Women Behaving Badly is moving to the First Baptist Church of Denver! This series by Denver artist Adri Norris celebrates women who were leaders, activists, and innovators in a variety of fields. From worker’s rights to Bluetooth technology, Title 9 to the Nobel Peace Prize, these women and their work profoundly shaped our modern world. This series strives to tell their stories of bravery, determination, and relentless rule breaking. After all, well behaved women seldom make history.
The collection will be hung in the hallway and on display every day from 7:30am to 6pm. This showing also includes two opportunities to meet the artist: Wednesday March 15th at 6:30pm and Sunday March 19th at 12pm. Whether you’ve been following the series from day one or are encountering the work for the first time, you don’t want to miss this!
I haven’t done a process post in a while, so here goes. This piece is for a client of mine who has commissioned a few paintings over the years. She always sends me high quality photos, which I appreciate. Blurry or low resolution photos always make my job more difficult.
In any case, I started with this photo here. I took it into Photoshop for a little pre-treatment. The first order of business was to crop the photo to the size of the final painting, making sure I was pleased with the placement of the boys within the frame. I then blurred out the background so that they really stood out.
Once I completed this mock up and got approval from my client, I sketched in the figures. Next, I went to work on the background. In order to simulate the blur effect in Photoshop, I utilized the wet on wet technique. With a brush loaded with clean water, I soaked the whole background area. Then I got some pigment on the brush and started dropping in color. Because the paper was already wet, the colors began to run into one another, causing them to blend smoothly.
After I was satisfied with the background, I moved to the foreground. You may have noticed this ugly greenish-grey on the boys’ shirts and hat. That is masking fluid, used to preserve the white of the paper. It also allows me to freely paint large areas of color without having to paint around small details. I built up the folds of the shirts to my satisfaction before removing the fluid.
Although white, there are still some shadows in the numbers and logos on their shirts, so I added these with some bluish-grey. I have also done some significant work on the older boy’s face.
When I got close to done, I sent a photo of the painting to my client. She felt that the legs in the background were distracting, so I got rid of them. I darkened the background while I was at it, using the darkness to cut out the younger boy’s hair. I sent a photo to the client again and she pointed out that I had aged the older boy too much with heavy shadowing on his nose and around his mouth.
Back in Photoshop, I applied a black and white filter to the original photo. This helped me to examine the shapes more closely and discover where I had gone awry. I changed the nose and adjusted the mouth while I was at it and sent it off to the client. This time she loved it.
This is how I work with all my clients. I take pains to make sure they end up with the painting they want. The process is fastest when the reference is clear. If you would like to commission a portrait for the holidays, place your order by December 13th. If you live outside of Denver, allow time for shipping. Click here to order.
Many freelancers like to talk about their nightmare clients, those people who seem not to know exactly what they want but will happily tell you that you’re doing everything wrong. These folks have little respect for the time and effort you are exerting on their behalf. They ask for re-dos and redesigns of work you both approved but balk at the extra fees you charge for that extra time.
That’s one end of the spectrum. The other end is the Dream Client. The Dream Client knows exactly what she wants and communicates it well. She is open to your input, but will not blindly follow or reject your suggestions. If, during the creation process, she sees something she doesn’t like, she lets you know and is specific about her needs. This client has great respect for your time and for your skill. She won’t haggle over the price of your work or drag her feet when it’s time to pay.
Best of all, Dream Clients come back for more. Not only do they purchase from you again and again, they tell their friends and bring you more business. I am so grateful for all of the Dream Clients I have so far. I hope to find many more.
If you are interested in becoming one of my Dream Clients, I am taking orders for the Holidays. Be aware, if you or your loved one lives outside of the state of Colorado, allow for shipping and place your order before December 6th. If you are in the Denver Metro area, you have until the 12th to order.
Who is she?
Rigoberta Menchu Tum is a K’iche’ political activist, an indigenous Guatemalan woman who promotes indigenous rights and fights for the rights of women in her country. After losing most of her family to the Guatemalan civil war, which lasted form 1960 to 1996, Menchu worked tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of that war to justice.
