Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Friday, November 19, 2010


 Today's figure session. I just had a 9 x 12 panel, so I decided to do a head study. I wasn't set up close enough to the model to do a portrait, so that wasn't my aim. Having some distance from the model does help me to subordinate the details and work with the larger forms of the head.

I started by drawing the basic form and placing the features. As you may have seen in recent posts, I don't always start this way - sometimes I just wash in a mass and start modeling the big forms by pulling the lights out. I tend to start with a drawing when I'm working larger (scale). This head is about 7 or 8 inches from top of the head to the chin.

 There's the model. See Molly, the studio mascot on the floor? She looks huge in this picture!

 Using a few different values, I blocked in the face in a manner that might be described as overlapping mosaic tiles. The paint is opaque, but not thick.

 A little modeling and starting in with the shirt. He's looking more Caucasian than the model. As I'm using the model only for structural reference, it doesn't really bother me. I like changing nuances of the features to see how it affects the look of my painted head.  In the course of a study like this, I make many changes just for kicks. Often my friends will make a comments about something they noticed in my painting and I'll just run with it. It's kinda like improv, see.

 So someone said he looked like a warlord. OK, let's go with that. How do I make him look more like a warlord? The word conjures up flavors of the Orient, so I started to manipulate the features somewhat. Sharper eyes, a mandarin collar, etc.

Of course he needs hoop ear rings. And a fu manchu! Oh! and a red Chinese dragon embroidered on his jacket! I was vaguely recalling that opium den painting by NC Wyeth.

I cleaned up some edges, lightened the background, and voila! 

The tops of the photos are a little washed out and glary, unfortunately. As usual, I just snapped the sequence shots with my iPhone. I'll be sure to take a proper shot of the finished painting once it's dry.

Another fun session!


  1. It takes great skill to model properly from your imagination; nice painting, and I really like your brushwork.

  2. A Madarin, Afro/Caucasian Warlord with beaucou attitude. You are having way too much fun, TM! Hope to see you all in the merry month of Dec.

  3. Thanks Judy! Making stuff up is what I like to do. It's an improv thang~

  4. David, yeah, we had too much fun but missed you last week. At one point my painting started looking like Grand Moff Tarkin (and if you recognize that, you're a geek) but it morphed to a different kind of villain. Fun stuff.

  5. I ain't no star wars geek, but I am a trivia geek, and now I know who Tarkin is. Thanks!

  6. This is interesting, and also educational.
    I have a tendancy to tighten up with portraits. Seeing you haveing fun with it sends a powerful message.
    I'm always saying have fun, keep loose, and here you have displayed that. Thamks Terry! Happy Thanksgiving!

  7. thanks bill! For me, I find that sometimes it's easiest to "stay loose and have fun" when I'm not inspired, for whatever reason, to invest myself emotionally into the painting. I KNOW it's going to be wiped at the end of the session, so I'm free to let loose. I didn't wipe it, but I had meant to, and that freed me up.