Painting of Male Nude Couple Kawai and Sam: “Gay Nude Beach”

Posted: September 27, 2008 in 2008, All Posts 2007-2010, Paintings
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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Here's the photo of Kawai and Sam I began with.


A lot of the work I do as an artist involves making rough sketches. What I usually do is sit down at my drawing table, which is next to the computer,and bring up the photos from a recent photo shoot. I have a nice big screen so it’s pleasant to sit there and draw from the image on the screen. And I can zoom in or out for details, etc. This is how I maintain my skills, and expand them. It’s also one of the ways I generate ideas for new paintings. So the other day I was drawing from the pool shots of Kawai and Sam, and came across an image I really liked, of the two of them lying next to each other on beach towels.


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Above is the first color sketch for the proposed painting (click on the image to see this item on my website). I liked everything about the image except the background, so in the first sketch I did I exchanged the rock wall and the pavement for a simple patch of grass and some blue sky. As you can see, I also began simplifying and stylizing the faces and bodies of the figures.

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Above is the second sketch (click on image to see item on my website), this time just in black-and-white, where I refined the faces and bodies somewhat, and tried a similar background, but this time with a few palm trees at the right. By now I was deciding this would make an interesting painting.

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Here’s the third and final preparatory sketch for the painting. In this one I took things a step further. I continued to refine the figures, experimented some more with the background, and added color. By now I felt ready to begin the painting.

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To enlarge the rough sketch and transfer it to canvas, I first scanned it, then opened it in Photoshop, and using my digital projector, projected it onto a piece of canvas I’d tacked up on my workboard. Then I traced it with pencil, except for the background. As you can see from this photograph, I found some old photos I’d taken of Queen’s Surf (a beach in Honolulu near where I live) and decided to use those as reference for the background. I drew the background freehand. Then, now that I’d completed the pencil drawing on canvas, I took some black acrylic paint and a #2 Round acrylic-painting brush and painted all the lines. After letting that dry, I painted a thin earth-brown wash over the whole painting.

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Then the fun began! I say it’s fun, but it’s also one of the scariest parts of making a painting. I can usually tell pretty quickly, once I begin laying in the colors, whether or not a painting is going to work. If there’s no magic in the first half-hour of adding color to painting, the prognosis is not good. Fortunately in this case, I started having a good time right away. Putting a big splash of sky blue on Kawai’s shoulder was just the bold, ballsy move I needed to get things going.

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Here the colors are beginning to define themselves. I continued painting, using pretty naturalistic colors—well, maybe a bit more vivid than real life!—and letting the colors wander. By that I mean I did something you learn not to do when you’re a kid coloring in a coloring book—I made sure NOT to stay in the lines. I don’t know why I enjoy this approach so much, but for me it gives a painting a certain energy, and even a sense of humor, that it just wouldn’t have if the colors were all nicely contained. Maybe it has something to do with what I have learned (and also sense intuitively) about the physics of the world we live in: edges and separations are illusions we project to give us a sense of order. But in reality there are no separations, it’s all connected and it’s all one. So of course the color from the palm trees would bleed into the sky, and vice versa! And of course your body would pick up the color of the sky and the sand around you. Then again, maybe I am just such a rebellious type that I like not staying in the lines.

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Then it was just a matter of finishing it. Which meant completing the still-unpainted areas. I don’t want you to think it’s just a matter of splashing some paint on and standing back, though. Because I began by painting all those black lines and getting them just the way I want them, I have to be careful when I’m filling in the colors to not cover up the black lines. Or cover them in a way that enhances them without destroying them. So it’s a bit tedious and labor-intensive. But worth it. I’m very pleased with the final result, which you see above (click on the image to see it on my website: I’ve titled it “Gay Nude Beach.”

Comments
  1. dave pop! says:

    I loved this painting so much, i don’t know if it will inspire me to do more myself or just give up as what else can I do now? Of corse i won’t give up, but I just had to say, love the drawing style and the colours, especially the blue.Thanks for sharing the process too. Dave

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