I decided to try oil painting when I lived in New Mexico. I have some experience with watercolors and acrylics so I thought it would be fun to try something different. I studied with a Leo Neufeld for a year. My goals were (and still are) simple when it comes to oil painting, I want to paint things that don’t look like they were bought at a garage sale.
Although that might sound simple, it is not. I am fortunate because I have doodled my way through elementary, middle and high schools as well as in my working life (the more boring a call the more elaborate the doodles). So at least I can draw, somewhat.
I painted this last winter. The model, Zuleika, is a beautiful young woman who had such grace and sweetness it’s difficult to convey without sounding sappy.
Now that I live in Virgina I have the great fortune to be studying with Robert Liberace . Rob’s work is phenomenal and when I grow up I hope to paint or draw with his expertise.
The main thing I am learning in his classes is how to see the colors of skin. That might sound fairly simple but it’s not. Depending on the base color/complexion light does interesting things when it hits skin.
My favorite coloring to paint is pale white skin, the kind that you usually see on someone with red hair. Last term, one of the model’s skin had this gorgeous color; blues, lavenders, pinks, yellows and greens. The transitions were subtle and if you blinked you missed them. She was beautiful. Unfortunately my painting was not but that is ok. The point of studying with someone is to learn how they see and what they see.
I hope that makes sense, I pay very close attention to Rob during demos because I am trying to learn how he views the model, how he renders the form and what he keys in on. I still don’t see the colors in the skin tones that he does but I am trying.
Because I was in Florida during the opening of registration for Rob’s classes, I couldn’t get in. I have been lucky so far in buying someone else’s spot or folks telling me, “Hey I won’t be here next week, you can have my spot.” So my attendance has been sporadic. I’ve taken one painting class and two of his drawing classes and I will be able to take the last two of his drawing classes of the term. Since I couldn’t take Rob’s class I signed up for Ted Reed’s painting marathon. It’s a 5 hour class and it feels like a part time job but it’s been amazing as well.
Last week’s model was a black male named Alan. He had very light skin and it was difficult painting him because the midtones were slightly muted and grayed orange. Now in realty no one is really orange but that’s how he appeared in the light we were using. The thing about painting darker skin tones is how the light dazzles and dances on the skin. For lighter skin tones, light is usually (to my eye) lighter skin tones with occasional highlights. on darker flesh is sizzles and sparkles, it’s simply gorgeous.
Rob teaches sculptural anatomy at Studio Incamminati so his demos are peppered with triceps, pectorals, lats, tibia etc. He’s made me dig into my anatomy books at home to try and learn more. The main thing I am learning about anatomy is that even if you don’t see it (say the ribs-because they are under a great deal of flesh) it will still affect the way the flesh sits on the bones and also how the light and shadows will play across the surface.