Tag Archives: portrait

Saturday, 4/23/11: Shanon Playford

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Today I interview artist Shannon Playford. She’s wearing a white smock/lab coat streaked with paint strokes from reflexively wiping her brushes clean against her shoulder. Printout sheets of tornado pictures and self-portrait references litter the base of the easel, and she is sweeping the canvas with a fat wide brush, smoothing the smoky tornado clouds into a strange pink sky, and blurring her face, which gives the painting a surreal effect. She stops, steps outside, scrutinizes her painting through the storefront window, frowns, and comes back inside. It’s the only way she can get a distant look at her painting, and she does it often. I talk to her while she’s indoors.

About this series of paintings: “I’ve been doing these portraits for about a year. I used to paint on panels, but now I paint on canvas – the texture grabs more, so you can paint over other layers more easily without blending them together. I also paint pretty thin, which helps. There’s only so much oil painting I can do in one session, though, so I’ll take it home for another session, and add the more intense lights and darks.”

Why so many self-portraits? “I usually do self portraits just because I know what pose I want for reference. It doesn’t matter if it looks like me or not in the end. I’m wondering how much longer I’m going to want to paint myself like this, though [laughs]. In general younger faces attract me because I feel they have more of an open-ness, or transparency, to them. Although when I used to ride the bus, all I would draw were the old people.”

On smocks: “Sometimes I just wear a smock to let myself know that I’m working. Back when I didn’t have a studio, I would have to leave my apartment and walk around the block before coming back in to let myself know it was time to work.”

On doing your best: “When I was a kid and competing in a race, I would quit when I realized that I wasn’t going to make first or second place.”

How’s the weather? “The weather is terrible here! So bland. It’s a gray soup.”

On being a traditional painter in a seemingly digital world: “As a friend of mine put it: You cannot hunt your nature. Which is to say painting is what I want to do.”

The last picture below shows Shanon’s painting at the end of the day Saturday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished work.  UPDATE:  The last picture shows Shanon’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails for larger pictures


Wednesday, 4/20/11: Acey Thompson

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

Acey Thompson says she has almost always had a hard time staying still. Now in her final year at PNCA with her thesis proposal staring her down in just a few short weeks, the field of study she has chosen hits, literally, close to home. She is OK with being a dog artist amidst conceptual art students at PNCA, and for her thesis she has chosen to artfully depict a dog’s ability to be completely idle and zen-like, docile, blissful almost to the point of catatonic. She hopes to conduct this study starting with her two dogs at home, her pit bull Maggie and Catahoula leopard dog Jasper.

But there’s another reason the docile nature of dogs captures Acey’s heart and imagination; when she graduates this fall, she hopes to throw time and energy into softening the stigma against pit bulls. She hopes to do this through art, with exposing people to images of pit bulls with a partner out of LA, appropriately named Diamonds in the Ruff, a no-kill pet rescue shelter:

Last year, Acey’s painting of a Great Pyrenees dog lovingly arched over the shoulders of a woman fetched $250 at the final auction for An Artist a Day. One person liked it so much because it reminded her of her own dog, and when she was outbid, she later commissioned Acey to do a similar watercolor and ink rendering.

Today’s painting is her pit bull Maggie, who accompanied her on the journey to Portland five years ago. In the photo, Maggie, now nine, wears an expression that Acey loves and knows well. A recently finished watercolor of Maggie  is also on Acey’s homepage, and so realistic and detailed that many often mistake it for an oil panting.

Acey chose today’s photo for her Maggie’s expression as well as to capture two things she loves in her life: one is a sheer curtain with gold flecks and patterned with fleur de lys, giving the portrait a regal air. The other is an Afghani pillow that was once a dress her father brought back from the Middle East. The repurposed pillowcase, with its tiny mirrors and webby patterns, contributes to the colorful foreground of the painting.

Last summer, Acey took two classes at PCC that she says really broadened her horizons in her artistic adventure. One was a watercolor painting class taught by Theresa Redinger who shows at Blackfish Gallery. Redinger took students through technical basics such as color theory using a color wheel, stretching paper, and taking the palette from small primaries to larger ones. The other class was a soapstone carving class, which gave her newfound respect for rocks and polishing.

The supplies Acey uses are: Synthetic brushes from Da Vinci, Escoda, and Raphael. Her large porcelain palette is from Muse. Watercolors are M Graham and Sennelier, and paper is Arches 140 lb watercolor. The gouache is M Graham. Her elegant bamboo brush wrap is from Muse, and she is trying out a new wax crayon to save whites, a technique she gleaned from John Singer Sergeant. She’ll use pearlescent liquid acrylic for the details in the curtains and Maggie’s collar.   UPDATE:  The last picture shows Acey’s finished painting.