What did she do?
In 1982, she dictated the book “My Name is Rigoberta Menchu and this is how my Conscience was Born”, winning international acclaim and calling attention to the ongoing conflict in Guatemala, as well as the ill treatment of its mostly Mayan people. Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for “her work in social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” She created the Rigoberta Mentu Tum Foundation, which helped indigenous Guatemalans in exile return home.
Why does that matter?
Rigoberta Menchu Tum gave a voice to the indigenous people of her country and paved the way for justice to be served. There is still a long way to go before the country is completely healed, but many people are dedicated to the task.
You may be thinking to yourself, “those look like shell casings….” Yes, those are shell casings that I glued to the piece to enhance the violence of the time. 30 years is a LONG time for a civil war.
I’ve been so busy getting ready for this show, I’ve forgotten to post my last few paintings. Time to rectify that little oversight.
This painting is of Katherine Johnson.
Who is she?
Katherine Johnson was a computer for NASA, back when it was a job description, not a machine. She and a number of other Black women answered the call when NASA was looking for women to work in their fledgling space program.
What did she do?
One of the West Area Computers, Katherine Johnson did the calculations that astronauts relied on for some of America’s earliest space travel. She was so good at her job, even after the electronic computer had been invented, astronaut John Glenn requested that Johnson personally check the machine’s calculations before he took off for his mission on Friendship 7.
Why does that matter?
Katherine Johnson and other pioneers in her field are living proof that women have a place in science and technology. Without her efforts, American astronauts would not have left this planet when they did, and humanity would not know as much about Earth’s place in the universe.
I pushed myself a bit further on this one. I even managed to hunt down a toy space shuttle to indicate Johnson’s importance to the Space Program. I’m enjoying the 3D elements and will definitely be playing with that more in future paintings.
Some of you may be wondering what it is I’m looking for when I agree to do a portrait of someone and whether or not they pose for me.
Well, I generally prefer to work from photos, the reason being that a photo captures a moment in time. If I have a model posing for me, I’ll be able to capture their likeness but would be hard pressed to capture their expression because that fades over a very short period of time. The model is now staring blankly into space. To me that doesn’t make for an engaging picture.
I prefer to have my clients send me their favorite photos. I do this because of the emotional content of the photo, both in what is visually there, and what memories are surrounding the actual taking of that photo. Here’s an example of a photo I used in a portrait:
This was always one of my favorite photos of me as a kid. I love the expression that says, “I’m up to something, you don’t know what, but you’re probably not going to like it”. I remember that was when I still lived in Barbados with my folks and we would go over to my Auntie Peggy’s house for dinner and the older folks would hang out in the back sipping rum and talking, while I would run around seeing what kind of trouble I could get into. Here’s what I did with it:
There is more abstraction than the portraits I have been doing lately, but the feeling of contrast between the mischievous kid I was and the adult I am is there. Here’s another one I did from a home photo:
My buddy Al lost his grandpa a few years back and asked me to do a painting for the family. They got together and chose one that they felt best showed who he was, this guy with a subtle sense of humor who had worked hard all his life and had these blazing blue eyes. Al told me specifically to emphasize the eyes, since blue eyes in a Mexican man are rare and his grandpa’s eyes always seemed to have this glow to them. Here’s what I did.
These examples are of older paintings I’ve done. These days I try to emphasize my subjects by not painting a background. I want the personalities to come through without distraction. This gets us here:
I’m loving the simplicity of this style which has the added bonus of reminding the viewer that it is in fact a painting. As I hone my skills, I’m getting closer and closer to photo realism, which has been a lot of fun to explore. But I don’t want to just replicate what a camera can do. I want to do better.
With Father’s Day around the corner, I was all set to put out my Father’s Day promotion of $250 for an 8×10 portrait of your favorite dad. I’m still gonna do that, but looking around at my friends’ profiles, I see a lot of new babies, so I’m adding an extra bonus for new dads with a $200 painting of your new bundle of joy. The first 15 to respond get this deal, so make some moves!
Here’s what one Mom got this month: