Portrait Studies

Dinner party at President Street

My best friend Amy and I used to live in Park Slope, on President Street. We've become really good friends with the two ladies who've taken over our old apartment, so it feels like the place has stayed "in the family." The four of us try to meet up periodically and have dinner over at The Hearth on President to catch up. 

The menu this time was tacos, and they were amazing, but I was on a big time cleanse so I held back for the most part (womp, womp). Nicole, Leni and Amy have been incredibly supportive since my divorce and my move back to Brooklyn after LA and Houston-- and there's been nothing but total awesomeness re: this cleanse I'm on, which is actually pretty simple: no drinking (because I was drinking heavily ALL the time, whenever I was alone and bored, too) and no eating anything but protein and vegetables. Turns out you feel better when you're not drinking like a fish and eating like a pig. 

I took about an hour to do a quick sketch of the three of them at the dinner table while they were drinking the fun juice and eating the tacos: 

Incidentally, I was getting a lot of flack about my weight for a while from my dad. (He's not a bad dude- it's just a cultural thing. Ahhh, Korea.) Over the past year, I gained about...wait for it...20 pounds! CRAZY! I'm 5'2", so anything more than two pounds is quite noticeable on my small frame. I think I was loving drinking like a fish and eating like a pig, but also I am on a VERY high dosage of Abilify, an anti-psychotic notorious for causing weight-gain. It's also notorious for being awesome for bipolar people, so you just go with the flow sometimes. Anyway, the cleanse helped. Here's a picture of me from that night at The Hearth, where I'm striking distance of striking distance of my normal weight: 

You gotta read this email exchange I had with my brother and my dad which ensued after I sent them the picture:  

I guess I have cheekbones again and I look skiny. 

Sarah, Part Deux


I decided to restart Sarah Deaner's portrait. Usually I'm against chucking and restarting, so I repaint often and try to persevere when things go badly. There seems to be a bias against doing this-- somehow reworking too much takes away the painting's "freshness"?  I don't know if I agree with that, and certainly x-ray studies of paintings reveal that artists reworked things quite a bit.  The problem with reworking, however, is that with every subsequent layer of paint, the values get darker, so if you want to end up with something that is light in value, reworking might not be the best strategy. In the painting of Sarah, I wanted to blow out the value spectrum and exploit the range as much as possible, but the range was shrinking with every subsequent rework.  Why did I need to rework? I wasn't very happy with the drawing, and I wasn't working from the model at the painting stage, but rather working on colors from my imagination, and I rushed in without a good conception of what I wanted the colors to look like (a color study would have been useful before diving in), which meant I wasted a lot of time pfaffing and rethinking. Anyway, here is the new underpainting, which I started also in a different way which I hope will be more interesting than what I was trying to do before.


This is part of the portrait I did of Tarek which I started last July but never got back to.  It is one of my goals this week to complete it, and I think I'll be able to do that, even though Life seems to be getting busier after the past three months of not being able to do much in the studio.  All these Artist as Subject portraits are supposed to include some high chroma element... I still don't know what I'm going to do about Tarek's portrait, but he comes for dinner tonight with his friend Jack who is a photographer, so I'll talk to him about it then.


As one can see, I have been really lax about posting to this blog in the past, oh, year, and I know my traffic has really fallen, but I'm going to try to remedy that, so with the new year, I'm re-dedicating myself to posting more here and on facebook, etc. I've been working on a portrait series since last summer.  If you can believe it, I was planning on finishing this series in the fall, but life happens, and models get busy, and I'm only halfway through now (I've got 9 paintings going at the moment, and I'm almost finished with the fourth one).

Here's my painting of Mario that I'm working on.  I've been sick for the past couple of weeks, so I haven't been working much, but I'll post what I have so far.

I met Mario at MICA where I teach.  He is a recent graduate of the school, where he majored in sculptural forms, and his senior thesis exhibition was an amazing array of flutes that he crafted out of clay and other materials. I just fell in love with his spirit as he showed me and my friend his instruments which all played and sounded as striking and mysterious as they looked.  Mario posed for me over the course of a few days while he was back in Baltimore, even coming one day during Hurricane Sandy! Here's a quick close-up:

Hopefully I'll start feeling better really soon and can finish this portrait up before the new semester starts in a week or two!

Quick Self Portrait Study

One of my friends was going to sit for me, and I hadn't done one of these quick portraits in a while, so I decided to practice on myself. I didn't have much canvas lying around, so I just turned an old study I never finished upside down and just used the space.  I did this in less than 2 hours, with a very perfunctory drawing and then basically going in really quickly and building with color/value.