THE SECOND WEEK OF PAINTING HAS BEEN PRODUCTIVE. The size of the painting is still intimidating, but I am beginning to get used to it. I feel as though I am stepping into the scene, smelling the brisk morning air, hearing the gentle rocking of the ship in the shallow water near shore, the murmuring of family voices conversing about the mundane and the important. The moment of saying a "goodbye" is approaching far too soon. There is apprehension in the air.
What a challenge and privilege this painting has been and continues to be.
ANOTHER MILESTONE IN A LONG VOYAGE HAS BEGUN. I am going to repeat what I said on Facebook a few days ago I started this painting three days ago with a head cold and cold feet about this painting. The first day - disaster! The second day I scraped the paint off. Today I felt a lot better physically and thought about my many teaching situations in a painting classroom when I was helping a student (just like myself) lost and heading nowhere. So I said to myself, "Start over from the beginning - right color, right value, right place, right shape, right edge. Eight hours later I can breath again and have backed away from the edge of the cliff - carefully. The first head is done - not done done! No single element can be really finished until all are at the same level of completion. There will have to be a tweak here and there to bring everything together.
I must add that I asked the Lord for very specific help for my heath and mental attentiveness this week. The start was especially difficult and daunting. God knows my heart and the skill He has guided in me along my path in life. The mystery of His divine guidance is deeper each day I live. I don't expect or plan to fail on this project, but I don't want to go it alone in my own strength and understanding. When I stumble, (and I will), it is in this very human experience that I don't want to miss the peace and deeper joy God provides in the learning experience.
This coming Monday, after a weekend with family, I will mix paint again and continue on with a little more confidence than last week. I think I will work on Brita's dress and jewelry first. I will post the progress. Thanks for your interest and encouragement on this journey.
On the technical side of painting, I am using Walnut Oil in my paint to keep it from drying too fast. This gives me time to work through an area and then go back and carefully blend the edges that are too tight and break long line-type elements that are distracting to the focus of the painting. The Walnut Oil has been a great medium in preserving the softness of my brushes from day to day as well.
THIS IS THE LAST STUDY PAINTING for the Viking Family Portrait. Next week I will begin the final painting. The first step is to figure out how to set up the 6' x 4' canvas in my studio for painting. The next step is to draw the composition onto the canvas with charcoal. I hope to get paint on the canvas by the end of the week.
Thursday evening, September 25th, from 6-8 p.m., I will be doing another painting at the Runestone Museum - this time of Andrew, the model for the Viking father. He will be in full Viking costume. I will also bring in all the study paintings and drawings for the painting.
If you were at the last painting session, you will remember the seating situation was not the best for viewing the process. I am going to change that and the lighting so you can see better. Hope to see you there again. This session is free the public.
ONE MORE STUDY PAINTING COMPLETED! I have to say that I am enjoying these small study paintings. Maybe it is that I am enjoying painting every day this week - every day I paint is a great day. One more study painting to go and then I will be moving to the "big linen canvas" - SCARY AND EXCITING!
THIS STUDY PAINTING began from life on Thursday, September 11th at the Runestone Museum. Nearly 100 people came to watch the painting process. I was very surprised to see so many of my former students that came quite a distance from all directions to participate in this event. I was somewhat nervous with so many very good artists watching, but there were many words of encouragement throughout the evening.
THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER will be dedicated to study drawings and study paintings for the Viking Family Portrait. I will post them as they are completed. Pictured here is my first study painting of Andrew, the model for the Viking father and a drawing of Brita and two of her children in the painting. It is not finished yet.
A study painting or drawing is practice and problem solving for the artist, solving color, value and edges in the image. I am working through a style of painting with a looser brush stroke carrying heavier paint. I have always been hoping and trying to loosen up. I had an aha moment in a portrait painting workshop with artist Bonita Roberts a couple of weeks ago. She has given me some new insight into brush and paint handling that will improve my style. She is a great artist and an excellent teacher.
This Thursday, I will begin a study painting of Brita in Viking costume from life. She is the model for the Viking mother. This painting session will take place on Thursday, September 11, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, MN. The public is invited and entry to the Museum is free. You may come for a short time or watch the full three hours. Hope to see you there!
