Stone Coal Studio

Stone Coal Studio

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Long Did It Take You To Paint That?

All artists have been asked this question, "How long did it take you to paint that?"  

A birthday gift for Kate
by Judith Flynn Lochbrunner

The answer is not as simple as stating how many hours.

Consider a musician playing a solo on stage.  How long did it take him/her to play the musical piece? The musician took the appropriate amount of time needed to play it whether that be two minutes or two hours.  What is not counted in the performance time consists of the many hours of practice time and study time as well countless music lessons over the years.

The same comparison can be made to the artist.  The artist worked as long as necessary on the painting to bring it to a conclusion.  This "conclusion" is a bit more ambiguous as the artist is not subject to a specific number of notes or refrains.

While there may be a few who can pick up a brush with no training or experience and produce an acceptable artwork, most artists practice, study, take lessons, paint and then repeat.   Every painting reflects the work that the artist has accomplished in previous works.

Here is my"Tale of Two Paintings"

Weather forecasters predicted 80's a couple Tuesdays ago and noted that this was probably going to be the warmest day for quite some time.

The clear skies and late fall color rewarded us immediately for "playing hooky" from our daily chores and obligations.  Mary Anne and I chose a location just down the road from the house.

I set up not far from the road so I could get a view of the large tree with the intense red foliage behind it.   A light blue painted canvas seemed to be the right choice.

 Here the painting is nearly complete.  The lower section was re-done as I had to make a decision on how to handle the shadows which had changed significantly during the two plus hours that I had been working.

After heading home and tweaking the painting in a few places, it was framed and promptly added to  the new display at Salem Terrace at Harrogate in Salem, VA.

The total time spent on this work was not as much as other works.  As a plein air painting it was all about the experience of the morning: the warmth, light, colors and enjoyment.

Last Warm Day of the Season (plein air)
by Judith Flynn Lochbrunner
lower right on wall

The second painting has a much different approach and working time.  

Because of the difficulty of painting not one but two portraits in a single work, I chose to begin the work during Vera Dickerson's portrait class at the Studio School in Roanoke, VA.   This was going to be a great opportunity to really challenge myself as well as to create a very special birthday present.   I hoped to learn as much as possible from this painting and then to apply that knowledge and practice to other artwork.

The portrait began with lots of drawing.   I chose to enlarge the photo and by using a grid I was able to create an accurate drawing of mother and baby.  This drawing was transferred to a panel.  I then added collage to the background around the two heads to add something unexpected.

Then I began painting layers and layers and even more layers working up the forms and colors.  Balancing the warm and cool skin colors was a constant challenge.  And always going back to the drawing and correcting any flaws and reworking the area.   Checking my values to a black and white copy was also helpful. 

And unlike the first painting, this one took a many, many, many hours.  And when I did work on this painting I allowed bigger blocks of time.  I divided my time between working in specific sections and working all around the work.  

This painting was all about learning from the challenge of painting two portraits (including baby Matt).  It was important to me to create portraits that are a good likeness, have beautiful warm and cool skin colors and lastly, provide something unexpected for the viewers.  I did not want to create the "usual" mother and child portrait.

According to Kate, Matt seemed fascinated by the portrait.  I think that means it is successful.  Do not think that I could ask for a better compliment.

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