down detailed notes and got as much feedback as possible.

I’m going to go ahead and present it photo by photo:

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This was the biggest struggle for me in this painting.  If you’ve seen my previous painting posts, you know that I block in large areas of mid-tone first, and then work in from there, on top of an under-drawing.  The way Sean showed his painting was with very little drawing, and absolutely no lay in.  He went straight for each shadow area and light area, starting with the darks so he could get that rich, gorgeous contrast he is known for.  Here you can also see that I had my panel toned for cool light – the warmth would show in the shadows and be covered in the lights.  Unfortunately the model was under a warm light, so I switched plans on day two.  The Edge Pro Gear was well loved and I’m sure a couple people bought it after seeing how convenient it was for me 🙂

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This was very challenging for me, particularly because Sean mixes his paints on his palette, and puts them straight on the panel as is.  I am used to working in the mixes on my panel – I can put straight cad red on the panel itself, and blend it with my huge areas of light and dark to get what I want.  In this case, I had to know what it would look like on the panel before even adding the brush stroke.  I was sweating!  More because it was 90 degrees, though.

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Here is a crop of my finished work.  One thing I started to look at more was also the brush strokes.  I really love the one light indicator under his chin, it is a confident, deliberate stroke that I planned in advance, instead of just painting it in.

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Sean’s painting.

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More on that.

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We had amazing artists in the course, including Natalia Fabia, who just won an award at Portrait Society of America, and Jeffrey Watts, as well as Erik Gist and Ryan Heitman, all from Watts Atelier down south.

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Here is a selection of Sean’s work.

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I’m a fantasty and RPG addict, so of course I had a close up of this one.

That’s all you get for day one, but day two is coming next 😀

Thanks for reading.

Process Part One – Painting the Portrait by K.L. Britton Los Angeles Artist

These past two days I’ve been working on a more detailed portrait, so I thought it would be fun to document the process to some extent.  I know I’ve previously written about the drawing I did to prepare for this, and watch as all of my predictions come true (the same problems I had with the drawing, I have with the painting!)

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

I do an under-drawing first.  You can find several examples of under-drawings farther back in my blog. Then in this case, I wanted to start with huge areas of wet paint to work into.  In this picture, I’ve blocked in only my light areas.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

With the shadows blocked in.  Notice that in the first picture, my model looks like he has quite a warm skin tone, but as I add the warm shadows, you can see that the skin is actually on the gray side.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

Adding more depth here.  One trouble I run into is that when I do the cool lighting, the shadows should be generally “warm.”  However, often my warmer tones don’t get quite dark enough to really show my form.  Here I’ve utilized mixing my favorite warm shadow colour, burnt sienna, with ivory black, which is a cool black often used to mix blues.  The burnt sienna disappears into the black, however the eye can tell that it’s there and it’s correct.

How to Paint Skintones by K.L. Britton Los Angeles artist and teacher

Last night I started working more closely on the features, starting in with a smaller paintbrush than one I used for my large block ins.  Buy some large paintbrushes for your big areas and use them as long as you can – this helps you get that initial paint on the canvas that you can then paint the details into, and it also helps you break each shape down into the largest, most simple form you can.  Take a look at the eyes I blocked in at the top – those are most definitely not detailed!  However, as I work on this tonight and tomorrow, you will see the progress quite easily and you will see where I add details later.

In this final picture you can see that I moved the neck in a bit too far – this was a problem I also had with the drawing!  Most of the other parts of this painting are correct more or less, because the width of the face was addressed in my drawing and I went out of my way to make sure it was correct on my canvas before putting it down – but apparently I got carried away around the neck.  Take the time to put in your shapes correctly – it’s worth it!

Part two coming soon!

 

Open Studio at Situ Art Academy – AllaPrima Portrait by K.L. Britton Los Angeles

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On Sunday I began taking a class at Situ Art Academy in Covina.  It’s only a 30 minute drive to and from DTLA / Koreatown where I live, and it’s well worth it.  Before the class is an open studio, every Sunday from 2pm-5pm with a costumed model.  I brought my Edge Pro Gear Sketchbook, however it was a bit small for my efforts.  I painted on a 9x 12 panel, and couldn’t get my paint piles large enough to do enough mixing, so it came out quite dry.  This would be solved with a larger palette.  That’s a great excuse to get the larger setup for myself for Christmas 😉

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In all of my paintings, I like to block in an idea of where the final product will end up, so I can understand the composition.  This one is not what I’m used to, I like lower left to upper right compositions, but with the lighting and hair, I had to do the opposite.

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You can see the struggle here!  I’m trying to paint the face, then the hair, then the collar, and I’m trying to keep them to compare them, but it’s not possible to get much bigger piles on this little baby.  Still the best for anything under 8″ though!  I will try a smaller panel next time (or plop my larger palette on top :D) The open studio was great, there are a ton of master artists painting there, and I always enjoy seeing each person with their own view and depiction of a similar subject.  There was such variety and I was lucky enough to sit behind two extremely creative guys who painted beautiful and exotic depictions of our gorgeous model.  Looking forward to next week at Situ Art Academy!

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Thanks for reading!

What I do in my Spare Time – Daily Portrait Art Tips by K.L. Britton Los Angeles

Every now and then I get an idea that I want to do a painting that challenges me.  Sometimes it’s a still life, sometimes a figure, sometimes a portrait, and I know it’s going to take a bit longer to get everything in the right place than usual.  One such is this portrait.

When we paint someone or something we know, we tend to fill in the blanks or make guesses based on what we “know” about that person or thing.  For example, I could say I know that this portrait’s eyebrows go at an upward angle with little curve, however when we’re painting or drawing, it’s really essential to let go of all of those pre-conceived notions.  While you may think oranges are round, they’re a series of angles that form a not-perfectly-circular form.

For these kinds of challenges, where I know in advance I will be possibly messing up – I do a sketch.  This isn’t really a “drawing” drawing, it’s more of a quick idea with only as much detail as I need to figure out what challenges I will face when I actually paint.  In this case, I had started the face too wide, the shadows too far from the center of the face.  It’s these kinds of mistakes I would run into when painting, but at that time I may not be able to put my finger on what’s wrong.  Since drawing is the foundation of painting, it’s always best to start with a sketch to check your idea.  Figure out what bothers you before you’ve invested a day into an under-sketch.  Then fix it, and remember to keep an eye on it when painting.  It makes the process much faster!

How to Draw Portraits art tips by contemporary artist K.L. Britton

Here you can see my lay in.  I already corrected the eye on the left that went out too far.

How to Draw Portraits art tips by contemporary artist K.L. Britton

You can see some of the issues have been corrected here – the right (our right, his left!) part of the face has been moved in, the eyes have been corrected, even the nose’s bottom has moved up quite a bit.  All of these are things I’ll look for when I paint.

How to Draw Portraits art tips by contemporary artist K.L. Britton

Here I’ve made several more adjustments.  I’ll probably keep working on this sketch just for fun, but for now, it’s shown me what I need to look out for in the future.

Thank you for reading!