Daily painting #67, and Sasha

When I’m in New York, I like to attend at least one life-drawing session at the Art Students League on West 57th Street. I chose a long pose of Sasha, an excellent model. I started with an indifferent gesture sketch of her full figure, then did this 35-minute portrait sketch.

Geoff Watson, “Sasha,” graphite on paper, 6” x 8,” 2019..

Geoff Watson, “Sasha,” graphite on paper, 6” x 8,” 2019..

Before life class, I took my little portable paintbox and stood on the corner of 57th and 7th Avenue, looking downtown, toward Times Square. I had trouble concentrating: there was no place to sit, it was hot, and it was crowded. But at least I got a few ideas down on the canvas. I was interested in contrasting the dark mass of green (the backstop for the 57th Street subway stop) with the very bright buildings on the left. And it’s always fun to sketch figures in the city.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of 7th Avenue at 57th Street,” study, July daily painting #6, oil on canvas panel, 6” x 8,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Sketch of 7th Avenue at 57th Street,” study, July daily painting #6, oil on canvas panel, 6” x 8,” 2019.

Daily painting #52: Voltaire

I have a plaster cast of Voltaire, the influential Enlightenment author, and while I’ve drawn the bust several times, I’ve never painted it before. It’s plain white, but it was more fun to sneak some colors into it. I didn’t quite finish, and the photo doesn’t do it justice, but I hope you get the idea.

When Voltaire was alive, he was often depicted with a smile, which seems appropriate for the author of “Candide.” My plaster cast does the same, and I’ve tried to follow suit.

Geoff Watson, “Voltaire,” June daily painting #21, oil on panel, 6” x 6,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Voltaire,” June daily painting #21, oil on panel, 6” x 6,” 2019.

Daily painting #47: Dakota

At today’s life class, our model was a nice woman named Dakota. I painted her portrait in about two hours. She held her pose perfectly, which helped me get a reasonable likeness. She was concentrating hard to stay still, and I tried to capture her rather serious expression. Alas, I forgot to indicate her shoulders, heh, and by the time I realized it, the model had left. Oh well.

Geoff Watson, “Dakota,” June daily painting #16, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Dakota,” June daily painting #16, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Daily painting #40: Turban and earring

I had great fun painting this model today. I had about two hours — not a lot of time. He was wearing a gold chain around his neck, but I didn’t have time to put it in. He was also wearing a turban, an earring, and a rather curious expression; I did have time to put those in. :)

Geoff Watson, “Turban and earring,” June daily painting #9, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Turban and earring,” June daily painting #9, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Daily painting #12: Laura

Laura is a new model at my life class, and today she sat for the second session of a two-session pose. I didn’t finish polishing and smoothing out the colors in her face, but I like a lot about it. The likeness is pretty good, and the picture has some character.

Geoff Watson, “Laura,” May daily painting #12, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Laura,” May daily painting #12, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Daily painting #5: Laura

Today I painted a new model, Laura, in life class. This was the first of a two-week pose, but I think it’s off to a decent start. She holds her head nicely, and her features are strong, so she’s fun to paint. Next week I’ll refine her features, balance the lights and shadows better, model her head in a more 3D way, and work on her hair. All in two hours, natch!

Geoff Watson, “Laura (in progress),” May daily painting #5, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Laura (in progress),” May daily painting #5, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Portrait of Mallina

Mallina is one of my favorite models: she holds a pose perfectly! This portrait doesn’t do her justice, but I hope it captures some of her spirit.

Geoff Watson, “Portrait study of Mallina,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Portrait study of Mallina,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Woman with a silver earring

This painting was really fun. I had originally planned a light background on the left and darker background on the right, to set up contrast with the light and shadow sides of the model’s face. But I had second thoughts when I noticed the awesome earring the model was wearing, which would’ve disappeared had I painted it against a light background. So I sorta reversed course — darker on the left, lighter on the right. I wimped out a bit; I think a darker background on the left would’ve looked cool. But it worked out pretty well, and I think the earring looks pretty neat.

