Monday, August 27, 2012

young thai woman.....and all the fixin's

some corrective measures: jawline and ear
when i came back to this painting after about a 2-day hiatus i noticed a bunch of drawing problems. i should have caught these earlier, but all are fixable. i already spoke of the jawline which was a little off. this was easily corrected by the light lifting and putting down some dark shadows and hair to redefine the jawline. additionally once i observed the painting from across the room it was obvious that her nose was askew. this was a little trickier but some lifting and repainting made it right. lastly her hand was much too wide which foreshortened it too much which made it look like it was sticking way out in front of her face. since i hadn't really painted this yet, it was a simple matter of just redrawing it. i also raised her ear.

nose straightened

that done i fussed a little bit more on the jawline and put in an initial wash for her neck rings which was quinacridone gold.

after redrawing the hand i paintied it with the same colors and modeled the rings with mineral violet. the decoration on her sleve was the same colors. i put in a few strands of dark hair around the edges of the rings and called this sketch finished. i think i understand the shadows enough to tackle this full bore in the workshop. so i will get busy with drawing it on a 15"X22" piece of hot press paper.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

here, there, and everywhere....but not there

i am feeling a little bit schizoid lately, being drawn in a number of different directions. i hadn't really spent anytime painting for about a week or maybe more when i returned to the portrait of annabel telling us a story. i really shouldn't spend so much time away from a painting. there are a lot of things that i don't like about this and it seems i can never satisfy myself with a painting of annabel that i like, despite numerous poses she allowed me to photograph. it may be that i am familiar enough with her that i fret over the likeness and lose the freshness and spontaneity. oh, well.

i painted some on her shirt using a combination of ultramarine blue and mineral violet applying it with a #12 round sable brush. its a little sloppy but perhaps in keeping with the technique on the rest of the painting. i painted her hand using a combination of burnt umber, brown madder, and cobalt blue and a #8 faux kolinski round. her *left* one isn't as complicated as the other being a palm-side view, but it may be a challenge on getting the lines to look right. i haven't decided on the background on the right side of the painting yet. in the lower right corner i put down some of the same shirt colors and i am not sure that is going to make it. i sort of find that when in doubt, use one of the colors you have already used and at least you will have some unity if not excitement in the overall end result. here are two shots at different stages described above.

i have put the remaining steps of "posing proud in hobart" on the back burner for the time being. it isn't because of lack of interest or dissatisfaction with the effort to date but i wanted to experiment just a little with a painting that i will probably use for one of the projects for the ted nuttall workshop i am attending in seattle in about two weeks. i have used a photo taken by babasteve of a young thai woman that he posted on his flickr account. i had received permission to use his photos as models in the past. once i hear back from him about this particular photo i will re-post it here. my most sincere thanks to him for his amazing photos.....they are quite an inspiration. in the mean time i will show the steps so far. the photo is unique in that it has bottom/frontal lighting. this is the reason i wanted to trial it before committing to doing it during the workshop.
drawing and first wash

to start the process i  drew the face and hand on a piece of 140# hot press lanaquarelle paper that measured 11"X14". i then covered the paper with a mid/light value wash using cobalt blue, brown madder, and cadmium yellow pale. as i had trouble on this hot press paper in the past to get an even wash i decided to wet the entire surface with clear water first. then using a #12 round sable brush i put down the wash in the usual top to bottom fashion. then it needed to dry. a good way of checking this is to place the back of your hand to the surface lightly. if it is at all cool to the touch it is still too wet to work on. it should and did dry a lighter value than depicted here when it was still wet. you can just make out the drawing under the wash.

beginning the features

i started with the nose but this time the shadow, rather than being on the underside of the nose, is on the upper plane, thus explaining the light as from below. the colors are mostly brown madder (i'm determined to tame this pigment!) and cadmium yellow pale (maybe some raw sienna???). i used a #8 faux kolinsky round brush (blick). i worked this up to the bridge area and then put in the wash below the nose on the upper lip. same colors but with cobalt blue in the center. the nostrils were the same colors darkened with burnt umber. i try to avoid a cool color like blue inside the nose. it just doesn't look right to me. i then worked on her *right* eye. i followed my usual procedure of putting in the shadow under the upper lid followed by the iris. i only put pigment on the upper iris and drew the color down with a clean damp brush to finish off the structure being careful to avoid the highlight. this was taken right over the bottom lid and used to define the the lower lid horizontally. the crease in her lid above the eye was prominent so i painted in a thin line of cobalt blue in the "depths" of the crease and finished it out with the warmer colors. the medial socket shape is important to get it to recede and i used cobalt blue drawn out with the warmer wash. at this point the iris had dried sufficiently to place the pupil in ultramarine blue sort of wet-in-wet to get just a little blur. laterally and over the temple area was then put in with cobalt and again drawn out with warm colors.when i reached the hair line i put in a dark value of ultramarine blue and burnt umber losing the edge at the temple. i extended the warm colors down onto the cheek in one continuous wash.

continuing steps 
i then turned to the *left* eye using the same steps, colors, and techniques. the colors used on the mouth were pretty much pure brown madder in various values. at least it does provide a full range of values which is useful here. the shapes around the chin were painted next using the same pigments. the bracelet is quinacridone gold. the fingernails turquoise blue. to finish out work for the day i stared to define the perimeter of her face with a dark value of the hair color on the *left* side of her face and under the chin/jaw area.

yes, the ear is too low and i will have to correct that first thing in the morning while it is in my mind. there are also some problems with the jawline. so far i think this is coming along well especially since most of it is an experiment with this unusual lighting.

