Posts Tagged ‘male nude painting’


As you’ll remember, if you’ve been reading this blog, my second photo shoot with Jeff took place at a gorgeous location—my friend Doug Smith’s beautifully landscaped tropical pool and garden. (If you don’t remember, read that entry HERE.)

I was thrilled at how many really amazing and beautiful photographs I captured that day. But I found that when I started looking through them for images to paint or draw, I was intimidated! The photographs were so great as photographs that I wasn’t sure that I shouldn’t just leave them alone.

But as I thought about it, I realized I was limiting myself unnecessarily. I was thinking I had a duty to do something realistic before taking off into more stylized, inventive directions. I’ve always had this idea that I have to justify my less realistic work by balancing it with more realistic works. And with all these gorgeous images, I was really feeling that.

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No, this is not one of my paintings. It's a famous work by Matisse called Bathers by a River.

So to give myself strength, I opened a book about Henri Matisse. It takes courage to paint the way he painted, especially back then. I took courage from his story and his paintings. One of my favorite paintings of all time is “Bathers by a River” by Matisse. I decided that would be my inspiration for my first Jeff-at-the-pool painting.

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The photograph I chose to work from is one of Jeff standing by one of the many fountains that adorn the pool. As I said, I could’ve chosen any one of several hundred great shots from that day. But there was something aboout this one that felt a bit like Matisse to me—not sure why. Anyway, that’s the one I chose.

I began sketching. My job was to begin simplifying the forms and shapes—looking for the essence of the image. You can see my progress in the four preparatory sketches shown below. One of the major changes I made was to add a second, invented figure in the pool at the lower right. Another invention was to give the standing figure a vertical staff to hold. These changes were all instinctive. That’s what the sketching process is about for me with a painting like this. I think of stuff, and try it, and see how it looks. If I like the way it looks, and it feels right and fits, I keep it. I don’t necessarily know why I added the second figure, and the staff, I just know they looked right and felt right. I must admit, I like having a bit of mystery in the painting. What’s that staff about? What’s the relationship between the two figures? I don’t know that I could put it into words, but I have a feeling about what is going on.

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The 4th sketch shown was my final sketch. I’d taken it as far as I wanted to go with pencil. It was time to put it on canvas and see what happened.

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The final painting: 'Boys at the Fountain' (click on image to see this item on my website)

I kept the tones muted and somber except for the greens of the foliage and the water streaming down (or up?) above the fountain. The idea of putting white behind the standing figure came to me as I was painting, and it worked. I had a bit of trouble with the water in the pool. I had to repaint it several times before I got it the way I wanted it.

I like the final result. It’s more realistic and less stylized than I intended—not as bold and uncompromising as Matisse’s Bathers painting, certainly, but I like the feeling of it and I like the hint of mystery and intrigue it contains. I call it “Boys at the Fountain.”


Let me warn you ahead of time, this is a longer-than-usual post. But if you’re interested in the real nuts and bolts of how a very realistic painting like this gets done—plus the stuff I had to go through in my own mind to get myself through it—you’ll find it here.

I got the idea to do this painting because lately I’ve been online a lot looking at other artists’ work, especially others who do male nudes, and there were some I saw who were doing really amazingly realistic paintings and really pulling it off. Their technique was mind-boggling. I thought, I could do that.

What I mean is, with a bit of work and focus, I can do that kind of work. But generally I don’t. That’s because every time I look at someone else’s super-realistic painting, I think, Jeez, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that kind of detail. I usually see it as incredibly tedious. And being a realist painter is not my goal in life. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it from time to time, but usually I just don’t go there.

Still, I kept looking at these guys’ work and thinking, I would still like to test myself in this area, because it’s been years since I went down that super-realist road, and I’ve grown and changed and it would be interesting to see how it would be. So I was starting to get excited about the idea.

Then I went looking for a photograph to use as source material, and I came back to my favorites, among them Marcus at Angra Dos Reis—our first photo shoot there. There are still a lot of images in that bunch that have promise, and I found one I really liked.

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However! I began examining the photograph in detail, thinking about what was going to be required of me, and I found a LOT of things I did not want to have to mess with, especially the kind of detail work it takes to make a dripping-wet body realistic. It’s not just more highlights because the body is wet; there are all these incredibly complex patterns of water on skin, droplets, shadows of droplets, reflections WITHIN each tiny droplet, droplet TRAILS that get lighter and darker in incredibly subtle ways, etc., etc.—it’s an incredible thicket of visual complexity.

