Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tom Buechner's Friday Night Portrait Class: December and January

December was a short month because of the holidays. I was able to attend just one session. I'm not sure there was even a critique. Since I knew I had only one session I brought a 6x8 panel - a size I've become pretty comfortable with.


The first hour I worked on my drawing, getting the shapes accurate, not worrying about values or modeling. Tom came by and gave me the OK on the composition. Once again I was in the corner with some pretty flat lighting to work with. He said to keep the eye soft. For the rest of the session (3 hours) I tried working color and tone. At the end I was pretty pleased with what I'd accomplished given the time limitations. At home I was tempted to take the painting further from photo references, but never got around to it.

The model is the 15 year old daughter of Sonjia. She wore a long, rich red velvet dress with a large silver cross on a chain. I really liked Tom's painting of her. He painted on a narrow multimedia board (24x12?) full figure. She looked to me like a young princess sitting on a throne circa late Middle Ages, Northern European. The painting really caught my imagination. If I get permission I'll post a pic.

January I'm back in the same place, just a different model. Right off the bat I nailed a contour drawing of her profile. Then I was lost in la-la land. I think I had three separate sessions with this model and struggled.  I wiped the painting out completely, numerous times, knowing I had a strong drawing underneath to start fresh. The difficulty was the strand of hair falling down the right side of her face. Sometimes it covered her eye, sometimes it was brushed back. Drove me nuts. then I would lose the drawing and she would look haggard, or some strange bump would appear on the end of her nose. 

This painting I DID work on at home, before the critique. It's 8x10, a slightly larger size. The model is a 17 year old girl whose family owns the Indian restaurant in Corning. She was dressed in a traditional sari seated on, and in front of, some very colorful cushions. This model was a very poised, mature young woman. I don't know if it's because she waits tables at her families restaurant or if it's just her nature, probably a bit of both - but she is very comfortable around adults.

She also gave us some fascinating info on her culture. For instance her marriage will be arranged, but she won't get married until she's 30, only to a guy she likes though because she can say no... before that she's going to medical school to be a plastic surgeon and she doesn't want to marry someone whose family is rich because he has to know the value of money and of course he has to be nice and kind, but they will only get to meet for five minutes before getting married. And she asked her mother if she could get a nose ring because it's very Indian, we're not talking like the skateboarders down on Market St., but her mother said no so she asked if she could streak her hair red (also very Indian) but her mother said "No" so the only thing she can do is paint her toenails. Oh, and she doesn't date or drive or have a cell phone, but she doesn't mind. Whew.

At the critique everyone was kind. I had a problem with the eye and still have it. The strand of hair was a problem too, but I think I corrected it. Again I was tempted to work on this at home after the critique, but decided not to. So there it is...


  1. Both paintings are very well done. Thank you for sharing with us.

  2. Hi Sandy, High praise from someone whose paintings I admire....Thanks!


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.