Friday, August 10, 2012

continuation of "posing proud in hobart" and life drawing/painting session

next steps on "posing proud in hobart"
i have only worked dribs and drabs on the current painting from an archival photo. basically finishing the deep shadow background on the porch behind the figures and working on their clothing. rather than going for the value and color right off the bat i am trying a little different technique. i am putting down the local color and value first. this is most noticeable on the overalls. when this is dry i am putting in the folds, wrinkles, and shadows in a darker and less saturated wash. so still only two layers that allow the paint to look fresh but also give me a little control over the texture. all this was done with a #10 round sable brush. the ultramarine blue was grayed down with raw umber. the rest is just going to be putting some texture on the building and trying to figure what to do with the far left side of the painting. in the photo the building ends and there is a side yard complete with a variety of objects and debris. i am not sure that i want that. one option would be to end the building and put in the sky and distant landscape up to the building plane. another would be to put a fence and some scrub, rocks, etc. another would be just to extend the building with clapboards much like on the right side. what to do, what to do? hmmmm. as you note i put some plants and grasses along the bottom of the building on the right. i have also experimented with how to put texture on the scaly, cracked logs that make up the posts and lintels. above the porch i tried press stamping some dull brownish paint on with a strip of foam core. interesting but not exactly what i was looking for. i think that a combination of spatters, dry brush, and painted low value cracks will be better. the last thing that i am going to have to avoid is endless fussing with the facial features. i say this because i have already been guilty of that!

15-minute pose
earlier this week i went to the life drawing/painting session at the vitamin studio. i have been a bit hit and miss lately and i think it shows in the work. there were three substantive poses of 15, 25 and 35 minutes. i have been working on trying to go with the gesture and big shapes and only going back with some details if time remains and the paint has dried sufficiently. additionally i have been trying to get as much separation of body parts as possible if they are in different planes using color and value. those that are in the same plane i have tried to resist fussing and just paint them as one bigger shape and come back later and re-find an edge if it seems reasonable. to these two ends i think that i am starting to get the hang of it. the drawing? needs some practice!

25-minute pose 
35-minute pose

Monday, August 6, 2012

painting from old (if not historic) photos: next project

i ran out of steam on "a tale of the lakhota" but i will get back to it. i decided to move on to a figure painting using an old (>100 years) black and white photo i got from charles reid a number of years ago but never used. the first entry is the photo of a frontier family probably posing for an itinerant photographer moving through the west drumming up business. i am going to call it "proud moment in hobart" (yes, i did change the name of the post office....blame it on poor reading skills rather than artistic license) unless something else strikes a chord with me as i move along.

drawing and initial washes
the one thing that pushed me in this direction is that i have a workshop with ted nuttall in about a month and he works on figures (and portraits) using black and white photos for reference and paints on 300# hot press arches paper. in order to get the most out of the workshop i decided to use the same paper. so that is what this is on and call it a trial piece. i drew it on a half sheet (15"X22") with some changes for the building as i didn't want to paint all those small shapes. the letters will be a challenge and i am thinking of using perhaps a stencil of some type.

i almost always start with the figures on these types of paintings. i will probably go with a minimum of commentary except for some pithy, critical comments (right!) the face was painted with a #4 round and my usual caucasian skin colors (cadmium red light and yellow pale along with varying amounts of cerulean blue). the background in this area will be mineral violet, black, ultramarine blue, and some burnt sienna mixed mostly on paper. i did a little of this at this time to find some tie ins for the face and figure. this helps it not look cut out and pasted down.

close up of step 2
here is a close up of the next steps moving onto the seated woman. the same sort of thing and colors. these are a little pale compared to the man and i think i will lighten his so they are not so harsh. i am working with the notion that trying to put much detail into the features is a mistake and just rendering the shadow shapes. i think that this is the right way to go and is working so far. same brush and colors with the addition of quinacridone gold and burnt umber for her hair. overalls are mostly ultramarine blue toned down with a bit of raw umber.

more background and letters

i nest painted the older child using the same technique and brush and colors. to go into a little more detail, i put down "dots" of color where i want them darkest and let it dry just a little bit. when it is dry enough to not lose all control of the edges i rinse and shake out my brush and use i damp and clean to move the color around to encompass the entire shape i intended. the bits of white paper i think are important in describing the form and i don't want to lose them as they would be difficult to retrieve. additionally here, i put down some 1" stick on letters that will serve as a resist so i can "negative" paint around them and then peel off the letters leaving white behind much like indicated with the first "H". i hope these won't look too contrived. i might have to "mess 'em up" a little. we'll see.

detail of last figure

i then moved on to the last figure namely that of the little kid seated on the chair. nothing new here. just more of the same including the background. i started painting the local color and value of the standing boy's trouser overalls using ultramarine blue and then after it dried complete,y added some of the shadows and fold on his *left* leg distally. i am experimenting on how i am going to paint the building and have decided that it will be mostly white washed combination of logs for support structures and clapboards for the walls. the sin behind the letters will be cobalt blue, burnt sienna and a touch of brown madder 9mainly by putting the brush in the wrong well! i peeled off the letters and i think i can work with them. there will be shadow across the deep part of the porch as well as shadows between the floorboards and clapboards on the walls.

so far i am pleased with how this coming out and i must say that i am liking this paper. that is unfortunate as it costs a fortune!

where we stand now a the close of work today