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Many years ago my Dad painted a picture of his father, Howard, and a few years later I did a painting of my Dad’s mother, Granny Ceil. Both paintings have been hanging around for years. But just a month ago, my mother suggested that I do one of her father, Samuel Sewall. And she sent me an iconic photo showing him and his favorite hobby, fishing. We grand kids called him Grumpy Mike and the photo at the right shows me as a little kid giving him a big hug. He and my maternal grandmother Nana lived for many years in Islip, New York, way out on the south coast of Long Island where my family spent some great summer vacations visiting them. In those days there was no bridge to Fire Island so Grumpy Mike had to take us out there on his boat. He’d fish all day while my family spent the day body-surfing the big waves at Jones Beach. On the way back he’d anchor on a sand bar in the middle of the Sound and we’d all dive down to dig up fresh steamer clams. Often we kids would also net crabs off all of the docks in the inlet where Grumpy had his dock out back of their house. And then with fresh fish, clams, and crabs we’d have a seafood feast for dinner and then collapse into bed exhausted from too much sun and swimming all day. Those were great vacations!! Just below is the new painting of Grumpy Mike.
A month or so ago, I was contacted via email by a young woman asking if I would be interested in doing a commission painting of her. She was initially confused that I was the “other” Steve Hanks, a well known painter in Arizona. I explained this and she realized her mistake, but even so, she asked if I would consider doing the commission. I told her I would, and explained how we might manage it… trading photographs in a variety of poses and discussing possible backgrounds. So after a week of such communications, she sent me pictures of herself… and much to my pleasant surprise… in the nude… and so pretty! In the past, I’d done both drawings and paintings of nudes before, usually in a classroom setting, but never a commission piece. So I was quite enthusiastic about the idea and so was Michelle (the young woman in the photo). So, I selected one of the photos she had sent and did a large drawing of the figure. I also realized that I needed to have a different background than the original photo… something that would be a nice contrast to the warm flesh tones of her skin. I had an old quilt that my mother had sewn many years before and I thought it would make a nice light background with colorful patterns and soft textures. So I draped the quilt over my own couch at home and took a few photos of it from a similar viewpoint as the original photo of Michelle. I then added the quilt to the large drawing that I had already done of the figure. I thought the combination worked well and started the painting. Now a few weeks later, I’ve finished it. Michelle has seen it and seems pleased with it… and has given me permission to show it here. If you like, you may post comments here, or you may send comments directly to Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell her what you think.
I’ve got nine paintings in four different exhibitions at the moment. Two of them are Montgomery College Art Department staff exhibitions; two paintings (Tattooed Face and 4 by 4 Self), are at the Black Rock Art Center in Germantown and another three paintings (Cezanne’s Mountain, British Armada, Satyr’s Rest) are in the Cafritz Art Center Gudelsky Auxillary Gallery on the Takoma Park MC campus. One painting, Trolls Tollbooth, shown below, is hanging in the Clubhouse 1 at Leisure World. And finally, three more (further below, Dean & Jerry; Larry, Curly, & Moe; and Near Oberammergau) are hanging in the Montgomery Artist Association (MAA) Gallery in Wheaton Mall.
One other piece of good news! I just sold two different drawings of a large Chesapeake sailboat; called Coming and Going.
Click on Classes above to learn more about all of the new classes I’m teaching in 2013
This past year, I began a series of paintings of animals in their natural habitat and named them after comedy teams of the 40′s and 50′s. The first was Larry, Curly, and Moe seen just below:
The most recent is called Dean & Jerry. This painting was in the recent Labor Day exhibition held by the Montgomery County Association at the Kensington Armory. It won a third prize.
The following painting “Near Oberammergau” was recently juried into the Baltimore Watercolor Society Mid-Atlantic regional art exhibition running August 29 thru October 4 at the BlackRock Center for the Arts, in Germantown, MD . The painting is an 18″ x 25″ watercolor media on Yupo paper and was painted last year from an old photograph I took while living and traveling with my family in southern Germany. As the title says, the town in the picture (whose name I have forgotten) is in Bavaria Germany near the famous town of Oberammaergau where they annually host the Passion Play.
Go to my Classes website page to see details and registration information for all of them.
Watercolor Techniques I
ALREADY STARTED… Learn watercolor painting by initially focusing on basic watercolor techniques and how they are used to create texture and other realistic effects. These techniques include different wet-in-wet, dry brush, glaze, lift, stippling, flat and graded wash, printing, masking, variegated shapes, controlled spray and run, tint and shade, and resist. Each technique will be demonstrated showing examples on how they can be applied in a painting. After the basic demonstrations, you will practice and use the techniques in your own paintings from life or photos. Materials needed for the class are a basic watercolor palette (e.g. Prang OVL16), paper (e.g. any Mfg. 9″x12″, 140 lbs., hot or cold press, tablet or block), and 4-6 assorted brushes. A detailed list to be distributed to registrants prior to or at the first class. Course No. 42647 is a studio class offered thru Montgomery College (MD) Lifelong Learning Institute. See details @ http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/brochures/lifelonglearning.pdf on page 3. The course is 16 Hours, 8 Sessions, from 5/15 thru 7/3, on Tuesdays, 2–4 p.m.
