Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Chuck





This is Chuck. You can see the first portrait I did of Chuck here.

For this portrait, I drove down to his house near Spruce Head. I set up in his living room and started drawing with charcoal but didn't like where it was going so we moved to his dining table and I started over. I worked in pencil and watercolor and ended up with something far different than the portrait I am posting.

Back in the studio, I saw so many errors in the drawing that it drove me to start a whole new painting using just black and white acrylic paint. Then I tried another version in Artrage using the two paintings digitally overlayed. Not liking either of these or the mashed up Artrage version, I returned to the original and started fixing my errors using a photograph I took when I was doing his portrait. This time I used ink, spray paint, and acrylic. I love the effect of the paints and sprayed texture in this portrait.

12x16 mixed media in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Erja


This is Erja. I met her on a plane flying from Rockland to Boston a couple of years ago. We were both heading off on separate adventures but had some time to become acquainted while waiting for our bags to arrive at baggage claim. A couple of months later we became friends on Facebook.

This is what a portrait typically looks like a couple of hours after I arrive at a friend's house to do a portrait. Many of the portraits I've posted I continued working on back in my studio with photographs to refer to because I felt I had more to add or didn't like that they were "unfinished". With Erja's portrait, I like that it's unfinished. This is where we are.

12x16 pencil and watercolor in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jonathan


This is Jonathan. I first knew him as a builder. He would occasionally bid on projects I had designed. But when I met with him recently for his portrait he described his transition towards politics - a transition from shaping living environments to shaping an environment we can all live in. For months leading up to the elections in November, I saw his signs along the roads so when he agreed to let me do his portrait I was eager to learn more about what inspired him toward this new direction.
He told me a story of being out on his sailboat on Penobscot Bay with his grandson on a beautiful summer day. Everything felt perfect - the light, the weather, the setting, the joy in the eyes of his grandson, and the connections to everything and everyone. It all felt right. He looked at his grandson and saw that he was living in that same moment of connection with him. Jonathan described this moment and the moment that followed as one of the big pivot points in his life. The next thought he had was that his grandson would not grow up to experience this kind of world with his future grandchildren due to the impacts of climate change.
I believe moments like this are so powerful in our lives because we see the contrast so clearly. For Jonathan, he not only saw and felt this powerful contrast, he looked within himself and at his life experience and abilities and decided, to borrow a phrase from Gandhi, to make and be the change he wanted to see in the world. In talking to him, I came to see he had thought through many important issues beyond climate change and was comfortable both listening to and articulating reasoned positions. We need more politicians like Jonathan. We need more sunshine.
12x16 pencil, ink, and watercolor with Artrage.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chuck


Painted this last night in my huge Moleskine from a portrait I painted live. Think I like this one more.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Anneli


This is Anneli. I think rather than try to write a story here about Anneli I will simply copy and paste one of her facebook posts here. She's a painter, activist, mom, graphic designer, adventurer, writer and all around great person to know. I loved hanging out with her and painting her portrait. We actually collaborated on this one. I painted in pencil and watercolor and left it for her to work on. Then she painted in the background with oils. She dropped it off yesterday and I photographed it and continued working on it some more in Artrage 5, a digital painting software.

This story by Anneli comes from an adventure she took last year with her friend, Jonathan, traveling from Maine to Iceland on a container ship.

