Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do I wannabe Vermeer or Asaro?

I had the exquisite pleasure of visiting master artist Mr. John Asaro at his CA studio this week after he read my blog, see previous post about his recent mega show in Los Angeles, and called me out of the blue with a lovely invite to come and shoot the art breeze.

I was desperate to get up to his studio but had to finish a large portrait commission first. It killed me to keep putting him off. But Mr. Asaro graciously waited for me and couldn't have been more sharing of his wisdom the day of the visit or his time. I was in heaven. Just one of those great art days one will never forget. I learned a lot.

Asaro is one of my favorite painters. Morgan Weistling  told me I should study this guy, buy the book. so I did. Like Morgan, Asaro's color, values, and draughtsmanship is superb. Nah, make that unbeatable. Asaro's now out of print book " Asaro: A New Romanticism", is always close by me. What a treat to see some of these images at first hand. Breath-taking color. You just feel that sunshine.

So I came back to my studio and painted this head not only inspired by Asaro's color but also by my other idol Vermeer and his "Red Feather Hat" painting.  I am doing a series of paintings of girls in vintage hats from my collection, all over life size and on the same size canvas.  When I saw this hat it screamed Vermeer and I have been itching to paint it.

Now was the time. I was thinking of what Asaro had told me about color as I got going on my hat set under a cool blue light with cool blue gel. The red was a challenge. My feather hat and skin tone was very garish the end of the first day. Too much fun with color but not in Asaro's capable hands.

The next day I reigned it in a bit looking at how Vermeer used those cool greens and warm oranges in the shadow much like Asaro.  How Vermeer kept the shape of his red hat strong, the value statement of light and shadow bold, much like Asaro.  Vermeer's  ever so subtle color play theory has stood the test of color time.

And, just like Vermeer,  contemporary figurative painter Asaro will go down as one of the greats of our time, of that I am sure.

So do I want to be a Vermeer or Asaro wannabe?  Both are superbly stimulating to me as superior value/colorists but very different in approach.

Heck, I'll just stick to being me but always remember how the greats do it and what I am striving for. The bar is set high.


by Artist Terry Howell Stanley, PSA said...

Gee add a couple of chins and it could be me! I can see you charging down the colorist path with great success my friend!

Marian Fortunati said...

Beautiful! One of my favorites, Johanna!
As you know I love Asaro's work... own the book, and have two large Asaro serigraphs gracing my walls so I'm totally jealous but glad to hear about your wonderful learning adventure from your blog and also today in class.
How do you rein in the color once it's started too bold? Do you scrape it down or paint over it?? ... or use glazes to do it? Whatever you did.. it was really lovely so Mr. Asaro's words and paintings inspired you well!

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

thanks to both of you for posting. Terry, the more I look at it, the more i see YOUR lovely green eyes.

Marian, I do all you mentiioned. Scrape down if it is really awful but as a last resort. Usually I will paint over with a greyed color alla prima or wait until it is dry and glaze/scumble over the face particularly.

I certainly did that on this face. It was too colorful at one point.

Marian Fortunati said...

Hi Johanna..
Just read your newest post and am so glad you had a great event... Of course you did... wouldn't have expected anything else...
By the way... I was just revisiting your Asaro posts because a lady I painted with in two Scott Burdick workshops was reading your blog and she saw my name so went to my website. Funny small world!!!

I was checking, but she only read... she didn't commment here.
She's a nice lady... has work in galleries etc... Rebecca Bridges Rice... she lives in Texas.. seems like a LOT of people live in Texas, huh??

PS....I LOVE this painting... Among your best non-commissioned types... (those that I like the most).... but then there are so many.

Be well!