Saturday, February 16, 2008


Ten Times Six (revised)

Oil on canvas, 13" x 11"
NFS

I should have mentioned in yesterday's post that I considered this portrait a work in progress. At the risk of scaring you off with day two of my ugly mug, I've done some more work on the painting and wanted to post the revised and (maybe) completed version.

Most of the reworking occurred in the background/ceiling area. I cooled and slightly lightened the color balance (it's hard to show the exact tonality in the photo) in an effort to create more "air" around the face and make it a more neutral foil. Some of the "brushy" strokes in the background seemed distracting and were toned down. While I love bravura brushwork as much as the next person, it seems whenever I try self-consciously to make "interesting" brushstrokes they end looking mannered and irrelevant. I did some refining with a bit more careful observation of the light fixture, as well as some very slight reworkings in parts of the face. Now I'm going to try to just leave it well enough alone!

22 comments:

silvina said...

Well done. I do think you improved it. I like the cooler, lighter ceiling and especially like that one side of the t-shirt almost disappears into shadow. Bravo!

s. DeGhelder said...

The new tones draw the eye in more. Great Redo.

Frank Gardner said...

Looks good Don.

Don Gray said...

Thanks, Silvina. I worked the image quite awhile in Photoshop trying to get that exact color temperature and value that is in the real painting--it's useless! If I lighten it to a truer value the image looks washed out; if I darken it down to get the "pop" that appears in the painting, the image gets a contrasty harshness. The color is a modulated mix of warm and cool, which I always find difficult to render photographically.

Perhaps a Photoshop wizard out there could enlighten me. For value control I primarily use levels and curves commands, and (sparingly) brightness/contrast. Most of my color adjustment is through hue/saturation and selective color controls. Any suggestions are welcome.

Don Gray said...

Sherry, thanks for coming by. I continue to enjoy your series of objects superimposed on comic book drawings--great concept and well-rendered.

Don Gray said...

Frank, thanks for your fresh eye, it was helpful to me.

Jens Ole Olsen said...

Hey Don
sometimes photoes are real hard to get right -
I often use the hue/saturation a lot - found out that when it looks like it lightens it is just the change in saturation there are options for specific colors too -
be careful if taking off saturation you might then need then to compensate with lighter,
especially using it on the single hues.

Great work and you look great too - have a nice after birthday - Jens

Don Gray said...

Jens, thanks for commenting, and for your tips on using Photoshop. I enjoy your work.

Lori McNamara said...

I think it looks better now too, you don't look as serious. The lighter tones look great.

I try to take photos outside or in natural light in the day, in the shade. If its at night they are always a pain to get right in PS.

Don Gray said...

Thank you, Lori. I think you're right about natural light for photographing.

ms said...

Dare I disagree? I find the earlier version grittier, perhaps truer to the brush (though I couldn't say about the person - lol). Great self-portrait.

Anonymous said...

Don,

I've known you 28 years, when was that bushy hair , wrinkle free time again?

Chicago Mike

Don Gray said...

Thank you MS, you may be right, and you bring up a very good point. Paintings are never really "completed," one just chooses a point to stop. In my case that point is usually an intuitive "hunch" that I have nothing better to offer the work.

What I do know is that balances in a painting are always subtle, and that neither of these reproductions accurately conveys the reality of the painting. The "grittier" nature of the first version is partly due to overharsh contrast in the reproduction. And the "air" I spoke of around the head in the revised version is there in the original and completely lacking in the reproduction.

Don Gray said...

Mike, you really don't expect me to remember back that far, do you?

W. K. Moore said...

This portrait is a direct hit (for me). Tells the story with no cute BS. Excellent painterly style - this has a real "truth" to it.

Don Gray said...

Hi Bill--thanks so much. I really appreciate your words, means a lot coming from such a fine painter. You're doing some terrific work.

A Reason to Paint said...

This is so impressive Don - I didn't know that you are an accomplished portrait artist too.

It just so happens that I haven't posted my usual blog painting this week because I am attempting a portrait. Now after seeing yours, I am wondering if mine will ever be good enough to post!!

Yeah I know, persevere, persevere...

Rowan Dodds said...

Very nice! I think the composition is great. I think your updated version is better though I can see that some of the 'pop' from the original has probably been lost in translation.

It's usually impossible to get quite the effect of an original once it has been photographed or scanned. It sounds like you're doing the right thing with levels, curves & brightness/contrast adjustments for tone. If you have the computer power, I'd suggest doing the adjustments as separate adjustment layers which allows you to fiddle with their opacity and blending mode (ie. change 'normal' to 'luminosity' or oven a low opacity 'soft light') As you'll never get quite the effect of the original it's good to view the scanned image as it's own end product - sometimes you can get something a lot punchier than the original - sometimes not. I hope some of this helps but it's probably stuff you already know.

Also, when taking photos you can place a card next to your painting with a section of pure white, deep black and a neutral mid-tone gray. This can help assign black white and mid-tone values in levels to help compensate for color shifts due to lighting conditions.

Keep up the great work!

Don Gray said...

Great suggestions, Rowan--thank you. I'll try them out. Really appreciate your taking the time to lend your expertise.

Alvin Richard said...

Good luck in the American Artist's Self portrait competition. It is one of the strongest contentder!

Don Gray said...

Hi Alvin, thanks for the encouragement. I was glad to see I wasn't the only old grayhair among the entries.

Rhonda Hurwitz said...

excellent portrait. makes me want to try one.