Friday, July 18, 2014

A Week of Scumbling and Mumbling (Edited)

Sunday Nap, a scumbling exercise in progress
My eldest son was unaware I took his photo while he napped along with his dad on Father's Day. This is a get acquainted sketch in preparation for a full body painting.  Lots of scumling is going on. Lot's of notes being taken on what brushes do what well. I still have a tendency to want to whip the brush, but I still lack the control needed to stop the swipe at the proper length.  Practice. Practice. Practice.

JD, still in progress, is moving more under the shade of the canopy.
There are soft and lost edges on the light side and hard edges on the dark side in back lighted situations.

Here's what JD looked like last January before reading Schmid:

JD, January, 2014 when I put him aside
for later.  Later came this week.
In January JD was little more than a drawing.  This week he became more of a painting with a lot more analytical consideration given to the values in his face and clothing.  The difficulty I'm having with this one is the backlighting.  In January, I had him  lighted as if he was under the open sky instead of under a canopy in heavy shade. The brilliance of the background lighting at two in the afternoon made him look too dark in the reference photograph; the fact that the photo was a candid shot and the boy was moving and talking as he hopped up on that fence added a slight blur. While I darkened/detailed the background this week, I plan to bring it back up to how brilliant it was.

 It will be difficult  trying to figure out the right balance where his features are appropriately lighted AND visibly  recognizable.  He is really a challenge in skin tones.  I stopped and put down my brushes this morning to prepare a canvas for one more color chart.  I was finding Sap Green incredibly helpful in cooling down his flesh tones--Steve's too.  I must add it to the Flemish palette Schmid suggests.   I'm particularly interested in seeing how it mixes with the red family.

I am also anxiously awaiting the figurative open studio session to begin. I need a lot of work on fabric.  Till then who do I call upon? Sargent, of course--though he painted no cotton jersey T shirts.

[I edited JD's picture after I published. I thought I had over photo-shopped it.]

Saturday, July 12, 2014

'Jerry' and 'Tom'

'Jerry,' a value study, oils on canvas board,  9" x 12"

JD's head has been
added to my wall
AFTER softening some edges,
 hardening some edges and
losing some entirely.
 This is 'Jerry.' I spotted him and his friend 'Tom' at the neighborhood diner.  Pretending to be figuring out how my camera worked, I snapped their photo.  I liked the look of good friends. I liked the red glass on the bar in front of them with the brilliant, bluish backlighting. I tend to photograph subjects backlighted often.  The results are a challenge to balance in Photoshop, yet I keep doing it.  I either have to consciously choose seats at the bar with better lighting or learn to deal with what backlighting does to skin tones. 

Both value studies were done quickly--an hour or two--with value accuracy and edges in mind.  Tom taught me how many more sketches I have to do to get where I want to go with both.   Jerry's monochrome scheme was much more comfortable to do.  With Tom, I tried Holbein The Younger's pink underlay to see if a mid-tone flesh tones simplified the value dance.   I can't decide if it confuse me or it helped.  A mid tone pinkish flesh tone certainly made more sense. There were a lot more soft
edges with Jerry and Tom than with Johnny Depp. Depp was mostly hard edged.  The harsh, overhead lighting made him that way.

'Tom', A value study, oils on canvas board, 9" x 12"
I noticed with both of these sketches, that they got better when I got aggravated with how things were going. I guess I free up when I think I've screwed up? The Schmid lesson here is the importance of practice, practice, practice.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Value Dance

The Value Dance:  Step back; squint; compare; judge; step forward eyes open; paint; step back and repeat, repeat, repeat the dance throughout the painting process.

The proper way to squint: step back about  eight feet, squint down till you are looking
 AT YOUR SUBJECT,  NOT YOUR PAINTING, through your eyelashes.
I did the Value Dance all day yesterday. I was self-training for painting.  While stepping back has been a consistent thing with me, squinting has not.  When I finally heard of squinting as being a good thing to do to evaluate values, I didn't know I was supposed to squint at my subject, not my painting.

July 2nd, at the end of the session JD looked like this. I hadn't squinted at all. I had established the darkest value and
the mid-tones by comparison, but my lightest values weren't as light at they should be compared to his very dark hair. I was also dissatisfied with some of the halftones that were in the transitional zones. I thought I was beginning to overmodel,. to paint values that were beyond the capabilities of my palette.

July 3rd, I read in Schmid's Alla Prima II, All I Know About Painting and More, a sentence that solved my over modeling tendendies:  'Overmodeling and running out of values can be avoided by substituting color changes for value changes whenever possible.'  Eureaka! But of course! I had to give that a try
and who better to try it on than Depp? He's such a colorful actor.

At the End of my session yesterday, Depp looked like this:

And there's more pronounced color to come and edge work--but after the Fourth of July fireworks. Happy holiday everybody!