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Mike Derby Portrait Blog



  • This is the single most complicated piece of drapery (clothing) I have ever painted.  Two dozen steps!  I am going to have to go over major parts of it again to get full coverage.  I painted the lower sleave three times already.  I am going to experiment with oiling out gesso to see if it covers better.  I am also going to try sanding the Griffin Alkyd.  In places, its just not taking the paint.

  • is it not taking the paint because of the extra layers?
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    It could be the pencil you used to draw with which most of us are using I believe if it is an oil pencil.  That may be blocking the application of your paint because the drawing is intricate in some places and therefore there is more oil already on the canvas when you try to apply the paint.  The usual problem with paint not adhering is gesso applied too thinly, but that is not true in your case.  The thought did cross my mind that since Geneva paints are already thin, even the addition of oil from a pencil might thin them more which could cause a problem like yours.  Summer     
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    Your painting is looking excellent from here and not showing your frustrations at all.  I've always used oil pencils with Geneva paints on stained canvasses without any problems.  I have yet to try vine charcoal on Mark's stained canvasses though. 
  • When you say it's not taking the paint, do you mean it's still too transparent or that the paint isn't sticking properly?
  • edited September 2017
    Well its both @Richard_P .  The paint is thin so it's a little transparent but it's also because the stain is slick.  It's not the pencil in this case @summer.  I have wide areas where there is no pencil .  And it's only after I add the next layer that all the stain is covered @BOB73 .  This is a long standing frustration for me and I have experimented with many different techniques to over come it.  This is the goal, use Geneva paint because I depend on the long working time but have it cover the stain in a single coat.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    You might want to try painting on a small canvas with another stain recipe to see if the fault lies with the stain.  Buy a cheap assortment of small canvasses and see how they respond to Geneva paints.
  • Wow! that blue really jumps out at you. this is terrific so far. I'm glad you're having fun with it.
  • And the answer is: yes, you *can* do denim.  Very nice.
  • You are really steaming along with this and it looks great. I particularly like that sun-dappled background
  • Oh, wow! Really starting to take shape. I can't wait to see the faces.
  • Looking really good so far!!  Cant want to see your next update!
  • Bluh.  Burned out.  Having trouble painting.  Splashed out an abstract just to be doing something.  I think I'll take a nap.
  • Yep, I've been like that too. Take it easy..
  • If you need advice with the nap, let me know, I've done a ton of research on the matter.
  • I posted my abstract on WetCanvas if you are interested.  I took that nap and then painted for two hours.  I will post something tonight.  I am beginning to doubt that this painting will be done in time for the portrait challenge.  As a figurative painting, maybe it doesn't qualify.
  • I believe that there is little more than 4 weeks, if the closing is Oct. 15. Looking forward.
  • HOLY COW!!!!   This is fantastic - I haven't been here in a while and my goodness gracious the progress you have made!  that little skirt is outstanding!
  • edited September 2017
    This is one huge undertaking! huge accomplishment.
    Truely beautiful artwork, including some Sargent inspired works, from one of the great female artists of our day.  Her interiors are exceptional.  Enjoy.
  • She's got good stuff, Mike thanks for posting the link. Maybe there are more Millennials out there that  can paint realism and use it beyond an art form.
  • The clothing is looking marvelous. Don't worry - the lawn will still be there when you get around to mowing it. :)   That's what I tell myself.

    Great news about the restaurant. Getting your paintings out there and seen is so important. Knowing the public is going to see them gives one that little extra push to do the best possible work.
  • Ha ha @MikeDerby, I've just done the whipper snipping of all the spring weeds, I now feel justified to do whatever I want for the next month.
    The painting is looking fantastic. May I suggest you leave the throw for now and get the rest in before making a decision about it.
  • Thanks @Boudicca, I think I will.  In fact its been a week since I touched it.  
    My audio is not performing but I posted some video on my web site.
    In the spirit of the plant paintings that have been so popular this year, here are some volunteers in sight of my lawn.
    Morning. Elephants ear.

    Queen Ann's Lace



    Feel free to paint them.  You have my permission to freely use these photos.
  • BOB73BOB73 -
    edited September 2017
    So many different values in the blue it just slams at you. I can't wait to see more. I agree with Boudicca about the throw. Maybe it is picking up some blue from the side. Thanks for the elephant ears, they make an interesting alternative to critters.
  •  Mike

    Don't fret about all that green garden stuff stopping you from painting. Your ride on is fixed now.

