Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Step by Step of Essence of Lavender 30 x 24 Oil on Linen

Palette colors
 The palette that you see on the right is out of my travel box. Many times instead of squeezing color out on my studio taboret, I just clamp this palette down, and can use both surfaces to mix color.

 So from left to right:
Raw umber, transparent oxide red, Sevres, blue, ultramarine blue, quinacridone violet, peylene red, cad red light, cad yellow dp, cad yellow lt. titanium/zinc white.

It's my basic double primary palette, with a Quinacridone violet and a warm and a cool brown thrown in.
The two blobs of color to the left are just palette scrapings left over from the previous day.

 Step 1:
For many of my paintings, particularly undraped figures, I will do a separate drawing that I can refer back to. But in this case I started the charcoal drawing directly on the white ground of the linen. After many changes of both placement and proportions I ended up with this drawing…it’s certainly nothing fancy. I start with the paint by applying color to the light side of the figure using a mixture of white, cad yellow lt. and perylene red with a small amount of sevres blue (sevres blue is a Rembrandt color which is thalo blue and white). I want to keep the paint thin at this stage, so I use a generous amount of OMS to thin the mixtures.

 Step 2:
I continue to apply the basic flesh tones over most of the figure. I also mass in the general tones of the background, keeping them toward the warmer side and not pushing the values too far light or dark. As I work into the darker flesh tones I add some transparent earth red to the mixture. I’m paying particular attention to the grouping of the overall tones, trying to keep similar tones massed together, so at this stage I can get a feeling of where the painting is going.

 Step 3:
“Wow what was I thinking?!” was my first thought the next day. I was still happy with the figure but I felt that my background was too broken up and didn’t seem to make the best design. My tones weren’t as grouped as I had thought they were. I didn’t really want to scrape the panting down, but that little annoying voice kept telling me that I’d be sorry if I didn’t. With some trepidation, I went for it, scraping and wiping down most of the surface, fortunately the painting was still a little wet from the previous day, so the paint came off easily. I then proceeded to change the elements in the background, focusing on simplifying the design. With a few changes of furniture I was able to facilitate a simpler triangular design that focused more strongly on the figure. I then reestablished the figure along with the new changes in the background. The changes took most of day but it was definitely worth it.

 Step 4 and 5:
The next day I started working in earnest on the flesh tones. The figure is being lit with a cool north light, so I add sevres blue and quinacridone violet to the basic mixture of  yellow, red and white to give the flesh a cool tone on the light side. On the shadow side I keep my mixtures warmer by adding transparent red and cad. red light to the mixture. I’m not thinning the paint much. I enjoy putting the paint down thickly on the light side and a little thinner on the shadow side, that way there is more interest in the paint layers. As I apply the paint, I want to just put it down and not move it around too much. I will do some blending with my fingers.

Step 5: (Continuation of step 4):
You can see the flesh has taken on some fun color change-ups. It has taken me all day to work this stage.

Step 6:
This is the finished painting. I know it made a big jump to this stage. I got so into the painting I forgot to shoot it along the way--sorry. This stage represents two days work, but really all I did was to continue to resolve the flesh tones and shapes and give the edges some variety. I work all around the painting, trying not to spend too much time on any one spot. At some point during these last days I decided to move the bedspread and reduce the white sheet. It helped to get the dark against her shadow side so that the values didn’t jump too much; it added a solid feeling to the left side of the painting. 

Black & white and reduced value illustrations:

I like to show my painting in black & white to illustrate the organization of the shapes and value masses. I used a lot of color in the painting, but look at it in black & white, it seems very tonal—I think it reads quite well.
Now let’s look at it in two values. I used Photoshop to reduce the image down to two values only, notice the grouping of shapes. It makes for some abstract shapes (there is no face), but I feel it is well balanced.

Here it is in 3 values. It takes on more reality, it looks like a person. I think it is important how the middle values hold the painting together.

That's it, Thanks for looking.