When It’s Okay to Share a Beer With Your Art Model | Oil Painting

Now that I have your attention, let’s get something straight: the model that I’ve referred to in the subject line is a pig. Does that clear it up at all? Perhaps not. Maybe I’ll let the artist explain. Brad Lethaby, a finalist in The Artist’s Magazine’s Annual Art Competition this year in the Animal/Wildlife category, gives us the story behind his oil painting: Bentley, Profile of a Pig.

Competition Spotlight: Brad Lethaby

Good friends of mine raised three piglets last year. When Dupuis, Pascal and Bentley were a few months old, I went for a visit and spent a couple of hours watching their porcine antics. Once they were half grown, I went back one evening to have dinner with my friends and thought the pigs might be good subjects for a painting, so I took reference photos.

Back at my studio, I chose a few of my favorite images and started working on some compositional thumbnail drawings. A couple of weeks later, Bentley, Profile of a Pig, with his funny little smile, was sitting on my easel. I suppose the smile could have come from the beer I shared with him that evening at dinner.

My artistic heroes are the painterly illustrators of the 20th century and a handful of those who followed. In 2000, after working in illustration for decades, I decided to begin painting full time. I’ve never regretted it.

Painting a pig was a bit of a switch from the landscapes, figures and portraits that I usually do, but it did feel very familiar, like painting a portrait. The dark background within the barn not only enhances Bentley’s light coloring and wonderful profile, but it also helps create a sense of depth next to the natural light that falls on him in the doorway.

It’s wonderful how we can share our images in the digital age, but I find it impossible to relinquish the smell and feel of oil paint on a bristle brush or palette knife sliding across a canvas or panel. The more time I spend with my subject, be it a figure or a landscape, the more emotion I feel during the painting process, which in turn is reflected in the finished work. I had a new kind of connection with this painting since I work with hog-hair bristle brushes. ~B.L.

Competition Spotlight appears in almost every issue of The Artist’s Magazine, and lucky for us, the 2014 Annual CD is newly available. Get yours here and read more from our competition winners, all part of evocative art and the detailed painting lessons that this beloved magazine is known for.

Cheers,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
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