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June 11th, 2007 #1
Figure and Still-life paintings+demo
Just sharing two more recent images. The second has a demonstration. I have been meaning to put up something like this for a while.
Also, for anyone interested I am teaching two workshops this summer. One in St. Simons Island, GA (Still-life-July) and one at the Grand Central Academy in New York (Figure-August).
If you want more information you can get it here:
Here are the picts. Hope you enjoy 'em. Of course C&C are welcome.
Oil on Linen 36" x30"
Oil on Linen 11" x14"
For this particular piece I followed virtually the shortest process of the different procedures I use while painting.
This procedure involved 3 basic steps:
1. Preparatory Linear Drawing
2. Monochrome Value Study
3. Form Painting
Preparatory Linear Drawing (setting up and early block-in)
Drawing with graphite on paper or charcoal on linen.
For this piece I started on drawing paper using graphite and later transferred it to my linen. This is the way I usually start. Occasionally, I draw directly on the linen and when doing so I usually start with vine charcoal and then finish using charcoal pencils.
Height Relationships to establish proportion.
The first thing I do when starting a careful drawing is to set up a series of height relationships. Generally I place 8 or 9 carefully chosen tic marks. I derive these through a combination of subdivision (such as finding halfway points) and or establishing a unit of measure (similar to using a head length as a measuring unit). These marks are very important and I trust them to guide me through the rest of the drawing so they must be as accurate as possible. With them I can find widths and other parameters. These parameters establish proportion; a fundamental component in any accurate drawing.
Blocking-in seeing for shapes and tilts.
I then begin blocking in the objects using predominately straight lines (which are easier to relate and compare). I looked to see shapes and relate tilts. As I blocked-in these shapes I constantly took notice of how they aligned with one another both vertically and horizontally.
Preparatory Linear Drawing (refining and breaking down block-in)
Refining the block-in.
In continuing the block-in I shifted to breaking down the larger shapes into smaller shapes. I continued to look at both the shapes and the tilts. I worked to break down and refine my most central object. At this point I was mainly thinking in terms of two-dimensional shapes, concerning myself not with the object I see but with the shapes and patterns I see. Three-dimensional thinking will come later. While drawing I was cycling through multiple checking systems to find the placement of points, lines and shapes for each decision I made.
Preparatory Linear Drawing (mid-stage of finishing)
Point to point along the contour.
In this image I had begun to finish a section of my linear drawing. To finalize the contour I begin to move in a point to point way, looking to see the subtle shifts of the line. I was also moving my mind into a more three dimensional way of thinking. I was asking myself if the line made sense with the structure of the object
Finding forms on the interior and separating light from shadow.
On the interior I broke down the drawing finding as many different interior forms as I could. Although I was now thinking about the forms (three-dimensional thinking) I was still registering the shapes in a two-dimensional way. I then also lightly filled in the areas of shadow with a relatively flat tone. When separating "light" from "shadow" objects are seen in a more sculptural way. Additionally, it aids in making the image, with all of its linear shapes, less confusing to interpret
Preparatory Linear Drawing (mid-stage of finishing)
Switching drawing tactics.
In this image I had finished the linear drawing for all of the foreground objects and was midway through the background drapery. My tactics for drawing the background had shifted. I skipped the preliminary stages of blocking in shapes and then slowing breaking them down. I felt I had enough information to freehand the background, drawing the exact shapes that I saw. Because of this I begin to draw in the same way as when I finalized the contour of the foreground objects in a "point to point" fashion.
Triangulating points and scanning plumb lines.
While finalizing the contour I was largely triangulating points and scanning plumb lines. However, as shapes were formed I would take note if they matched the shapes I saw. This is a faster way to draw but it is easy to loose track of the larger shapes and patterns if one is not careful.
Preparatory Linear Drawing (finished drawing)
Categories of lines to look for.
This image is of the finished drawing. When teaching a question that often comes up is how much of a drawing is necessary. Although much of this comes down to experience, knowing how much information you personally need to carry on with the process, some guidelines are to look for lines that tell about structure, the light source and abrupt value or color changes. Keeping this in mind, three categories of lines I generally look for are: the contour, contours of overlapping forms, and the "Terminator*". Two secondary and more subjective categories are: abrupt plane changes and abrupt local value changes.
*also known as "Apelles' Line," the "Bedbug Line," and the "Core Shadow"
Monochrome Value Study
Function of the value study.
Before moving on to the actual painting I did a small (approximately quarter scale) monochrome value study. The purpose of the study was to better understand the larger value relationships of the setup. It was referred to throughout the actual painting in helping to guess the value of any given area. It was also a chance to make some slight alterations to the actual values that existed in the setup with the intent of enhancing the feel of the painting or composition.
Painting (early stages and getting started)
Transferring and toning the Linen.
After transferring my drawing to the stretched linen using a charcoal transfer, I inked over the lines with "India" ink and then lightly toned the surface to achieve a fairly neutral, light in value, grey. Once this fully dried I moved on to the actual painting stage.
