Abstract Realism

Strong in Spirit 11×14 Abstract Realism Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I hope to create many more paintings in this style. It feels a bit riskier than painting in a more traditional style but it is exciting to try. I think you can see why this style of painting receives the name Abstract Realism.

Below is an image painted in a traditional style. It’s just “Realism” and it’s primarily the style in which I paint. It was painted a couple weeks prior to the one above. Perhaps the painting surface is a bit too textured, though I like it nonetheless. The reference photo used was created by photographer Jim Lasala, during his trip to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake where there was major devastation left in it’s wake.

Haitian Girl with Red Beads in Her Hair 9×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Below: I thought it would also be fun for you to see the digital painting I created from the same image many years ago as she might have imagined herself in a dream.

Haitian Girl’s Dream, Digital Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Elegant Lady in Red

Elegant Lady in Red 11 x 14 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

It’s always a challenge and a joy to paint a portrait. Of course you know my tendency is toward realism – and so it is. I enjoy her elegance in the red draped fabric – and the tiny hint of a smile.

Finally, it has begun to cool and to rain a little. I cannot ever remember such a warm and dry fall as we’ve had. It’s been really lovely. Watering plants has come to an end. The time will change in a week or so to Daylight Savings Time. I thought this had ended legislatively but I am obviously wrong. It will become dark very early – 5pm, even 4:30 by December. I’ll continue to tuck myself in my studio and paint. It’s a creative and restful time for me. I hope the same for you. Winifred

Mysterious Woman

Mysterious Woman in Red 14×18 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

It’s been a lengthy absence by my standards and I’ve had technical problems posting. Hope this works. I’ve been really really busy with so many activities. I even redid a couple paintings I previously posted but I have not yet replaced them. When I create a new painting and as I continue to observe it, I dislike it more and more – I do rework it if there are fundamental strengths. This happens fairly often.

This my most recent is a unusual and I do love it. I enjoyed working with this wonderful model. I’m very fortunate with my collection of growing models. I also love the fact that I have an excellent capacity to create dramatic lighting in my home just by pulling back the corner of a drape, which is otherwise dark. So essentially by pulling back the corner of my drape, I have a single spotlight. To add a little “fill” light I only have to pull back the corner of the other side of the other drape – of a two window bank which keeps the room from being completely dark – as though I turned on a flashlight. Is that confusing enough? Anyway, it really works. I don’t miss my studio. The amount of space maybe but I’m OK.

The wall was blank behind her. It’s a warm mid tone brown color with a burgundy ceiling. I can always make the wall even more neutral/cool in Photoshop if I like. So, there I had this lovely portrait of a young lady sitting on a stool against a light background – light when the sun hit it. In the scene, there was also part of a pulled back drape showing. Now, what would I do?

I could paint it as it was – yes I could, but no challenge there. Then I occurred to me to fill it with soft swirls of fabric and play with grayed colors to maintain her as the focus. The next idea which came to me was to repeat her eyes in the background. I started with lots of eyes, six on each side and kept eliminating them to 3 then 2. Then I started to enlarge them. I did so and I was finished with what would be my reference for the painting. This concept came together very quickly – just showed up – no reference for any of it. RARE – no struggle. I looked at my reference, the likes of which I have never painted before, and thought “how am I going to paint this”! There were so many slight color variations which created the forms. But I did. I have no idea where these ideas come from, I simply try to follow the instructions and to make room for them as they flow through me. I’m only a conduit I always say. This digital file does not reflect the photo well at all – but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day – The real discoverers of America. Have a great weekend. Winifred

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Related Images:

Top Bun – New York

Top Bun – Hopeful Model in New York 11×14 Oil Painting

I often get such wonderful photographs when I visit New York. It was a gallery opening which brought me to New York on this occasion 10 years ago. Art Wolfe, an internationally known artist based in the Seattle, was showing an an amazing body of work. He had allowed me to work on the project a couple days, a participation I will never forget. I didn’t want to miss this ultimate show.

While moving about and chatting with many people I knew, I spotted a very interesting and attractive young woman. I ask her if I could photograph her. In New York most people like to be photographed. It’s a positive form of recognition. The desire to be an actor or model is very strong. Immediately she said “yes” and struck a pose. She wore an dress with only one sleeve. The other arm and shoulder were fully exposed and fully tattooed. Chains hung from her attire in many places. Her wore heavy eye make up. I knew these photos would be fun to work with some day. The “someday” is this portrait painting – I enjoyed re envisioning her. I hope you like it.

