29 October 2013

My Portrait Process: Second Step is the Color Study

...also called the color comp.  More experienced artists skip this step, but I find it useful.  I don't want to get bogged down in the big painting with problems I could have spotted in the color comp.

Portrait of Kirk (color comp), 12x9", oil on linen

I use color comps for all the following reasons:
  • Work through the palette to be used in the painting
  • Define the light patterns and color temperatures to produce convincing form
  • Finalize the composition, background, edges 
  • Get a peek at how the painting will look framed, that makes a huge difference 
  • Plan the painting strategy (eg. layering and area sequences, transparent areas, etc.) 
  • Use as a constant value/color reference during completion of the big piece 
  • If something goes wrong on the big piece, test changes on the comp

For all these good reasons, I take the extra time to paint the color comp.  I'm always a little surprised by how closely the final painting resembles it, so that comp needs to be right. 

Kirk color comp, framed


From the framed color comp above, I see the need for more air around the subject.  The current cropping makes him look boxed in.  A small amount of extra room will fix that.

At this stage, I also work through other suspected issues.  For example, Kirk's hands were not ideal.  I picked the best references I had and worked up some value studies to think through the anatomy and value changes (below).  The middle hand is not usable.  I will go with the top and bottom hands.  I like the active/passive contrast they provide. 


Kirk's hands, 17x14", charcoal on Strathmore 400 paper

8 comments:

  1. I'm so impressed with your thoroughness and your dedication to getting your art to come out the way you envision it. I also like that you think for yourself, and take the steps that you feel you, as your own person, need to take. It's an incredible painting because of your insight and sensitivity.

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    1. Katherine, Thanks for your positive comments, as always. I could say the exact same thing about your work/blog. Loved the post about the sepia pencils. You just have to put yourself out there and invite the muse in. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. nice sketch!! impressive detail

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    1. Thanks, Monet. Glad you like it. A simple little sketch which will hopefully support a much better final painting.

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  3. I sometimes do a color comp when I need to hit the color just right or do a series of thumb nail sketches. Love how it turned out.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Erika. Yes, the color comp really helps get the hues/values down. I like slapping the frame on it, to get a feeling for what the final piece might look like...I need the motivation :o) Thanks for visiting.

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  4. Those are amazing hands. A very dramatic and moving work.

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    1. Thanks so much, Shelley. Very motivating to hear your reaction. Thanks for visiting.

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