Justin Hess is our Artist of the Month. His oil painting, In the Gold Room – A Harmony, was a finalist in the portrait/figure category of The Artist’s Magazine’s 28th Annual Art Competition. Read more about Hess’s painting process and inspiration below, and view more of his work on his website at www.jhessfineart.com.
The original inspiration for this composition came from Cecilia Beaux’s painting, Les Derniers jours d’enfance (The Last Days of Childhood); the title comes from a poem by Oscar Wilde. The model is a dear friend of mine and fantastic painter, Costanza Papasogli Tacca. I set out to represent an inviting, yet elegant, female figure in her own environment, with a typical feeling of a hot summer’s afternoon in Tuscany. This painting took about four months to create, as I was only able to work on weekends due to Costanza’s schedule.
I’ve been drawing my entire life; however, it wasn’t until I graduated high school in 2000 that I first began studying seriously. My formal studies began at Ventura College at the age of 19. After graduating, I moved to San Francisco where I continued my studies at the San Francisco Academy of Art University. It was there where I dedicated myself to painting and the study of traditional/representational art. It was also during this period that I was introduced to the Florence Academy of Art in Florence, Italy. In further pursuit of my studies I decided to leave San Francisco and move to Italy. I graduated the painting program in 2008, and began to teach and build my portfolio and career in Florence.
In addition to being a professional artist, I teach classical drawing and painting techniques, and I’ve recently finished a material manual titled Controlling the Creative Process. It offers step by step illustrated demonstrations covering the hand making of oil colors, preparation of canvas, and frames—a subject that I often lecture on and demonstrate. It’s available for purchase in hardcover book format, or digital download, via my website.
Hess’s Painting Process
I only work in oil, and I make all materials by hand. While most of my subject matter is portrait/figurative and still life/floral, I really enjoy and plan to focus a little more on landscape painting in the near future. My process is based upon working from life and with the model, employing a combination of the time honored techniques of comparative measurement and the sight-size method. My palette consists of lead white, Naples yellow light, yellow ochre, vermilion, Venetian red, alizarin crimson, ivory black, ultramarine blue and cerulean. This is the color palette I use for all subject matter.
The amount of time I spend on each painting varies, as there are usually many factors involved. I often have anywhere from two to four paintings going on at once to compensate for the models’ schedules, so I always have a painting to work on. Usually the amount of time spent on any given painting depends upon subject matter, size and complexity.
I’ve just moved back to San Francisco after having studied and worked in Florence Italy for six years, so my main project at the moment is building a new studio. Once finished, I’ll be offering workshops and private instruction in the classical realist tradition.
Artists of the Month are chosen from the list of finalists of The Artist Magazine’s Annual Art Competition.
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