Classes with Gabriel Lipper | Meiners and Lee Studios | The Art of Leslie Lee and Dennis Meiners

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Classes with Gabriel Lipper


Category: Leslie's Doings

You know how sometimes you just can’t figure out what’s keeping you from getting where you want to go, doing what you think you want to do? I have a have a dozen, maybe more, paintings started and sitting around in my studio staring at me. I put them on the easel and look at them and put them back where they were. What have I been waiting for?
Evidently this is what I was waiting for: classes with Gabriel Lipper. I’ve been spending too much time alone with only my inner critic to guide me and even though I’ve been aware of this guy for a few years I did not investigate if he taught classes until recently. A week after I inquired a new session started with emphasis on portraits and there was room for me!

Gabriel’s studio is a big barn of a place he shares with a couple other artists and this is where he teaches classes on Friday Mornings from 9-12. It’s messy and full of works in process and finished which he readily talks about if it pertains to the issue at hand. Gabe is gabby and full of life and experience and knowledge, and for the first time ever in a painting class I feel like I’m learning something every moment I’m there. The other students are a good mix – some older, some younger, some more advanced than me, some not. It’s great!

I have never been able to paint alla prima (all at once). My colors just got muddy and the brush strokes lost. In this class we are not finishing a painting all in one session but the approach is as if we were. For the first time I am experiencing the truth that color can be almost anything if it is the right value, and that changes in colors of the same value but different temperatures can define a change in plane.  This is especially important in painting faces.

But enough bloggety words – you came for the pictures!
Here’s my reference photo of Dennis reading to our grandson:

The first issue at hand was to change the composition so that Dennis’ head was not popping off the top of the  frame. I chose a canvas that was a taller proportion so there would be more room at the top. This brought his face down where the top third and left third of the canvas meet – a good spot for the focal point. Adding more dark also adds to the feeling of the two of them in their own private pool of light, which is why I snapped the photo in the first place.  
This is a complicated  picture and I wanted to get on with the painting rather than spend two days trying to freehand the sketch, so I traced the general “map” of the photo :

Then I photographed the sketch and reduced it to a 5 x 7 image so I could use it in the little image projector I have.  (Last Thursday morning I woke up at 5:50 am and realized that if I didn’t get up and project this image while it was still dark I would not have my canvas ready to paint for  Friday morning’s class. So up I got! That’s another great thing about taking a class.)  After projecting the basics it was easier to do the detailed drawing that would be the foundation for the painting. Even so it took me most of the day to do this:

In class on Friday I first fixed the drawing with spray on fixative and then gave the whole canvas a thin coat of blue gray acrylic for a quick drying tone. Knowing that most of my colors would be warm it seemed like a cool undertone that would show through here and there might add some “snap”. I made it as dark as I could and still see the drawing.

As soon as the acrylic was was dry I started painting and this is how far I got in class last Friday. Gabe was encouraging me to find the planes in the face and define them with changes in value and temperature without trying to match the subject’s actual color. This was another photo reference I took of Dennis that gave me more information than the first photo with the deep shadows:

When I got home I also took a B&W to see if the values really were working. They are…sort of.  and then I painted some more:

After lunch and a half hour nap I went back to it.

Needed another reference for the hand. Good thing I live with my model! The cat is playing Liam’s role.

…and then I was pooped!! The plaid shirt really wore me out.
This doesn’t look much like Liam, and Dennis sort of looks like our friend Bjorn,  but I have confidence that I’ll find them eventually.

I’ll give you an update soon. Since I’m doing this for class I will have to follow thorough on it and will share it with you.  An THEN I’ll go back to the other paintings with new eyes and you can see how I finish those as well.

3 Responses to “Classes with Gabriel Lipper”

  1. Anonymous
    March 21, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I LOVE seeing these! I can sure see why the plaid shirt wore you out, but it looks really good. Looking forward to the next chapter–love, your sistah Joy.

  2. March 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Oh my! I so enjoy your posting about the making of a painting. Your class sounds quite juicy! And inspiring. I love to sew with others, whether it’s a class or not….and I like to sew alone. Seems like painting may be like this, too.

    What I see about Liam is probably what you see, too: the photo captures his chubby baby face that seems older and more angular in the painting.

    Fabulous work–thank you thank you for sharing!

  3. March 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    The tones, shading, coloring, and details are really nice. I very much like the move away from the “real” colors and into a place where you acknowledge the role of the viewer and respect that the eye can put it all together. It looks very grown up! 🙂 As for Liam and Dennis, if I may be so bold, you have nailed almost all of D’s face, especially the eyes. It’s only the mouth. Dennis’ whole chin is shorter than you have here and so the lips are closer to the nose. And Liam looks much older. A student mentioned something in doing her painting last week that she always forgets baby’s faces are so squished together. I don’t think I would’ve been able to place it had I not just recently heard that. Look at the portions of his face in the photo, his eyes are fully on the lower half. The rest of the features are then all crammed into what’s left before the chin. In yours the features are much more spread apart. 

    I think it’s really good and I’m glad you’re getting more feedback than your inner critic. She can stuff it. 

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