Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tom Buechner's Friday Night Class: 2nd and 3rd Sessions

Second Session

The Different Levels of Expertise are categorized as follows:
  • Novice - has minimal exposure to the field.
  • Apprentice - has completed a period of study beyond introductory level and is usually working in a domain under supervision.
  • Journeyman - can perform routine work unsupervised.
  • Expert - is highly regarded by peers; whose judgements are uncommonly accurate and reliable; whose performance shows both skill and economy of effort; and who can deal with unusual or tough cases.
  • Master - Can teach others; a member of an elite group of experts whose judgements set regulations, standards or ideals.
I guess in this table I'd fall somewhere between Apprentice and Journeyman. It's a long road with a lot of work involved. That's why I find this Friday Night Portrait Group so valuable. Tom Buechner is a Master, and it will be interesting to line up all nine portraits in June and see where I've gone and how I got there.

I like the effort above. It was taken after my second session when I was ostensibly trying to work with a very limited palette getting darks and lights down while simultaneously going for a likeness.  Before each break I took a photograph and the model's expression changed subtly in each photo. She is barely a teen and at first she had a "deer-in-the-headlights' expression with wide eyes and a cautious tilt to her head. As she became more comfortable with people staring at her, the expression became more confident, at times cocky, without her even being aware of the change. I liked the initial expression as it showed an openess and vulnerability.

Most of my time spent on this portrait was attempting to capture this expression and get a likeness. Others in the class had different goals and Tom is the first one to admit a likeness is not the sole goal of the sessions. The critique was held at the beginning of my third session (their fifth).

It was my first critique with this group and I wanted to be on time, but I also had to instuct my kids in how to carve pumpkins. They wanted to start them that night and I wouldn't be there. Still I thought I'd made it to the door of the studio on time. My heart sank when I saw everyone already seated with their paintings in front.  uh-oh. Everybody said Tom was punctual; I knew that going in. So I apologized to him and the group, explaining I thought the start time was 7:30. Tom looked at his watch and said, "It's 7;32 Jeff." Darn.

My portrait was up last, obviously, and we all have to say something positive about our own effort. Well that was hard, so I mumbled something about liking the fleshtones. When your painting is suddenly thrust into an objective space in front of you, it's difficult not to see the flaws. There were many. In striving to get the expression I'd gone for way too much detail, particulary in the eyes, and the eyes were too dark. The temp of the shadows was off. Edges were too hard. Etc, etc. Note to self: I've noticed that when you're working on a painting and the reading glasses come out you get waaaaay too close to the painting and forget to step back.

After the critique the model takes the stand for a final bow and we're allowed one last shot. That's the effort below. I'm not going back to this from photos because, like I said I want to line them all up in June. I'm not happy with the result (I liked the one above better), but it is what it is.

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About Me

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Elmira, New York, United States
In many ways I think like a photographer. The image itself is becoming more and more important to me; the actual application of paint less and less. Blasphemy in some painterly circles. I choose to paint figures and portraits because I consider them the most difficult subject.