Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ludington Show

Hello all! For the summer, I have decided to create my own show highlighting the great people that make my home town of Ludington what it is. The show will be a sort of snapshot in time of these people and the beautiful places here. I have big plans, including an end of the summer show in August that will be open to the community. Also, I will soon be posting something in the local newspaper asking the community for their suggestions on whose portraits should be included in the show. In this way, it really could come around full circle and truly be a Ludington show.

And I believe I'm starting off on the right foot! The first portrait I will be doing is that of our Mayor, John Henderson. Recently I met with him to take reference photos at one of his favorite locations, our city's fairly new marina, and to talk to him about why he cares about Ludington and what makes him want to be Mayor. The largest thing I took from our talk is that if you can believe your actions can have a negative impact on the community or world, then you have to believe that they can also have a positive change as well. Mayor Henderson says that he became mayor to combat the stagnant situation of Ludington in the past. Apparently, the city just wasn't moving forward, or in any direction, as it held on to the idea that what had always been done was all that could be done. Henderson says that he stepped in to initiate change. Whether the issues made everyone happy or not, he believed that certain projects, like the new marina, might never have happened without people making some waves (pun intended!). In a small city such as Ludington, instituting change is certainly not an easy feat, and so I'm proud to be able to honor Mayor Henderson's vision of positive change with this portrait!

The challenge I'm facing with this portrait is light. The Mayor and I were able to meet at 4:00pm, which unfortunately means the sun is setting towards the marina. This makes it so that any interesting view incorporating water will unfailingly cast the Mayors face into a harsh shadow. However! I think that the shadow can be made interesting, if I am careful to not make it too dark. I like the look of the shadow, because to me I really feel the sun and wind with that bright light on the side of his face. Shadows also, in my opinion, not only create interest, but help to define planes of the face, which I enhances a portraits structure, and therefore likeness to the person. And, I think I can get the shadow to creep a little more into the second half of his face, which will help it to be even more interesting. Here is the original reference photo, and three color studies for the portrait.

From the photo you can see my dilemma with the shadow. But, I think the color studies show that it can be resolved in a convincing manner utilizing the same shadow. As far as skin tone, I think I prefer the first one best, using cadmium lemon, as opposed to the other two in which I used cadmium yellow. I think it helps give it that still sort of springtime lightness as opposed to midsummer heat of the day. But, I also think that in the first one the cerulean blue for the summer sky is too green, and I prefer the cobalt or ultramarine versions. So! A little of this, and a little of that and we should be golden. The rest of the day I will probably work on the final full sized sketch, taking breaks, looking at it with fresh eyes and standing farther back, because I can tell even now that there are some issues when an hour ago I didn't see them.

I can't begin the painting today because I will be leaving tomorrow for San Diego, and the painting would dry before I return. So I will update you on the progess after labor day. And hopefully, I will be able to get a studio space at the new Ludington Center for the Arts so I can get out of my very cramped studio/bedroom!

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