Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Angels of Death - Progression Shots (Post 1 of 2)

For my artist friends and collectors alike - it's always fun to see how a painting develops from start to finish. I don't have a specific method that I use every time. Instead I rely on intuition and start a painting based on the subject matter, overall color temperature, and level of drawing difficulty. Regardless of the colors I choose to tone the canvas or to begin the painting, I always start with big shapes and the separation of light and shadow. Below I give you "Remembrance" from start to finish.

1. "Remembrance" was started with a light vine charcoal drawing on a white oil-primed linen panel (SourceTek). Knowing that I wanted the overall color temperature of the piece to warm and glowing (angelic, no less!), I used a thin wash of raw sienna (thinned with medium, see my materials page) for the background. I used a mix of ultramarine blue and transparent oxide brown for the underpainting of the hair, dress and skull, since I wanted some of those cool tones to show through in the final painting. From there I dove into the face and hands, separating the lights and shadows and using a general, opaque skin tone in the lights. The shadows, made up of mostly transparent oxide red (for the warm areas) and some viridian and ochre (for the cools), remained relatively transparent and thin.

2. The face was painted using the direct painting methods I employ when working alla prima. I wanted it to look fresh (as opposed to overworked), so I knew I would need to finish the face in one sitting. This required laying on thicker paint in the lights, being careful to make the relative values as accurate as possible.

3. Oh, the hair... what fun! I wanted it to feel radiant and full of movement. This required interlacing thick paint with thin, changing up brush strokes/directions, and employing warms next to cools for that extra "pop" of life. I also made sure to be selective about putting in single strands, only painting a few of them in order to convey the feeling of many. The rest of the hair was treated as a "mass," changing in value as it got closer or further away from the light source. Since the model's hair was auburn, I used a lot of alizarin crimson.

4. Once I was pretty satisfied with the face and hair, I moved outward. I made sure to work wet-in-wet around the edges after finishing a section of the painting, especially where the hair meets the background. If I had let the hair dry and then painted the background later, it would have looked a little too much like a cut-out. I wanted the model to transition softly and natural into the background with a variety of hard and soft edges. I wiped out the tops of the wings where the light is hitting them, adding to the feeling of softness and motion.

5. I began working on the hands, making sure the values related well with the values in the face and neck. I was also careful to keep "highlights" on the fingers to a minimum, since the hands are almost entirely in shadow and shouldn't stand out too much. The skull was blocked in using mixtures of white, ultramarine blue, alizarin, raw sienna, and radiant green.

6. The finished painting. The background was finished off with more raw sienna and viridian; I also painted the background at the edge of the skull (the "glow") before putting in my definitive lights on the skull itself. None of my lightest lights are pure white, but instead, have a touch of lemon yellow mixed in with them.

"Remembrance" - 16x20" - oil on linen panel 

I'll have another post about "Passage" up soon!


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