23 June 2009
Reilly Method Painting
I just finished an introductory oil painting class called "Reilly Method Painting from Life" taught by Erik Gist. The class introduces the novice to painting using a limited palette of 3 colors (cadmium red light, cadmium yellow deep, burnt umber) along with titanium white and ivory black. Ultramarine blue was also in this palette, but I never used it.
Before each session students pre-mix a series of 5 values for each color using black and white. The strategy is to combine pre-mixed hues of the same value to achieve new hues of that same value. These final hues are then applied using the corresponding values on an underpainting (below) and observation of the live model as guides. Flesh tones are burnt umber warmed with red and yellow or cooled with gray of the same value. Purples and greens come from mixing ivory black with red or yellow. A good reference on this general approach is The Fine Art of Portraiture: An Academic Approach by Frank Covino. He describes this method in great detail, but using a larger palette and 9 values instead of 5. I found a copy at the library, worth searching out.
Erik is a good teacher. He's very positive and supportive and talks about the process during most of each class, so you pick up a lot if you listen. He painted Vicky's nose. I learned a lot, especially about muddy and chalky color and the value of re-touch varnish. Also learned not to save the background for last. And that I better be determined, because I've got a lot of work ahead.
Vicky 2009, 16 x 12, oil on canvas board