Friday, April 29, 2011

after vermeer: next painting

i wasn't going to post this but only put the finished product on wet canvas, but i decided to put this up just in case anybody woke up this morning and said, "i wish i could see a mediocre copy of a vermeer masterpiece done in watercolor from someone from the west coast of wisconsin". for all those multitudes, here 'tis.

this is the painting from the master and the preliminary drawing that i did to become familiar with her features and the accompanying shadows. once i was satisfied that the drawing was reasonably accurate i transferred it to a sheet of 10"X14" 140# lanaquarelle cold press paper.

the skin tone and facial features are so delicate that i felt an initial light wash of my favorite colors for caucasian skin (cadmium red light, cadmium yellow pale, and cerulean blue) was indicated. as everything around her face was going to be quite dark i did not need to be too careful with edges except at the collar which was going to be predominantly white and therefore untouched paper. i decided at the same time to experiment a bit with some of the surrounding darks, namely the small bit of background in front of the face and the hat over her left (our right) temple. as i didn't want a hard edge here i also put in the shadow lateral to the near eye socket and over the temple. i then turned my attention to her nose and put the dark shadow on the under plane and drew the color up and over with a damp, clean brush. i painted her eyes with a #2 round and a darker combination of the same flesh tones except i substituted the cad. yellow with raw sienna. i started with the shadow under the upper lid, put in the iris with burnt umber and a little ultramarine blue carefully preserving the highlight.  i carried this down only about 2/3's of the way and drew the pigment down with a damp, clean brush for the bottom third. i released this into the lower lid and finished out the shadow there with a damp brush. this was repeated more or less the same on each side.  the medial socket shadow on the near eye was put in with a bit of cerulean and then completed by joining up with the nose shadow using the regular flesh colors. i then started blocking in the local color on the clothing and bottom part of the "tassel" hanging off the back of her turban-like hat.

i then blocked in the local color of the blue part of the hat with combinations of cerulean blue near the front and gradually changing to ultramarine blue at the rear out of the light. some more of the background in front of the face was painted in with ivory black and hunter's green. i painted the mouth nest and the shadow under the lower lip and blended that into the side plane shadow the extended from the temple down across the jaw to the neck using flesh pigments a bit stronger in the reds. the earrings are important to this portrait historically and i was careful to preserve it location below the earlobe.

the rest of the background in front of the figure was painted in using the 3/4" flat brush and ivory black and hunter's green mixed on the paper. i put the shadow on the blue part of the head piece with darker wash of ultramarine blue dulled down with raw umber. i also started modelling the top part of the head piece with combinations of quinacridone gold and burnt sienna. the shadowed back of her garment was painted in  burnt umber and the front was painted in using quinacridone gold, raw umber and cerulean blue mixed on the paper. to finish out the painting i completed the background in the back of the figure, strengthened the shadow on the left (our right) side of her face, and modelled the "tassel" down the back. there was some minimal modelling on the front of her garment that was done using a #8 round and combinations of burnt sienna and umber. i adjusted some of the subtle shadows on the face by scrubbing and lifting and restating a little bit. i was really just fussing and not really adding much. i was also treading in dangerous meddling territory so decided to call it finished. here is the final result:
 there are some obvious and not so obvious problems with this but i am basically happy with the outcome and very happy with the process and what i learned doing this reproduction of a master's work, vermeer.

"santa d'oros" finish-up

okay, first a confession. i made up this name. as far as i know there are no "santa d'oro" mountains that i (or probably anybody) know of. there are "santa rosas" in southern california that turn a lovely, yes, you guessed it, rose color when the sun light strikes them. so i figure why not "santa d'oro" for these? my apologies to those who have been pouring over geography books, maps, etc. to find them and also to spanish language speakers who probably feel that i have butchered their lovely language!

