Thursday, December 14, 2006

Red Dress

Red Dress by David R. Darrow 11" x 14" (27.9cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas SOLD Collection of Patricia Harris
Ragley, LA – USA

About This Painting

Jacqueline works both sides of the canvas.

No, that doesn't mean she paints on both sides of a single painting support, rather that she is not only one of the most paintable fine art models in San Diego, but is also an excellent artist, too, teaching drawing and painting at her studio near Little Italy, downtown (see for more information about the studio).

The first time I painted her was for this painting. In 2000 I stepped over the edge and decided I was going to make it in Fine Art. Even with my past decades as a commercial illustrator, I knew that getting good at painting was going to require lots of practice and drawing or painting from Life. I signed up for a local workshop in Del Mar, and found myself painting for the next 15 weeks with other eager art students. At 43, I was not the oldest, either.There were 10 or 12 of us ranging from early twenties to late sixties each week, quietly struggling our way to better painting. You really have to experience painting from the model to fully appreciate the whole experience.

There are two kinds of people that make for great models: dancers and other artists. My gut feeling is that this is because they can see in their mind what the viewers are seeing, and can therefore create a great pose for the artists. Jacqueline really stood out in the collection of individual models we had in those 15 weeks.

This painting was my best of that workshop series, in my opinion, and I am certain that the model is to be credited in great part for providing inspiration.

As with most of my workshop "studies" it's time for this one to find a new home, and may prove of worth to another art student or figurative oil painting collector.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mexican Limes

Mexican Limes by David R. Darrow 9" x 6" (22.9cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Canvas on Birch Panel SOLD Collection of Ann Boudreau
Southbury, CT – USA

About This Painting

A couple of summers ago, a neighbor from across the street walked over with two small plants in plastic terra-cotta-colored pots, one in each hand.

"Would you like a lime tree or two?" she asked, holding one of them forward.

"Those are lime trees?" I asked. They were about 18" (47cm) tall, and mostly "trunk," generously speaking. With about 10mm at the base, with maybe 8 or 10 branches, what she was offering us looked just a little bigger than a seedling.

"I've had them for about a year, and now I am moving to a place they just won't grow, so if you want them..."

"Sure! And we'll make them grow some limes, someday. We promise."

"Oh, And these are Mexican limes. They are smaller than normal."

We gave one of the trees to a neighbor of ours and began a friendly contest to see whose would produce fruit first.

We won.

And now, two years later, with our careful, secret growing method involving 1. a bigger pot of soil, 2. water and 3. sunshine, the tree is about 3ft (1m) in diameter and about that tall, too. Though it now sports a 1.5" (3.8cm) diameter base, it's appears to be too small to hold the maybe 200 limes we got this year.

I figured the tree could spare a few for this painting.

Mexican limes are about the size of ping pong balls, and about as round. They are fully ripe when the rind turns yellow. The rind is only 1/16" (3mm) or less thick — probably not great for zesting — but the juice makes just about the greatest margaritas — you know, once you add sugar water and the other stuff.

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Monday, December 04, 2006


Darin - A Portrait Demonstration by David R. Darrow 12" x 14" (30.5cm x 35.6cm)
Oil on Stretched Canvas SOLD Collection of Monique Bourgeois
Tewksbury, MA – USA

About This Painting

Sunday night I gave a Portrait Painting demonstration at a local art gallery, here in Carlsbad, CA.

I decided to work through the demo from a black and white photo I had taken, which, when I work from a black and white, has two effects on the process: a lot of my values (light to dark) are easier to decide, and I have total freedom over the color, for which I tap into my memory, experience and creativity.

The head model is "Darin."

Darin is a Life Model, meaning he is scheduled at art schools in the area specifically to pose for art students in Life Drawing or Painting courses. When I was teaching an 11-week course on Anatomy for Artists, Darin was scheduled as my model one day, and I had never met him before.

Teaching anatomy with all its odd names for muscles and bones can get a little daunting as well as monotonous to first-year art students, but it is foundational stuff for painting. You have to be able to draw well to paint well. And when a human being is the subject, you can paint the wrinkles and folds of clothing much more believably if you know the shapes and behaviors of the body underneath, and you can do a better job on the body if you know what's going on under the skin, hence Anatomy for Artists.

Darin made my job a lot easier. He is built like a walking, breathing anatomy chart. He had the musculature of a Cirque du Soleil rope acrobat or trapeze artist, with every muscle visible through lean skin. Simply unbelievable.

He became one of my favorite and oft-requested male models, and I asked, at the end of the day, if I could shoot some black and white stills of his face to someday draw or paint, believing it would make for a fascinating painting. In exchange, he received a charcoal portrait of him that I did that day, which he said his mother was going to love. He's such a warm and kind man!

David R. Darrow's Paintcastâ„¢There is a short video which I published on YouTube and as an iTunes Paintcast™ (my name for a Painting Video Podcast) made from stills that were shot during last night's demonstration. If you use iTunes, you will get a much higher resolution playback. Search for my Paintcast™ here.

I thought I would post this brand new work, so that a collector or perhaps a budding portrait artist might own it and be able to glean something artistically valuable from being able to have, hold and study the original.

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