And that’s not even mentioning the swirling water around the model!

I decided it just wasn’t worth it. I decided there was no way I would be able to maintain my momentum over the amount of time and work it would take to do a highly realistic painting from this photograph.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, a few hours later, I don’t even remember exactly what gave me the idea, but I thought, hey, maybe I could try something like this: paint the whole thing pretty quickly, in a fairly crude, unfinished way, but with all the basic lights and darks and colors in place and fairly accurate as far as they went. It would look finished to someone who wasn’t looking for much detail. THEN, I could go in and, one area at a time, and in a fairly relaxed manner (meaning not a day or two, but weeks), I could refine the surface. I could finish each area to a high degree of precision at my own pace.

Now this was a way of conceptualizing the operation that made me think, maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off.

Because as much as I hate the tedium of doing a lot of detail in a painting, there’s still a real pleasure and reward in really capturing a particularly beautiful piece of visual reality. So I decided to go for it.

Before I proceeded, however, I did something else—I cropped the image. This was partly out of laziness. I didn’t want to have to do all that detail. But the truth is, cropping it made for a better composition and a stronger image overall. So cropping worked for me on a couple of levels.

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I also pumped up the contrast and saturation some (left), then made a copy where I posterized the image (right). This is my usual procedure—using the computer (Photoshop) to give myself different ways of seeing and conceptualizing the image before I even begin painting.

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Now the fun began. I transferred the image to canvas (just doing a pencil outline), then painted over that with a neutral brown wash. While that was drying, I began mixing colors. Then I started the first phase, the crude unfinished painting which would serve as the underpainting for all the detail that was to come later.

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This was fairly undemanding and I did it pretty quickly—maybe 2 or 3 hours—because the whole objective was to keep it simple and just get the basics down so the refinement could begin.

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The next day, I started the refining process. I began with the background on the upper left because it looked the most doable, and because it’s generally better to start at the top and work down so your hand is less likely to smear something under it. Over the next couple of days I brought the painting to the condition shown above: the tree shadows and the shallow water behind Marcus are mostly done, as is the slightly deeper water swirling around him on the right.

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The next 3-4 days were spent on, in this order: Marcus’ face and hair (this turned out to be harder than I anticipated because his face is almost entirely in shadow, plus the whole photograph is in sharp focus except for his face), his right shoulder (on our left), the necklace, and his left shoulder (on our right). You can see the progression in the image above. Let me just say that water droplets on a human body are a real challenge. The problem with water—maybe I should say one of the CHALLENGES that water presents—is the extremely subtle value changes that happen in situations like this. If you make the water trail a little too dark it looks like a scar on the body. Make it a little too light and it vanishes entirely. This is complicated by the fact that acrylics always dry darker. So if you get it right while the paint is wet, in 5 minutes it will be too dark. Then you mix it lighter and try again. And if you haven’t got the shadows of the body itself quite right, then the water will never work. So it can be a real bitch! You can see the first shoulder I did looks okay, but the second one is better, so I’m learning as I go.

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Above you see the condition of the painting about 5 days later. I’ve worked on the chest and abdominal muscles over that time, and there was a lot of painting and repainting. As I’ve continued I’ve gotten better at making the water droplets and trails look realistic, which is a good thing because when you get into the areas where it’s reflected light (the left side of the chest and abs, for instance), the value changes are REALLY subtle. But I’m pleased at the overall look of things so far. And I’m really pleased that my strategy is working: instead of getting burned out on the painting after 2 or 3 days, I’ve been able to come back each day and push it a little farther toward completion. One thing I’ve had to be careful about is keeping track of how each color was mixed. This is more necessary because, given how quickly acrylics dry, to do a painting over several days or weeks requires paints to be remixed several times. I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of this. It’s now been almost 10 days I’ve been working on this painting.

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The final painting: 'Tudo Molhado' (click on image to see this item on my website)

The painting is finally done—two weeks after beginning it. The last 4 days or so were spent working on the legs, the swirling water between the legs, and the big spume of white water gushing around Marcus’ right side. I won’t say I’m 100 percent pleased with the finished work—there are some areas I would like to fix but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure it would be worth it to go in and take the chance of ruining what I’ve accomplished so far. I’m finished with this one, for better or worse. And even with the few areas I wish I’d done better, I look at the painting and overall I think I did a good job. I certainly learned a lot of things that will make my next realistic painting better. Most of all, I’m pleased that I was able to maintain a consistent working pace for a two-week period on a single painting. That’s real stamina, from my point of view, and it’s made me stronger and more confident.

