I've stressed this before, but it really is imperative to work from life. Even a 10 second sketch from life will have more magic than a finished painting from a digital photo. I emphasize this in my classes and I will always tell everyone how important it is. There's really no way to put it into words. It's like listening to live music Vs. listening to through other means. I also feel way more proud of my work when I work from life.
I've been back and forth about having an Instagram for a long time now. I used to have a fairly successful commission business on Instagram over this past year and summer. I always ended up feeling very ambivalent about it all because I love sharing my artwork and doing commissions, but I also feel very insincere about shoving my paintings into people's faces. I'm more of a private person and I enjoy growing personal connections. All in all I'll always have this website, I'll always share my artwork and my thoughts, but I may not always have an instagram. I also have some personal things that I need to figure out about myself and I can't pretend to be something that I'm not.
I read an article a while ago about some guy who said how bad it is that people are always on their phones on social media and people don't seem to be able to sit alone with their thoughts nowadays. And blah, blah, blah about attention spans and whatever. And then at the end of the article, this author says to make sure to follow him on a bunch of social media sites. That to me is ironic, hilarious and sad. So I will never shame anyone on social media, because it's an amazing tool for connecting with friends and sharing your thoughts. And I really enjoy connecting with my old friends and seeing what they're up to. But there's nothing like seeing someone in person or bumping into someone by accident whom you haven't seen in years.
I want to share a final story that relates how I feel about this feeling of connecting with people in real life. I might have written about this before, but I had a tour of an art school in New York a while ago because I was thinking about doing a masters program there. While I was on the tour, I saw a painting hanging on a wall and recognized the style of it. I saw the name labeled by it and realized it was a dear friend of mine who I hadn't seen in years.
I asked the tour guide if his studio was in the school and she said yes. We stopped by his studio space, but he wasn't there so I left a note giving my information. And then someone else said that my long lost friend might be in the basement working on a sculpture. At this point, I had lost all interest in the tour and I just wanted to see my friend. We went to the basement, but he wasn't there again. But then I turned around to leave and there he was! This, to me, was real life magic and I'll never forget it. Just my thoughts on it all, so follow me if you'd like @easantoli
I always prefer to work on a toned canvas instead of white and I wanted to share what I think is the easiest method for toning canvas. The way I do it now is that I take a small amount of ivory black on a cotton rag and add a touch of Gamsol and then I simple rub it gently with circular motions into the canvas. It's very simple and the best part is that it dries very quickly. I also like the texture that the rag makes on the surface to give it a little character so it's not a perfectly flat tone.
You can tone your canvas any color that you like, I prefer to use ivory black to make a cool gray, but you could also use burnt umber, raw umber and burnt sienna as some other options. I recommend using an earth tone because they're neutral, they dry fairly quickly and they're very stable pigments.
Next time you paint, test out some canvas tones!
I finished up this memorial portrait and I'm very excited to give it to my patron. The portrait progressed very smoothly and I really enjoyed working on it. I really tried my best to capture a feeling of life and spirit in this piece.
As a side note on technique, I had some thoughts about oiling out, which is the application of a thin layer of oil before you begin to paint to bring out sunken colors. I recently read that oiling out could provide some problems for the longevity of your painting; the problems could arise from the fact that oil yellows with age and there's no way of removing old oil, unlike an old varnish. I'm always concerned about the longevity of my paintings and thus, I will not be oiling out in the future. I used to think it was necessary in order to ease my paint strokes, but that isn't true anyway. Painting is an endless mystery.
Have a nice evening everyone--