To get and idea about Art’s project and New York show click here: The Human Canvas You’ve never seen anything like it. I was so honored to play even a small role in the effort.

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Fall is just around the corner. Why is it that it will be 90 degrees here tomorrow. Fortunately, it will last only one day. Have a great weekend. Winifred

Opposites

Time for Play 9×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I wonder if it was shocking to see this painting pop up. Art experts suggest you not always attempt to make your paintings “precious”. You shouldn’t working so intensely as though trying to create the next greatest masterpiece. Such endeavor, they say, halts creativity and experimentation. This can cause burnout and it’s not so much fun. I’m am pretty intense when I paint. Soon, my back hurting and my eyes strained, trying to get those brushstrokes just right – it’s emotionally very stressful. In the above painting, I just had fun – fun colors, fun and funny brushstrokes, unfinished hands – it didn’t matter. The photo reference was taken in a nail salon years ago when I use to get acrylic nails. My nails were pretty but I felt it such a waste of my time. I don’t have fake nails any longer. It’s really pointless given my current preoccupation, though I gave it up long before I was painting. Below: A painting far more on the serious side – “a girl in a lace shawl dreaming”.

Girl Dreaming – Oil Painting 9×12 by Winifred Whitfield

I like this painting, but I feel I’ve created so many pretty, dramatic and serious paintings – which “feel” quite similar. This painting is the opposite of the one above. I think I want to play a bit more – and work more with my painting knives. It’s easier on ones back!

Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred

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Pebble

Young Asian Indian Girl Holding a Pebble – Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I said I would present you with a non-human portrait this week but ultimately I didn’t like the photo reference I had in mind – so I chose as usual, a human portrait – a little girl. Yet another portrait look with lots of texture. I love the way children hold tiny things in their hands – the items appear to be so precious to them.

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My Red Ruffles

Young Mexican Girl in Red Ruffled Dress 12×16 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I painted this little girl using my painting knives. I ask myself recently why I had searched for and purchased my large assortment of “painting knives” if I was not going to use them. A few years ago, I had an online instructor who mentioned that her primary tool is a painting knife, which she purchased long ago, but which is no longer available. (I always hate it when someone says that.) She further commented that she could not paint in her specific style without this tool. It has a very soft and flexible metal blade which provides a great deal of control in creating large and very fine details with great maneuverability. I was immediately challenged to find such tool for myself.

Art stores now only sell palette knives made of a substantially harder and less flexible metal.Their purpose is primarily to mix paint on a palette, though some do paint with them and make other creative marks. Art stores today, however, don’t sell painting knives I wanted a painting knife like my instructor – I like tools. INDEED I FOUND SEVERAL! My search words included – painting knives, vintage, used, well worn, … words most people are not looking to describe products they want to purchase, but I focused on these words. I now have 17 assorted painting knives – different shapes and sizes. I purchased all I could find because in addition to their rarity and fragility, I might damage one in a drop to the floor and trust me I drop things ALL OF THE TIME. One set of these knives was used but excellent, another set was completely unused – still in the box with only a little discoloration on the blades. I feel so lucky to have found these very serviceable, no longer commercially produced tools, on Ebay – and for a song! They are amazing. They look much like a palette knife but they are made of thinner and far more flexible metal. With them, I can make expressive marks different from a brush and move the paint around in an easily maneuverable manner.

Recently, I posted a painting of this same little girls head only, painted several years ago – a normal portrait. At that time, I looked at those ruffles and thought “I don’t think so – but maybe someday”. And so the day came and I thought I’d put those painting knives to the test. It was right tool, the right time and the right skill level to create this painting. I enjoy the color, the depth and dimension as well as her red ruffles and pretty little face. I really like it – It was fun and I hope you enjoy it also. My next canvas is prepared and ready for me to get to work. It will be a very unusual kind of portrait – not the human kind!

The heatwave broke here and it’s now very comfortable. Wherever you are, I hope you are comfortable also. YEAH KANSAS!