    ... and If house work is a chore....


  • What a scream.  I love it.  
    I just posted a studio tour video on my website.  Still working on the denim vest and will have an update here this evening.
  • edited September 2017
    your elephant's year reminded me of this watercolor I had done (inclined towards cartoonish).. i just love these leaves... I named the painting : lost 

    P.S. watercolor is just not my thing

  • Thanks Flatty.  Bob, is the blue a problem?  Is there something I need to tone down?  Anwesha, watercolors are hard.  Way too hard for me.
    Here is the vest.  Man what a challenge.  Needless to say, I think it needs more work, but for now, I think it needs to set.

  • anwesha said:
    your elephant's year reminded me of this watercolor I had done (inclined towards cartoonish).. i just love these leaves... I named the painting : lost 
    Ah, that's where you moved the butterfly.
  • @MikeDerby that looks great, but it also looks very hard with all those steps.  Nicely done.
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    @MikeDerby I have faith that you are going to see this project through to it's completion.  Sometimes we do the impossible.  I remember when and engineer and I were putting in a mural on a dining room wall and about two thirds of the way in, he walked away saying that it was impossible to complete.  The next day he walked into the dining room to see a completed mural.  He inspected the work and couldn't detect how it was done.  The truth was, that I entered a state of mind where failing and giving up just wasn't an option and solutions appeared almost out of nowhere.  I think that you, PaulB, and tassieguy are on just such a journey on DMP now.  Summer 
  • Summer said:
    @MikeDerby The truth was, that I entered a state of mind where failing and giving up just wasn't an option and solutions appeared almost out of nowhere.  I think that you, PaulB, and tassieguy are on just such a journey on DMP now.  Summer 
    Spot on @Summer - I think of @PaulB and @tassieguy as being on a sort of quest for their own 'Sistene Chapel'; there's as much if not more to be admired for an artist who summons that kind of fortitude and persistence. 
  • @summer, you are the wind beneath our wings.  Higher praise would be hard to manufacture.  It is the journey sometimes, not the destination.  When I first looked at this photo I had no hesitation in trying to paint it.  Close scrutiny shows just how involved it is.  There are large swatches that are nothing but dark shapes, but they are offset by the intricacies of a well worn denim vest.  It has been a happy path.  But I have not finished the throw, and I have not touched the skin tones.  Maybe I will finish by Christmas.  I am making a big push this week and at the end I will decide what to do about the portrait challenge.
    Congratulations on your mural.  I would like to see that sometime.
  • Its rough but the canvas is covered.  Please offer me any suggestions you may have for improving the throw.  Techniques, tips, etc.  Just playing "whats the difference" I see several things to work on.

  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 2017
    You're doing fine.  It looks good.  And, I agree that asking yourself "What's the difference" works. :)
  • The throw is a soft material? So just very slightly blend the edges of those white patches to show that.
  • @MikeDerby From what I see, you have more white blobs than does the photo, and those white blobs are a little larger than the photo.  The fragment that touches the denim knee is much closer.

    That said, it doesn't need modification, it's still obviously a throw, very similar, the right color etc.  I'm really looking forward to examining a completed painting, for clues how to improve my approach.
  • Thank you Richard, Paul and Summer.  I do want to spend some time softening the edges and also getting the values a little closer.  I need to get back from it and look it over for differences and try to get some flow into it.  I posted a video at 16x of the painting process.  I think its funny to watch.  
  • @MikeDerby I watched the throw movie, I find it fascinating to watch other people paint, and I liked that.  I was surprised to see you counting off the white blobs, I assumed you were more carefree with that.  I think your video highlights the importance of having a good setup with all your tools and materials nearby - everything right there at hand. Your care and deliberation makes me appear reckless by comparison.

    I hope you post more.  I particularly want to see you paint a face or hand.
  • edited September 2017
    I watched the The Throw Movie. I enjoyed it, like Paul, I’m fascinated by watching people paint.
    I thought you were very comfortable in front of the camera and gave a clear logical explanation of your process. 
  • Thank you Paul and Boudicca.  I will continue to post as long as there is interest.  I am glad you like the Throw movie because with it, I finally figured out how to do an imbedded screen and a voice over that works.  I have now covered the background for 3 of the six figures and will finish the other three shortly.  Then I will start on the flesh tones.

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