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Daughter of Hope (watercolor, 32×21½) by Paul W. McCormack was a finalist in the portrait/figure category of Magazine’s 27th Annual Art Competition.
Paul W. McCormack
Hometown: Glenham, NY
Daughter of Hope
The desire to paint my daughter Abigail began as the inspiration for the painting. When she was born I sent out photos and an artist friend responded, “You have subject matter for life.” While Abby was posing, I suppose her mind drifted to thoughts that upset her; she began to shed a few quiet tears. Her emotions prompted the concept of the painting and title.
Technically speaking, one difficulty I ran into was the background. The carved wooden background is actually an old 19th-century church seat. After painting in the entire pattern of the carved wood I found that the hard edges competed with the figure and the wood wasn’t receding as I wished. To resolve the problem I began lifting off as much pigment as I could with a wet sponge. By wiping it out and reapplying the pigment, the edges softened just enough to recede and pull the figure forward.
Daughter of Hope also began as a step-by-step demonstration for the North Light book, Watercolor Secrets. However, after several months of work I could only narrow the painting down to 18 steps and 12 pages of text; this was much more than space allowed, so instead I created two short demos: “A Head Study from Life” and “Painting an Eye.”
My Education and Career
I’ve been drawing ever since I was a child. By the time I was in was a fifth-grader I was drawing portraits of my classmates from life. As an adult I attended duCret School of the Arts in Plainfield, New Jersey. Immediately after art school I produced Scrimshaw for about five years—this was a great way of supporting my painting habit. I’ve been very fortunate and have always created art for a living, via teaching and painting. Today I mainly create figurative works in oils, watercolor and graphite.
I work from life and photos, however, I rarely combine the two; it’s either one or the other from beginning to end. I greatly prefer working from life and in a perfect world I would never work from another photo again. I never know what’s going to spark me to create a painting, although my wife, Karen, is a constant inspiration.
My palette is nearly the same in watercolor and oils; my basic flesh palette consists of a simple red, yellow and blue theory comprised of yellow ochre, cerulean blue and rose madder genuine.
My complete palette is:
- cadmium yellow pale
- cadmium orange
- cadmium red
- alizarin crimson
- rose madder genuine
- cobalt blue
- cerulean blue
- French ultramarine blue
- yellow ochre
- raw sienna
- burnt sienna
- raw Umber
- sap green
- ivory black
Edited by Cherie Haas, associate editor of Magazine.
Artists of the Month are chosen from Magazine’s Annual Art Competition list of finalists.
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