Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2-nu: franka and bluff overlook

well, after a bit of hemming and hawing i decided to do the mississippi overlook with the kids. you can probably tell from previous posts that i like to put figures in the foreground of my landscapes if given the choice and this place is near our house and worth the hike uphill!. it is in trempealeau state park in (what else?) trempealeau, wisconsin, and the hike is about 2 miles long, uphill, and overlooks the mississippi river which at this point is about a mile wide. this will be done at the same time as i am working on franka as a portrait. while one step is drying on one i will paint the next step on another with perhaps a bit of guitar playing interlude.

i started the landscape by lightly penciling in the components of the background and more definitely drawing the foreground figures. the middle figure's (girl) shoulders looked like she has on shoulder pads rather than just hunched forward, but i should be able to correct this in the painting part so i won't hassle with it now. in these types of paintings i usually like to do the foreground figures first. they are back lit so i don't think i need a lot of detail other than getting the shadows right in terms of shape and value. i did this with combinations of cerulean blue, raw sienna, and alizarin crimson (permanent). i used a #6 round brush for this step. i put in the girl's hair next because i didn't want a really hard separation here. face and hair on the left boy was next with cadmium red light and raw sienna for the face and burnt umber and quinacridone gold for his hair. both figures' arms were painted with the same flesh colors with the boy's shorts a darker version of the shadow on the back and the girl's shorts mineral violet. the bench is going to be pretty much the darkest object in the painting so i wanted to get the value in early so that i would have something to gauge everything else against and perhaps keep away from some of the mistakes of the past where i feel i have gotten way too dark. this was painted with ultramarine blue and burnt sienna. its cast shadow on what will be grass was put in right away to get the needed tie-in and lastly some grass blades were scratched in at ground level with a palette knife.

turning to the background i painted the sky with cobalt blue blending to a more grayed version by adding a bit of raw sienna nearer the hills and carried it down to what will be the distant shore/water's edge. i used a 1"flat
 for this. after this had almost dried (paper just barely cool to the touch...bone dry would be no hint of coolness (temperature-wise, obviously the whole thing awesomely cool!..but i jest), i put in the most distant hill with the same brush and cobalt blue/burnt sienna and feathered it out below the level of the next tier of hills. same thing with the next group in terms of almost dry but moving a little more toward green in places and a little darker. i carried this down and to the sides a bit until i ran out of paint which gave me a fairly lost edge at the bottom. the distant reflection of the near hill in the water was painted with a dark version of the ultramarine blue/burnt sienna/hookers green and i scratched some more blades of grass to start to define the near hillock by the kids. i thought the small sliver of white at the distant shore was important so i was careful to preserve white paper there. a few closer structures/reflections in the river were then painted to start to define the tops of things in the foreground. since the figures are back lit i wanted to have a rim of white at the tops. per the discussion above i tried to lower the girl's left shoulder a bit by defining the top down a smidgen (i think that's a metric measure) below that drawn. i notice that i did tie in the girl's shoes with a grayish shape and since they are dangling might have been a mistake....i may need to change this a bit in future steps. in similar circumstances i would have already painted the right-most boy's figure and haven't here for no particular reason other than i wanted to move on to something else before tackling it.

okay, moving on to franka's portrait, the first step was producing a fairly detailed drawing showing the location of her features in terms of shape and location vis-a-vis each other. subtle difference in eye or mouth tilt can make a huge difference in likeness. i also lightly penciled in where i thought the major shadow shapes might be.

 you have probably already figured out that i usually like to start painting a portrait with the nose and that is where i started this as shown on the close-up of her face. this was done with a #8 round ( i usually use the largest brush i think i can get away with and still have the control necessary to produce an accurate shape) and cadmium red light
/cadmium yellow pale/a touch of cerulean blue. the under plane first and then a clean damp brush to draw this over the upper structures. i tried to maintain the highlight over the edge and tip but i lost a little of it and i may have to lift it later. no fussing at this step in a wet wash! i tied it in with the shadow in the upper lip using cerulean blue and bleed from the nose wash. the distant eye socket shadow is important to define it as sitting in and not on the face but also to define the top of the proximal nose. this was painted in the same colors going a little cooler by the addition of more cerulean blue and switching to a #6 round for this step. the rest of the eye was painted with variations of the same colors except as indicated. so onto the shadow under the upper lid and immediately the iris with burnt umber right out of the tube. i usually only paint the top third of the iris (being to careful to preserve the highlight) with paint and draw that down with a damp clean brush for the bottom 2/3rds. i tied this into the bottom lid right away with a damp/clean brush. i keep an eye on this and after it has dried enough to give some modicum of control i put in the pupil with a dab of ultramarine blue wet-in-wet. i also wanted a tie in with the lateral eye structures and the hair so i put in a patch of that on the right (her left) using alizarin crimson permanent, burnt umber and a touch of a blue (cobalt? maybe ultramarine. .not really important, just something cool and dark). you can see where i scratched in some curls as well just as it was beginning to lose its sheen.

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