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studies: ten more than ninety

Step One: We can have lots of fun
If you read my previous post, you know that I’m beginning a new project and that, for me, hows are more important than whys. Now it’s time to lay this down like a five-step pop song, boy-band-style, and give you an idea of how this project is going to work. Like I said before, I’m going to create a series of 100 portraits. I could do this in my typical fashion, hitting up family, friends, and acquaintances to model. Or I could go with the occasional random person I meet, like their look, and request their modeling services*.

*This is one of those artist interactions where I’ve developed mad-skills. I prep my approach with a little scotch, increasing my charm, and stroll up to my model-to-be with a friendly smile, a wink, and open with something smooth like, ” Hey there, I like your face.” Usually, I’m in; occasionally, things fall apart, devolving into “Please don’t go, girl.”

Step Two: There’s so much we can do
Doing things this way takes some time and planning, but I have full control over concept, lighting, everything. And I dig it, it works. The downside is that there’s little collaboration and with a few exceptions, I’m dancing solo, and the input is mine alone. For this project, I’ll still do this, of course, but I’d like to open things up to other people and see what happens. I’m looking to broaden my net of collaboration. I’m jonesin’ for more ideas and diversity, and like any good boy-band, I want all styles covered. And if I’m opening it up to people, why not open it up to as many people as possible who show an interest? Well, show an interest and don’t mind following a few guidelines. Okay, show an interest, have a willingness to follow a few guidelines to create the best picture possible, and employ a little creativity. I know, I’m never satisfied. Talk to my therapist.**

**Editor’s Note: The author doesn’t see a therapist. In his words, “All the funny people always reference their therapists. It’s good humor. It opens a connection. It’s a foil to their acknowledged dysfunction, which makes them human, and totally likable. Now, I’m neither lucky enough to be that dysfunctional, nor am I that likable. But dammit, man, I am human and if I have to, I’ll employ an imaginary therapist to connect with my readers!”

Step Three: It’s just you and me
So, how does this work? In general, the process is pretty simple. Take some digital photos and send them to me. My guess is that for the majority of people this won’t be a problem.*

*If it is, maybe a real come-to-techno-Jesus-moment is in order. It’s time to loosen up that pre-1992 kung-fu grip and pick up some basic computer and interweb skills. As my friend Drew says, “Times change, change with ’em, and stop holding up the grocery line writin’ out that check.”

Step Four: I can give you more
The real trick is to send me photos that I can actually use to paint a portrait. This is a little more difficult, because it takes some attention to detail – things like composition, lighting, etc. I recognize that this narrows my field of participants, but it’s necessary – crappy references can make for crappy paintings and paintings take too much time to knowingly start out with things working against you. Later, I’ll provide some examples. Ideally, I’m trying to achieve results similar to what I would get if we were working together in my studio. At the same time, I’m also trying to make this inclusive and get different perspectives. I imagine that people who are really interested won’t mind paying attention to these kinds of details. If you want to see yourself in paint, you might want to present yourself in the best light – literally and figuratively.

Step Five: Don’t you know that the time has arrived
Like most boy-bands, it’s time to face the music and admit my 5-step formula isn’t really holding up as well as I’d hoped. So, let’s skip the steps because this is all fairly straightforward. Here’s the Right Stuff: Take crafted, well-lit photos and send them to me. Piece of cake, right? Well, yeah, mostly. But, hang tough, we’ll get to that. I’ll explain more later.

3 Responses to New Kid on the Block: a Step-By-Step Formula for Starting One Seriously Sweet Project

  1. This post is freaking brilliant! I know nothing about lighting – unless it’s dramatic – but will send you a torrent of pictures that will probably contain some awkwardness! Great idea!!

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