Category Archives: Oil Paintings

Rita’s Portrait ~~ Session Five: More Home Work, using the iPad

I had made good progress during my work based on the reference photograph, but I decided it wasn’t good enough.  As a way to visualize changes that might improve the painting, I decided to do a mark-up on the iPad, using a side-by-side comparison with the reference photo.

markup of portrait using iPad

markup of painted portrait, as a result of side-by-side comparison with photo. iPad screenshot.

I cropped the photo included in my September 8th post and imported it digitally into the ArtRage app on my iPad.  I then ‘painted’ over the portrait area, trying to remedy the problems I identified in the painting.  This was a freehand process, done by ‘eyeballing’ the photo reference.  ArtRage is not able to make measurements for a closer comparison of the two images.

I like this markup as well as the final painting — if not more!  The ability to easily edit iPad marks liberates me from feeling that each (potentially incorrect) modification is ‘permanent’.  Playing around with the marks often yields spontaneous and interesting ideas that I would never have attempted initially in oils.

Even though I liked the resulting mark-up, I knew it would still be a challenge to implement these ideas in oil paint on the actual painting.


Rita’s Portrait ~~ Session Four: Some Home Work

A few days after my third meeting with Rita, I decided to spend some time at home, making corrections based on the photo I’d taken at the prior session.  Then I blew up a print of the photo, marked up the dimensions of key facial features and then taped it beside my updated portrait for a closer comparison.

A quick look confirms that the portrait is better than it had been, but . . .  the chin is too long.  The lower cheeks and forehead are too narrow.  The nose isn’t quite right and the eye on our left droops too much.  The hair is too high (but I love it so!  Will I bite the bullet and whittle it down?)

session five, after implementing changes identified via my iPad analysis

session five, after implementing changes identified via my iPad analysis

I show it to Rita who likes it ‘as is’ and doesn’t want me to make more changes.  Hmmmm.  What to do?

Rita’s Portrait ~~ Session Three

The next time Rita and I got together, I focused primarily on developing her eyes and trying to capture the slight grin we’d arrived at for the facial expression.  Didn’t want to touch the hair or general coloration, which I liked.

Rita at session 3.

Rita at session 3.

At the end of the session, I made a photo or two of Rita in this position and with ‘the grin’.  You can see immediately that I’ve got a ways to go!

Rita, in the selected pose.

Rita, in the selected pose.




Fresh Start ~~ Rita’s new pose, on linen

At our next session, I posed Rita looking straight ahead.  I thought that would be contemporary, as well as more fun for both of us.  We could see each other, converse more easily, and I could watch her sparkling eyes as I painted.  I thought it also might help her hold a little grin ~~ I knew I’d be grinning at her the whole time and grins are infectious.

Rita, first session in oils on linen.

Rita, first session in oils on linen.

Here’s how the painting looked at the end of the first session with oils.  My main goals were to situate her on the canvas, get an approximation of her bright shirt, rough out the face contours, and depict her silver hair in luscious pale colors.


Portrait Gallery Figurative – in the Window Seat, #1

resting at the Portrait Gallery

Resting at the Portrait Gallery.  Oil on Linen.

During a recent visit to the National Portrait Gallery, I saw two marvelous women, each sitting in one of the deep window seats that back up to the courtyard.  I decided to be bold and ask if I could take their pictures for painting purposes.  To my delight, each agreed.  Here’s the first – a petite little lady perched on the long cushion, resting her feet.  Another palette knife attempt.

Palette Knife Painting of Cousins, Engrossed in an iPad

Nathan & Ceci, engrossed in an iPad

Cousins, engrossed in an iPad.  Oil on Linen.

I fell in love with a darling photo of two cousins (my grand-niece & -nephew, if I’ve calculated that right), huddled around an iPad.  I knew I had to make a painting out of it.  Have been trying to learn how to paint with a palette knife.  This is one of my first attempts.

Catching Up on Recent Paintings ~ Somber House

view from my back door, painted 'live'

View from my back door, painted ‘live’.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.

I’m kind of a housebody (take after my grandmother Ceci), so I don’t often paint ‘plein air’.  While my art buddies were out painting in the hot summer sun, I decided to paint what I see out of my back door window daily.

I’m thinking that lovely blue sky is too cheerful for the mood of the painting.  What do you think??

A Second Painting for the Writers Center Exhibit

Here’s another of my paintings to be featured at the Writers Center exhibit, opening in late June.  A ‘plein air’ painting (done in the great outdoors) painted along S Street, NW, DC, in a workshop offered by Carol Rubin, another wonderful artist.

three colorful bushes on S Street, NW, DC

S Street Lollipops.  Oil on Linen Panel.


Another Upcoming Exhibit ~~ Ten Paintings at the DC Writers Center!

The wonderful DC-area Writers Center regularly hosts art exhibits in its large space, featuring the works of local artists.  Ten of my paintings will be included in the next show, scheduled to open in late June.  This exhibit is organized around the works of those who have painted with Gonzalo Navarro, a fellow teacher at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo, MD.  I have enjoyed Gonzalo’s teaching expertise — it’s always good to practice skills under the tutelage of an expert in portraiture and figurative painting.  It’s great to have Gonzalo at the Yellow Barn, as well as Maud Taber-Thomas, supplementing the excellent portraiture teaching of Gavin Glakas.

Here is one of the paintings I’ll show in the upcoming exhibit.  More to follow.

ballerina in profile

Pensive Ballerina.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.