Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Friday, October 22, 2010


I'm writing tonight from a hotel room in Reno. I'm here with my family for the weekend to watch my son swim. I like swim meets, but boy, I don't like driving on mountain roads in the rain. Even if it's a big freeway.

I'm posting the little painting sequence I did today at the figure session. The model sat in the chair cradling a trumpet and sporting a tired fedora(?).  In contrast to the previous head study, I started this one with a loose mass. No initial placement of the features, and the paint is washy.  I was just concerned with placing big masses within the limited space.

Next I pulled out some lights in the face to separate light from shadow The resulting pattern is simple but now we can see where the features go.


I then used an opaque mixture and a couple of variations to bring out some of the topography in the lit area. We see a little bit of volume defined now, due to the value changes but also because the form shadow edges and cast shadow edges are (overly) clearly deliniated.


I started filling in the shirt area with a couple of grays, and sketched in the hands and the trumpet. I placed the trumpet before the hands because it was easier to draw and I could reference it to position the hands accurately. If I tried to fit a trumpet after painting the hands, I would have had a much harder time.


Starting to define the shirt, and laying down some paint in the background. The background at this point is very similar to the shirt color. The actual background was dark green, but I wanted something more subjective. I thought losing the shirt's edges into the background might be a good start.


More definition, and bold abstract marks toward the bottom of the painting.


Hmmm, rather than using the light of the shirt for the background, how about the shadow side? That blue violet thing might be nice. One way to find out~  Also messing around with the sculpting of the head. More definition? less? I did a lot of pushing and pulling, going back and forth between rendering and obliterating.

 Some highlights on the brass, finding the drawing in the shoulder areas, struggling with abstraction in the shadow side of the face. I want it to be sort of loose and receding, but more I manipulate (read: get fussy) the less it recedes.

In the end, I lightened up the background, hit a few prominent reflected lights in the shadow side of the head to show big volume but no detail, gave him a smirk, and blasted the white of the shirt with thick paint. I also sharpened the trumpet's edges and hit highlights on it to make it more metallic. 

I'm pretty satisfied with it.


  1. Satisfied? I should think so! This is such a WOW post, thanks for sharing the progression.

  2. Your progressions are always so helpful, even when you end up wiping off a lovely result! That teaches us not to treat our own attempts like precious treasures-paint and take risks, then if you have to, wipe it off!

  3. Yes, I agree with Ann. It helped me a lot....

  4. That's crazy. I can't imagine painting like that. Especially portraits! I loved reading about your progressions. And I love your casualness toward the work. Like Judy said, not treating our own attempts like precious treasures. How else can we grow. Great job. And talent.

  5. Thanks Ann, Judy, Randy, and Alexandra~ Glad you like the painting. I like doing these sequence postings. the problem is that I get so into the painting, I usually forget to take pics!

    But I'm getting better about remembering, so more to come~