Total Art Soul - for artists

" When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt. "
Henry Kaiser
Tags >> figurative

I am officially back! Had an okay visit in Sacramento, two highlights of which were a figure drawing session (thanks to Sandra!!)  and the Second Saturday Art Walk. It was my first live figure drawing (or painting, in my case) session ever. I am completely hooked now and intensely suffering at the lack of anything like that here in the high desert. Here are some of the results:

female nude figure sitting watercolor painting

about 2-3 minutes, 9x12"

nude female figure sitting watercolor painting

5 or 10 mins i think..9x12"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

15-20 mins 9x12"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

20 mins 12x16"

nude female figure lying watercolor painting

another 20 minute one, 12x16"

nude female figure sitting watercolor painting

40-45 mins, 12x16"

There were some seriously talented and skilled people there. I only hope that I’ll get to their level when I get to their age! :)

Second Saturday wasn’t that great but it was something. Saw some new works by Bernie Weston and they were nice. He is still very affordable, so all you collectors out there should hurry up and collect :) I was hoping that the gallery still had some of his smaller 8×8″ paintings that I saw last time (something I could afford) but they weren’t there anymore.

As usual, I had grand plans for all my “free” time, and as usual, the free time didn’t show up. In Russian, there is an expression, “to divide the skin of an unkilled bear” – for which I don’t know a similar English expression. It means to make plans for resources that are not yet in your hands…Anyway, I’m back, and the portrait-a-day project is restarting tomorrow!


Originally blogged on October 19, 2010 at

This is pretty much a continuation of the previous post. I worked on two paintings at the same time, and it was a very interesting learning experience. Here are the progress pictures of the 9×12 almost three-quarter figure portrait of a lady in Icelandic national costume.

As usual, I started with sketches. This one was only one sketch that I altered many times trying to decide on the background (the reference photo, taken in a studio, has a very boring tan-beige-taupe-bleh background). On a totally irrational impulse, I made the background red. Maybe as a response to the boredom of the background in the photo?

Mark's Icelandic Mom - red

Mark's Icelandic Mom - gold, direct light

Mark's Icelandic Mom - gold diffused light

Well, this was the “fire” part of The Land of Fire and Ice, and most people I consulted (including those of you who so kindly left a comment to my post about it) felt that the figure disappeared in the intense red and/or gold background. So I tried the “ice” side of it, together with a mossy-medowy green:

watercolor portrait

watercolor potrait

watercolor portrait

And we finally settled on the background above, a hint at the glaciers and the grasses. On to the drawing:

(and no, I don’t like masking.. or doing details in general. I like splashing paint.)

And the completed painting:

watercolor portrait

In addition to learning a couple more things about working small in watercolor (hands were hard!) and spending hours figuring stuff out with an anatomy book (granted, I love doing that), I expanded my knowledge about Iceland beyond Bjork and volcanoes :) a little.

Question: how do you change a large area in a watercolor painting (like the background in those sketches) without painful scrubbing out and washing off?

Answer: Cover it with acrylic gesso and paint on top!(that’s what I did) Or use gouache. Or acrylics. Or pastels :)




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