"santa d'oros"

that being said, i did complete this painting by finishing the top of the mountain at the far right, the rest of the more foreground trees, and the foreground. i tried to adjust the values in the reflections in the lake but i still am not happy that got them"right". i was, however, starting to make a muddy mess of things and decided that it would have to stand as it is in this photo. i am going to call it done except that i may lift out some ripples and put in some dark streaks on the water surface at some time in the near future. i haven't made up my mind on that just yet. thanks for following.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

next painting: landscape

source photo from wet canvas
for my next painting i decided to go a bit more traditional and do a landscape. i found a photo of a great mountain lake with the sun reflecting off the distant mountains giving them an incredible gold-ish color. the values will be very important in this painting as there is some linear perspective to give it some depth but very little atmospheric perspective. so, value will play a role in making the distant structures recede. here is copy of the photo which i got from the wet canvas southwestern/western art forum challenge for march 2011.

draawing for painting "santa d'oros"
to start the process i lightly drew in the major landscape elements onto a 14"X20" 140# rough piece of fabriano artistico watercolor paper, which is shown here. i tried to manipulate the photo so you could see the pencil lines better, but ia am not sure it worked too well.

first washes on "santa d'oros"
after the drawing i started painting in the sky. the blue was cerulean blue and the gray was payne's gray. in places i warmed up the shadow areas with one of the siennas. i must note that i rarely if ever use payne's gray but i have seen other artists use this pigment to good effect. i was very dissappointed in the outcome using this paint (the brand was holbein).

additional washes and corrections on "santa d'oros"
 it was very invasive and the siennas did not blend well into it wet-in-wet. i wish i had used my old stand-by cobalt blue with burnt or raw sienna. i next painted the left sided mid ground mountain with cadmium orange and burnt sienna for the sun-drenched top and cobalt blue, burnt and raw sienna for the bottom 75%. the more distant gold mountains were painted in with the same colors. all of this was painted using a #10 round brush. the firs on the far side of the lake were nest substituting ultramarine blue for the cobalt and adding some hooker's green and quinacridone gold in areas that are probably fairly obvious. the reflections in the lake on the left side recapitulated the colors in the distance behind the lake. at this point i took stock of where we were and i realized that the sky was way too busy for the rest of the painting. i will have to fix that later. also the values are a bit off so the receding landscape is a little confusing. another tweak necessary soon.

the sky was relatively easy to tone down by painting it with clear water and lightly brushing it with my 3/4" flat and then blotting it with paper towel. i added a warm glaze of burnt sienna over the left gray mountain side which made it darker and warmer, both of which served to make it come least i hope. i also darkened and "blued" the fir forest on the far side of the lake which i hope made it recede a bit. this step was finished by painting the rest of the gold mountain with cadmium orange and burnt sienna. at some point right about here i discovered that i liked using the flat brush for this step better than the round and it came in handy for suggesting the ridges of darker rock running through the formation. the fir forest "fingers" were extended to the right over the lower mountain side with the same colors as before. more of the reflections were added to the water as shown. the pine trees of the left foreground were painted using the same flat brush and various combinations of ultramarine blue or hookers green mixed with burnt sienna or quinacridone gold right on the paper. additional colors were ivory black and quinacridone  gold, cerulean blue and cadmium yellow medium. i also used some mineral violet near the base of the trees and elsewhere for shadows on the boughs to add a blush of an additional color being careful to blend it in at the bottom so that when i put in the foreground it will not make a hard transition unless i want it to have one. the last thing was putting the small distant cabin on the island just to the right of the midline using alizarin crimson permanent dulled a bit with hookers green or oxide of chromium(i can't remember which at this time!)
it seems to me that the values of the reflections on the lake will have to be adjusted but i will wait until more of the painting is finished just to make sure that this impression is correct. that's all for now.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"do i still have my wallet?": finishing up

finished(?) painting
i finished the large, rather complicated shadow under the chair and the s-m using a #8 round and ultramarine blue and raw umber for the colors. the wall underneath the windows was dry-brushed in with only slightly diluted cerulean blue and raw sienna. the rest of the lower window molding was painted in with the same colors (turquoise blue/quinacridone gold) using the 3/4" flat brush. side walk was painted in using a graded wash from light to dark as one moved forward but also color wise it moved from quinacridone gold/raw sienna near the wall and ended with ultramarine blue/alizarin crimson permanent near the very bottom.  i hope that made it seem to come toward the viewer some. spatters of ivory black finished out the look.  i'm not sure if this added much but i like doing it so......there you have it. i'll call this one a wrap barring any unforeseen ideas that i have after it has "aged" a few days before i mat and frame it. i am undecided at this point what to call it.  the wip (work in progress) name has been the above but i am considering maybe changing it to, "hey dropped yer wallet!" chime in if you have  preference.

