11 April 2010

Making a Painting

Morgan 2010, oil on linen, 12" x 16"

This painting is from the class “Staging Artwork” taught by Meadow Gist at the Watts Atelier. The purpose of the class was to guide students through the development of a piece, from model shoot to preparing a composite image to the final painting. A great exercise, especially for beginners. This is not a straightforward painting from life. It's a process more suitable for a narrative-type painting using multiple figures or elaborate settings.

Rather than describe each step, I have just a few comments on the process...

Of 400 images shot during a 1-hour session with the model, I found 3 images I really liked! My advice…shoot lots of pictures. Get extras of the background. Make sure your chosen photo reference has good resolution, a dominant light source, and clear definition in the light and shadows. This is my final photo reference. I used the "steelyard composition" for my design concept; the bright lace cuff balancing the head and torso. I changed both hands, using images from other photos.


Value and color studies save time. I did value studies by manually spot-adjusting b&w thumbnails printed from Photoshop. My color comp (at left, 6’x8’ on canvas; with Meadow’s improvements) was where I decided on the palette and worked through problem areas (flesh tones, background, edges). It was indispensable during the final painting. Color sketches were standard for Sargent, Zorn, et al. The practice gave rise to alla prima painting.

I transferred my image onto stretch linen freehand, using graphite on a 2" grid guide. I spray-fixed before painting to preserve the graphite under-drawing.

The palette was yellow ochre pale, cad red light, transparent oxide red (TOR), viridian, ultramarine blue, titanium white, ivory black. The basic color scheme was complementary (red and green). I used TOR in every brushstroke. It was the basis of my black (TOR+ultramarine blue). I used it to neutralize the greens. It was in all my fleshtones. TOR throughout helped harmonized the color scheme. You could do this with any color.

I tried Sean Cheetham’s “mud” system for the flesh tones. Sean mixes paint pools for the light side, the shadow side, and the darkest darks. He modifies these starter hues with warms or cools to achieve subtle temperature and value shifts. In his approach, if the value and temperature are correct, the painting will read properly with any color. That makes a lot of sense.

Finally, I completed this painting in about 40 hours. Meadow painted the feather and front headband in the final painting.

22 comments:

  1. This is fantastic and also informative thanks you.

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  2. Every time I stop by its something better. Great work.

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  3. Candace I love the energy in this. And the angle! I’m also extremely impressed by your generous forthright openness in sharing knowledge. It’s quite fascinating, the process you describe – so methodical really.
    Speaking of alla prima, I suppose all the daily painters must work alla prima wouldn’t you think? People like Magsig, E B Gordon Liza Hirst Laurel Daniel etc.

    Take care
    Marcia

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  4. Indeed a great learning experience! The painting is wonderful!

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  5. Absolutely beautiful. Love the transitioanl display as well.. I always love to see where and how other artist get to the final piece

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  6. Very nice. Sounds like a fun, if time-consuming, project.
    Thanks also for the process notes.

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  7. This is stunning! Love the old feel of it! And thank you for describing your process.

    I've reading your blog for a while now, it makes me want to investigate the Atelier School in my city.

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  8. Hi Candace, Beautiful painting. Thank you also for the very informative post.

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  9. Stunning work, Candace! You captured the models beautiful features perfectly. Love the great mystique you created by leaving the background dramatically dark.

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  10. candace,
    as always, great work...
    there is a lot of inspiration coming out of you and your beautiful works of art...
    thanks for including the stages of completion...

    congratulations...

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  11. It's a beautifull works. Fantastic. Beautiful. Congratulations.

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  12. Thanks for posting Candace. Very interesting read.

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  13. Love it Candace, the application of the paints is superb! I also love your Bridgeman studies, always a plus! Keep up the great work Candace!

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  14. Great job and well explained. You just keep getting better and better.

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  15. Thanks to everyone for your supportive words. Each one of your comments is appreciated. Best regards.

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  16. Beautiful work , Candace . The likeness and overall composition , great job.

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  17. You always show great work and provide such insight to proces and inspiration. All my best.

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  18. Anonymous16 May, 2010

    Fanstico, felicidades
    una máginifca entrada


    Imma
    http://www.immam.blogspot.com

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  19. Anonymous16 May, 2010

    perdon, por mi mal teclado
    quise decir:
    "fantástico, felicidades
    una magnífica entrada

    Imma

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  20. Gracias, Imma. Su amable comentario es apreciado.

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  21. Coming across your blog was my lucky day. I too have been studying the Atelier way of working. You have helped me see where I need to be more careful in my process. Sketches and value/color studies are essential and yet I want to bypass these steps and jump right in to drawing and painting. I usually end up with a problem area that should have been worked out earlier and am left with repainting it till I get it right. Thanks so much for this information.

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  22. Excellent advice which is much appreciated.

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