06 August 2009
Portrait Painting with the Zorn Palette
The summer term at Watts started a few weeks ago. One class I'm taking is Portrait Painting Fundamentals taught by Meadow Gist. The class explores several approaches and palettes using photos and a live model.
This first portrait was painted from a high-quality (i.e. good contrast and strong shadow patterns) photo reference provided in class. Briefly, I pencil-sketched the image onto canvas board, fixed it, then prepared the underpainting. I used burnt umber, but a mix of ivory black and cad red would work too. Finally, I over-painted using the "Zorn" palette (cad red light, yellow ochre, ivory black, titanium white). The overpainting was done in a single 5-hour session. The Zorn palette has been used widely and discussed often. Google for more information.
The pencil sketch step seemed messy and unnecessary. Even with a fixative, I ended up loosing most of the drawing anyway when I added the burnt umber ground. My personal preference is to rough-in with a paintbrush before underpainting.
The next assignment in this class is to paint a portrait by the direct method, which means no preliminary underpainting. Big kid stuff, like taking the training wheels off a bicycle.
Nicky 2009, 12 x 9, oil on canvas board