Friday, April 22, 2011

next stages of "do i still have my wallet?

i did lift and "erase the blue from the w-g's (walking guy) jacket and over painted a lighter value more neutral color  consisting of raw sienna, raw umber, and quinacridone gold. now that i see this, i'm not so sure that the cobalt blue wouldn't have been just fine, but i am going to live with this choice now. while that dried i finished both windows with dark washes of previously indicated colors using the 3/4" flat. the same brush was then used to paint the far right molding with turquoise (it wasn't teal after all) blue and quinacridone gold with a little cerulean blue thrown in for good measure. the local color of the s-m's (sitting man) hoodie was painted with a #8 round and cobalt blue dulled in places with a little raw sienna. his hands were painted with a bit of ultramarine blue but mostly burnt umber after the nail beds were touched with a very light wash of alizarin crimson and allowed to dry. shadow on his t-shirt were cerulean blue, alizarin crimson, and raw sienna. his collared shirt was scumbled in a sort of plaid -type pattern with the same mixture less the alizarin. s-m's trousers painted with cobalt blue, raw umber, with cerulean substituted for the cobalt on his sneakers. when the local color of the clothing was dried i put in the appropriate shadows with deeper values of the same underlying colors being careful to lose an edge or two on each shadow so that it looked "real" using mostly a #4 round brush.

all that's left is to come up with a strategy to paint the tiled wall beneath the window molding, put enough grayish paint on the sidewalk to bring it forward toward us near the bottom, and put in appropriate shadows beneath and behind s-m and his trusty chair. that will have to wait until tomorrow. cheers all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"do i still have my wallet?": continuing progress

in this step i finished out the left window by applying dark splotches of ivory black, ultramarine blue, alizarin crimson permanent, mineral violet , and quinacridone gold with a 3/4" flat wash brush (this seemed like a better brush to me to facilitate the straight lines of the architectural details and it also has less water to dilute the paint when i finished the stroke and lifted the brush). i was careful to make sure that the lost edges near the bottom of his sweater front were maintained as i blended the background with the shadow on the bottom of the sweater with an ultramarine blue/raw umber combination. the window molding was painted with the same brush with a combination of teal blue and quinacridone gold. i applied the shadow under the molding with the same combo as the sweater bottom. the trousers were painted with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna as they make a nice generic gray that can be pushed from cool to warm depending on the ratios of each.  for this i switched back to a #8 round. the shoes are ivory black and mineral violet and i made sure to put in the cast shadow at the same time with the shadow colors described above.

at this point i turned my attention to the seated fellow's face. as usual for me i started with the underplane of the nose with a combo of ultramarine blue and burnt umber and drew it up and over the rest of the nose using a clean, damp brush being careful to preserve the highlight over the nostril (sort of....almost...ok, not so much...i will probably have to scape it in later.). i switched to a #2 round for this to get a modicum of control over these important splotches of paint. the eye socket was done with the same colors and per the lessons i learned in doing the rembrandt portraits i started blending the face with the dark window background right away using the same colors as the left window. i carried the left (our right) socket wash down lateral to the nose and then out laterally under the zygoma and feathered the edges with a damp brush. the upper lip was done with burnt umber and alizarin crimson with a bit of it drawn out on the lower lip to give it just a blush of color. the shadow under the lower lip was started with ultramarine blue and blended into the burnt umber for the rest of this shape as it traveled laterally over the jaw line and neck. i substituted the burnt umber for the burnt sienna on the forehead wash. the hair was painted with ivory black and cerulean blue. it is important to lose some of the edge of the hair with the face in order to prevent it from looking wig-like and i intend to do this at the temple where the hair is usually thinnest (at least it is on this gentleman).

in this step i added the shadow to the trousers of the walking figure and finished the hair on the seated guy, added the background behind his head to get some tie-in, and fixed the shadow on the forehead of walking-man (w-m) so it wasn't so abrupt and more closely approximated the reference photo. i put a blush of flesh color on the w-m's hand reaching into his back pocket and straightened out some details with his jacket in the same vicinity.  by now i had decided that slavishly copying the color of the w-m's jacket was not what this painting needed and i wish i hadn't put that wash of cobalt blue over the shoulder and arm. i think it wound be much better if it were a lighter value and will think on this overnight.  i may have to lift out the shoulder area but i don't think that will be a major problem. last but not least, i noticed that i had run over the edge of the window molding at the back of seated guy's (sg) with the dark background color. i will have to lift this out before applying the paint for the molding. since i used mineral violet in at least a small area here that may not work too well.  we'll see. that's it for today. spot y'all later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

new painting: "do i still have my wallet?"