Oh yeah, the title. I’m calling it “Tudo Molhado.” That’s Portuguese and I learned that phrase when I was doing a photo shoot with Eduardo in Rio and I had him get in the shower and get totally wet, then run out into the light outside while he was still dripping. He wasn’t sure he understood, so he said, “Tudo molhado??”— “All wet?”

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After doing a fairly flat, stylized painting (“Tropical City”), I was in the mood for something more loose and painterly. I decided to unleash my creative forces on Marcus, my favorite Brazilian model. I found a great image from my 2nd photo shoot with him in Angra dos Reis. We (myself, 5 of my friends from Hawaii and California, my Brazilian agent Luiz, and two models, Marcus and Sandro) had chartered a boat in Angra, and set out to find a deserted island. When we found it, we unloaded Marcus and Sandro on the beach. One of the things Marcus was doing once we got onto the beach was playing around with one of the oars he’d used to row us over from the big boat. I love this shot of him standing on the beach holding the oar.


First thing I did, as usual, was go into Photoshop to tweak the photograph and make it easier to paint from. The first step was using Levels to heighten the contrast (which also intensifies the colors). This lost a lot of the detail in the foliage inside the shadows, which was fine with me—less stuff to paint, plus less distraction from the model in the final work.

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Next I used Median to soften all the edges. This helps keep me from getting too interested in detail, almost all of which is unnecessary in the type of painting I was going for here. Finally, I used Posterize to cut down the total number of colors and tones in the image. This makes it a lot easier to decide what colors to mix and where to put them. It’s almost like having a paint-by-number diagram. Well, almost.

Next I printed out all the various tweaks of the image so I’d have reference images to work from while painting. At that point it was time to cut out a piece of canvas and tack it up onto my big drawing board (actually it’s an oversize bulletin board, which works perfectly). Then I transferred the image onto the canvas with pencil and covered it all with a purplish-brown wash—my usual procedure. (You probably can’t see it in the images below, but enough of the underdrawing is visible that I have a guide to all the major color areas of the painting.)

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Using the same approach as I used in the previous painting—mixing just two or three colors and then trying them out before going ahead and mixing all the colors I’d use in the whole painting—I mixed some greens and started painting them in. I got a little carried away and took the foliage in the upper left to a high level of finish, but caught myself and began filling in the background. At that point I started mixing some browns and oranges for the fleshtones and began applying them.

At that point it was time to stop for the day. I usually do my best painting work in the mornings, so I stopped and began again the next morning. I used browns and cadmium reds/oranges for most of the body. For the highlights on the body I tried a bit of yellow in the white (see light on Marcus’ back on left-hand image above) but found that a cooler white worked better. Like the previous painting, Tropical City, this was a figure mostly in shadow with some highlights on the upper part of the body. That means the reflected light inside the shadowed part of the body is important. In this case I used some intense cadmium red in some places, cadmium orange in others, for the lightest reflected lights. Not all of the lights and darks make sense anatomically but they work overall so that’s okay with me. Once I had the body mostly done I added the rest of the foliage in the upper right and began painting in the beach area.

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The beach area went pretty fast and next thing I knew the painting was finished! I like that I didn’t get too caught up in detail on this one. It’s loose and has some spontaneity. I also like that the mix-paint-as-you-go principle I experimented with on the previous painting worked pretty well with this one too. Title: “Paddler.”

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The final painting, 'Paddler.' (Click on image to see it on my website.)

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Looking through my photographs of Jeff from our 2009 photo shoot in my apartment in Waikiki, I came across the above image. At first glance it doesn’t seem like much. I mean, as a photograph it’s not great. But as I was looking at it I started to see it as a painting. This happens sometimes. Some element or combination of elements will strike me in a way they haven’t before. In this case I started to see the image as a stylized painting, with a much simpler central figure, and I loved the way the bird of paradise fronds fanned out behind it. I also liked the tropical urban setting. I thought, this could be fun. So I began sketching.

