Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Case Study #7 - Henry Checking the Weather

Henry Checking the Weather - 40" x 30" oil on canvas
I have been working with my mentor on what would be a good scene of my son in this NF oil portrait series. Rather than sitting at the laptop checking forecasts, my mentor had the idea of painting him while he is checking the weather outside on his pocket alert system. I loved his idea.

Henry also loves to be outside in our backyard. He loves having our entire family just be outside, reading, drawing and then having a picnic. Henry has always called those "Relaxing Days". I try not to teach on Sundays and Jeff will wait until the evening to do his work. That way we can always spend the entire day together as a family. I think Henry is the happiest when the four of us just spend time together without running off to some event or activity.

Pencil Sketch
I settled on the weather idea over some of his other hobbies because it has been the one thing that has been so "Henry" for years. Henry has been wanting to be a weatherman since he was four years old. He watches the news only to watch the weather forecast, keeps an eye out on the weather for Omaha, Kansas City and Boston since those are the cities that I travel to the most. He also has a weather radio located on each level of our house and additionally has this pocket weather alert system.

A few years ago, I knew Henry was serious about his weather interest when he  purchased a book while we were at Yellowstone. It was all about weather patterns. It had a layer of dust on it, so I knew it had been in the gift shop for quite some time. I even asked him "Are you sure you want to spend your vacation money on this?!" I couldn't help but notice all the toys and "fun" stuff. Henry was positive and had waited and saved his money the whole trip and then once he found this book, he got really excited. Incidentally, my other son, Fred, spent his vacation money the first day and at the first gift shop on a rubber/stretchy bear and was out of all his money for the rest of the trip. My boys are so different. Anyways, my husband and I got to enjoy the annoying stretchy bear in the car and Henry continually reading random weather facts to us the entire time in the park! haha..

Henry with local weatherman, Bill Randby
It should come as no real surprise, then that Henry's idol is our local Channel 7 weatherman, Bill Randby. I don't mean that Henry is just rather fond of him, what I mean is that Bill Randby ranks higher than any sports idol, any pop singer, any movie star and even higher than the President of the United States. In Henry's opinion, a person cannot reach a higher pinnacle than being a weatherman on tv. This is exactly what he wants to do when he grows up.

I was lucky that last year, while he was in third grade, one of the teachers told me that if I wanted to, she could simply ask Bill Randby to come for a visit to the school. Not only was I thrilled, but they allowed Henry to greet him at the principal's office, walk him back to the classroom and be his assistant.

I'm not sure who was more excited that day, Henry or me?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Case Study #6 - David Chalking the Driveway

David Chalking the Driveway. 30" x 24" oil on canvas.
I noticed the fact that David is sort of cramped when he does his chalk drawings. He does not spread out or look comfortable. When I asked him, he mentioned that his arms and legs start to hurt so he can only work for a little while at a time. With that in mind, I wanted the composition to also feel a little cramped to the viewer. This is typically a "composition no-no" but, then again, luckily for me, there really is no history of compositional discourse when deciding to paint people drawing with chalk on driveways. hahaha....

Rough layin after multiple
shoots and ideas. 30" x 24"
Stage One - 1st Layer of Color,
David has had to go through about 3 photoshoots with me already and I finally settled on the photo below with some adjustments. I hope his close friend isn't going to kill me when I asked for one more revision to the photos after receiving feedback this past June on my portrait project.

For the most part, most the artists who viewed my work preferred when the subjects "dressed up" for their portrait, noting that Joan Hollis and David Oosterloo both had interesting patterns to their clothing which made the portrait seem more formal. This subtle fact also makes the portrait a little more interesting visually to the viewer.

So, you can see how I gave feedback to David to redo his photo shoot, complete with getting rid of the blue t-shirt and replacing it with a long sleeved button up shirt with rolled sleeves. Mostly rolled sleeves because I don't really want him getting chalk all over his cuffs! Also, it is quite interesting to try and direct photoshoots via Facebook messages, but somehow we always seem to work together to get these done. In the end, I went back to the blue shirt because I think the subtle tie-in to the Children's Tumor Foundation is a nice touch.

David routinely participates in NF walks, rallies and such and is one of my biggest fans. Because of NF, David has a degenerative disk in the lumbar portion of his back which contributes to his spinal stenosis. He also has Chiari I Malformation with a syrinx to which he had to undergo surgery. The results of the first surgery didn't turn out very well, so he had to undergo the surgery again. Besides being a huge supporter of the Children's Tumor Foundation, he also finds time to spread awareness by his huge NF sidewalk chalk drawings. The drawings usually spell out "Cure NF" and can take up the entire length of his driveway.