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.

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