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The sketching went surprisingly quickly. It only took 4 or 5 sketches to get to the final working sketch shown here. I scanned this sketch and used my digital projector to project it onto a medium-sized canvas (about 20″x27″) so I could trace the major shapes in pencil. Then I did finishing work on the pencil sketch before putting a purplish wash over the entire canvas. Once that wash dried, I used a fairly small brush to paint in all the outlines with black paint.

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Now here’s where I diverged from my usual practice. I always spend about 45 minutes mixing colors for a painting before i actually start painting. I like to get it all over with before I start painting. But that’s not necessarily the smartest way to do it. Usually it means that once I actually start applying the paint to the canvas, some colors that looked good on the palette just don’t work in the painting. Then I have to mix new colors that do work, and lots of already-mixed paint doesn’t get used.


This is just a longtime habit, and I don’t even think about it, because I am such a creature of habit. Nevertheless, this time I decided to try something different. I began by mixing the greens (some yellow-green, some blue-green, because I’ve found the cool and warm greens vibrate nicely next to each other). Then, instead of continuing by mixing flesh tones, background colors, sky, floor, etc., I stopped myself and actually began painting. I was surprised how hard it was to actually do that. I had to kind of wrench myself out of my habit-rut and just start painting even though it felt “wrong.” I painted in some of the upper bird of paradise fronds near the top of the painting. Once I’d done that, I started mixing up some fleshtones. Not your typical fleshtones, perhaps; I chose burnt sienna and burnt umber for the darks, without even mixing anything with them (I’m going for pure colors as much as possible these days; the less mixing I have to do the better), and an orange mix for the medium lights on the body. (I mixed the orange from cadmium red light and cadmium yellow, although you can use a cadmium orange for that, if you have it—then I greyed the orange a bit with a tiny bit of ultramarine blue.)


This continued to be a divergence from my usual tactics. Rather than trying to mix all the fleshtones before applying them to the canvas, I went ahead and started applying the browns and orange I had to see how they worked. They seemed to be working pretty well but I found I had to create a brighter orange and a duller orange to really make the body pop. As I worked I found I needed an even lighter orange (actually just cadmium-red medium and white) for the lightest areas of the reflected light on the body. For the hottest light from the sun hitting the right side of the face and upper body I used both a yellowish-white (cadmium yellow and yellow oxide) and an orangeish-white.

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By now I had enough color on the canvas that I could mix a color for the low wall behind the figure. I kept the basic pink from the photograph but tweaked it a bit so it went well with the colors around it. It’s basically alizarin crimson with yellow oxide and ultramarine blue. (This is a good basic trio for any dull, cool red—also great for lips, nipples and penises, by the way!) By this time I was eyeing the towel thinking, what shall I do with that? Almost immediately I thought, BLUE! This came from a part of my mind that had already been calculating the possibilities below the level of consciousness. I’ve been painting for long enough that sometimes my subconscious mind works things out for me and all I have to do is just try it and see if it works. So I mixed up an ultramarine blue with a bit of phthalo blue and some white and tried it out and it worked beautifully.


I really want to stress again what a departure this was for me. To not mix all the colors ahead of time in the (usually futile) hope that that would get it all out of the way and then I could just paint, was a big thing for me to let go of. But once I was actually doing it and I saw how much better it worked, it was a no-brainer! This is a lot like that other principle I often harp on in these blog entries (but don’t always do myself), the principle of working all over the painting. You can’t get a sense of what’s working and what’s not working until you actually try stuff. Yes, some of it may be wrong, but when you have lots of pieces in place you can get a much better sense of whether or not they’re all going to work together.


This also reminds me of the illustrative factoid I’ve often heard in motivational seminars: the fact that an airliner flying from LA to Honolulu (or anywhere) is off course 95% of the time. The captain (or the autopilot) is constantly correcting. The plane drifts a bit off course, the pilot corrects. This happens over and over again. The point is, you have to do it wrong to get it right. Just as in painting, some of it will fall into place beautifully, and some of it won’t work at all and you’ll need to correct. But the irrational hope that everything will be perfect—and the fear that it won’t—is unfortunately what keeps many people from trying to paint (or do anything requiring courage) in the first place.

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The final painting, 'Tropical City.' (Click on image to see it on my website.)

