Monday, February 28, 2011

Michael - Step 2

Filling the Canvas and Avoiding Surprises.

After getting the features in place, the next step here was to establish basic local colors.  Since the appearance of a color is affected by the colors around it, I wanted to fill the canvas with the basic big colors - in this case, the brown of the shadow of the face, and the light green of the background (actually you might call it a seafoam green, if you look at it under the right light bulbs).

Up Next. . . Dark to Light

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Michael - Step 1

There are many ways to paint a painting, so it's important to know what characteristics you want your finished painting to have.  When I'm clear about what I want for a certain painting, then the process to get there becomes a bit clearer.  In this case, I wanted to paint a solid painting of Michael - large masses and not much transparency.  

Michael - Step 1 • 12" x 16" • Oil on Panel

Step 1 - Tone, Anchor and Range

TONE - Unless I'm doing a transparent painting, I usually tone the surface of the painting to get rid of the white.  In this case, I wanted a little texture since I thought that there might be some part of the background that would show through - however, I didn't want too much texture in the face since I wanted the planes to be fairly large masses.  Why tan?  So the face could be built up on analogous colors.

ANCHOR - There are billions of humans on the earth and word is that we all look different.  I am taking this on faith since I haven't checked everyone . . . though some research indicates that there are certain people who look like each other.  In any event, most all of us have two eyes, two ears, one mouth and one nose.  The reason we all look different is that each individual's features and the distances between them are slightly unique.  When you paint a portrait, it is usually implied that you obtain a likeness of the subject, requiring accurate depiction and location of that individual's features on your painting.  I've found that I can do this best by establishing a point of reference against which I measure the other features.  I call this my anchor and I generally use an eye.  The reason for this is that the eye contains several points (like the tear duct) and distinct contrasts (like the iris against the white of the eyes).  The mouth moves too much and the nostrils are usually too small.  You can see in this image of Step 1 that I'll often paint vertical or horizontal guidelines to help me line up the other features of the face according to the anchor point.

RANGE - Once the features are in place, I need to establish my value range.  I'll try to find the large value masses and indicate these roughly.  I also indicate the darkest darks and the lightest lights of the painting, then I know that the other values must fall between these parameters.

 . . . Next up - Filling the canvas - no surprises.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Face

Heather • 8 1/2" x 11" • Graphite on Paper

On Tuesday nights I teach an art class called Theory & Practice.  Each session has two parts, a few weeks of theory and discussion about a particular topic and a few weeks of painting and/or drawing anything the student wants.  Last night, I did this little linear graphite demo of our model Heather.  This session has been a lot of fun - it is a very talented and congenial group.

In two weeks we'll start the next session which will be devoted to the face.

For more info, click here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Google Goggling

I often take close-up pictures of paintings at museums.  I think it's so cool to be able to sit in one's studio and ponder the brushstrokes and edge quality that such close-ups provide.  It appears that Google thinks so too. They've introduced a new tool called "Art Project."  It looks amazing.