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Thread: Darkstrider - Composition 1.1

  1. #1
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    Darkstrider - Composition 1.1

    For my 1st one I picked The Angel Succoring Hagar by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Man, I don't even see how anybody can do one of these in an hour - I took 2 before it started to look halfway decent, and I know it still has a ways to go. I kinda killed my time right at the beginning though - 1st by not measuring anything and then by using stupid pastel brushes that I hardly know how to use yet. Probably spent the 1st hour fixing those mistakes. How extensively should we be measuring these? I was in a kind of panic, feeling the pressure of the ticking clock and so I just eyeballed everything. Mistake!

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    I chose Tiepolo because I love the way he did the figures - so expressive and powerful. He used 3 focal areas denoted by strong value contrasts - 1st the woman, then the wounded child, and then the angel. I notice the emphasis, rather oddly, seems to be on their chests more than their faces though - probably as the location of the soul or the heart. Makes sense since it's such a powerfully emotional painting.

    I also noticed I have a tendency to make the positive shapes - especially figures - too big! Need to get that under control.
    Last edited by Darkstrider; February 28th, 2014 at 02:30 AM.
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  3. #2
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    Great start buddy! That is one difficult painting to start with, respect for jumping in at the deep end
    Don't worry about making stuff bigger, think it's natural, I do it too. Being aware of it will help you work on scale.
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  4. #3
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    Thanks Bri. Yeah, somehow I failed to notice how complex the painting was. When I think composition I tend to think multi-figure. It's the second time I've attempted Tiepolo, and both times I came away with immense respect for his skills. I think toward the end of this I'm gonna try another one to see if I can handle it better.
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    Blonde Natalia, paint can and orange electric cord - Kent Williams

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    Everything went much better today - started by quartering off the image to find the center and doing a line sketch (which was way too big at first). Kept fixing that until it looked right, then it was a pretty easy matter to start painting in the values. Lol, went with a much simpler composition than the Tiepolo this time too!

    It's a Kent Williams painting that I admire for the bold handling and aggressive painterly work, though he was still able to capture the sitter's personality quite well. There's a single strong emphasis on her face, the darkest dark (eye hollows) right under the lightest light of her bangs, and the entire head is painted much more completely and subtlely than everything else. The rest of the comp is kept very economical and simple for contrast.

    Spent another hour and fixed it up much better. Still a few things I can see, but you gotta move on at some point, right?

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    Last edited by Darkstrider; February 28th, 2014 at 05:59 PM.
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    Portrait of Clara Serena Rubens

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    Rubens was so good at getting personality into his portraits! Like his daughter, so clear-eyed and impish. He used a very circular rhythm here surrounding the face - you can see it in the hair, the little wrinkles in her coat, the brushstrokes in the background. All the emphasis is on here face, with a little extra oomph on her left eye (viewers right) because it's catching the light better than the other one. This was 45 minutes - I might go back in for a while and see how much closer I can get it - mine doesn't look like she's smiling yet.

    Ok, 1 hr. 15 mins...

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    Last edited by Darkstrider; February 28th, 2014 at 10:55 PM.
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    Hi there, looking good! Your values are getting close (especially on the blonde lady). You might want to spend a little more time at the beginning drawing out the faces and mapping the locations of the features - that seems to be the weakest point of these. Study the shape and proportions of the head and how to construct it, and that will make the portraits easier.
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  9. #7
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    Hey thanks Dahlia!! I know, even though I have started sketching n bodies and carefully checking proportions on them, I still leave the faces and just paint blind on them. I think especially on portraits I should sketch in the forms of the face and the features - could have avoided making the little girl's eyes so cartoonishly big.
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    Hi Darkstrider. In #1 and #3 You are not going as dark as the originals in the darkest darks. Do you see it? I color picked #3 and compared the percentages of the darkest parts between yours and the original in the HSB color work-space. The original falls in the 2-5% range in the darkest parts and yours falls in the 11-15% range. You are pretty accurate in your mid-light range, though.

    Keep at it. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress!
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  12. #9
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    Yeah, I definitely see it. I do tend to shy away from black - not sure why that is. I was even kind of somewhat aware it wasn't dark enough as I was doing it. Thanks for pointing it out.
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    Doing really great with general shapes and values (but yeah you can go darker). I think you can start thinking more about edges.

    I'd go back on the Rubens and play with a low (60-70%) opacity brush and blend some of the skin. Also bring in a hard edged brush and see if you can clean up some major areas -- I'd play on top of the one you already have to see what it feels like then see if you can implement that in your next study.

    Also, RE: faces. Don't think of them as faces. They are just lights and darks next to each other like anything else. It's hard for us to stop seeing "eye" "nose", but when you just see "darker gray next to 5% lighter gray" it'll be easier to reproduce it.

    I also like to use my fingers to roughly measure the distances between things in the original and my reproduction, either from each other or from the edge of the canvas.
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    Oh I agree, if I had more time I could do all that stuff. I'm pushing now to get under the hour time limit (still 15 minutes over). I've been playing with these pastel brushes to see what they can do, and they just don't offer the same hard/soft edge options the regular round brushes do, so even as I learn what they're good for, they hamper me in other ways. I think after I get used to them and figure out when in the process I should use them - then hopefully I'll speed up some more. I also need to find the balance of how detailed to get. I think I might be going for too much detail. Adding the eyelids in the Rubens was probably going too far.
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    Jeff Jones - Pricklypear study

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    This one stands at 40 minutes right now, but I think it needs some more love. I wanted to work on some landscape for a while, and I love Jeff Jones' landscapes! Turned out to be difficult because he was influenced by impressionism here and made lots and lots of tiny little marks all over. I also felt like I needed to start by painting each area extra dark and then going over it semi-transparently with a lighter value to get the effect he did.

    A very unusual composition with the massive rounded rectangular form of the cliff dominating most of the image and the dark gorge creating a powerful counterpoint and very dark note. He used a lot of lines and implied lines (continuity) sweeping down over the rounded edge into the gorge and I feel like the trees are symbols of humanity at the edge of a precipice - maybe the natural force of erosion represents the relentless march of time that takes us all and the gorge is the waiting abyss of eternity.

    Suddenly it's very clear I need to adjust the shape of the cliff - how did I not notice it before? I also feel the need to tap in a lot more fiddly little impressionist marks all over.. brb

    Another 20 minutes makes a big difference.. here it as @ 1 hr.

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    I was liking this one so much, and saw it needed some more TLC and it could look really good, that I decided to give it another hour.

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    Last edited by Darkstrider; March 1st, 2014 at 10:22 PM.
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    Rossetti study

    I love the serene tranquility in this piece by Rossetti. What stands out to me composition-wise are the rhythms - in the hair, the bunched wrinkles in her clothes, the shapes of light puncturing through the foliage behind her - all surrounding her pale face with the penetrating yet faraway eyes. And her long slim hands fidgeting with her necklaces also point toward her face as well.

    I'm trying to work out a better approach, but it still took me an hour and a half before it was looking halfway decent. I probably should get better at doing the construction to begin with - could cut out a lot of time right there.

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    Last edited by Darkstrider; March 3rd, 2014 at 02:11 AM.
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