Here’s the final painting: “Tropical City.” Notice some of the final touches—I used the same basic purple for the pots and the city skyline. Also made the sky a brighter, more intense yellow. Why is it that yellow skies almost always work so well?? I’m very pleased with this painting and even more pleased that I was able to disrupt my habitual approach to painting and get a lot more effective. Never stop learning!

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Here's the photo of Kawai and Sam that inspired me to make a new painting.)

There are a lot of great images from the Kawai-Sam photo shoot I still haven’t used. I came across another great one recently and decided it would make a great painting. I didn’t want to do something literal and realistic, though, I wanted to do something stylized and interesting.

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One of the first studies I did for the proposed painting. (Click on image to see it on my website.)

But when I set out to do something stylized I usually have to draw the pose realistically a few times to get a sense of it before I can start to play with it and turn it into something more interesting. This is one of the first sketches I did. It’s cute, but in this case just a first step toward what I’m going for.

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This sketch is much closer to what I want. (Click on image to see it on my website.)

I had to do several more drawings before I got to what I was aiming for. This sketch has the kind of movement and dynamic tension I want in the painting. Even though the figures are a mostly vertical element, there are lots of diagonals cutting across the painting to keep the eye moving. This is the main compositional function of the leaves whose vectors cut across the figures diagonally. It’s also interesting how often the strong straight lines are partnered with a sensuous rounded shape. This happens both in the foliage and in the men’s bodies. (I want to be clear that this analytical look at the drawing is something I can do after it’s done and I have some distance from it. When I’m actually in the process of drawing this is not where my mind is at all. I’m just thinking, oh, a line here might work, let’s see what it looks like, oh yeah, that feels good, and now it needs a curve here…etc.)

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After transferring the drawing to canvas, I put a purple wash over it, then paint the outlines in black.

Once I had a drawing I liked, I transferred it to the canvas with pencil. Then I did a purple wash over the entire canvas and once that was dry, I used a small round brush to re-draw the entire drawing in black. This is now the framework on which I can begin to hang color.

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Beginning to add color. It's important to work all over the painting.

I have a relatively consistent palette I can resort to when I begin a painting like this. Rather than reinventing the wheel every time I start a painting, I have some old standbys I use, like burnt umber for the dark darks (sometimes with a bit of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue added for flavor), burnt sienna for the medium darks, and for the lighter flesh tones, a mix of yellow oxide (yellow ochre), alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and titanium white. As I paint with these basic colors, I add in some cadmium reds (a warmer, more orange-y red than alizarin), some pure yellow oxide, some pure raw sienna, and sometimes some cadmium yellow as well. I’m going for a basic fleshtone with some vivid surprises thrown in. Notice that as I begin the painting I’m already working all over to some degree. As I’ve said many times, the more you can work all over the painting as you go, the more you can adjust color and light and dark as you work, rather than getting to the end of a painting and having one area that just refuses to work well with everything else.

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This painting is coming along well by this point. No major hitches. Another thing I like to do is let one color area “leak” into another. So you see splashes of green on the bodies and bits of flesh tone in the plants. This adds visual interest and makes for a more unified color scheme.

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The final painting, 'Embrace.' (Click on image to see it on my website.)

This is the finished work. I’m happy with how it turned out. One of the nice surprises is the way the blues pop out and by contrast make the rest of the image even warmer. I like the warmth both for what it says about the emotion of the painting and because the setting is a wet, humid tropical jungle. I’ve titled this one “Embrace.”

One of my collectors in Australia wrote telling me he’d love to see a painting of my photograph of Tommy lying face-up in wet sand at sunrise on Diamond Head Beach (it’s in my Diary entry called “First Photo Shoot with Tommy (January 2009).”


Though I always appreciate suggestions from my collectors, as you can imagine, I don’t always follow them—sometimes they’re not in tune with where I’m headed artistically. Other times, I really need a little direction, and sometimes a suggestion from a collector can steer me somewhere I might not have thought of going—and sometimes that makes for amazing art that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.


In this case, I was ready for a little direction, so I thought, okay, I’ll give it a shot. I started doing some sketches looking for a way to make the image into a painting. But as it turned out, after working on ideas for a few hours, I found that although I like the image as a photograph, I just wasn’t seeing it as a painting.


But, I was now in the mood to paint something of Tommy from that session…and I came across this one photograph that I thought was just terrific, with Tommy lying in the shorebreak with the golden light of dawn striking his wet body, and the palm trees, and the clouds, the water…just an amazing image.

