Thursday, April 13, 2017

Paul


This is Paul. Tall Paul because he's close to 7' tall. I did his portrait for the Portrait Project 250 series and he was #115 if you want to look him up.

I drove out to his house in Union on a cold February day to do this portrait. When I arrived, I met a friend of his and we all sat down in the living room near the wood stove, had a bowl of delicious chili and hot tea, and caught up on each other's lives.

Paul is a big basketball fan so there was a college basketball game going on while I was drawing him. The TV was to my right so he could watch the game while I drew his portrait. That's a convenient setup for doing portraits of people who watch sports on TV. The blue outline came later - sort of an afterthought.

Matt


This is Matt. His father was the first architect I worked with when I moved to Maine 17 years ago. I worked with his father for about a year and it was during that year that I met Matt. He had just gotten married and was starting a family and was busy building a house near his father's property.

I drove out to his house on a snowy day in February to do his portrait. I've been experimenting with filming the portraits so I set up a camera on Matt and another GoPro camera over my portrait to record a time-lapse video of the portrait. I don't usually like to draw and paint teeth so I usually suggest that people keep their mouths closed. Also, it's hard to maintain a smile over the course of the portrait which can last a couple of hours. But Matt was up for it so I agreed to step out of my comfort zone and paint him with a smile - which, I think, actually suits his portrait much better.

I struggled with it the entire time I was there and was so unhappy with it that I wouldn't show it to him. I told him I would figure out the problem, fix it, and he would see it when it was posted. Back in the studio, I figured it out. Of course, it was the smile and the teeth but it was also the amount of chin I had drawn below the upper lip. With the mouth open, the chin and jaw are much longer than I am used to drawing and I was not believing (drawing) what I was seeing. I learn something new in EVERY portrait.

The writing around Matt's head relates to a conversation we had while I was drawing him. And ironically, it contains the solution to the very problem I was struggling with during the portrait. I transcribed it from the video and it's about Matt's own effort at drawing portraits back in college where he tried to do portraits using a minimal number of lines to capture a person's likeness. I've started incorporating this exercise into my portrait sketches as well - so thanks for the idea Matt!!

12x16 pencil, ink, watercolor and acrylic in my huge Moleskine sketchbook. Text added digitally.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Jessica


This is Jessica. Tall, athletic, kind and beautiful. I met her on a bike ride across Maine years ago. She's an artist - her passion for painting and experiencing adventure is summed up in a quote of hers I found on her website:

"I paint out of love — love for the world and for the human capacity to know the world through movement, recreation, and adventure. Kinesthetic intelligence and imagination are very important to me; so is the sensation of wonder. That a small movement of paint can capture a large movement of body through water, and that we can know the world’s beauty through both these actions, is astounding. It’s time we start picturing ourselves in the landscape more."

You can see her paintings and learn more about her here - http://www.jessicaleeives.com/

12x16 watercolor and pencil in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Beech Hill 3


Another Beech Hill painting. Or should I call it a "study"? I mean, really, what's the difference?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Leslie


This is Leslie. She and my wife work together and have become good friends over the past 2 or 3 years. She's a great cook and hostess and pulls together the most fabulous parties. Occasionally, I'll come home and Leslie and Valerie will be hanging out playing cards or working and it will morph into Leslie making the most awesome dinner from the simplest ingredients.

This portrait felt different for me. For one thing, I decided to change over to acrylics from watercolor within the first few minutes of starting to paint. I wanted more texture or character than I felt that watercolor could give me. Secondly, I tried and, at least on some level, succeeded to let go of my usual attempts to appeal to do a portrait that she would like. I've been noticing this "concern for what others will think" almost always creeps in with these "live" portraits and usually makes me tighter in the drawing and painting than I like to be. So lately I've been trying to buck this concern believing that it "compromises" the portrait on some level. Maybe, by using a less familiar medium, I took my mind off one thing ("concern for what others will think")  and put it toward dealing with the more technical and mundane issues of getting paint to do what I wanted. Regardless, I'm happy with the freedom I felt in doing this portrait and think the brush strokes, lines and scratches and rich saturated color reflect Leslie's character. Come in close and take a look.

