The work of the past two weeks has been developing the depth of the setting, and establishing the finished values of the work. By values I mean the darks and lights of all the hues in the painting. The image has many shades of white but when it comes to paint none of it is painted with just white at all. To help me do this I use a paper value finder and Photoshop’s grayscale slider. I sample a spot on the computer image I am working on, see its value and adjust the paint to match the same value on the paper scale. It seems complicated but it is a method I came to because it is impossible to judge the paint on my brush next to the source image when using a computer screen. I think those that paint will understand what I mean. There is further balancing to do because I am not always copying the source image value for value, often I am measuring value ranges instead. If you have any questions I can elaborate in another post.
In these pictures you can see how the space has been developed so that there is depth behind the figure going into a back room and window.
I have also mixed the final colours for the flesh and clothing and so this is the focus from here on in. Once the figure is done there will be a final few hours glazing shadows, light in shadows and highlights on the furniture and shoes. This all should be done within a week or two from now.
Here are a couple of images showing the progress of particular spots.
The wall behind was darkened and the shadows and reflections on the floor added.
The bannisters and window behind are all complete.
These final hours of the painting are the most satisfying because after all of this building up most of the magic of illusion happens with the final touches. Hopefully this will show in the final photos I’ll post over the next while.
So, the note on the last post said I thought I would be finished this next stage in a week-oh my! Three weeks since I posted and the under painting is pretty much complete, all the board is covered in paint and the drawing is no longer visible.
I have made some adjustments along the way, changing some of the scale and measurements but it seems perfect now to begin the final layers of paint. It still appears pretty “flat” because there aren’t yet any glazed shadows and highlights added. The structure is set and now the illusion will really start to take shape. The transitions and edges between colours and values are still clumsy looking and so this is a major focus from here on in.
In these two above you can see that I am still re-measuring and correcting the drawing as I paint.
And here you can see where I have begun to add more colour to the bottom paint layer. For instance, the hands are richer than the knee which is still the first layer with limited colour.
It has been very valuable to show my progress to you as it is making me aware of things I am doing that are habit but not necessary(I think). I’m taking notes and look forward to refining my technique on the next pieces.
I’ll post a little more frequently through this next stage as the work gets closer to being finished.
For now though, enjoy if you are interested!
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!