Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Portrait

This portrait was a quick oil-sketch, done at the Art Students League of New York. The ASL hosts an open painting session on Saturdays throughout the day. It is relatively cheap, has good natural light, and the models are usually excellent. This model had an interesting intense look,  supplemented by a strong build.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Studio, Part II

Getting good light out of any new studio can be difficult. Good light in this case refers to the quality, not quantity of light in an art studio.

The ideal setup for natural light would be a high-facing north window. This provides the simplest, most stable light source throughout the day, avoiding direct sunlight. Having reliable, stable light and shadow patterns is incredibly important when it comes to figurative work.

My studio was not the ideal. On one wall there was a large window facing the southwest. On the roof,  several large skylights flooded the studio with light. Direct sunlight flooded the room at various times of day. The challenge was to figure out if I could work around the studio's limitations. Long term, I could consider finding a better workspace.

To deal with the window, I built a small wooden frame to inside. The frame was covered top to bottom with tracing paper, blocking direct sunlight helping to disperse the light. There was nothing I could do about the skylight.

To test things out,  I hired a model and did a quick charcoal sketch. This was done in a single shot one morning.

The results were only acceptable. This confirmed my suspicions that I was not going to be able to get the kinds of light that I wanted from this particular studio.

One alternative I explored was constructing a light box. The concept of the light box was to artificially mimic the good attributes of natural light. The light source would be multiple daylight temperature fluorescent lights. A simple box would house and support the lights, and a frame would elevate the box up in the air.

I threw together a quick prototype, which was a challenge without easy access to power tools.

Here is a shot of the light box fully ablaze. This box uses a pair of cool daylight temp grow lights. These are compact, bright for their size, and are designed to be easy to hook up together. The mouth of the box is covered with vellum to help disperse the light.

The frame is constructed from PVC tubing and is about 8 feet tall. DIY grow light stands are built a similar way, that was my inspiration.

The light produced by the box was decent but nothing to write home about. It did share some positive attributes of natural light, and had some unnatural qualities I did not like. Perhaps with some tinkering and a real box I could improve the concept further.

Monday, August 13, 2012

New Studio

Over the past month I have been spending time in New York. One of my objectives upon my arrival was to locate a proper painting studio, hopefully equivalent to the one I had back home.

Before my departure,  I mixed and tubed as much paint as possible. I wanted to have lots of paint at my disposal.

I brought along the majority of my studio supplies and equipment.  This picture was taken before I had put things together.  I built the box to support what I hoped to be future portrait subjects.

The studio includes rooftop access. During the summer months I usually make my own linseed oil from scratch. This requires ample sunlight, and the rooftop is perfect for this task.

My approach to my craft is very hands on, as this blog will attest. I had concerns going in that I would not be able to maintain these practices in a much smaller,  urban environment. So far the techniques have proven to be very adaptable.