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Aidan


This is Aidan. I've known him since he was a baby. He and my son went to preschool together. I remember taking my son over to his house for a play date one day when they were around 4 and Aidan got in trouble for something and his mom sent him to his room for a "timeout". Two minutes later I saw him running across the lawn in his underwear with a big smile on his face. Four walls couldn't contain him. He had climbed out the window and found freedom.

I did this portrait just a few days before he headed off to college. He's a good guy - smart, kind, athletic, and artistic. But don't let his good looks and calm demeanor fool you - he has a wild side.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lisa


This is Lisa. You can see the first portrait I painted of her here.

This portrait took 3 sessions over a couple of weeks. The first session we talked for about an hour while listening to Joni Mitchell and drinking tea and came up with a brilliant idea of doing an oil portrait that we could both work on together. The idea was that I would begin the painting, then Lisa would work on it over the next week, then I would come back and work on it some more and it would go on like this until we had a portrait we both liked. Since I didn't bring any oils, we scavenged Lisa's studio for a canvas, paints, and brushes then set up an easel in her dining room since it had the best light. I got the painting to good place that afternoon though we both agreed she looked too stern in the painting. You can see that painting here.

The next week I arrived to find the painting exactly as I had left it! Instead, Lisa started a new painting - a self-portrait she had done from looking in the mirror. So I suggested I work on that painting instead of continuing on with the first one. I quickly discovered how difficult it is to work on a mirrored portrait. Everything is backward so you have to study the subject then flip the study in your mind and then try to paint. It's really hard to do so after a few minutes I gave up and returned to the original painting. I made some improvements and advanced the painting to the next level leaving the background mostly untouched.

The next time I returned Lisa had made further progress on her self-portrait. I continued working on my portrait and we talked about the background until I saw it in my mind as a golden light. I wrapped things up and brought it home and finished it. This is pretty much how I imagined it. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Judy on Wood


Sketch on MDF.

Judy WIP


Getting there....

Kris


This is Kris. She is an artist living in Rockland. You can see the first portrait I did of Kris here.

12x16 Pencil and watercolor in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Charlene


This is Charlene. About 15 years ago I was reading an article in our local newspaper about her husband completing an Ironman triathlon and decided I wanted to meet him. I had started training for a shorter distance triathlon and thought he would be a good person to meet, get some tips from, maybe even train with.  A few days later, out of the blue, I get a call from him. He had gotten my number from so and so who referred him to me to help him with the design of a renovation that he and Charlene were undertaking. And so began a professional relationship, training partners, and friends for life. Charlene is a Cheesehead - it's not derogatory - people from Wisconsin and fans of the Green Bay Packers football team wear the name proudly.

10x14 pencil and watercolor on 140 lb. paper

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.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Lily


Portrait at 2 hours

This is Lily. As I said in my first portrait, she is cool, quirky, has a dog named Shadow and she's a photographer. You can see that first portrait here.

For this portrait, I met Lily at her house. We sat down for awhile and caught up on each other's lives and then turned our attention toward her portrait. The last portrait I did, she was standing behind a birch tree with one of the "eyes" of the birch bark taking the place of her right eye. To me, there was something poetic and poignant there - partly hiding and protecting herself and her identity, but also firmly planted in a forest of birches "looking" through another lens, or "eye", that to me, symbolizes her connection to the natural world. We discussed building on that same idea in my new portrait that would merge a part of my portrait with a photograph of her.