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Pin Up Girl

Pin Up Girl 12×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Known for their “pouty” red lips, big curls, wind blown up swept skirts, and long legs – I thought I’d give suchpainting a try – at least partially. Some years ago, I taught an entire online digital painting course focused on the great painters of pin up. I have many photo references taken more than 10 years ago while attending a photography competition in Nevada. A bunch of us hired a couple models and went into the desert to do a photo shoot. This is the first oil painting I’ve created from one of those references. I find all portrait paintings challenging, however, In this case, I was even challenged by the blouse! I completely repainted her blouse 6 times – not just changing it a little each time, but totally. I altered the style of brush strokes, style of texture,the shape of the blouse, the color – everything. Ultimately, the simpler I made it the better. Hope you enjoy my pin up. There is someone out there who very much reminds me of a pin up girl. The red dress you were wearing would have been perfect.

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Cutie Pie

Cutie Pie 12×12 Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

I’m finding that when I allow young children to pose themselves, they often do a remarkable job. I love his adorable pose. There aren’t words to instruct him to do this. The fact is, I was shooting a wedding 18 years ago, when I saw him. I ask him if I could photographed him. I saved this image in a special folder for that long – the folder is titled “portraits to be painted”.

Famous and brilliant artist Richard Schmidt said that one should always place a spot of red somewhere in a painting. That’s why, I added the little red label looking thing on his sleeve. I didn’t want to make it too red but the color spot does make a difference. Most of the time – I forget. Hope you enjoy. Have a wonderful weekend. Winifred

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Asian Indian Woman – Many Layers of Brushstrokes

Gentle Breeze in Sunlight – 11×14 Oil Painting by Winifred

Yes, again, this painting was created without an initial sketch. I may want to rethink that. In painting a portrait, one of the most important things is to get proportions correct and to get features in the right place and accurate. That’s not easy. Take a look below and how this painting began. Nothing is quite in the right place in my first paint layer. The eyes have not been painted at all.

Building form and features, making corrections with paint layers.

The good news is that the hair and background I liked from the very start. I didn’t know this would be my final background but I desired no change to it. It only required some vision of the colors I wanted as an under painting, painted primarily to cover the white of the canvas. I used quick loose brush marks and it was done. Then I tried for a general shape of the face and some quick brush marks in the general shape of her hair and mostly I never touched the hair again. Can you imagine, taking a brush and going “swish, swish, swish and something is finished. These are the kind of energetic brushstrokes I love. Such loose energetic strokes are lost if I were to keep redoing and tweaking them. They’d go flat and stale. That part of the first paint layer was easy. I ended my first night. I’m always excited for the next paint session when I awake the next day, because I know exactly what I have to do – even though I know suffering will now commence.

Typically, I create four or 5 paint layers to complete a portrait. Many times, it’s even more. Portraits are hard to paint. I’ve ask myself why I love painting portraits since they require such lengthy and complex processes and can be quite tedious. It is all very complicated but I am obsessed! I decided that what keeps me going is that in the end, there is this beautiful portrait which was born out of chaos and I feel proud of this. Often the next day, after I thought my portrait was finished, I return it to the easel and work on it for another 10 hours or for several days to come. As time passes and with fresh vision, there is a process of seeing it anew, wanting to make yet another change – until finally you don’t make more changes and then it is finished. Actually, and unfortunately, that’s what happens most of the time. It’s that way for most painters, so I’m in good company.

For a couple years, Ive watched a YouTube series called “Portrait Artist of the Year”. It has been filmed in several European English speaking countries. It starts with 8 portrait artist and is whittled down to the winner -the “Portrait Artist of the Year” receives a $10.000.00 commission to paint some actor, musician or other artistically famous person. The artist competing include both professional artist and non-professional artist. During this competition, the artist has to create their paintings in 4 hours. Of course, everyone is freaked out, but everyone has the same disadvantage. Importantly to me, they all say the same thing. They say they can typically cover the canvas with paint in one day or several hours, but to actually COMPLETE a painting to their satisfaction, usually tales 3 weeks to several months. So you see, that’s really how it is. I was happy to hear this. The long period needed to complete the portrait is because of the need to “refresh” your eyes, and often your artistic vision – it’s a process that can not occur working continuously, its a process which requires time and space.

So many words today. Hope I haven’t bored you. I’m trying to cover my disappointment and sadness. Yet another mass shooting and women’s rights have been pushed back by 50 years. What’s happening in this country is horrifying. Right to Life and AR 15’s standing hand in hand – what a joke! And don’t get me started on Trump! Have a good weekend.

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