Day 5, Friday | Amuse-Bouche
We left Newfoundland last night after 12 hours loading, unloading, and fueling up before our ocean crossing. It took us about 3 days to get there from Portland, Maine. I had really big plans to write an entry every day, but have now realized I will just have to write when I have the opportunity. Mainly because I can no longer remember what day it is, and just to further mess with us they keep pushing the clock forward a half or a whole hour every day.
Argentia, Newfoundland is a small Canadian port out in nowhere, far east at the edge of the ocean. We woke up yesterday morning to see a landscape out our window that was reminiscent of Lofoten, Norway, with its dramatic and exaggerated mountains. There were people on small skiffs cruising the bay picking off puffins with rifles before scooping them into nets. FYI: Up here, guns don’t kill puffins — men and women in black ski masks kill puffins. The port was literally a concrete dock with a few small buildings and pretty much nothing else. No stores, restaurants, shops — it is about as functional as it gets. So much for tax-free shopping — not that we need anything.
Since we started on this trip, Jonathan and I have been literally and figuratively stunned by the amount of hearty food we’ve been served. Not just some Cheerios from a box, either — serious, home-cooked, no-bullshit hot meals at 8:00, 12:00, 18:00 — and for good measure there is some sort of baked pastries and coffee at 15:00 just in case the other three meals aren’t enough to give you cardiac arrest. If you have a problem with gluten, meat, or sugar — this trip is decidedly not for you.
Yesterday everyone had their hot breakfast as usual and suited up to go out and do their respective jobs. This was really the first time we had an opportunity to see them in action as they secured Selfoss to the shore and started a long, hard day juggling massive containers on and off the ship, in a snow shower no less. One thing is increasingly apparent: this is no work for pussies. The alcohol ban on board makes a lot more sense when you understand what a detail oriented job this is. Mistakes can result in huge losses, not only in profit but in lives. Precision and safety are everything.
Knowing this, our meals make more sense as well. Hearty traditional food for hard work — but it also it means important downtime for the crew. Something steady, dependable and enjoyable. A family meal of sorts where everyone gathers for their food. And arguably a nice reward for not dropping a container on someone. The food is the social connection, along with hanging out in the smoking room. Kalli tells me that the “smoking room” is a newer concept, that smoking used to be an important social connection between all the crew onboard, a common pastime that has been somewhat toned down by the designation of a specific area for this activity.
“I guess I need to start smoking,” I tell Kalli. I’ve probably smoked a half a pack since the beginning of the trip in second-hand smoke alone.
He shrugs, “It’s never too late to start.”
Just a few days ago, still somewhat full from some delicious hot lunch only a few hours earlier, I’m working in our cabin when Captain Kalli comes by. Jonathan is presumably hanging off the ship somewhere like a squirrel with his GoPro.
“There’s a special surprise for coffee time today,” he says.
Naturally, I’m delighted at this unexpected news. I love surprises.
“Where is Jonathan? There’s a surprise for him, too,” he continues.
“Oh, I’m sure he’s still on the ship. Hopefully.”
Excited by the prospect of a surprise, I scurry down to the mess room and am met by Jona, the only female crew member. She is holding a plate for me. The anticipation is palpable.
A cream puff! Who doesn’t love cream puffs? A cream puff shaped like a…
A chocolate covered penis cream puff.
I burst out laughing. Jona is visibly pleased.
“I made these for you,” she says, proudly. “Here’s one for Jonathan,” she shows me the plate with a pair of beautifully formed, perky breasts.
Jonathan is not yet here and has no idea that a spectacular set of boobies are waiting for him along with some delicious cocoa.
“You are an artist, Jona.”
I’m about one coconut sprinkled testicle in when Jonathan shows up and receives his plate, somewhat dumbfounded. He clearly wasn’t expecting this either.
“You get the boobs,” I say matter-of-factly in-between a mouth full of balls. There really is no proper etiquette for eating these sorts of things.
I look around and can confirm that everyone else has normal cream puffs. I am at once honored and flattered. After eating the lamb testicles in aspic a few days ago, I feel that this is some sort of reward. We’re officially in now. Phallic karma.
Done with my cream puff, and after a few highly inappropriate comments about the pastry that I won’t mention here, I head for the smoking room.
I think I need a cigarette.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rebecca


This is Rebecca. I met her the day I did her portrait. She's Truth's step-daughter. You may remember Truth as I posted her portrait here just a few weeks ago. Anyway, when Rebecca found out what I was doing with the Portrait Project, she volunteered to sit for me.

Rebecca and Truth came to the house one cold Sunday in early January and I set it up so that Rebecca sat across from me at our dining table. Truth sat at the other end and worked on her latest knitting project - the pussy hat. I sketched this portrait in my large 12x16 Moleskine and put a fair amount of watercolor on it. This morning I did a little more work on it before bringing it into Artrage 5, a new version of one of my favorite painting software programs. I played around with some of the new brushes and tools and added the flower background.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Nick


This is Nick. You can see the first portrait of Nick that I did a couple of years ago here. You really have to see both of them to get a better sense of Nick's personality.

