Jeremy Sams Art Blog

Friday, February 24, 2012

Acrylic Landscape Demonstration with Video

 Red Barn in the Morning
18x24 acrylic on canvas

The painting above is the final product of an acrylic landscape demonstration that I gave Feb. 17th. at the Waterworks Visual Arts Center, in Salisbury, NC.

The picture below shows the painting at the end of the 1.5 hr. painting demo.

When I got back home, I made quite a few changes to the final painting. Here's a list of corrections I made:
  • reworked the sky to be more of a warmer morning feel rather than the overcast look (the pics here may not show the truest color of the actual painting).
  • broke up the tree formation on the mountain tops to get rid of "the big bird" look.
  • minimized the window on the barn
  • added some rust on the roof
  • adjusted the background trees going into the valley
  • detailed the foreground grass with more variety of mass, textures, values, and temperature changes (cool shadows, warm midtones and high-lights)
  • added a farmer walking toward the barn, to help give it some life.
It always helps to get away from your painting for a while so that when you return to it, you'll have a fresh perspective and will be able to see what needs to be changed or added.

Here's a video that fellow acrylic artist, Rex White made for me during the demonstration:

Thanks to Plein air Carolina and Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury, NC for allowing me the opportunity to demonstrate. Thanks also to Rex White for taking his time and tech-saviness to make the video.

Contact me if you're interested in purchasing the painting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Painting A Self Portrait

 Self Portrait
11x14 acrylic on canvas

Painting a self portrait doesn't mean you're egotistical. Trust me, there's nothing more humbling than staring at your flaws in the mirror and trying to be honest enough to capture long as it's capturing them and not caricaturizing them. Believe me, that's a struggle in itself!
The main purpose, for me at least, in painting a self portrait is to learn.
  •  Learning to paint correct values in certain lights.
  •  Learning proportions and relationships of facial features.
  •  Learning to simplify the scene according to shapes and not get distracted by the details.
  •  Learning to compare adjacent values ( lighter or darker) and color temperature (warmer or cooler)
  •  Learning to draw negative space more accurately
This painting was started by massing in a mid-tone flesh color in a large area that would later be shaped to form the face. After the mid-tone was applied, I then began mapping out the features of my face. It's good to start with an anchor point (a physical feature to work off of in determining distance between the facial features). I used the corner of my eye for this point. 
After you have determined your anchor point, began measuring what you see in the mirror the distance between each feature. Sometimes, depending on the model, you can divide the face into 3rds...from the hair line to the top of the eye brow...eye brow to the bottom of the nose...bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin. Or, sometimes, it works out that the corner of the eye is half way between the top of the head and bottom of the chin. However, these are just guides and aren't always exact.

I always use a series of plumb lines and horizontal lines to see how the features line up to each other. This will help in placement.
My next step would be to establish my darkest darks as an anchor value to key in the rest of the painting. If your darkest dark is too light, the overall painting will be too light. It's also a good idea to start with your sharpest edge as give you an edge to compare all other edges to. For example, on the right side of my face is my sharpest edge. I can now look at the edge of anything else, whether nose, lips, etc... to see if those edges are as sharp as my first edge or are they softer.

The last thing to be painted are the highlights...just be sure not to make them bright white...otherwise your face will look oily or plastic.

The hard part of self portraits is trying not to move your head while you paint or clean your brushes. It's also a challenge to measure distances between the features while looking in a mirror...your reflection of your hand or brush will hide the feature you're trying to measure...pretty irritating...but it can be overcome if you simply paint a life size portrait, and just measure on your face rather than the mirror's image.
Some problem areas are:
  • making the skin too light
  • making the whites too white
  • not using cool or warm shadows accurately
  • making the lips too red
  • making the nostrils too dark
  • making the edges too hard
All in all, it's great practice and you'll learn so much in the process. The main point to learn is to compare, compare, compare.

Did I capture a likeness? I think it resembles me...but there are some areas I can already see that need don't judge me too harshly. The major problem with this painting is the subject matter :)

By the way, I'm not mad...just concentrating.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thanks Dr. John Piper

How cool is this...a picture of Dr. John Piper of Desiring God Ministries holding a print of my painting, "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10)". Dr. Piper and his ministry have been such an encouragement to my family and I, especially over the past year.

After losing my son, Zion in March 2011, I contacted Desiring God to inquire about a book on God's sovereignty and the issue of suffering. I spoke to a young man on the phone, and for the life of me, I can't recall his name. This young man was so kind in offering a listening ear to my situation. He then took the time to pray with me over the phone...a prayer that you could tell was sincere and heartfelt. He also informed me about the book I was calling about..."Suffering and the Sovereignty of God" edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (contains writings on God's sovereignty and our suffering by people like Joni Eareckson Tada, Stephen Saint, Mark Talbot, and others). I highly recommend this book to anyone who is experiencing trials or any kind of suffering. It really helps you view these events through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of humanistic philosophies (which most merely portray God as a weak, impotent god who knows about your suffering but is too helpless to prevent it).  I asked the young man how much the book would cost and he completely surprised me by saying, "I'm going to send it to you free of charge."

Now, how many ministries out there would do that for some stranger who just randomly calls them up? Probably, not many. However, anyone who's familiar with Desiring God knows that they're not money motivated...they have a passion for treasuring Christ and helping others, even if it means they get nothing in return.

The print was just a token of our appreciation to Dr. Piper and Desiring God for their commitment to the supremacy of Christ and making Him known to the world. I once heard one of Dr. Piper's messages where he speaks of getting a "footnote" in one of, athiest and philosopher, Ayn Rand's biographies...all because he sent her a letter of critique and gave her the gospel...who knows, maybe one day, I'll get a footnote in one of Piper's books :)

Thanks Dr. Piper!