Friday, December 08, 2006

Painting day 1

I started two paintings today and I thought I would post the preliminary stages. *shrugs* Maybe someone will be interested in seeing the process I go through with a painting.

The first painting (currently untitled) is the largest piece I’ve ever tackled at 36x40in. In fact, it didn’t fit on the easel I typically use and I had to improvise. The second piece (“fire faerie”, FF) is only 5x7in and is very small for an oil painting. Okay, that’s a pretty diverse little pair, so on to the first step I used in starting these paintings:

-inspiration. Eons ago I decided I wanted to paint a faerie for all four elements. Water is finished (you see part of her up there in my title image) but I never got around to the rest. It seemed like time to fix that and fire was the next element that called to me. As for the untitled image…well my mother made a comment a couple weeks ago that got me thinking, and the idea simmered under my skin all through nano, so it was ready to burst out by now.

-Bodies. What…bodies? Yes. I have enough trouble with proportions and anatomy when I’m staring at it, you don’t want to see what happens when I go straight from memory. So, I have to go in search of bodies. Stock photos, magazines, friends, and the mirror are the more common sources. A live model is best, but I’m poor. The mirror is my best friend while painting, even if I take the proportions from a photo graph, the mirror tends to end up solving issues I couldn’t figure out otherwise.

-The sketch. Ah finally something people would consider art…well maybe not this time. With some paintings I do very elaborate concept sketches, but not always. I did some very basic thumbnails to figure out placement for the untitled piece, and I didn’t do any sketching for FF. (click pic for larger image)

-Ground. Time to pull out the paint. For both pieces I started by putting down a ground. (a solid color over the entire canvas.) For untitled I used sap green and for FF I used Alizarin. I’ve never actually used either of these colors as a ground before. Typically I use an earth color as a ground (I count indigo as an earth color, and it is my favorite ground though a more traditional would be sienna.) Both paints I used today are typically used to glaze with (so they are far more translucent than earth colors.)

-Blocking. With a dry paintbrush, I lifted paint away from the canvas to block in my image. I immediately noticed a problem. When using an earth color for a ground I can usually pull paint away enough to make a very rough rendering of form. With untitled, the sap green was too light to get much value difference. So much so that I could barely see what I’d wiped away and what I hadn’t. I don’t like working wet on wet, but I was desperate to block in more values, so I pulled out raw sienna to put in some of the darker of the darks in the foreground. I quickly remembered why I dislike working wet when the sienna pulled the green up in some places and not in others. Needless to say, that stopped the painting for the day. FF worked out a little better. The alizarin was dark enough to show some good contrast, but it was also too loose to blend well. So at the end of day, I only got the most basic of blocking done for both paintings. Untitled should be good to go again by tomorrow, but alizarin tends to dry slower in my experience. I cut it with a good deal of liquin so we will see.

Images: Day one. (click for larger view)


Not very pretty huh? Never are at this stage. This is not a point I usually show anyone, but here it is for the world to see....

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