This type of painting may be referred to as "Form Painting" where one moves very carefully over the forms of the objects. Form painting in this way is very challenging. It is a finish as you go way of working. The challenge is similar to that of executing a refined line drawing with no block-in. It requires a high degree of concentration to not loose track of larger color and value relationships. This is the main reason I executed the value study before moving on to this stage. It is not for all temperaments and is not the way I always precede in a painting but almost always the way I finish refined areas of my paintings.
This is a picture of the setup. As you can see the value study was close at hand. The jar of medium on the right hand side of the easel was a mixture of 25% stand oil and 75% turpenoid. However, I didn't use very much medium while painting. I mainly used it for oiling out sunken in spots to match the paint after it dried out
Painting the value key.
This image shows the painting a bit further along. I picked this area to start because it had high contrast and a full range of values. This area (aided by the value study) would serve as the "key" to help me make decisions about values in other areas of the image.
Although I have been referring to "values" in this discussion so far, I should add that my decisions about value have not all been made by optical assessments alone. Even though I am aware of the values I see I also am guided by the direction of the light source to aid in understanding what I see and filter what I am seeing.
Gradations understood in both two and three-dimensional ways.
By knowing the direction of the light I can anticipate the orientation of the value gradations that I am seeing. In a purely optical and two-dimensional way these are the gradations that occur over a particular shape. In a conceptual and three-dimensional way these gradations explain the distribution of light over a form. This understanding of how the light works on different types of surfaces helps me in understanding what I see and aids in giving it organization and structure.
Form light and highlight.
As I worked I made mental notes about how the light behaved differently on different surfaces. I often had to decide if the particular form I was work on was dominated by form light or by highlight. For each I conceptualized the light direction differently.
In the above I was only able to touch on some of the many ideas that concern me during the execution of a painting. Yet, I hope for those of you who have an interest in the practice and science of painting it gives some insight into my approach
Last edited by Flynt; June 16th, 2007 at 08:54 PM. Reason: adjusted brightness of picture and grammar edit
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June 11th, 2007 #2Ellingsworth Guest
Amazing stuff man, thanks for providing the process and thoughts on how to go about it. Can't wait to see more from you!
June 11th, 2007 #3
Amazing amount of detail in those 2 paintings, and thanks for the detailed explanation. Helps me out alot
One question: When you transfer the graphite drawing to linen do you use a projector to trace over the lines or.. ???
Last edited by Know1; June 11th, 2007 at 06:38 PM.
June 11th, 2007 #4
love 'em both. thanks for the tutorial.My Sketchbook :: Phantasmagoria
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June 11th, 2007 #5
Excellent insights into your process. it's interesting to see deliberate painting methods like yours, and how planned it is as opposed to just going at it. Great running commentary. Thanks!Andrew Murray
Concept Artist, Tencent Boston
June 11th, 2007 #6
June 11th, 2007 #7Registered User
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thanks for the info, my painting instructors don't go into this kind of detail.
the value key is a concept i haven't tried and is a great help. i'll try to keep these in mind when analyzing what i see... very very helpful.
sorry if you've mentioned it and i missed it but about how long would each of these stages take you?
June 11th, 2007 #8
June 11th, 2007 #9
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June 11th, 2007 #10
First, Thank you for posting the images and the tutorial. Such things are invaluable to us as artists. You have my utmost respect for being open and giving with such things.
Second, I will never be the painter that you are, so please forgive if my words and critique of the figure work are not able to be backed up in practice with oils. Easier said than done...and for me, the saying is the easy part. Doing is always the hard part.
Here are my thoughts.
Last edited by Jason Manley; June 11th, 2007 at 11:02 PM.Join us and get better at art, starting today! LEVEL UP! - at ConceptArt.Org
June 11th, 2007 #11Registered User
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June 11th, 2007 #12
Phwoar. I had to take a second look on that first painting. The fact that you've painted a second painting inside the painting is a testament to your dedication. I love the second painting for what it does to my eyes. Anyone who can paint like that on oil has my eternal adoration.
In like Flynt
June 11th, 2007 #13
jesus your like a 3d rendering machine!!
totally awed by your patience and precision.
when your mixing your paints do you do it in large amounts so you don't have to find the right values are colours again?
June 12th, 2007 #14
I photocopied the drawing and then rubbed charcoal on the back. Putting this on the linen (charcoal side down) I traced the drawing and the pressure transferred the image. Glad it helped.
They take me longer than one would like. My ballpark guesses would be:
The drawing about 15 hours.
The study about 2 hours
The painting about 40-50 hours
Very useful criticism, with all points being quite valid. I will actively work to address each one in future pieces. I get a charge receiving good criticism—Thanks
I mix out (value) strings before starting a session so I don’t have to mix as much while I work. I try finishing an area in a session, if I don’t finish I keep out the colors to match with fresh paint for the next time. I am fairly organized in my color mixing methods and can usually match a specific Hue/Value/Chroma from day to day.
Thanks for the comments
June 12th, 2007 #15
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