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I love this photograph of Tommy at sunrise at Diamond Head Beach.

I would’ve loved to have released this image as a photographic print, but because that photo shoot happened before I was awakened to the wonders of Camera Raw, I wasn’t shooting in that format, and ended up with an image where the colors and textures of the deep shadows just weren’t recoverable enough to turn into a photographic print I could be happy with.


But I knew it would make a great painting! I should say, I knew it could make a great painting. But there was a lot going on in this image and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. When approaching a project this complex and daunting, I really need to be sure the image has a powerful emotional impact on me. That’s the power that will push/pull me through the inevitable moments of difficulty or disappointment if/when things don’t go well.

One other factor that I had to consider was that I was leaving for Albuquerque to spend Christmas with my family in just 4 days, and to complete a painting this big and detailed in that amount of time was going to be a real challenge.

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After several hours of sketching I started to get the feeling I was going for.

But I felt that excitement and that emotional charge about this image so I plunged in. I spent an entire day just working on rough sketches. I didn’t want to do a literal copy of the image. I wanted to stylize it because I knew that would be more of an adventure, and possibly more powerful in the end. After making a lot of drawings, I began to get the feeling I was going for.


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This is the drawing I cut out and pasted onto another background (Click on image to see this drawing on my website).

So now I had an feeling for the overall painting, but I needed to focus on the figure, since that was, hello, the focal point. So that took another few hours of drawing and re-drawing the figure until I had it more or less right. Once I had a figure I could live with, I actually cut it out and pasted it onto an earlier drawing in which I liked the background. Then I scanned that pasted-together image to get it into the computer, where I could start working with it in Photoshop.

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I drew this in Photoshop using my Wacom digital tablet.

In Photoshop, I first had to do a line drawing, which you can see here, then needed to select all the color areas and fill them in. Sometimes I used Fill, sometimes I just painted the area with a ‘brush’ via my Wacom tablet, and sometimes I used a gradient. All this was to give me as close an idea as I could get digitally to what might happen once I started actually painting on canvas.

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This is the colored version of the file above.

The result was sufficiently encouraging to get me to the next stage—actually drawing the image on canvas.

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Finally, I was ready to start mixing colors. This is one of the most important stages of any painting, and it’s also one of my least favorite. Mixing colors is tedious and exacting (which is one of the reasons I like to do it on the computer first because that’s more fun and flexible!). Fortunately I have been doing this for enough years that I’m pretty good at it. But just because I’m good at mixing the color I have in mind doesn’t mean that that color is the RIGHT color. What looks good on the palette may or may not look good once it’s up there on the canvas in the context of the colors around it. You know you’ve done a good job of preliminary color mixing when you only have to re-mix 3 or 4 colors out of the maybe 15 or 20 you’re using for the painting. At least this is the way it works in my world.

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The first areas of color I laid in were the sky (some blue at the top, some pale yellow nearer the horizon), part of the beach, a bit of the waves, and a bit of the figure. I don’t always do it, but it’s always a good idea to work all over the painting, right from the start. It lessens the likelihood of unpleasant surprises later on, which can happen if you’re taking one part of the painting to a high level of finish, then you start working on another area and find the two areas don’t hang together.

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I continued working all over the painting, bringing the beach and trees area, the clouds and sky area, and the breaking waves and shorebreak area, to a fairly finished state. I kind of broke the rule I just stated above by avoiding the figure and foreground. I had a couple of diametrically opposed reasons for doing that. One, I was nervous about the figure—if it doesn’t work, the painting doesn’t work! Two, I was excited about the figure and wanted to save the best part for last. Neither of these reasons was really good enough to justify this behavior, but hey, I’m a crazy emotional artist, I’m not supposed to always do the sensible thing.


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The finished painting, which I've entitled Shorebreak (Click on image to see this painting on my website).

Kind of a big jump from the previous in-progress photo to this finished work, but that’s because I got so into the painting I forgot to take pictures. Remember, I was working under a deadline, too, so I was kind of feverish. But I was also really happy and excited because everything was coming together! I took a chance with this one—lots of chances, actually, one of the biggest being that I could do it in 4 days. If I hadn’t been able to pull it off I would have had a hard time shaking off that feeling of failure through the Christmas holidays. I was very grateful and happy that it worked out so well, and I went off to Albuquerque with a light step and a happy heart!