MY GOAL IS TO BEGIN THE FINAL PAINTING NO LATER THAN OCTOBER 1ST. I am now completing B & W drawing and color oil studies to work out the final artistic decisions for the painting. I will post those as I finish them.
The color study for Brita, the Viking mother, will be done from life at the Runestone Museum on Thursdays, September 11th, 3-5 pm and the 25th 6-8 pm. The public is invited to the session on the 11th. The 25th may be reserved for Museum members only.
The finished study will be posted and on display in the Museum. This is indeed a marathon project that will be well worth the effort. Hope you can joint me to see the painting cross the finish line at the Museum next April!
AFTER SIX MONTHS OF RESEARCH the project is getting to the core of the design decisions that need to be made. Sometimes I am in wonder at all the work that has taken place behind the scenes to make this image blossom. Reading, writing, sketching, researching ( a word with a big meaning: traveling back in time 1000 years, listening, looking, collecting, calling, interviewing, sketching, etc.), ordering, costume making, finding the right models and people to help with the process - an amazing journey!
The image to the left is the final photo reference in process. The model images are firm, but the details in the scene are in progress. The images for the details will come from various sources - my own photography and bits and pieces from other photos that won't infringe on copyrights.
I ASKED MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS to help me choose the final image of Brita from three photos of the model. There were over 120 votes. All three photos received votes. The comments helped me solidify my choice PHOTO (C).
HOW I INTRODUCED THIS VOTING PROCESS ON FACEBOOK:
"HELP ME CHOOSE THE RIGHT PHOTO REFERENCE OF BRITA. I would invite all of you to help me choose one of these three reference photos of Brits for the Viking Family Portrait I will be painting for the Runestone Museum. THE STORY of the painting depicts a Viking mother with her three children facing the next 6 months to a year alone as her husband leaves on his last long Viking expedition to Iceland, Greenland and Vineland. Will he survive the expedition on the dangerous seas to return home? How will she manage the children, farm, and many other responsibilities without her husband's help? WHICH PHOTO OF BRITA BEST MATCHES HOW YOU THINK THIS WOMAN FEELS? In the painting, her husband will be in the background just over her left shoulder looking back at her as he heads toward his Viking Long Boat. MAKE YOUR CHOICE BY STATING THE LETTER OF THE PHOTO YOU CHOOSE AND DESCRIBE HOW YOU THINK SHE IS FEELING AT THIS MOMENT IN THE STORY. I look forward to you thoughts and choice. Thank you for your help!"
A FEW FACEBOOK FRIEND VOTING RESPONSES:
HEIDI - "At first I thought A. But realized B seems stronger to me. She looks determined and knowing. Strong. A is strong too, but in B she looks confident."
CARLA - "B definitely. It is a strong image, but has a feeling of the contemplative sadness she is about to experience as her husband leaves and she is responsible for the family he leaves behind."
AURORA - "I vote A. i like the lighting and the fierceness."
CHRISTINA - "C - she looks like she knows what struggles she will no doubt endure while her husband is away. She seems distracted by her thoughts, spacing out on the fact that in a short time, it could be the last time she ever hugs her husband."
JOANNA - "C. The expression in C is a good balance between the other two. Strong yet not too stiff or soft."
ROBYN - "A - she is married to her hero and as a helpmeet she is determined to not let him down and be strong for their children. She will not give up and can do all things through Christ who strengthens her. Second choice wold be C and last would be B (she just looks too sad and defeated in B)"
PAT - "Really fun reading these... but I think I most agree with Dan-Joyce Folden's choices. In A she is confident, getting tough for the job ahead. In B she seems worried, glancing back (at him?) but not at all sure she can do what is ahead. C is next best after A, but in C she seems disconsolate, almost defeated. I'm sure she would be feeling all three, but I think a true Viking wife would look most like A... unstoppable!"
MEGAN - "My initial reaction was C but the more I study the faces I choose B....I don't like A, too much confidence in my opinion (unless that is what you are going for). I think B and C show more concern and uncertainty about what the future holds and if her husband is going to be standing behind her I think B would be the best option. She seems to be looking into the future with uncertainty. She is worried but yet there is still strength in her eyes to demonstrate her will power. The first thing that comes to mind when I look at B is "when will you be coming back." Her poise is demonstrating that she has to be strong even if she doesn't want to be. This is how I would feel if my loved one left."
