Artists don’t paint because it’s an easy thing to do. It often takes patience, practice, and a concentrated effort to be able to paint to one’s satisfaction. In Pastel Journal Daniel E. Greene, who has built a hearty portfolio of breathtaking portraits, admits that painting is “a never-ending process of challenges and learning.” (Like this? Tweet it!)
Greene’s work is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as The Smithsonian Institution, plus more than 500 other collections. He’s also the featured artist of Daniel E. Greene: Essential Lessons in Oil Painting, which includes educational articles about the artist and his art techniques.
To celebrate this new e-magazine, I’ve included an excerpt from Pastel Journal (August 2009), in which fellow artist Robert K. Carsten interviews Daniel E. Greene. Even from this short tidbit, you’re sure to get a glimpse into this master painter’s style.
RKC: I’m intrigued by the background and composition in an early work, Morning Paper.
DEG: At that point I had moved to a studio on 67th Street and was doing rapid studies from the figure. Here, I used the background color as my darks, and I was experimenting with using the contrast of opposing angles–areas going in opposite directions–which, even today, I’m very fond of doing. This creates a certain arrested action.
RKC: By arrested do you mean that it grabs our attention?
DEG: It implies action, precisely.
RKC: Your pastel, Hippie Girl With Poncho, certainly grabs my attention. I’m fascinated by the construction of this painting and by the looseness with which you painted certain areas. Even though you only show a tiny bit of the model’s eyes, you were able to portray so much character. How did you do that?
DEG: Sometimes, when I’m doing a vignette, I like to leave in evidence of the original drawing lines to show some of the mechanics of the painting, as you can see especially on her cape. This idea seems to have started with the Impressionists.
I particularly liked the shadow of the hat on her face, which creates an almost abstract shape on one side. The poncho was actually a tablecloth in which she had cut a hole out of the middle for her head. The designs of the poncho were first worked broadly in simplified shapes and then were further broken down into smaller details, but I wasn’t compelled to work much further to make it realistic, or else the designs might have taken too much attention away from the face.
I posed her to capture an attitude and to take full advantage of the light. Whenever a hand is on a hip, or especially when both hands are, it gives you a triangular design, which is very stable at the bottom. This also leads you upward to the face.
RKC: Looking back, how has your work changed? Are you still learning when you paint?
DEG: The subjects in my work have changed, but my technique has remained the same. I’m working more on rigid surfaces now and perhaps in my later works there are stronger dark values and they’re more colorful. I’m learning all of the time. In fact, that’s one of the things that’s so completely fascinating about painting: It’s a never-ending process of challenges and learning.
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