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.
George Washington 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:
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.
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.
Here are a few more of my pen and ink sketches. I’ll update with quality scans when I get a chance.
Way back at the start of the summer I vowed to read the best rated biography of each president. Why? Well, we kept getting stumped on presidential questions at bar trivia and I was tired of ignorance. I used bestpresidentialbios.com as my guide and started with James Thomas Flexner’s four-volume exploration of George Washington’s life. I read two of the four on a road trip to New Orleans and once I’d finished the series I decided to adjust my plan. I would read the best ONE-VOLUME biographies. Flexner’s work was amazingly comprehensive, but the sheer word count almost drove me to insanity. But I finished and moved on to John Adams: A Life by John Ferling, and then Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham, and then James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham. I’ve taken a break since Ketcham’s work to read a bunch of fiction, but when I resume I’ll be turning through the pages of James Monroe: The Quest For National Identity by Harry Ammon. Basically, I’ve been president obsessed this last year.
The other night I was listening to The Washington Post’s great podcast Presidential and decided to do sketches from the official presidential portraits. I used a brush pen in my moleskin sketchbook, spending about ten minutes on each portrait. Look for more to come! And if you like founding fathers and also happen to like musicals, check out Hamilton.