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Saturday, 4/16/11: Anna Magruder

Anna Magruder joined us today for her second year of participating in “An Artist A Day.”  Anna’s portraits in oils have a unique and recognizable style.  Her use of color is expressive, sometimes surreal, and her figures are often creatively distorted or combined with unexpected backgrounds or objects. Influences and inspirations for her work include vintage Americana, the works of Renaissance portrait painters, and a variety of contemporary illustrators and painters including Joe Sorren.

A number of Anna’s most recent paintings (on view through April 24 at Guardino  Gallery) were inspired by vintage travel and vacation photos.  In many of these pieces, landscapes have begun to play a more important role along with her figures.  The landscapes in her backgrounds add character to the scene and animate the thoughts of the people in her portraits.

Anna has worked with a variety of media, but prefers oils because of their ability to create subtle blends between shades and colors.  She started today with a line drawing on a vivid solid red-orange background.  With her drawing as a guide, she first painted and blended her subject’s face and hair.  With this portion of her subject mostly finished, she then moved on to surrounding her figure and background landscape elements with a pale yellow-brown.  She used this color to outline and define shapes and details of her figure and landscape.  As she painted the clothing and figure of her subject, she layered and blended colors, but also left the original bright-red background showing in highlights and accents.  The composition of her painting along with the interplay of cool colors, warm colors, subtle colors, and bright colors gives this painting a feeling that is both energetic and pensive.

The last picture shows Anna’s painting at the end of the day Saturday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting.  UPDATE:  The final picture shows Anna’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to view larger pictures.

Tuesday, 4/12/11: Matt Gauck

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

As I park my bike next to Matt’s, a crew of his friends on bikes show up to support him. It’s a very Portland day, and we talk the upcoming comics festival as Matt paints a portrait of a barn owl in oils. His portfolio of work is diverse. He’s been painting, creating album art, designing posters and illustrating social justice and narrative images since he graduated in 2005 with his MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. His focus shows in the clarity of his visual communication. Even this owl tells a story. There’s a forest of thick vegetation with the top of a ziggurat rising through the canopy behind the snowy barn owl and a wide sky. I ask about the ziggurat and Matt explains. It’s the story of his recent trip to Mexico. “I have been painting a lot of ziggurats lately,” he tells me. The story continues about an owl’s nest that was in the upper temple of one of these Mayan pyramids he had climbed during his travels. Also, he learned of a legend attached to these ruins of a woman who took the form of an owl. She is called “La Chuza the witch owl.” In his painting is reflected the mysticism and the appreciation of the bird, wet with paint.

Matt prefers working in color, and is versatile enough to create line work when necessary for situations such as screen printing. The owl is painted with M. Graham oils. Matt uses only blues and yellows to create his greens, while raw sienna and titanium white also help create his natural palette. He also uses M. Graham walnut oil and remarks that the Windsor & Newton Liquin medium he’s brought is a staple to his process. Using as little as two faded, grayscale references, Matt is able to create this scene without preliminaries and with only a faint penciling of the owl before he begins to paint. He’s recently created a poster for Will Potter’s new book, Green is the New Red. The posters will be available May 16th at Powells books on Hawthorne during Potter’s scheduled reading.

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Thursday, 4/7/11: Janet Amundson-Splidsboel

Thanks to guest writer Sera Stanton for today’s post

Janet Amundson-Splidsboel was incredibly far along in her painting after only an hour. She says that she works very fast, and even brought along a second canvas just in case she finished her first painting before her time was up at Muse. Today Janet was painting a beautiful woman with red hair. Today she was painting with oils , but she also does encaustic painting.

The woman Janet was painting came from a sketch from a model. Janet usually works from models because she loves the “timeless woman” as well as the Art Deco woman. When she isn’t working from models, Janet does plein air paintings of landscapes.

To start her painting, Janet put down a layer of orange paint as a base color. From that point, she started laying down beautiful contrasting gold and violet tones to complement each other. “I think about complements a lot,” Janet said, “like how these two tones will make each other pop out.” As she progressed, Janet worked with long brushes so that she didn’t get caught up in details and worked with large masses and shapes on the painting.

