The Fat Man
Figurative artists like me like to paint sketches like this from live models in a short amount of time to keep our skills sharp. When done on a regular basis, these exercises really benefit our drawing, composing, and color mixing skills which in turn improves the rest of our work.
This is my most recent head study, and the title isn't meant to be insulting to the model. His hat and the way it shades his eyes made me think of private investigator Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon; so, I gave him the villain’s nickname. In my last head study post I mentioned various weaknesses that I’m trying to improve: not getting a full-enough range of values-particularly in the light, using too many hard edges, and not laying down broad enough basic tones.
Upon scrutiny of this piece, I think I am continuing to improve in the loosening up category and in edges and composition. I wanted to flatter the model as much as possible and consequently left out as much as I felt I could get away with which made for an interesting vignette. Painting vignettes can be tricky because you have to feel your way through them and each one is unique to the subject. Looking at the work of artist’s who do vignettes well and a plenty of practice is the best way I know to learn how to paint them well yourself. I think this vignette was reasonably successful.
In the previous study, my biggest failure was not getting a full range of values. So, I was really watching out for it this time around, and I think I did much better. The painting could use a few darker accents, but the result that I’ve got is still pleasing. Now, I need to start pushing for more exciting color as well. It’s there in the skin tones of every model if you’re looking for it. One nice feature of this head study is the interesting light pattern on his cheek resulting from light filtering through the glasses. I probably should have put in a slight indication of the bottom of the right lens, but I’m obsessed with simplifying my subject as much as I can. Working this way actually has the effect of engaging the minds of viewers of the work because they have to “fill in the blanks.” I bet you've never heard that before! (unless you’re a painter)