Over the past few weeks I’ve been sharing my process of developing a major portrait. I’ve composed a reference to work from, drawn out a study and finished the preliminary drawing on the board the painting is done on. After all of this work I finally began to apply the oil paint this week. This stage is always a little different for me. Sometimes I will do washes over the entire image with thin colour to paint into, sometimes I will do an entire rough painting in black, white and greys. I can only say that it depends on my mood and the mood of the painting because each method gives a different feeling to the act of painting. This time I am making a thickly painted and very developed first layer. Because this composition has a very architectural setting I want a gestural method of brushwork and a rich visual texture to the final work. The challenge will be to keep the freshness of this first paint through subsequent layers of refinement that is needed to develop the portrait.
I began with the architectural details and the space behind the figure so that I can have a physical sense of place and setting established while I am painting on the figure. I enjoy very much the sense of illusion in the work while I paint and use its development as a guide to measure when the piece is finished.
I am using only cold wax medium in the paint or sometimes brushed onto the board first as a layer to paint into.
By next Friday I should have the entire board covered in this first layer of paint.
Thanks for reading and see you next week!
Among other things, I finished the drawing on the current portrait. Last week I showed the beginning and a little bit of how I do it. I think every artist has a different way of working and I know for me all of this preliminary work, the drawing and under painting is never seen as it is hidden beneath the finished product. I am very interested in seeing the process of other painters so who knows, maybe it will be of interest to show mine.
The drawing is of course on white acrylic gesso on board. Once it is finished I cover it all with another coat of clear acrylic gesso. I don’t fix the graphite at all so yes, it does smudge, but I like this stage to be smudgy, and brushy (gesso-wise). The lines all remain but there is an uneven grey stain that gives some life to the work and makes it more interesting to paint on than a clear outline and pristine white spaces. Also the grid and numbers are still clear because I’ll be using them quite a bit in painting before they get covered.
So here are a few photos of before and after the last gesso coat.
Next week I should be able to show the underpainting done.
No work finished this week but I have lots in progress. I’ve got pictures here of the what is on the easel. These show very well my process of getting work from a preliminary study to a support for painting. I draw my images from both a drawn study and one on computer using a grid. It is a long process but I find that the more engaged and familiar I am with the lines and the shape of an image the easier the painting goes so it is worth the time. I measure everything very carefully and also use curves, angles and straight edges constantly. I have been using these tools for what seems like ages- I can barely trust mind let alone my drawing hand to get things right on their own. The tools also aid me in capturing a flow and design that otherwise I lose working so slow and particularly.
In the drawing I do some very rough shading to keep things organized. These initial drawings can get pretty complicated. Once the drawing is done I will brush a coat of clear gesso over it and then it will be ready for the oil paint.
Here is one with the first layer of paint…
So this week I went onto Instagram for the first time. There is a whole new world of images there- old news I’m sure for most of you but new to me. Easy to take and post the odd studio picture there that won’t end up here! Only for my art though…no garden photos-I’ll save those for Facebook.
Here the winter was very long this year. Not as cold as the east but it was not very pleasant. Thankfully it has begun to warm up and the snow and ice are melting.
Since the last post I have been very busy. I have been doing preparatory work for new paintings and a portrait commission. Before I start these new paintings I needed to do a colour study. The source material for these are black and white and so my task is to work out a simplified colour palette for translating that material into coloured work. I chose a simple colour pose that I had in my reference folders to work from. The exercise was successful as far as my task went but I continued beyond what was needed for study and it became a finished painting in its own right. It is oil on canvas and the size is 16×15″ Except for a touch of Verditer Blue in the back ground the five colours I used were raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, Van Dyke brown and white. This is very simple compared to my usual palette where I use many more tubed colours. More about the palette when I post images of new work soon.