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Digitizing Presidents

The last couple of days I’ve been messing around in Photoshop and painting some presidents. I have quite a few oil paintings that I’ve completed and worked on since last I posted, but I’ve been moving and haven’t had the time or space to photograph them properly. They’ll be up as soon as possible.

Digital painting is not something I particularly excel at. Every time I give it a go I’m disappointed the work did not come out as well as my traditional pieces. However, I feel as though I’m getting better and learning the techniques that will help make my digital paintings look more like oil paintings.

If you’ve been following this blog you’ve noticed all the ink sketches I’ve done of presidents. I decided it would be nice to throw some color on them and eventually make a large poster of all the presidents. I started with George Washington (obviously) and tried to film my process as well. Unfortunately the program did not work as planned. I still got the painting done, but I had no video to demonstrate the process. Thankfully I was able to remedy that for John Adams. Not only did I make a narrated YouTube video of my painting, but I also streamed it live on Facebook as I worked. If you’re interested in watching me every time I stream, go ahead and follow my Facebook page. It’s also the best page to follow if you’re interested in progress shots, unfinished works, competition updates, and showings.

GW-Color Bust

George Washington Bust

JA-Color Bust

John Adams Bust

And if you’d like to watch the video of my painting, click below! I tried to narrate everything I was doing and explain the process.

 

Oh! Also, here are links to all my other social media sites:

Deviantart

Facebook

Tumblr

 

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Beards, Mustaches, and Mr. Smooth-Face McKinley

I recently had a relaxing weekend at home and was able to get a good amount of work done. The final projects for my M. Ed. are due in a couple weeks, so I spent most of my time on those, but when I needed a break I did some reading and worked on my presidential sketches. I finally finished Harry Ammon’s James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, after picking through it for two months. Perhaps it’s time to turn back to fiction for a little while. I think I’ll dive into Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Somehow I’ve never read that classic.

For my sketches, I worked my way from Chester A. Arthur to Theodore Roosevelt. Looks like our presidents used to sport some awesome facial hair. I had too much fun rendering President Arthur’s mutton chops.presidentialportraits - 9

presidentialportraits - 10

 

I included Grover Cleveland twice because he came before and after Benjamin Harrison, even though only the first portrait is official. But the second was painted by Anders Zorn and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to study one of his paintings. My goal is to finish all the sketches and then paint over them in Photoshop. This’ll give me an opportunity to experiment with the digital medium, but also a chance to study the color and brush work of the original artists.

Perhaps when I’m done I’ll upload all the portraits in a single collage or poster.

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Morning at Fort McClary

On Sunday I was encouraged by Lennie Mulaney to join the NH Art Association at their weekly plein air outings. I truly enjoyed the weekend’s competition and decided to tag along today. We met at Fort McClary in Maine around 8:30 am. Several signs said the park didn’t officially open until 10 am and we joked about getting arrested for trespassing as painters. After a quick look around, I set up my easel on the far south side of the fort.
McClary Setup

The large rectangular stones are leftovers from the building of the fort’s walls. After the end of the Civil War, construction was ceased because the McClary style of fort was deemed out of date. The stones were left haphazardly stacked in a few piles around the property.McClary Step 1

I wanted to include both the stones and the fort in my painting and as luck would have it I found a location that delivered a great composition. The stones in the foreground pointed straight back to the fort, drawing the viewer’s eyes in.McClary Step 2The focus of this piece was color. I wanted my darks to breathe a little more life than they have in the past. Once I’d blocked in all the major shapes I focused on color comparison. I brought a lot of warmth into my shadows with Cadmium Orange and broke out the Cerulean Blue to help provide some interesting cools. Since my last few paintings have been somewhat dark I thought these two colors could work to bring more light into my painting.

Fort McClary 7:22:15

Fort McClary 5″ x 7″

Towards the end of the painting a couple masses of clouds collided just behind the fortress, creating a rolling, chunky column that brought some variety to my background. I have had almost zero experience painting clouds from life, but I threw them in. It was a challenge. I swiftly brushed out the purple darks and by the time I was ready to put in the mid-tones the clouds were out of my composition. I watched them float away to the right, still painting, imagining them still behind the fort, still painting, developing the fluffy transitions from darks to lights, still painting, and I was turned sideways by the time I was done.

I’m extremely happy with the final piece. It’s another one of my tiny 5″ x 7″ canvas panels and I’m really starting to fall in love with that size. Lots of work can be done in a short amount of time, making them great for studies.

If you’re interested, you can purchase the original, unframed panel for $100. Send me an email at thewritingmann@gmail.com!