Then, I started to work on her portrait. I sat across from her at her dining table. A window to her right delivered beautiful morning light reflecting off the snow outside and casting a radiant golden glow on that side of her face. I took some photos knowing the light would soon change. Then I continued drawing and painting. It took Lily some time to get comfortable. I often ask people to look at me as I'm drawing them and, although they usually settle into it, the first few minutes are unsettling for most people. It's an intense experience to look into another's gaze and with Lily, I found her attempts to get comfortable particularly raw, attractive and intriguing. She was clearly more comfortable behind the lens than in front of it. I could only hope to capture some of this vulnerable beauty. At the end of 2 hours (my self-imposed deadline), I wasn't even close to capturing what I really wanted to capture. You can see in my "Portrait at 2 hours" photo that I was still working out the basics and building up shape and color. At this point, a resemblance is there but there's not much light, energy, or feeling.

"Finished" Portrait
And this is both a frustrating and tremendously exciting thing for me now with these live portraits. I would like to complete these portraits in the time I am with my friends but so far that just hasn't happened. Perhaps I need to work smaller, take more chances, push myself to go faster. But as frustrating as it can be, I am also extremely excited to keep pushing and exploring and so thankful for my friends for helping me and encouraging me and connecting with me on deeper levels while I am doing this in front of them.

Back in the studio, I was motivated to "finish" it - to push toward what I wanted to originally capture - so I continued to work from the photographs I had taken until it got closer to the feeling that I was going for. I probably spent another 3 or more hours in the studio working on it. As I move forward in this project, I would like to keep to posting the portrait I produce in the time I am with the person I'm painting and not let myself off the hook by knowing I can rely on their photograph to help me "finish" it or realize my internal vision.

12x16 watercolor and pencil in my huge Moleskine sketchbook.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lauren


This is Lauren. She's a co-owner of the Kelpie Gallery, a local fine art gallery in South Thomaston, Maine. This past summer her gallery invited me to participate in a wet paint auction to benefit the Georges River Land Trust. The basic idea of this wet paint auction was to set loose a large group of artists near the Weskeag River over 2 hot days and let them paint whatever they wanted and then try to sell all of the paintings the next day at auction. I was inspired to paint a whimsical piece I called "Yellow Submarine" because that's exactly what I painted. When my piece went up for auction I was honored to find that Lauren was the winner of my painting.

For this portrait, Lauren came to my house and sat across from me at our dining room table. When I started drawing her I asked if she had ever had her portrait painted before. Then she told me about the time Andrew Wyeth painted her portrait. Yeah, THE Andrew Wyeth.

Watercolor, pen, pencil and spray ink on paper in my huge Moleskine Journal (12x16).


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sully


This is Sully. He and my son have been friends since they were young kids. Now he's in college in Colorado and skis whenever he can get some time off. A couple of years I did his portrait from a photo as part of the Portrait Project 250 series that you can see here. This past Christmas break he stayed with us for a few days and I was able to do his portrait one afternoon. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Unfinished Truth



Truth and I got together a couple of weeks ago at Drouthy Bear for a drink and I sketched this portrait of her. Doesn't feel finished but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

Truth


This is Truth. I met her a couple of years ago at a weekly life drawing group we both attend. Her actual name is Truth Hawk. I really don't know of a woman with a cooler name than that.

I did this portrait almost 3 months ago when I first announced my intention to do live portraits of all of my Facebook friends. I think Truth was the first to say yes to the idea so we scheduled it right away. At about the same time, life got busy with other projects so I put off scheduling any more portraits. Anyway, I'm back.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lauren in progress


I painted Lauren "live" this morning. Didn't finish so I took a photo and will work on it some more. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year


Just looked back over my January posts for the past 8 years. I love having this online sketchbook. Not too many people see it. Just the interested (and interesting) few. These days it feels like it's just Wildside and me. I like having this place and this year I hope I post more because I like seeing the journey of my artistic expression unfolding over time. Happy New Year Wildside! Hoping I explore more of mine this year.

Oh yeah, this is a work in progress actually. I took a photo of the painting I was working on and then played with it in PicsArt app for iPhone that Truth got me on to.