drawing for next painting and very initial wash
this next project is inspired by a scene i saw and had my daughter's significant other photo  while  on the way back home from our winter digs. there was an older  man sitting in a lawn chair out in front of a store soaking up some bene's alee of a blustery northwest wind whistling out of the mountains. a dapper middle aged  guy came along and soon as he passed the sunning man checked his wallet. i don't really know what was on the passerby's mind that made him check.....but i thought it was something to spark some social commentary....maybe? i'm not going to post the photo for privacy reasons. here is the drawing and the start of the initial washes. with all that dark window behind the figures the experience with the rembrandt portraits is going to come in handy.

first washes for "do i still have my wallet?"

country lane: april watercolor challenge

i did finish the april watercolor challenge on wet canvas over the weekend.  the subject matter was in a photo i posted within the last week. basically a stone barn on a country lane bordered by a stone fence. i didn't take any process photos as i just worked right through the painting without many stops...against my better judgement or practice.  the challenge of this piece was the huge area of green that needed to be painted.  green is generally the bane of the watercolorists' existence. for this piece i used combinations of hookers green/burnt sienna or raw sienna or quinacridone gold, cerulean blue/cadmium yellow medium or pale (for really light passages, like way, way background firs), ultramarine blue/burnt sienna (for really dark passages), ultramarine blue/cadmium yellow medium, and ivory black/quinacridone gold. i think you can see areas of each as you look at the expanse of background trees.  the stone fence was going to be daunting to paint in terms of detail but i stumbled on just dry brushing over the somewhat rough paper surface and enough texture more or less painted itself. here is the final rendering that i posted on wet canvas for your viewing:

"country lane"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

next project:titus von rijn a la rembrandt

first steps in "titus von rijn"

close up of face of "titus von rijn"
second stage of "titus von rijn"
this next portrait is going to be copy of rembrandt's painting of his son titus. i don't really have the time today to go over each of the steps in narrative but will post the progress of the painting as i took breaks. there isn't any real difference in the way that i painted this except that i went right for the midtone shadows and features first without the initial lighter value flesh colored wash. i also   tried to do the background a bit more at the same time as i was doing the adjoining areas of the figure. i feel that in a effort to make the background less boring that i made it way too exciting and wish that i had toned it down some. also the clothing is rendered a bit differently than the top part of the painting and therefore, at least to me, it appears to be 2 separate paintings. that being said i can't say enough about this idea of copying the masters to learn more about a certain discipline. in this instance it would be from a master painter and portrait artist rembrandt. i will certainly try to do more of these as time goes by in an attempt to gain more insight into the painting process.
final stages of "titus von rijn"

Friday, April 15, 2011

finishing up "the girl in the window": a la rembrandt

"the girl in the window" a la rembrandt
i finished up the copy of rembrandt's famous "the girl in the window" last night. i basically put in the shadows on her hands with combinations of cadmium red light, raw sienna, and cerulean blue. same was  true for the arms. i tried to put in the cast shadows from the arms right after the shadows on the arms was painted to make sure they were tied together. the background being so dark still is throwing me a little as i rarely (if ever) have done this. i used combinations of dark values of ivory black, ultramarine blue deep, mineral violet, burnt umber, and alizarin crimson permanent mixed on the page. i sort of dry-brushed and scraped in the texture extending down on the right (our left) side of the figure using paint applied to a small palette knife. i painted in the small shelf that she is leaning on with a gray mixture of cobalt blue and burnt sienna and then added some darker edges of ivory black for some definition. at this point i had been dithering around for at least 20 minutes making more of a mess than adding anything of any worth so i quit. here is the end result which i will also post on wet canvas.

