Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Standing Male Figure

This painting started out as a pen and ink drawing. I like the flexibility of walnut ink because it can be pulled out if put in the wrong spot. I like the way the drawing was progressing and I had some time left with the model so I thought I would mark some color. After a thin coat of matte medium dried (5 minutes) I started to correct the contours and block in the planes. I have to battle with lost and found edges because I want the figure to disappear into the ground. Someone else said it and I agree, "...painting is 80% edges."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Head Study

This head was painted with thick lead white no. 1 Winsor Newton. I ground the other colors with a heavier proportion of drier, and the end result was that the paint really started to set-up within an hour and was touch dry within 24 hours. The most dominant mark is the highlight on the forehead, which needs some attention because it looks like a bird crapped on his head. I'll probably use titanium which may make a softer transition.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Work In Progress

This is a kimono composition I'm working on.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Ingres, Portrait of Madame Devaucay, Chantilly
When I see Ingres' work, I realize I need to spend more time on my edges. What kind of brushes did he use?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Golden Ratio ?

I think most painters have a intuitive approach to composition. I explored the golden mean, golden section, and golden ratio in this piece and had some questions while I was doing it. When I swung my arc to get my section and then checked out the numbers with the golden ratio (1.618...), there was a slight disagreement. I was interested in what sizes (in inches) came close to the golden ratio and found that 34"x55", 29"x47", 26"x42", and 13"x21" were very close. I also read somewhere that the average ratio for modern paintings is 1.34, I wonder if standard sizing has had any influence. I think that European or metric standard sizes are closer, and more interesting.
Included is a thumbnail of the painting, worked up. I'll post it at different states.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pen and Ink

Pen and Ink

Cast versus Academy

Here are two interesting images from the 19th century that perfectly describe an academic approach to the figure. Hippolyte-Jean Flandrin (1809-1864) Standing Male Academy, Facing Left and Pierre- Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Two Studies of a Plaster Cast, verso and recto show the male figure in both a conceived, structural context and a fully realized, resolved one. Renoir clearly finds large mass relationships, while arranging the geometry with a variety of planes. I think Flandrin is showing off with his perfect placement of the figure. One of an academy's precepts is that the figure touch its vertical or horizontal boundaries and this on does it on two accounts. I enjoy the passage the head makes into the background as well as the calligraphic mark of the soleus.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Cast Personification Examples

Here are a few examples of how Rubens referenced sculpture and made it his own. There is an example of Titian reversing the Laocoon a little and tilting it a bit compared to the original sculpture. The more you are aware of the various archetypes the more you see them. Although Rubens may have been able to do this the most graciously, Picasso was able to pilfer and recycle with tremendous efficiency.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Frontal Lighting

For me, lighting the model from the front is the most challenging. Although there were no large shadow shapes the model's dark features helped with the drawing. The Russian painters of the 19th c. had success with bold lighting situations combined with a cooler palette.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Chapters: Drew Writing

My friend Drew Trudeau helped me conceive and execute this painting. He is a talented writer, musician, and designer
I am currently composing a painting of him and his band The Stick, which may turn out to be at least a triptych.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This scene is a few blocks from our apartment where we have done much food shopping.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Value versus Color

This theme has been recycled throughout the history of Western art and provides the artist with an excuse to paint the nude figure justified by moral ends. More importantly it is a perfect example of painting flesh and creating volume. Closer inspection and we find that the values in the drawing are what gives the central figure so much presence and by simply plugging in the temperature the figure comes to life. If we look at the painting in black and white we see a perfect opaque chalk drawing.
Susanna and the Elders, Hendrick Goltzius MFA Boston

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Beauty of Cast Painting- Russell Harris

I've long admired the work of Russell Harris and his unique ability to bring objects to life with uncompromising precision and detail. This work in progress (above) gives us an idea how a piece evolves and we get a peek "under the skin" of a fully resolved painting.
Cast Painting © Russell Harris 2007

Cast Personification

Untitled, © Justin Wiest 2007
I think sculpture can be a very efficient tool in learning drawing and even as subject matter for paintings. In good sculpture subtle nuance can become very clear.

Monday, August 27, 2007

West Broadway

6:15 am downtown

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Lighting the model with equal amounts of natural (window) lighting and warm incandescent lighting can produce an interesting phenomenon, pure simultaneous contrast. The optical gray produce by the wrapping of natural light illustrates this clearly (see models neck left side). The line of tangency, if both lights are of the same intensity, should be neutral. However color temperature is influenced by the acuteness of the turn. Of course large fields of color will have complementary effects with the subject also, i.e., blue landscape will help activate model's left.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I'm gathering up some of my anatomy materials and somenoe told me about
and I thought it was very interesting. It is very different from copying anatomy plates from Richer's Artistic Anatomy book, almost twenty years ago when I started at Schuler's. Although Hans Schuler Sr.'s thoughts on anatomy still apply. "Anatomy, learn it then forget it".

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Justin Wiest Paintings

I'm in the process of doing another manikin painting based on the sacrifice of Isaac (son of Abraham and father of Jacob), and hope to post a walnut-ink study soon. The walnut ink I use is simply those green rotting things on the side of the road that stain your sneakers and hands. I get a bunch of them, smash them, add some distilled water, boil them, and then strain through some pantyhose. It is preferable to use someone else's kitchen and pantyhose. You then have an ink concentrate and can water down for lighter values. I also tried adding alcohol (which prevents the ink from smelling funky) and shellac to make it flow differently. The ink has a window of flexibility before it become insoluble, that is on some papers you can make a mark and then lift most of it off. I don't know how permanent or lightfast the ink is but I have some drawings that are 10-15 years old and haven't faded or changed.