Introduction to Drawing
Starts June 6th… Learn basic drawing skills and how they can be applied to your artwork. These skills include gesture, semi-blind contour, cross-contour, and proportional drawing. Your will learn six techniques for creating the illusion of three dimensions in a drawing, including linear perspective. The six Elements of Art and basic Principles of Composition will be introduced. All skills will be demonstrated and you will then use them in your own drawings from life or photos. Minimum materials needed for the class are a few soft-lead pencils (e.g. soft Ebony 6B, Ticonderoga 2B), paper tablet (e.g. any Mfg. 9″x12″, =>70 lbs.), and both rubber and kneaded erasers. A detailed list of these and additional materials will be distributed to registrants at the first class. Course No. 12529 is a studio class offered thru Montgomery College (MD) Continuing Education. See details @ http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/WDCE_Summer2012_Catalogue/flipviewerxpress.html on page 6. The course is 20 Hours, 8 Sessions, from 6/6 thru 8/1, on Wednesdays, 7–9:30 p.m.
Art Appreciation and Analysis
Starts June 8th… Appreciation of art is to some extent subjective, but personal preference, without the benefit of experience and knowledge, cannot legitimately pose as criticism of art. Like any other field, one can better understand and appreciate art by learning more about how art demands and sustains our attention. This course will explain fundamental components of art and principles on how they are used to control our attention and enhance quality. These components include the Elements of Art and objective Principles of Composition. Understanding these elements and principles leads to a greater appreciation of art, whether it was done by the great masters or just a beginner. Learning these principles will also help any artist better control and improve their own artwork. This is a basic course for anyone interested in improving their appreciation and basic understanding of art. The class will present many images of artwork (e.g. Wyeth, Hopper) from a large variety of styles, media, and artists and include lecture, handouts, and class discussion. Course No. 12554 is a lecture class offered thru Montgomery College (MD) Continuing Education. See details @ http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/WDCE_Summer2012_Catalogue/flipviewerxpress.html on page 6. The course is 16 Hours, 8 Sessions, from 6/8 thru 7/27, on Fridays, 1-3 p.m.
As a demo for the Drawing the Portrait class that I am currently teaching at Montgomery College Takoma Park campus, I created the picture below of my daughter Jessica Hanks. The face and body are drawn in pencil on a beige/tan matte board and the background is a collage of small snippets of watercolors with black and gold marker. The dress is also a collage using cut pieces of white paper doilies.
One of my favorite artists is Gustav Klimt and this picture tries to somewhat emulate his style. He created marvelous portraits surrounded by gold and gorgeous colorful patterns using Art Nouveau-like shapes. This design uses a collage of watercolor pieces to try and create similar patterns in the background.
I did the portrait of Jessica first, then her dress, and I was somewhat at a loss for what to do in the background. Initially, I filled the background with some horizontal stripes over flat areas of brown rice paper… and it was boring… the figure was much too strong for the bland background and the composition was unbalanced with her shifted so far to the right. So I removed the stripes, left the brown rice paper, and decided to really go for it with a very busy background of watercolors. I had a collection of small interesting pieces of watercolors created as demos for different watercolor techniques that I glued down filling the background. I was initially worried that the background was too strong and was a distraction from the portrait. But it has grown on me and I now like the contrast between the busy background and the portrait… especially the powerful 3D effect of the figure bursting forward out of the picture in front of the background.
I’m now working as an adjunct professor for Montgomery College (MC) in Maryland. Actually, I’ve already taught two semesters for MC, both Watercolor Techniques I, last Summer and Fall. I’ll repeat that class for MC starting in March at the Holiday Park Senior Center in Wheaton MD. For more information on this see http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/brochures/lifelonglearning.pdf
The other two classes are brand new, offered at the Takoma Park campus of MC, and I’m very excited about them. One of them is a studio class called “Drawing the Portrait” starting March 16th, weekly Thursday evenings, running ten sessions, from 7-9:30pm. The second class is a lecture class called “Art Appreciation and Analysis” starting March 14th, weekly Tuesday evenings, running eight sessions, from 7-9pm. The following are the course descriptions:
Drawing the Portrait – Course Description:
Doing a portrait as art requires a combination of (1) knowledge of facial anatomy and proportions, (2) skill in the use of a specific media, (3) an appreciation of the personality and psychology of the subject, and (4) an understanding of the organizing principles of art composition. A portrait is not simply a random rendering or snap-shot image of a person. This course will explore and challenge the students to understand all four of these components by researching, preparing for, and doing at least one finished major portrait of a person. The course will include an explanation of the anatomy and proportions of the face with practice doing preparatory sketches of faces. The course will encourage the students to explore a variety of media in this preparation, but will allow the student to select the final 2D media used for the final portrait. As preparation for their final portrait, the students will examine a variety of portrait examples to see how other artists conveyed the personalities of their subjects. And finally, the course will present general art composition principles and their application in improving the quality of any artwork, including portraits.
