Court Jones Blog
Pre Nol 
Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 09:14 PM - Portraits
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I just finished yet another semester at the Watts Atelier. I only took one class this time around-a long portrait painting class. We had the model for three class sessions each, or about 9 hours. The last model we had was Fred, who dressed as Father Christmas for us.

This is on a Claessens linen mounted on a 14 x 18 inch panel

During the final class, I took the last 60 minutes of pose to do a small gestural study from another position. This next one is on a gessoed hardboard panel. 8 x 10 inches

As usual, I think I like my quick study more. Most people usually say they like my quicker studies more than my finished portraits as well. One of the most difficult things for me when doing a longer pose, or more formal portrait is to preserve the spontaneity and gestural strokes. The thing is...spontaneity is great. But it can often result in distortions and inaccuracies. The drawing of the features on this 60 minute Santa is a bit off in places. That's why your skills have to be up to snuff if you want to be a really good alla prima portrait (or any kind of) painter. You need to have a lot of training under your belt and must rely on your fundamental drawing skills to work quickly and accurately. And I'm definitely not always happy with my gestural work. But I am pretty happy with how this little painting turned out, despite the flaws here and there.

Here's a detailed closeup to get a better sense of how I handled the forms with the brush.

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"The Fighter" for the San Diego Union-Tribune 
Thursday, December 16, 2010, 04:12 PM - Paintings
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Last Sunday I painted a piece for the cover of the "Night & Day" magazine, which is a weekly supplemental to the San Diego Union Tribune. It hit newsstands today, so pick up a free copy while you still can. It's not the version that comes inside the U.T. but is distributed independently, usually right next to the U.T. on the stands.

They wanted a gritty-looking caricature painting showing the two main actors from The Fighter, Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale (who lost a lot of weight and voluntarily receeded his hairline for the part).

Below, you can see what the original image looks like. The "Night & Day" is printed on newsprint, so it looks significantly different. But at least it's in color. Not like in ye olde dayes.

I really wanted to do this one in oils, instead of digitally. I have come to rely too much on digital painting in recent years for my commercial work, and while it is just another art medium, it's not quite as rewarding as painting it with more traditional materials. It is more difficult to work with than Photoshop, of course. And it is not easy to get certain effects like you can digitally. But it does promote a more disciplined approach which requires more focused concentration and patience.

I designed and sketched this out earlier in the week. But because of my busy schedule doing holiday commissions for people and live gigs last week, I only had a 24 hour period to complete the actual painting. The original is on a 20 x 20 inch masonite board, triple gessoed using a paint roller (Note: This was my first time applying gesso with a house painting roller, but I really really liked the smooth but textured surface it gave me. It acted like a canvas grain and helped pull my paint off the brush.)

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Anatomy Seminar Slides 
Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 09:07 PM - Anatomy
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For those of you who attended my seminar on facial anatomy at the recent ISCA Convention in Las Vegas (see previous post), you may remember I said I would upload some of the diagrams and charts to my blog. So here they are, and hopefully you will find them a helpful addendum to whatever notes or sketches you may have made. For those of you who missed it, enjoy some out-of-context facial anatomy information. :)

I occasionally teach a ten week course in facial anatomy and expressions at the Watts Atelier. This information is from the part of the class focusing on the expression of "Happiness" or the basic true smile (as opposed to a fake forced smile, of course). There are six more expressions I cover in the class. Explaining the inner workings of this single expression is a bit much for a blog post. But if you read over this information carefully, you should actually be able to get a fundamental understanding of what happens under the skin when we smile. And hopefully you can apply that to your live drawings and paintings, be they portrait or caricature.

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I'm Back! 
Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 12:15 AM - Stories
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So the trip ended up being a little longer than expected. I got a last minute gig in LA the day I checked out of the hotel in Vegas, which extended my home coming by another day. So I drove straight to Burbank to work a late night event with some Hollywood folks (more on that in a later post). New Orleans was a nice little trip. I don't go in for all the drinking and shenanigans. But the architecture was fun to shoot.

It's not quite like any other city. The vibe there is weird. The people are colorful and strangers on the street or in a restaurant often just start talking to you (or ask you to spank them, in one instance). I sampled the typical cuisine of Beignets at Cafe du Monde, Jambalaya, Gumbo and Po Boys.

The trade show was a lot of work, both in preparation and during the event. I worked for three days doing digital caricatures on my new Cintiq. Not quite ready to show my live digi sketches yet.

The New Orleans Museum of Art was pretty impressive. There were some decent pieces in the 19th century European room. Unfortunately, the Bouguereau was temporarily off display. And that was the main piece drawing me to the museum. But check out details from this Sargent and Gerome, respectively:

That figure on the left is only about six inches tall!

Anyways, after 3.25 days in New Orleans, it was off to Las Vegas for the 19th annual ISCA Convention at the Alexis Park

Since I got to the con a day late and had to prepare for my anatomy workshop on Tuesday...

(I will post some of the images from my anatomy workshop soon!)

... I didn't get much artwork done the first couple days. But I did manage to squeeze in two oil paintings and six inks and watercolors in the remaining 36 hours or so of free drawing time. I only got a couple hours sleep the night before the deadline, of course. Here's some of the pieces from my wall. They are of fellow ISCA members, and our guest speaker, Bill Plymton:

I am quite happy with the quality of my work. It's tough to do nice renderings without all the creature comforts of my studio. My stuff seems to be getting less and less exaggerated as time goes by. I guess that's the traditional portrait artist in me trying to get out. My pieces weren't that humorous. But the likenesses seemed to be there. I think there's enough people to do the really twisted stuff at the caricature convention. I just enjoy the process of working with the materials and obtaining a bit more complexity and visual interest with the brush stroke or ink line.

It was a nutty week, especially since I had to keep running my freelance business without easy Internet access. But Debbie had to travel home early for her job and was able to take over responding to inquiries and writing contracts. It's nice to have a business partner/manager.

(Oh, and here's the thing I was making that I teased in the previous post. It's a new, more anatomically correct, ecorche skull which I used as part of my anatomy workhop in Las Vegas. I will post a labeled version of this very soon.)

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Getting ready for New Orleans and Vegas 
Wednesday, November 03, 2010, 11:20 PM - Announcements
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That's right. I have back to back trips to the Big Easy and the Big Sleazy, the two sin sinniest towns in these United States. First, I'm heading down to New Orleans for a three day trade show for which I was hired to do live digital caricatures. That's one of the reasons I finally got a Cintiq last week. I did digital caricatures for this client last year, and my little Intuos just didn't cut it for quick clean linework.

I'm super excited about going to New Orleans. I've never been there, and I'll be staying very near the French Quarter. I won't have much free time. But I'll take advantage of the little I will have.

And then I will fly directly from Orleans to Vegas for the annual ISCA (International Society of Caricature Artists) convention. I'll be a day late for the ISCA convention, but will be there the rest of the week. My workshop is all set to go on Tuesday afternoon.

Here's a sneak peek of something I've been working on in preparation for the ISCA Con. It's actually already finished, because I have to leave tomorrow. I hope I will be able to get some sleep tonight. I usually don't get much the night before leaving for a con.

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