Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Skins

No. this isn't a new abstract painting....

I was about to varnish the entire image today, but I knew deep down I wasn't ready yet.  There are parts of this piece that I am not happy with and I want to resolve them.  It would be like quitting before you took your last turn, because once you varnish, it seals the surface.  Sure you can paint over the varnish, but that defeats the purpose.

Varnish is used for two reasons.  One is to protect the surface of the painting by creating a protective layer and the other is to unify the surface (it re-saturates all of the colors and gives everything an even *shine* - it eliminates the "dead" spots that can occur when oil paint dries.  Not all artists varnish- it can be an aesthetic choice.

The above photo is a detail of a varnish test I did on the top left corner of the painting. You should be able to see a clear line of where I varnished and where I didn't.  The deeper "dark" color has been varnished.  It makes this color very rich.  trust me. 

So instead of getting out my varnish brush, I took out my usual brushes and got out some new paint and I repainted the face again today - for the final time.  4th time is a charm.  It is a major focal point of the piece, so if it isn't good enough, the rest of the piece will suffer (and I like the rest of the piece).  This is the final paint job.  I am happy with it.  I was not hitting the right marks in it before.  I wasn't following the form nor keying the right values.  When I say repainted it, I mean the whole thing.  not just the ear or the cheek.  Now I am happy with it.  It is very cohesive.

My new flesh tones that I mixed up were much more accurate than the previous batch - plus I didn't over brush or "noodle" it to death.  Lay it down and move on -  I should make a giant sign to hang in my studio.  If you overbrush and overwork, you kill it.  You loose all sense of energy and life in the brushwork, and worst of all you muddy up the color.  I will apply a simple glaze to accentuate a few parts though.
I used my new batch of skin colors to add some much needed form to the fingers as well.  They seemed a little flat and simple before.  A little extra modeling here and there...

so here we are today.  I'd say I'm about 96% there.  All I want to do is tweak a few of the objects and throw a little glaze on the figure and we are ready to varnish.
I'll talk about the varnish in the next post.
(you can click on this one to get a bigger version too)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Glazing and edges

I intended this painting to have glazes applied, so here is a picture of what glazing can do.  A glaze is essentially a small amount of pigment in a larger amount of medium (like oil) so that it becomes more transparent.  In my case I am using Liquin because it dries quickly and creates a very durable paint layer.  A transparent glaze allows the paint layers beneath it to show through, thus creating subtle tonal shifts.. In my case I am using Alizarin Crimson (a transparent color on its own) and Viridian (a cool green) to create a warm but dark brownish color (they are complements).  The crimson adds a nice depth.

I applied the glaze on the edges where the back of the figure meets the dark shadow behind it.  I also used it to bring out the shoulder blade from the rib cage and show the fleshy mid section between the ribs and the "hip" bone. The idea is to blur the edges to create a more rounded appearance as it approaches and gets lost in the shadow.  aka "lost edge" - Some edges should be "hard", some should be soft, and some should be lost.

You can click on this one to make it a little bigger.

more to come, and this one is getting close to getting varnished.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Days 5-6

I'm not counting the passing days, but rather my full working days- at least 3 productive hours = one day.  A few days have gone by where I've made minor tweaks or simply walked away after an hour or two.  Sometimes you got it and sometimes you don't.  I've learned that when I "don't", to do something else.... because I start painting over things....

The above photo is where I left things today.  This one in particular looks the most accurate in terms of color (at the moment). From here on in, the majority of changes are most likely going to appear subtle in the photos.  The dark area in the top right is wet paint from me beginning to lay in more opaque paint (Ivory Black, Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson) to make a dense dark.  I want to create visual push and pull.  This is how the much of the darks in the top region of the image will look. Some areas need to be pushed way back and some areas need to be pulled out.

I have repainted the face and neck twice in three days.  I don't like to do that because it creates a lot of paint layered on top of each other.   It is best to scrape it off if you don't like it, that way you get the underpainting (the Raw Sienna wash in this case) popping through all over and creating visual harmony.  If there is too much paint down, you can loose this effect.  - It is a conscious decision to allow it to come through.  This is the golden color you can see in the arm and lower abdomen- I used very translucent cool colors that were carefully placed next to it. You can see a bit more in the pic below.

Game plan:  A friend of mine gave me a nice complement and a good idea.  I think I was already leaning this way, but now I'm going to be a bit more deliberate.  He said he really likes the juxtaposition of the highly finished passages and the untouched or loosely painted areas. So I'm going to be leaving parts unfinished, and I'm going to keep my drips - I like the effect anyway.
What I'm doing now is working with Titanium white and Raw Sienna (plus a touch of Manganese) and giving some volume to the unfinished areas, pulling out a few bits here and there and hitting a few highlights.  I really like working with this kind of limited palette and focusing on form. A true underpainting would have all of the volumes rendered. Below is a pic from where I left off on Day 5....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 4 - Show Me Some Skin

We have had a few snow storms this week, so it has been a great time to hide out in the studio and work. I know- the face is blurry - I blurred it out because I like the arm/hand passage at this stage, so I took a picture. The face needs some work, and will get it at a later date.  

I thought I would explain what I'm using for my paint, so I took a picture of my palette.  I work on a piece of glass with a white piece of paper underneath it.  The glass measures 14" x 22".
I am breaking my own rules by showing you this disaster.  I really do try to keep my paints in order and on the perimeter of the glass, but ironically not while I'm doing this "step by step" - so don't do this.  I usually keep my earth tones (siennas, naples yellow) and red on the left, with my white in the corner.  I labeled it "warm" because I use two piles of white.  the other is on the right hand side but didn't make it into the picture.  I use one for all warm tones, and one for all cool tones so I don't contaminate them...  Along the top of the palette I usually keep my greens and blues, and put my Ivory Black in the right corner.  Below that I put my Alizarin Crimson, and then my cool Titanium below that.  Alizarin is a cool red, so I keep it with my cool colors. 

So here we are today.  I have started to paint more of the objects in the top of the image and have begun to finish off the legs.  I am spending most of my time in the top of the painting right now to make sure I am getting things right.  This is where most of the "stuff" is, so I want to make sure they look like they exist in the same space.

I am finding that the most important part of this piece is going to be the reflected light.  I think this is why i like the arm right now.  It shows good reflected light.  The rear end will do this, as will the feet and a portion of the legs, plus I'll bounce it around throughout the image to unify.

The reflected light is Cadmium Red with a touch of Naples Yellow.  it glows.  It will glow more because I'll put cool colors next to it.

...til next time

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Flesh on the Bones

I have started to paint some of the flesh and a few other elements in the picture.  I am painting rather loosely at this stage, trying to get as much paint on the canvas as I can, focusing on building form and keeping my tones near the middle range.  I am not working on fine details yet,  just blocking in - (although I can't resist sometimes...) For the figure, I am focused on getting the thing to look solid - that there is meat and flesh there. I will go back in later to finness and model it a bit more. 

Colors being used for flesh: 
  • Naples yellow
  • Cadmium Red light
  • Manganese Blue (hue) - not 100% sold on this one...  but using it for the cools
  • Titanium white
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Raw Sienna
  • Ivory Black - also being used to cool - see this post

My pictures are not the best.  There should not be such a major difference in the tones from pic to pic.  I try to lay it down and move on. I'm working with three brushes, small, medium, large (ish).  the larger brush has my warm tones - the medium has my cool tone - and my small brush bounces back and forth as needed. This way I keep my colors "clean".

As I get more paint on the surface, I will be able to evaluate my tones and start to push things around.  There is still a lot of surface to cover. In general, I am painting a bit bright because I know I'm going to glaze it all down later.