Geoff Watson, “Woman with a silver earring,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Woman with a silver earring,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Pete

This was the first time I’d painted this model, and I enjoyed it. I was aiming for a higher-key, sunnier vibe than the more serious “Gentleman” I painted last week. I also experimented with what Charles Reid calls color “tie-ins” — that is, linking color in different parts of the picture in unexpected ways. For example, I tried some flesh tones in the hair, some overlap between shirt and background, and some blues and greens in the model’s face.

It’s also a pretty good likeness, though I think I shaved off a couple years. Most models don’t object to that.

Geoff Watson, “Pete,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Pete,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

A Gentleman (finished)

This was the second session of a two-session pose. I spent a bit less than 4 hours total on the painting. At the end of the first session, the likeness wasn’t great; you can see it in my March 4 post. So I focused hard on improving the drawing at the start of today’s session, and within a half hour I had a good likeness — and it got better as the session went along. I’m quite pleased with the final result, though as always I needed more time. The shadows on the side of the face need a little smoothing and refining, and it would’ve been nice to add more detail to the outfit.

Alas, neither of the photos below does it justice; the second photo shows off the color better, I think.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman (detail),” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman (detail),” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

A gentleman (Day 1)

The lighting for this pose was somewhat better, and I had an easier time of it. This was the first of a two-session pose, so I didn’t get to some stuff, notably the blank area around his ear and his clothing. And I should tone down the expression I’ve given him! But it’s a decent start, I think.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman (in progress),” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “A Gentleman (in progress),” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Jolene

The lighting at today’s life class was confusing because we had to deal with three light sources. (1) A warm spotlight; (2) slightly less warm overhead lights; and (3) behind us, a wall of bright windows (covered with ineffective curtains) casting cool light on the model -- and glare on my painting surface. I found these conditions difficult.

Anyway, I did my best. We had the model in front of us for a couple hours (minus breaks). But I confess I spent a half hour touching things up after class at home, working from memory with no photo reference — not a great way to improve the likeness. At least I had my new Revelite easel light illuminating my panel properly. "Jolene," oil on panel, 11" x 14."

Geoff Watson, “Jolene,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Jolene,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Sketch of Moe

I did this oil sketch of Moe in about 40 minutes today, in life class. I wasted much of class prepping my panel and then dashing to my car repeatedly to grab supplies I forgot to bring inside. So this quick painting is very rough, mostly painted with a very big brush in one go. Next time I’ll get to class early!

“Sketch of Moe,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

“Sketch of Moe,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Experimenting

I started this portrait of Moe in life class a couple weeks ago, and today we continued with the same pose, but I had a different vantage point. So, prompted by my instructor, I experimented with the composition. Eventually I’d like to achieve the lost and distorted edges produced by artists like Terry Miura, but I can see it will take a lot of practice. Even so, this was a decent start.

“Moe with distortions,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

“Moe with distortions,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Emily, week 2

This was the second session of a two-session pose. I’m pretty happy with it; the likeness is good, and the colors are juicy.

Geoff Watson, “Emily in January,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Emily in January,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Moe

I’ve never had the privilege of painting Moe before. Wow, what a great model! He’s got a handsome face and fantastic physique, and he’s a super nice guy — just a treat to paint. This was the first of a two-session pose; not sure whether to refine this next time or start a new one, perhaps of his whole figure. Either way, I really look forward to painting him again.

Geoff Watson, “Moe,” study in progress, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Moe,” study in progress, oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Emily in January

This is the first of a two-week portrait study. I suppose this is a brunaille — a brownish underpainting. I was focusing on getting the drawing right, not really attending to color. It’s close to a likeness, but Emily is younger and slimmer in real life, so I will try to fix those things next week. I hope I have enough time to add some detail to her eyes, too.

Geoff Watson, “Emily in January,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.

Geoff Watson, “Emily in January,” oil on panel, 11” x 14,” 2019.