For this portrait, Nick came over to our house a few days before heading back to college after Christmas break. He sat across from me at our dining room table while I sketched and we talked.

Today I took a photo of my sketch and was trying to decide what else it needed before posting it and I thought back to the first time I really got to hang around Nick. I had just separated from my first wife and Alex (my son) and I had moved into a small cottage that happened to be right next door to Nick's family. Alex and Nick became fast friends and spent a lot of time hanging out together in and around that cottage. We only lived there a year or so and then moved to another house a few blocks away from the cottage. Anyway, I remembered a sketch I did about 10 years ago sitting at the dining table in that little cottage and sketching the view out of the window and I thought that would make a perfect background to Nick's portrait. It took me awhile to find the sketchbook it was in but I did and scanned it into the computer and put it "behind" Nick's portrait digitally. It's a little strange in a twilight zone kind of way but it carries a special meaning for me now, and maybe it will for Nick too.

12x16 Pencil, pen, ink, and watercolor in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Lisa 1


I painted Lisa yesterday. I took this photo of the painting at the end of our time together. I brought my portrait sketchbook, acrylics, inks and watercolors and my new camera setup which will allow me to do timelapse speed painting videos. We sat down and talked about the portrait and Lisa expressed that she really wanted to get back in her studio and paint more so I suggested we work on this painting together over the course of a few sessions. Lisa likes to paint in oils so we found a canvas, scrounged through tubes of paint to find a good palette of colors, then set up in the dining room where the light was best. I was going to record the painting but my battery was dead (next time bring some extra!) This is how I left it. I emailed her some photos and encouraged her to have fun with it. I'll come back next week and it will be my turn to play. Can't wait to see how this collaboration will turn out!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Janet


This is Janet. She was one of my mom's best friends from the time they met shortly after my mom moved to Maine in the early nineties until my mom's death in 2008. Whenever I see Janet around town we always stop and talk for awhile and she usually is wearing something that she was either given by my mom when she was alive or that she bought when her estate was sold. She always says something kind about my mom that was meaningful to her and these little connections and her expressions of love mean the world to me (though I don't believe I have ever told her that).

When I asked Janet if I could paint her portrait she said she would be happy to but asked if she could knit while I was painting her. "Of course", I said. She is a doer. Her hands are much prettier than this portrait would suggest but they came out just the way I wanted. Artistic license and all that...

12x16 pencil, watercolor, and acrylic in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Andrew - Part 1


This is Andrew. And this is why I LOVE this phase of Portrait Project. When I approach each friend for the portrait I'm about to do, I have been letting them know that I see these portraits as collaborations and invite their ideas in the making of their portrait. I was especially excited to see Andrew's name come out of the jar because is a creative artist, sculptor, and maker of interesting things so I was pretty sure he would have some ideas on the making of his portrait.

We met at his studio, which is in a large steel warehouse that has been partitioned into studios and workspaces where artists, sculptors, metalworkers, cabinetmakers, an architect, and a builder work separately on their own projects but also share a common bathroom, kitchen, meeting area, and woodshop tools. We talked about the portrait and Andrew came up with an idea of using a multi-plane canvas. I'm not really sure that's the right term but I'm also not entirely sure how this portrait is going to finally turn out. Andrew suggested I work out 2 portraits - one of half his face straight-on and the other at a 3/4 view - and then he would do the rest. "Sounds good to me", I said. Then he cut 2 panels, slapped some gesso on them and dried the panels with a heat gun. Then I got to work sketching and spraying and finger painting as fast as I could go because we both had other things to get to that day. This morning I threw a little more paint on and took some photos. Tomorrow, I'll drop them off at his shop and he'll finish them up. Can't wait to post the final piece!

Pencil, acrylic, and inks on 1/2" MDF.

To see the first portrait I did of Andrew for the Portrait Project 250 series, go here.