Drawing the Portrait – Course Topics:
The following is a list of course projects and lecture/discussion topics that will be included in the course:
- Project: Do a detailed 3D shaded drawing of a skull.
- Project: Do shaded sketches of a face with appropriately shaped facial components (e.g. eye, nose), correct 3D shading, and accurate facial proportions in three different views (e.g. frontal. ¾-view, profile, from below, etc.).
- Project: Do a painting portrait of someone from a photograph, but scaled four or more times larger using a grid.
- Project: Do a detailed drawing of an important or famous person using a tracing or projection of a photograph, combined with a different but applicable background.
- Project: Do a self portrait.
- Project: Do an abstract portrait using mixed media with a defined center of attention and controlled visual movement illustrated on the back.
- Topic: the anatomy and proportions of the face
- Topic: different 2D media that can be used for a portrait
- Topic: portraits done by master artists and the manifestation of the subject’s character
- Topic: the Elements of Art, the organizing Principles of Composition, and how they are applied to portrait art.
Drawing the Portrait – Course Objectives:
At the end of the course, students will be able to…
- Do a drawing of a face with correctly drawn facial components and proportions
- Do a drawing or painting of a face that looks like them
- Used a variety of artistic media for portraits
- Applied their understanding of the Elements of Art and the Principles of Composition to organize their own artwork
- Do at least one finished, substantive, and major-effort portrait of a person
Drawing the Portrait – Materials:
At a minimum, the students will need pencil drawing supplies, as follows:
- Tablet of drawing paper; heavy weight (e.g. 75 lb) paper, size at least 9” x 12”, tablet, with 30 or more sheets
- Pencils, two or three No. 2 pencils (yellow, e.g. Ticonderoga w/ eraser) and the same number of soft lead pencils (3B-6B)
- Two Erasers, one pink or white and one kneaded
I addition, the course will encourage experimental use of other 2D media appropriate for portraits. These other 2D media will be the students’ own choice and may include, for example, charcoal, graphite, colored pencils, ink, collage, markers, watercolors, acrylic paint, larger drawing or painting surfaces like paper or canvas or boards. So, there are no other minimum required media, but other media will likely be needed by the students. And, the final portrait must involve a substantive and major-effort use of whatever media is selected by the student.
Art Appreciation & Analysis – Course Description:
Appreciation of art is to some extent subjective, but personal preference, without the benefit of experience and knowledge, cannot legitimately pose as criticism of art. Like any other field, one can better understand and appreciate art by learning more about how art demands and sustains our attention. This course will explain fundamental components of art and principles on how they are used to control our attention and enhance quality. These components include the Elements of Art and other factors that artists use according to objective Principles of Composition. Understanding these elements and principles leads to a greater appreciation of art, whether it was done by the great masters or just a beginner. Learning these objective principles will also help any artist better control and improve their own artwork.
This is a basic course for anyone interested in improving their appreciation and basic understanding of art. It is not a studio class. It will present images of artwork and include lecture, handouts, and class discussion.
Art Appreciation & Analysis – Course Objectives:
Upon completion of the course, the students should be able to:
- Understand what an artist does to sustain our attention, organize, and enhance the quality of their artwork
- Learn the six Elements of Art, three other Laws of Attention, preliminary Factors of Form Organization, and the Principles of Composition.
- Appreciate how styles of art have changed over time but how the fundamentals of composition have been relatively constant
Both of the MC Takoma Park classes are in the MC Spring 2012 course catalog which can be found at http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/wdce/WDCE_Spring2012_Catalogue/flipviewerxpress.html
I’ve just finished an exhibition at the Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg. However, I’ve just opened a new exhibition of sixteen of my paintings (many of the pictures from the Creative Reaction show at Kentlands) at the H-Street Theater on Capitol Hill in DC. The exhibition opened last night (12/5) in the lobby of the theater and coincided with the opening and reception for Black Nativity, a really wonderful musical and gospel Christmas celebration. Everyone should see this show and, of course, my paintings in the lobby.