Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lay Ins - Day 1

Now that my drawing has been transferred, I am going to start blocking it in.  I've been developing my ideas lately with strong chiaroscuro, so I would like to establish my darks at the beginning. I want to have the subject emerging from the shadows -nestled if you will. 

I am using Ivory Black, with some turpentine to keep it loose and flowing, to lay down a base.  I will go over this as I progress through the painting, and "deepen" it in places by adding more opaque paint.  I also added a touch of the Raw Sienna in a few places near the figure to keep the shadow a little warmer. Ivory Black is a very cool color that leans heavily toward blue, but with my Raw Sienna wash underneath, it should give it some warmth.  I will glaze in some warmer tones near the end if it is still too cold.  I want to create a womb-like image, so warm rich shadows (where appropriate) are what I'm looking for.
this is the full image (48"x32") My concept is a mix between burial funeral, womb, birth and death.

What I have found thus far is that the oil based primer coat is very absorbent. I wasn't expecting this.  Usually I can get my paint to run when it is loose, but not with this stuff.  I think I understand what it is doing.  It is binding with the paint film by absorbing the oils and solvents.  I think it is going to make a great surface as I get more and more paint on the board.  I'm interested in seeing what happens as I build it up more and more.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Transfer the Drawing

This is a terrible picture, but then again, it isn't meant to be more than guide lines. This is a cropped version of the "drawing" that has been transferred to the board.  It is very subtle, and in order to make it show up, I had to fool around in photoshop. The background is still only the raw sienna wash. I used a graphite transfer paper (which is colored blue) to transfer onto the board. 

I should stop and explain the working method I'll be using for this piece.  I have worked out the image on paper prior to going to the canvas because I want this painting to be fairly tight.  I edit and move things around and get the drawing/image/composition as close to complete as I can.  This is a time tested way of creating paintings - do your drawing first - then transfer it to the canvas. By working on paper instead of the canvas, I am more at ease and can explore and make mistakes, edit, cut out, add and scribble without feeling that I'm ruining the canvas.  I think it saves me a lot of time too.

I then transfer the drawing so that I don't have uneccesary lines on the finished canvas.  Because I have already done my work on a different paper(s),  I am now merely transferring the lines that I want onto the canvas.  This is a bit labor intensive, but I like this method because it allows me to focus more on the painting, plus it keeps the canvas cleaner. There will still be plenty of time to improvise with the painting as I progress, but this gives me a good base to start with.

The blue graphite line is so subtle that it does not really interfere with the paint.  What some artists have done is to apply a varnish or fixative to seal the drawing, but I'd rather just get to it. 

now to start painting!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Step x Step Day 1

I really like reading blogs where an artist explains what they are doing using a step by step approach with pictures and text.

This will be my attempt.

I already have the image in mind and have planned out the majority of the composition, so this will be purely about materials and execution. If you don't care about that stuff, I hope the pictures are educating.

What you see propped up on my easel in the above image is a 48"x32" piece of 1/4" masonite board that was cut out of a 4'x8' piece I got at the hardware store.  You can get this stuff almost anywhere.  One side is smooth, and the other is lightly textured. I will be using the smooth side.

To prepare the surface for oil painting, I applied three coats of oil based primer.  I have used acrylic in the past, but I've been doing some reading, and oil based is apparently better suited for oil painting.  It binds better chemically.  The brand I am using is Zinseer Oil Based Primer.  I used a little 5" roller with the "hot dog" shaped rollers because it says on the package it creates the smoothest coat.  and so it has.  I would not recommend this stuff for indoor use, because the VOC and fumes are a bit much.  Because we have over 3' of snow, I did it in the studio.  It dries in less than an hour, but I applied one coat and left it for the day to dry (and air out)  After the third coat was dry, I took 150 sand paper to it and the surface was really nice.  I probably should have sanded in between coats 2 and 3.

After sanding I used Raw Sienna and turpentine to create a nice toned surface- that is what you see in the picture - it glows.  The paint has a Walnut Oil binder which makes the paint very creamy and smooth.  Very high quality.  DaVinci used walnut oil as a binder in his pigments (as did many other artists at that time)  I used the brand M.Graham
detail of my board...

up next.... transferring the drawing to the board!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Out of Darkness

I've been looking at a lot of Cravaggio's work lately.  That crazy Italian who worked in the late Rennaisance and brought chirascuro to the forefront of painting.

Needless to say, I've been reading and exploring his work and techniques and you can too by following the link above.  Caravaggio left no drawings behind - only finished canvases (and one partially complete) before he died at the age of 38.  It is believed that Caravaggio used a camera obscura in his work.  Through my research, I found that he might have used Mercury to "fix" the images, thus leading to his "crazy" behavior.  He killed a man in a duel and had a price put out on his own head.  He was disfigured in another duel shortly before his death.

I have been experimenting with getting a strong, single direction light source in my own work to illuminate the figure.  I did a bunch of tests before getting something workable.  I try to do a self portrait every year, so this year I decided to use myself as the model. The painting above is not varnished yet so the colors are a bit spotty.  The varnish will unify the surface and accentuate the darks. I should repost it after it is varnished.  you will have to wait and see.

I think the self portrait thing is left over from having all of those school pictures made every year as a kid. I think I still have them all from when I was like 7. It is record keeping.