Portrait/Figure Honorable Mentions from the 28th Annual Art Competition

Portrait/Figure Honorable Mentions from The Artist’s Magazine‘s 28th Annual Art Competition

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Honorable Mention
Olivia Hill
Los Angeles, California • www.oliviahillart.com

Laid to Rest (oil, 24x36) by Olivia Hill
Laid to Rest (oil, 24×36) by Olivia Hill

A full-time artist since 2007, Olivia Hill is just 26. “While much of my portfolio evokes celebration and dreamlike surrealism,” says Hill, “Laid to Rest is a distillation of the bitterest fruit of my young life. This painting represents a death, but also the life that emerged from that death.”

She points out that the background is painted “in textured, frenzied strokes that look like the glossy black wings of some scavenging bird, circling the body below.”

For fleshtones she uses a more methodical approach: “I start layering with the biggest brush I can get away with until all the colors are in the right place and the values are good. Then I blend and push the paint around with smaller brushes. To get really good fleshtones, I let the first layer of paint dry and then go in with pale glazes to achieve translucence.”

Honorable Mention
Susan Lyon
Quaker Gap, North Carolina • www.susanlyon.com

Yanca’s Ponytail (oil, 6x8) by Susan Lyon
Yanca’s Ponytail (oil, 6×8) by Susan Lyon

The wide-eyed innocence of her 11-year-old subject was what appealed to Susan Lyon when she planned Yanca’s Ponytail. “I was attracted to Yanca’s strong features—lots of dark, curly hair and big, sensitive eyes,” says Lyon. “My challenge was not to age her. I needed to keep the edges soft while making sure the representation was accurate.”

Lyon does about 50 percent of her work from photographs. For Yanca’s Ponytail, she conducted an hour-long photography session under different types of lighting and against varied backgrounds.

Painting on portrait-texture canvas adhered to thin media board, she first blocked in the midtones and then moved on to the darks, followed by the lights. Working with a limited palette of transparent oxide red, yellow ochre, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson and titanium white, Lyon completed the painting in three days.

Honorable Mention
Adrian Gottlieb
Los Angeles, California • www.adriangottlieb.com

Dormir (oil, 16x40) by Adrian Gottlieb
Dormir (oil, 16×40) by Adrian Gottlieb

“I gravitate to compositions that feature an almost monolithic central figure that communicates the breadth and magnificence of the human form,” says Adrian Gottlieb. Inspiration for the composition, mood, light and color comes from the masters of the 17th through 19th centuries.

After creating a color sketch for Dormir, the artist drew a charcoal cartoon of the figure, which he transferred to the canvas. He then applied an imprimatura (underpainting) that matched the figure’s shadow. A piambura stage followed—consisting of thin veils of lead white, similar to a grisaille, over the flesh areas.

“I then worked directly on top of the piambura in the verdaccio method,” says Gottlieb, “modeling the forms in a lighter value and lower chroma key than the actual subject. A final glaze added the color component that was removed in the initial verdaccio stage. Indian yellow and permanent rose usually provide the richest glaze. With these I could use as little paint as possible to shift the color.”

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