Hi all. I'm starting a painting at last! Here is my set up and sketch. As you can see the cast is too big to put a lid on the shadow box. The tracing paper you can see hanging down is a compositional study to find the edge of the canvas (something I've been dabbling in on my drawing). I am going to paint in more of a layered approach but in a sort of half Impasto style, so I am not necessarily waiting for layers to dry.
You can see below, my first layer. It is a monochrome with burnt umber straight on to white cotton canvas. I wanted to focus on values before worrying about colour. The Canvas is actually very small which doesn't make it easy at all, but once I have my technique down, I will go bigger (currently 20x29cm)
This is about two layers of just burnt umber thinned right down with turps and then the lights rubbed out with fingers, cloth, brush handle, cat, whatever is handy really
I am posting this to get advice on how to paint really, everything I have learnt is from my own discovery and places like this. So any help would be much appreciated.
Last edited by Marine_Blue; April 2nd, 2010 at 06:58 AM.
Here is my next stage. This stage was a lot more turbulent and I eventually scrubbed out the face and started again. However I am a little more pleased at how it is progressing. I'm really enjoying using just burnt umber, it has a great range of tones on its own.
My biggest problem now is the size of the painting, its too small to really get stuck into, I am starting to get the hang of the medium though so its been a good learning curve if nothing else.
Check out my last post on your drawings. Using a grey scale will help judge your values
better. Then when you go to add color you can use your values that you have painted
to help you match your colors.
Pay attention to your values.
Hi Doug. That's good advice, thanks. Would you suggest buying a grey scale or painting one with the Burnt umber as a reference. I may have to exaggerate the tone depth as I could not get the Rembrandt lighting I was after (without being sat in the dark)
Hey james, nice project. I apologize in advance if this is too in depth of a crit, but I want to help as much as I can and I feel this is the way to do it.
Start over. Better to work on a larger surface and have it function then get stuck on a smaller one. Nothing is precious - when you're starting out it's all about beginnings. Wipe it off, paint. Wipe it off paint. And then start again some more. It's the meat and veggies of painting. However if you really want to finish it here is my advice:
I think right now you're shooting for way too many values. Bring your tonal range down to a maximum of five to start: three in the lights, two in the darks. Reflected light is something you shouldn't be aiming for right now. Darken your darks, and correct the values of the entire composition and they will make themselves.
As for the drawing, your main proportions aren't where they need to be. Aim for bigger shapes and SIMPLIFY. You have way too much information included at this stage of the painting. I think it's a little over ambitious for you to start your first cast painting on a sculpture this complex. If you can get your hands on one, try starting with some of the features of David, such as the nose, eye, mouth or ear.
And just as a purely technical nit pick, try cleaning up your lights. You should build up your paint through thin layers (thinning with the turps when appropriate) As you paint more often and gain experience you'll begin to have a feel of how to handle the paint and apply it. Right now it's a little streaky. Again, I think you need to start over and choose a simpler cast, but if you feel the need to commit yourself to this painting, I would do what I suggested above.
Thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed response. There is no need for an apology, judging by your work, I am glad you have taken the time to critique mine.
OK so, I think I will simplify this one in the way you mentioned but not spend too much more time on it and then start over with a larger piece. General to specific is a great philosophy, I must try to stop overcomplicating . Good call!
I did not spend as much time on the drawing as I would normally. I wanted to get stuck into painting. Do you normally do a detailed drawing before you start or would you go straight on to canvas?
Where would I get hold of Features of Adam? I am thinking of getting the Charles Bargue book as well, to hone my drawing but I have read mixed reviews about the use of them. What do you think?
I do NOT make a detailed drawing before painting, I work entirely alla prima, drawing directly with the paint, working the entire composition. However this is simply the way I've been trained. I have done preparatory drawings onto the canvas in my earlier training but I simply don't enjoy it, though there is certainly merit in doing so: it's simply a personal preference.
I purchase all of my casts through Giust Gallery : www.giustgallery.com
I honestly don't know anywhere else to purchase them. I'm not sure where you are in the country but they ship, but you should (if you can) try to visit the studio.
As for the Bargue book, I highly recommend it. Bargue drawing is bodybuilding for your eyes. Doing them like drills will make your eyes a human photocopy machine. I'm surprised you've heard, 'mixed reviews' about the use of them. I'm curious what you mean by that. They are great training tools.
Always glad to help! Feel free to ask for help anytime (PM me if needed)
Hey Alex. You welcome! I will be watching it with great interest.
Yeah the preparatory approach is slightly tedious. I am trying out dynamic symmetry at the moment so I need to draw first. (the ratio of this small painting is route 2) I think I would also lean toward alla prima with it being a much freer approach.
Thank you for the link..unfortunately I live in the UK so getting those Adam features may require a bit of searching around here, but thanks to you I am on the right track.
I will be getting the Bargue book. Seems I may have to blow some of the images up though as the binding in the book makes it tricky to use.
I think the mixed reviews are from people not using the idea correctly and dare I say from people who don't want to put the hours in and just want fun all the time. I think as well, lot of people miss the concept of using your eye first and THEN measuring. NOT pre-measuring.
I have been training my eye in a similar way with the plexiglass exercise, don't know if you have heard of it. But I have only recently heard of Bargue so looking forward to getting my chops into that now.
By the way... how many plates did you do, or is it an on going thing for you?
Good work Marine Blue: keep going! On a technical note, try scraping down your canvas before starting your next session. It looks a little thick.
Your values are much better simplified on the cast - good job. However your shapes are not very clear and read a bit awkwardly. Clarify these shapes for more convincing depth. Also your background looks a little streaky. Try shaking up the direction of your brush strokes and differentiate the values (they're a bit to blendy in certain areas.) I don't think you should continue on too much longer on this piece because of the scale and complexity of the set up. But I think what you've done considering the circumstances is good work and deserves another session or two. Again, really good improvements.