RON - "I think maybe C - she is resolving grief from her loss. Each picture reflects an aspect of that grief, B maybe the sadness and fear, A the anger and denial, C is the one that best reflects the resolve to go on and do what needs to be done, with the anger, fear and sadness all still there."
THIS IS MY FACEBOOK RESPONSE to those who voted: "Your comments gave me a deeper sense of what these three expressions convey. In C, I feel the mother is fully engaged with her husband, her family, and her responsibilities. The reality of carrying on alone gives her a sense of humility knowing her future is in God's hands and not simply done in her own strength and will power. Yes, she knows fear, but she also knows love that overcomes any hopelessness she may be tempted by. She knows her husband will do his part, and she will do hers, and God will do what they both cannot do. Thank you for all of your thoughtful comments."
A FEW FACEBOOK FRIEND RESPONSES TO MY CHOICE:
Naomi - "Seeing the other characters in place gives a fuller sense of the drama. I agree that the angle of her head in C seems to convey the connection to her husband that is missing in the other two. I am so enjoying the process! Thanks for letting us all in on it."
ANDREA - "C is perfect after really seeing it in the context thank you for sharing the process with us! It is very fun!"
LAURA - "I think C looks better with the whole family in it. It brings everything together."
CHRISTINA - "So happy that you went with C! (Its a pretty awesome letter..) I feel it shows so much more depth of emotions, the whirlwind her life will inevitably become, how her trust in God will be tried, but she will have to remain strong for her family. Will you be doing the paintings of Brita from life at the museum? I would love to just sit and watch."
PAT - "C it is! Myron, your reasons for choosing that really changed my mind. This is going to be an AMAZING painting!!"
MEGAN - "This will be amazing. I like your decision!"
NAOMI - "Seeing the other characters in place gives a fuller sense of the drama. I agree that the angle of her head in C seems to convey the connection to her husband that is missing in the other two. I am so enjoying the process! Thanks for letting us all in on it."
LAST FRIDAY THE FINAL PHOTO SHOOT took place for the Viking Family Portrait painting. It was scheduled from 4-6:30 p.m. At 3:30 Andrew, an Oral Surgeon and the father in the modeling family, called me to say the Douglas County Hospital requested his help at 5 p.m. with an emergency surgery for an accident victim.
In a moment Andrew and I agreed to get his photos completed by 5 p.m. Everyone pitched in and we got the shots we needed. The three people that helped me, Maja Sahlberg, photographer; Joanna Hallstom, coordinator; and Nadalie Junker, hair designer; each went to work on their respective jobs allowing me to concentrate on directing the models for the photos. My wife, Ellen, cared for Joanna's children (our grandchildren) and prepared a supper so our daughters, Maja and Joanna, could head back to Minneapolis after the shoot.
I had prepared a written plan which I shared with Maja and Joanna before the photo shoot. Nadalie and I had exchanged emails and phone calls regarding hair styles and other details of her job. All the preparations in the last six months with the models, costumes and the painting composition came together in this hour and forty-five minutes of time.
I spent today going through the 400 + photos locating the best photos of each model. Tomorrow I will bring them together to make the final photo reference for the painting. Well, it just may take more than one day to do that.
In the next stage of the project I will render a 20" x 30" pencil drawing to combine the model photos with other elements of the design to tweak the composition and make decisions on values, edges, and shapes. After completing the drawing, I will paint a 20" x 30" oil color study on canvas to solve the color design; color balance, color harmony and color intensity. Only then will the final 6' x 4' painting begin.
Many thanks to Maja, who quietly and professionally recorded all the action on the camera. On a normal day she is capturing the beauty of freshly baked or cooked foods in Betty Crocker's kitchen at General Mills in Golden Valley. Thanks to Joanna for her organized mind and ability to look after the many details with the models, clothes and photo process. Thanks to Nadalie for designing the hair, and jumping in to make adjustments as the shoot progressed. I noticed she also helped guide and encourage the children through a process that didn't end soon enough. All three women blessed me, the models and the whole process with their kind, gracious and professional help.
Below are photos of last Friday's photo shoot in process.
PHILLIP ODDEN, NORSK WOOD CARVER, sent me his pencil design for the two Viking carvings on the frame for the Viking Family Portrait painting. Refer to an earlier post describing the frame design. Phillip says, "I made the design in the Jelling Style with a date around 980 AD."