May 16, 2012

Painting portraits in oils workshop - Day 2

The Fall of Light
Here is my cart set up in the morning. Just seeing this excites me, as it should any artist. 
From Left to right top to bottom:
I have my photocopy reference for creating the initial drawing, my paper towel, my thermos of organo gold mocha and a treat on top, some fruit 9which should definitely not be near my work ara), my solvent and brush cleaning container, my loaded palette and medium cups and towel clipped to my wooden palette, a selection of brushes, below are my thinners, turpenoid, linseed oil, Damar varninsh, odorless spirits, and paints and other materials.
We started the workshop with a morning demo explaining how to do the fall of light. It is one thing to conceptualize it and another to see a master effortlessly do it right in front of your eyes. The main idea being to now treat the figure as if it were a cardboard cut out and paint the lights from the top of the head cascading down the body as the light source becomes further away from the subject. Basically her chest becomes a flat highlight tone and gradually transitions down to her feet. Since the model was standing for a long time in the photo there is the addition of red from the blood flow to her legs.
A gentle gradation is added to the background and well as on the floor, lighter in the front and gradually getting darker as it recedes into the distance. I kept my flesh ball above to remind me of my 5 bases to work from on the palette and adjusted with pigments as necessary. I was really frustrated from the start, when I oiled in I noticed the paint was still to tacky to work, it didn't help with pushing the paint around and began to get a bit muddy. With oils you need to work with their drying time. Even though I added a few drops of cobalt drier to my medium the day before the paint was still wet.
In the afternoon we did a workshop on photographing and lighting for portraits. I have tons of experience here so nothing was new to me. In fact, I lent a helping hand to get the photos to work with the limited resources we had to work with. This is the one I chose, from three photos taken, to work from, it is a pure photo no photoshop editing has been done to it. Why bother, I can correct it in paint.
After lunch we got dangerous. well, poisonous on top of the carcinogen that cobalt drieyand half the pigments in oil contain. Darryl, the student who is stationed beside me, donated some Flake (LEAD) white for us to prep our canvases for the portrait. See the big red skull, would you want to use this stuff?
The first step is to prepare the flake white paint. It is really thick so you need to thin it down with some spirits or turpentine, preferably being as safe as possible by wearing gloves.
Brush on a layer of the stick white paint to cover evenly.
Use a big car (super) sponge to pat down the surface. It will make for a real velvety texture when dried like the old masters used to use. So now I wait until it dries and I can use it for my self portrait.
 Here is a shot of some of the work in class. I decided not to paint a solid background and keep some of my painterly strokes for effect and beauty.
This is as far as I got with all the variety of things we did in the time we had. You can see some of the shine and different drying times in the paint by looking in the shadow area. My paint was really sticky and hard to deal with. I definitely don't want to battle with it again tomorrow. I had to help speed up the drying process by leaving it in the warm cab of my truck until tomorrow's session.


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