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

1 comment:

  1. I like this very much, Bob. I need to dig through my old photos and see what is there. I'm glad you like the paper but I agree with you about the price. Yikes!!!! I find that I do mostly quarter sheets on that one and use the back of failed paintings too. I actually like that back side surface quite alot. Try it.