Creating Mannequins

What an art filled  day!  Several fun things were happening in the studio today, of which I will share over the next couple of days with each its own post. For Jeff Hein’s multi-figure painting, Morgan and Jenna,  his assistants,  were set with the task of building mannequins of the little girls today. They were challenged,  in that they needed each little “body” to have a natural shape to it, and the “spine” to have the correct curvature. Duct tape, costume scraps, rope, scarves, pillows,  socks and other misc clothing bits was made to sculpt and build up the body so that the dresses would fit them properly in a realistic way. Jeff would then use these stand-ins to paint the clothing details and folds for his painting in progress.  They were still working on filling out the shapes of each of them, and toying with the idea of creating a way to have the arms on one of the mannequins lay down  in the position that Jeff is needing,  when I left the studio for the day.   Looking forward to the morrow, Ciao!


It’s a Jungle in Here.

 We traveled down to the Amazon in South America today… Well, at least it felt that way.

 I am excited to see the next stage in his painting progress, as Jeff Hein had many different types of tropical plants and several good-sized trees delivered to his studio today.  These plants will be part of the  multi-figure painting, that Jeff has been working on.  They were delivered by the wonderful people of  Paradise Palm (,  who had great customer service, and gave us detailed instructions on care and maintenance for each plant.  They should be very happy  and flourish under the studio skylights.

Jeff  was busy for the rest of the day, procuring the necessary pots, and rearranging the plants in the space for the right lighting, along with a model “stand-in”.  Jenna, one of the assistants,  re-potted several of the plants to stabilize them and keep them happy for the future.

Jeff Hein will be drawing and painting these plants from life for his painting in progress. It should be exciting to see, and I am looking forward to sharing the process with you all. Have a great evening!

Behind the Scenes Prep Work

I came in to the studio to be pleasantly surprised at seeing Jeff’s painting of his daughter suddenly more resolved then when I last saw her yesterday.  He said he had worked on her a couple more hours that night, and was as far along with it as he could be without having her sit for him in life.  I asked about the highlight in the eyes, and why he had put them in at such an early stage.  He told me that her face would go thru several sanding, and repainting sessions before she would be considered done, so this highlight would be the base of creating a deeper more in depth light later on. I am really excited to see him work on that some more and see it firsthand.  After that, the painting went thru a lot of preparatory work.  One of the costumes for the little girls,  was given to his assistant, Morgan, to dye it several times till the color was right. Jeff then turned his painting upside down, and would sit afar, contemplate and exist with it for a while. Later that day,  Jeff had his other assistant, Jenna paint a thin layer on the background of the painting in a combination of burnt umber and sap green.  This is just a visualizing tool for Jeff, as this background will be completely painted over, but it helps to determine how the overall composition is developing by blocking in the background temporarily.

Welcoming Discovery

Jeff Hein was working on his multi figure painting and  I found out that he has decided to not add the other children into his painting, and is going back to his original composition and vision. He was resolving one of the original children’s faces today.  In  talking to him about his decision, and how he plans out his painting compositions,  Jeff was telling me that a lot of the time he will do small quick sketches initially, to get the basic composition in pencil, showing light  and dark areas in the  composition.

There are many ways that other artists throughout history have gone about creating their paintings and preparing for the compositions. Some artists will plan out every detail of a composition in small miniature versions of the larger painting,  in full color studies.  Their reasons are that it saves on time, paint, and mistakes later on.  Other artists such as Velázquez, prefer to jump in per say,  with little or no planning out, and they cherish the discovery, creating in the moment, problem solving of the process.  Velázquez would add on sections of new canvas, sewing them on with a cloth support behind the linen, as his compositional needs demanded.

Jeff,  is one of the later, in that he likes the surprises that present themselves, and the opportunities as they come, to work out during the painting process.  He feels if he were to do a complete full color study of his work, it would loose a lot of the pleasure of discovery and experimentation.

I would  liken it to driving automatic vs  manual, or better yet, driving with a GPS to an unknown location, versus getting in the car,  rolling the windows down,  hand out of the window to feel the air currents and driving down unknown roads to see whats on the other side of that hill.  Either way gets you to where you are wanting to go, just depends on your focus and intent of the journey.

Quick Update on Multi-figure Painting

Jeff’s seven year old son came in today to the studio and was the model for the multi-figure painting in progress.  This session was just the beginning for drawing references that will be later used to start a base painting.  Jeff  has plans to finish drawing him tomorrow for another session. From the rafters, Jeff attached two strings to a bandana that was then used to support his son’s neck and head and help keep him in the right position and ease any strain that sitting, without moving would cause. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see as much of the process today as usual, hence the short update, and for that I apologize to the interweb masses.  Have a wonderful evening, and looking forward to the morrow.

Soft Sunshine

The post on this blog, and its brother on the Hein Academy Blog , “Archival and Transparent Oils”  are very interrelated today. Mainly because they came from the same conversations revolving around Jeff Hein painting on his large still life painting.

Light and Paint.

So please check both blogs to get both parts.  Enjoy!

While Jeff Hein was working on his still life painting today, I was quite enamored with some of the areas in his painting. It was just beautiful, and still unfinished.

detail of painting in progress by Jeff Hein

I asked if he had worked on those areas since last time I had viewed it, and he said no, it was the light coming in from the sky light that was allowing me to see it clearly for the first time.  That got me thinking about light sources and Jeff’s studio, and what he preferred.

I sat down with Jeff and asked him to tell me about his light sources.  He explained that he had two large sky lights placed at specific spots in the roof.  They were both certain measurements from one another, so that Jeff’s easel, palette, and painting in progress would have the light from one skylight, and his live model would be under the other skylight.  He has this ingenious and handmade lever and pulley system to customize which direction the light is coming in from, and how much of it. The glass on the skylights are not clear to allow a defused soft sunshine in.  Jeff Hein prefers to use natural light when at all possible, and will wait to work on a painting for that special day when the light is at its optimal brightness for some of his projects.

When Jeff  does use lights in his studio he uses a hooded full spectrum HID light.  It allows for great color compared to other lights, but has a tendency to gray down some skin tones to his trained eye, so he has to be aware of that at times and perhaps compensate for it.

He was also telling me that he almost never crosses light sources. In other words, to place his model under natural light and his painting under artificial light.  The only time he would ever do this, and it has to be done with caution because its risky, would be if he wanted to push the warms or cools of the subject on his canvas beyond that which he was looking at. It’s a cool trick to keep the eye from getting used to or adjusting to the colors that you are looking at for extended periods of time.

Another ingenious tip that Jeff was willing to share, was creating the same light as candle light on a model.  He said that when you are taking a picture, to use a candle. However for his paintings which are from life, it sometimes takes countless hours and days, which means a lot of candles. So he would use a light bulb and a piece of highly reflective copper sheeting to bounce the light back on to the models face.  He said nothing else, but the copper, would give him that flame like color and glow to simulate a candles light.

I hope you all enjoyed the blog for today, and learned as much as I did. Have a wonderful weekend, Ciao!

Busy working

Close up of two girls in progress - Jeff Hein

In the studio,   Jeff was busy working on his multi figure painting and was resolving the face of his daughter.

 Her face has the base layer of painting on it, although a little bit more resolved then the other child at this stage. I am enjoying seeing how her face is painted up close, and the brush strokes, even though I know that most of this will be painted over in the layers to come.  Jeff is seriously considering adding in other children, and is making plans to have them come in to the studio to sit for a drawing session.

I am excited to see the progress made on it, as I heard about the sketches of the additional children on the canvas, after I had already left. I will make sure to post those for tomorrow’s update. Ciao!