Charcoal and white chalk on toned paper, 22 x 30 cm
Last Monday we had one of the first warm and sunny days here in Norway, so I took my sketchbook outside to sketch around the house. Our ’65 beetle, named ‘Albert’ was parked outside during the winter and covered in snow most of the time.
Inspired by a few DIY Pochade Easel designs that I found online on the Gurney Journey blog, I made a new setup for outside painting with watercolours. I used a Velbon camera tripod and a little wooden box which holds the paints and a brushes.
The release plate that attaches the box to the tripod is also a DIY design. Since the tripod is attached to the lid of the box, gravity does the rest and – with help of a wedge-shaped piece of wood on the back – keeps the box open at the right angle. Two clamps hold the sketchbook in place.
To keep everything as simple as possible I only used one brush for this painting, a Pentel Aquash Water Brush, that holds the water in the handle.
It has been a little quiet on this blog, but a lot is happening!
First of all I’m very pleased to announce that I was accepted at the Florence Academy of Art, and I’ll be studying there starting in April.
And, as many of you know, I’m dividing my artistic time between drawing/painting and songwriting.
In the autumn of last year the recording sessions started for my debutalbum, “Follow The River”
The album was officially released in January 2017 and is now available on all digital music platforms and on CD. Listen to the album here: www.robtijink.com
I’ve also been working on a very large (3,5m x 1,2m) painting. I’ll be posting some images of the progress soon!
I think that one of the best ways to learn portrait painting is to copy old master paintings. I do this once in a while and this time I put up a picture of John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Henry James on the computer screen next to my easel.
A portrait is a picture in which there is something not quite right about the mouth – John singer sargent
The colors that I used are: Burnt Umber, Ivory Black, Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White.
I started with Burnt Umber to define the shadows and after adding the background I let the under-painting dry until the next day.
Then I mixed a basic skin color of Cadmium Red Light, Yellow Ochre and Titanium White. By making warming and colder variations of this color, I started working from the large shapes of the head to the smaller shapes.
Of course, when you copy a master painting the problems with composition, design, light/dark, hard/soft edges are already solved by the artist. I believe that this is the area where there’s most to learn. The preparation of the painting, before even starting to paint, is most important.
In one of the books by Andrew Loomis, he writes that “creativity lies in the conception and the rest is good carpenter work.” I’m starting to see that more and more. Mixing the colors and painting the final picture is the easy part!
I stopped the painting here, after two painting sessions, maybe I’ll continue refining it in the future. I’m pleased with the overall shape of the head, especially the light on the forehead, but -as always-, the mouth needs some more work!
Anders Zorn (1860-1920) is one of Sweden’s most accomplished artists and one of my favourite painters. He was a master at not overworking the painting and make the work seem effortless.
Anders Zorn’s hometown, the small village of Mora is also where the museum is located, about a three-hour’s drive from where I live in Norway.
The day at the museum started with a guided tour of the house where Zorn lived with his wife Emma. It soon became clear they were a very wealthy family. Already in 1914 they had electricity and a wired communication system in every room of the house. They also had a telephone (number 4), central heating and one of the first refrigerators that was imported from America.
The guide told us that Zorn from the beginning wasn’t afraid to charge high prizes for his portraits. Many celebrities and royalties came to visit and stay at the house. He was certainly not living up to the starving artist myth!
It was not allowed to take pictures in the house. If you visit the museum it’s definitely worthwhile to take the tour. It gives a very good impression of the artist and how they lived and worked at that time.
The museum next to the house displays the largest collection of Zorn’s work. Although he is best known as a painter, he was also a master wood-carver and sculptor. I was amazed by how many of his watercolors, such as The Grandmother , almost looked like oil paintings.
To stand in front of a large Zorn painting is an amazing experience. Up close, the painting looks fast and effortlessly painted. The bold brushstrokes seem fuzzy and random, but from a few steps back the picture becomes sharp and vivid.
The visit to the museum was a great opportunity to study Zorn’s work and I took many photos.
I painted this portrait ‘Alla Prima’ in one session of about 4 hours. The hands and a few touch-ups were painted the next day.
As opposed to painting in layers over a long period of time, I like the directness of an alla prima portrait. There is no time to fuss over details before the paint is dry and it takes a great deal of concentration and focus to complete.
To paint this way you have to be able to ‘draw’ the portrait with a brush, so good drawing skills are important.
There will be some imperfections when painting this way, but that also adds character and life to the painting.
Here’s a picture from last year, just before Christmas, when I was selling calenders in the Stenberg cafe. It was freezing cold that day, so I was glad to be asked to sit inside!
I made this calender for the year 2016 and it is illustrated with twelve drawings of old farm buildings at the Stenberg Museum.
I only have a few left, just send me an email if you are interested in having one.
I’m lucky to have a dedicated workplace in the garden. It has been a long time dream and last year I finally had the time to transform the old gardenshed into a painting studio. It’s about 25m2 and fully insulated. A small gas heater heats up the room quickly in the winter.
Working from home can get a bit lonely now and then, but there are many advantages as well. Today was the first day of snow, there came about 15 cm, and on such days I don’t miss the commuting to work. While I was painting a small deer came walking by the window.
The painting studio doubles as a music studio. I teach guitar on tuesday evenings and write songs here. There’s even enough space for rehearsals with the band.
I like to have a organized workplace without too many distractions. It’s not always as tidy as on the photo’s, but everytime I start a new project I have to get rid of all the old stuff first.
The pose is again from the New Masters Academy, an excellent online art school where I’ve been studying figure drawimg for almost a year now.
In the book ‘Creative Illustration’ by Andrew Loomis there is an interesting theory about color relations.
In short, he explains that by mixing a little of one color into all the other colors on the palette, the colors become related and a harmonious painting is automatically the result.
Instead of mixing on the palette you can also paint directly into a wet underpainting. I tested out this technique and copied one of the four example portraits from the book.
I covered the whole canvas with a thin layer of blue, into which I painted all the other colors.
I was asked to illustrate a logo for the Norwegian Boer Goat Association. After making a few sketches we decided on this logo with heads of a male and a female goat.
The boer goat is a special breed and their name comes from the South African and Dutch word ‘boer’, meaning farmer.
I went to visit a goat farm nearby to do some ‘research’ on the specifics of the breed and to take a few pictures.
This was a fun project to do. Who said artists only sit in their stuffy studios all day and draw?
I was asked by a friend to paint their family’s log cabin, as a gift to her father from herself and the family.
He received the painting last friday on his 70th birthday and they were very happy with the result. They sent me these pictures of the framed painting on the wall.
I really enjoyed doing this commissioned painting. I made a few sketches on-site to capture the light and finished the painting later in the studio.