titus von rijn photo for next project
now that i am in the swing of things rembrandt i will tackle a portrait he did of his son titus von rijn as a young man using the photo presented here as source material. again with the dark background and the light and shade definition  (chiaroscuro) typical of rembrandt.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

portrait challenge for april: rembrandt's "girl in the window"

rembrandt" "girl in the window"
as i said last time i posted i have joined wet canvas and specifically both the portrait group and the watercolor group. as it is getting toward the middle of the month with two paintings to do before we arrive on may's doorstep i decided that i needed to move ahead and start one of the challenges for april. since i have been doing some portraits i will start with that one.  the theme for this month is rembrandt and the painting that i have chosen from the menu is the one pictured here: "girl in the window".
drawing, initial washes and start of features 
i started by drawing the figure using a modified contour drawing onto a 16"X20" fabriano artistico cold press 140# paper. after i was satisfied with that i decided to go with an initial wash using cadmium red light and cadmium yellow pale along with a bit of cerulean blue over the flesh toned areas and tried to tie the figure to the edges of the paper with cerulean blue in  a couple of places. i tried to get this dark enough as the watercolor dries a value or two lighter than i appears when first applied and wet. for this i used the largest kolinski sable round that i have which is a #12 (kalish). you can see how this wash covers a large light/mid-valued shape in the middle of the painting due to the deft placement of the arms juxtaposed with the face, neck, and upper chest. as her blouse is going to be white i carefully avoided these areas on the initial wash. this is shown in the first photo of the project.

nose and eye features close-up
when this thoroughly dried i started with the nose putting down a darker version of the same flesh colors (perhaps with raw sienna substituting for the cad. yellow pale) for the underplane of the nose.  after rinsing the brush which was a #6 round that pointed really well, i drew out the paint up and over to the top of the nose and modeled some of those planes.  the cast shadow of the nose is cerulean blue which bled into the underplane paint to give a nice darker blend with out much fussing. the right (hers...our left) eye was started (the same color combination, darker version) putting in the shadow under the upper lid. the iris was applied next with pretty much pure burnt umber right out of the tube being careful to avoid the highlight. i tied that into the lower lid with  damp clean brush. the important shape medial to the orb was put in and drawn out both below the eye and medial portion of the upper lid. at about this time the iris had dried sufficiently to put in the pupil with pure ultramarine blue. i tried to put this in somewhat large to give her the "belladonna" look. the lateral eye socket shape drawn out over upper lid, lower lid, and lateral plane out to the hairline finished out the right eye. i started on the right lateral mouth and added a bit of the background next to the cheek at the same time i put a blush of red on the adjacent cheek just to start to get a tie-in. some of this is better shown on the close up. the brow was put in wet-in-wet with burnt umber.

hair and some background
to finish out work for the day i got some fresh water, let the above dry and started in on the hair and some of the background. the latter is going to be challenge for me as i don't like to put multiple dark glazes over each other and will try to get the appropriate value in at "get go." the hair is various applications of burnt sienna, quinacridone gold, and alizarin crimson permanent. as i never seem to be able to resist, i did put some curls and highlights in by scraping the paint just as the sheen came off the surface using a palette knife. i usually overdo this an probably did here, but....oh, well, it is fun. i also put a blush of red with cadmium red light on her left (our right) cheek and carried i back to hairline trying to get a bit of reflected light with both raw sienna and some cerulean blue. the background was put in using ivory black, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and mineral violet (there may be some alizarin crimson in there somewhere as well). you may notice that i drew some of the background color into one of the fold shadows on her blouse near her right (our left) shoulder.  i plan on doing this in most of the blouse shadows that abut the background to get tie-ins so she doesn't seem like a cut-out figure pasted on the paper.

that's all for today.  i think i will be able to finish it tomorrow or at least get a sizable portion done. until then, ttfn.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

home again

it was an intentionally long and circuitous trek home but we are now nestled in our home in la crosse, wisconsin. winter hadn't quite finished with middle america yet when we arrived but the 80 degree weather with thunderstorms threatening will make it spring/summer-like in a hurry. i will get my studio set up later today or tomorrow and start into work anew. i will probably finish "old '49........" and will definitely finish the "spotted elk" portrait. i have joined wet canvas and will spend some time on the watercolor challenge for the month (reference picture shown)

reference photo for wet canvas watercolor challenge
and the portrait challenge which is an emulation of rembrandt's style (i haven't downloaded the reference material yet. so more tomorrow and have a great end to the weekend. i have also included a still life that i don't think i have shown yet just for interest.

"canvasback decoy with flowers"