Jeff Hein has been working constantly on his multi-figure oil painting this week, and has the background and most of the foreground of the surrounding jungle completed. The plants he was using to paint from have found new homes or places throughout the studio. The mannequins have moved in closer again, as Jeff has been making some new additions to the attire of both of the children that help to move the eye of the viewer, and break up the larger fields of color of their dresses. The robe of the adult figure is nearly complete with two small areas needed to be refined. Cast shadows have been added by overhanging branches and a sense of filtered light has seeped into the background.
Today, Jeff had his assistant, Jenna, make a small leather purse, as part of the attire of one of the children. After Jenna hand sewed the design he had in mind, Jeff then lay the purse loosely into the painting while it hung on the shoulder of one of his mannequins. Next week, his models will be coming back into the studio, so that he can finish up their faces, arms and some toes. Until next time, Ciao!
detail of background and foreground in progress by Jeff Hein
One of the major additions is all of the foliage and jungle plants added along the top of the painting, and throughout most of the background, foreground and parts of the middle ground on the left side of the painting. These were painted from life, from the plants brought in specifically for this purpose, with the skylight filtering soft sunshine from overhead. Jeff is still deciding as to how many layers or times he will go back into these plants. Most of them have one to two layers on them, as Jeff would painstakingly paint a stroke of dark green, and then change it by either hue or value to continue along the same small leaf. He has not touched the ground or dirt, and you can see that the foot and arm of the two visible figures are not even started yet. These body parts will be awaiting a live model session, as Jeff will also be going back into the faces of each of the three figures and adjust color, temperature, form, light and shadow some more.
We piled into the car for a small field trip today to a local pet shop to find some small South American birds and finches, that Jeff Hein will be drawing and then possibly adding into his painting. Either way, the Hein Academy now has the pleasant sweet trill of bird song in the background, along with the sunlight coming thru and the jungle trees in a corner, it makes for a very relaxing atmosphere.
A quick note to those interested…Please visit the Hein Academy blog to see a small clip of a facinating lecture and discussion by art historian Micah Christensen.
Jeff Hein painted from life using one of the larger jungle trees that he has in his studio for reference for his multi-figure painting. He was working on the top left area of his painting, working swiftly and deliberately. He said it was satisfying and fun for him to work the leaves in one sitting, and know that they are pretty much done as they are. They are painted with more of a thick application on top of the warmer thinner background. I was fascinated to see that Jeff would mix his paint on his palette, squint up at the tree leaves, find his place, lay one stroke of paint along a leaf, and then immediately go back to his palette and remix a slightly different temperature to lay another stroke of paint along that same leaf. I asked him why he did this instead of mixing one color and laying it down where ever he saw it in multiple places; I was thinking efficiency. He replied that there were several reasons why he preferred to paint stoke by stroke. The main reason was to reload his brush, as he wanted to have a very thick application to these leaves and build up the paint, so one stroke was just enough for the effect he was wanting to create. The other reason was that he liked to build up several temperatures in one area. He showed me one such area, where on a leaf, he had laid down a very warm green, and then on top of that he painted a cool blueish green of the same value. Jeff left some of the warmer green to show thru. The leaf, then had this wonderful subtle temperature changes along its length with a much lighter highlight on one side added on afterwards.
I love one of the twigs in the area he worked on today. I know, it’s a silly thing to be captivated by a twig. I told Jeff and he laughed and joked that he was slaving over the leaves and here I was infatuated with a single twig. I was astounded at the simplicity of it, and how much the illusion of it moving in space, and its small twisting growth just from a few strokes of paint with slight changes in temperature along its twiggy length. The illusion of it was so beautifully done with such simplicity.