Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Todd and Brad Reed

I know I haven't posted the final painting of Dr. Bill Anderson, but there are some final touch ups to be done once the painting isn't so wet. Actually, that might get to happen today. We shall see! In any case, it should be completely done very soon.

Next up: Todd and Brad Reed. The Reeds are a very artistic bunch. Todd has been photographing the Ludington area and Michigan for many years, and Brad has joined the family business within the last few years. On a side note, Todd's nephew Ryan Reed is also a photographer, and has recently done a project in Sudan. You can visit Ryan's website here.

But back to Todd and Brad. Those of you who know me well know that photography is not something I get excited about very easily. Maybe it's because it is so accessible these days that anyone feels they can call themselves a photographer. That being said, I have always enjoyed the Reed's photographs. Photographing a tourist trap like Ludington and still being able to create pieces that are unique and interesting to look at is no small feat. Todd and Brad really know how to capture the essence of Ludington and Michigan without doing anything that feels overdone or tiresome, or anything that relies too heavily on camera "tricks". And that is what I find so appealing about their work. Also, I just really enjoy the subject matter! In addition to their great photographs, the work they do really does a lot to help stimulate the Ludington economy (for instance, they try to work with local businesses- I know this because in the past I have had to cut and put together 1,000+ double mats for their pieces when I worked at the Artist Market). For that reason, they have also been named business of the year here in Ludington. Lastly, they are all really nice and exceptional people. And that really makes it a joy to work on this particular portrait. You can visit Todd and Brad's website here.

Todd and Brad were nice enough to supply me with some of their own photographs to work from, because I wanted to do a painting of them in the field. Some of you may feel this is cheating, but let me just say that no illustrator works strictly from one photograph. In fact, a lot of it becomes intuition, or artistic license. There are problems with every photograph for an artist. For instance, look at this great one that I'm pulling most of my reference from

Looks great right? Well yes, the lighting is very nice, and I like the green background because the other portraits are mostly blue... but there is the issue of both of them squinting. This can cause more wrinkles than necessary to create a likeness, and may even give the impression of disgust or anger if done strictly from a photograph. Therefore, it is necessary to work from more than one photograph to come to a nice in between squint that will help to make them look a little more natural- and the viewer will never know! The intuition I feel comes most handy when it comes to color. I like to retain realism in my work, but I love pushing color just a little more than it looks in reality on skin tones. I feel it just makes the work so much more interesting. If I made everything look exactly like a photograph, how interesting would that be for me or my viewers looking at paintings? Also, intuition and know how come into play as far as brush strokes and edges. Interest can be created by doing tight detail in the area of focus, and then "blurring" (I don't like that word here, it's a little misleading) the edges that are unimportant. That is a simplified explanation of what I'm trying to do.

Lastly, here's the sketch of the heads I will be using. I know it's not the best photo of the sketch, but notice how the eyes are a little wider, yet still squinted, and how I've made the decision to make Brad smile with teeth as opposed to the photo version where his mouth is pursed. He looks like he's really tired of squinting in the sun. Also, here's the color studies. I like the top better, and I'm excited about using lots more green and less blue. I think it will help the work as a whole to not have everything have copious amounts of cobalt blue.

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