Aside from shape and color, Janet likes to use a lot of variation in brush techniques. She had a large collection of brushes next to her, most of them long. She used square brushes to create large chunks of color in the woman’s hair and a round brush to create texture. Sometimes, she went in with a liner brush to create more distinct lines between the background and foreground. She didn’t coat the entire background with color; she likes to let the background show through her strokes. Janet says that she especially likes it when the oil paint begins to set because when you go over it with another lay of paint, the brush grabs it just enough that you can see some of the layers underneath.

Janet has been painting for fifteen years. She wanted to paint all her life, but she had a career and kids to take care of that took her away. Janet says that she thinks about faces a lot, and that is why she loves portraits. She told me that when she found time, she took a class at Portland Community College from a woman named Madeline Janovec. Madeline was very encouraging to Janet, and they formed a warm friendship. Unfortunately, Madeline passed away in March of this year. Janet says that every time she paints, she does it for Madeline because she knows that Madeline’s warm encouragement would be inspiring her.

It was a pleasure to meet and interview Janet. You can look at more of her work at janet-janetsartstudio.blogspot.com.

The last picture below shows  Janet’s painting at the end of the day Thursday. We’ll post an update with a picture of the finished painting.
UPDATE: The final picture shows Janet’s finished painting.  For information about placing a bid to purchase this piece, go to AnArtistADay.com

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.

Wednesday, 4/6/11: Christopher B. Mooney

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post

Last year Christopher B. Mooney brought his oil painting talents to a canvas at An Artist A Day with one subject firmly implanted; Portland bridges. While his picturesque painting of the Interstate Bridge captured the event’s highest bid at $510, this year he comes to Muse with an entirely new study; portraits of people.

Currently living in SE Portland, Mooney is still open to paint the arches, beams and girders of Portland’s bridges that held his imagination for two decades. However, he feels he has taken urban landmark painting as far as it could go. “I have accomplished my mission,” he says. “And painting people is an entirely new chapter for me.”

Mooney cites two reasons for the subject change last year; The first is economic, and with a number of commissions already completed, has proven to be a good move. And second, there’s an abundance of material in painting people and their facial expressions, which was limited when he depicted bridges.

Today, Mooney’s subject is Lavonne Russell, a fellow artist he met in the Portland Social Artists Guild who popped in to Muse while Mooney began painting. He is using many of M. Graham’s oil paints in his palette. He begins with unbleached titanium (from the Harding oil line) for the flesh tones and blends in burnt sienna for facial structure. He begins with the eyes, and then moves to the nose and mouth, working the opposite of some artists who use large blocks and shapes in painting faces.

He painted Russell’s face from a contrasty photograph. Mooney chose Russell and her photo because he liked her unique facial expression and would be able to play up the highlights and shadows in the photo. He was looking forward to using techniques in the style of Caravaggio and Eugene Delacroix.

One technique that works well for Mooney is turning his portraits to the side and upside down as recommended in Betty Edwards seminal tome Drawing on the Right side of the Brain. “When I’m involved in something for so long,” he said, “sometimes turning it to another angle will help me see more abstractly and make sure I get the eyelashes, eyebrows, and curvature of the mouth just right.” For his career and switch to portraiture, Mooney also calls upon his degrees in illustration and photography from Parsons New School for Design.

Mooney begins his commissioned portraits by meeting his subject or commissioner at a comfortable coffee spot with good lighting. He can either paint from a photo or do rough sketches while meeting. He then uses Camera Obscura techniques in getting proportions right through projection. Some of his pieces are as large as 4 feet by 5 feet and have been displayed in the vaulted staircases of stately NW homes for sale.

When not painting or studying art history, Mooney dances in ballroom events and takes dance classes. His finished portraits range in price anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000, available here through Christopher’s website. You can bid on his piece today for a fraction of the price, starting at only $75!

On May 6th, Christopher B. Mooney will be the guest artist at Portland artist Kristin Fritz’s studio from 4 to 7 pm.

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5/7/10, Our final artist: Vanessa Crouch

Today we added a striking piece in acrylic with collage to the “An Artist A Day” exhibit.  Vanessa Crouch was unable to paint at Muse last Friday, April 30 due to a family emergency.  She picked up a canvas this week though, and completed the piece that she brought in today.  Vanessa works in a bold, graphic style with clean lines, contrasting colors and strong composition.  Below is the piece she made for “An Artist A Day”

One more finished piece came in today as well — Shanon Playford’s “big hair” portrait in oils — with a lot of detail since we last saw it! Check it out at the end of the blog post for 4/15 . . .