Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Resident Artist Spotlight: Brendan Johnston

We're kicking off a new series of pieces on artistic process and practice with GCA Resident Artist, Alum and Instructor, Brendan Johnston. Brendan shares a studio with Justin Wood, Sam Hung and Jacob Collins. Recently he's been sculpting portraits alongside Jacob and Charlie Mostow. At night, he's been sitting in our portrait class where he made this painting during six sessions of the March pose.

Brendan's new works, including this portrait, will be on view along with new works by his fellow resident artists: Liz Beard, Anthony Baus, Patrick Byrnes, Devin Cecil-Wishing, Sally Fama Cochrane, Zoe Dufour, Samuel Hung, and Justin Wood in the group show: Residents at our adjacent gallery, Eleventh Street Arts. The opening is this Friday, April 15th from 6-9pm. Join us if you're in town!

On a 17”x19” oil primed canvas, I put down a thin wash of Raw Umber. Using a bristle brush to remove paint and synthetic brush to apply paint, I patiently begin to block in the simple shapes of the head. It is crucial to keep in mind the perspective of the portrait - I am both looking up at the model, Devin, and I’m just past 3/4 profile. Devin, has very clear bone structure, so I try to use anatomical landmarks, such as the zygomatic to orient the head. Finally, I fill in the shadow areas with a flat swatch of raw umber to give the block-in a basic value scale. This stage takes about 2 hours to complete.

In my second sitting, I begin the initial application of oil color. For the flesh tones, I use a palette of cremnitz white, naples yellow, yellow ochre, raw siena, terra rosa, burnt sienna, transparent oxide red, burnt umber, raw umber, cypress umber, van dyke brown and ivory black. With a palette knife, I like to premix several piles of paint with varying levels of chroma and value. As I paint, I alternatively work from the lights towards the darks and then from the darks towards the lights, always keeping form in mind.

I next finish off the details of the features, remembering that they are all in the light filled area of the head. I also begin to work on the hair, keeping in mind that the dread-locks are conversely compressed in a very low value, low chroma range. I also begin to scumble in a background using raw umber, black and white.

Finally, I glaze over any imperfections in the features and adjust highlights where necessary. I add a bit of detail to the hair and paint in the jacket.  Finally, I scumble a cooler tone onto the background to give it a bit of atmosphere. In this final pass, I sometimes apply a small amount of retouch varnish to return the dark tones to their true value because as they dry they sink in. I generally wait 6 months before applying a final varnish to allow the oil paint to chemically dry.

Brendan Johnston will also share insight into his work at both artist talks held at Eleventh Street Arts during the exhibition: Residents. The first is on Wednesday, April 20th from 6-8pm and the second, hosted by Suggested Donation's Ted Minoff and Tony Curanaj, is on Wednesday, May 4th also 6-8pm. These evenings are free and open to the public.

No comments: