Friday, July 25, 2014

Richard Schmid: Paint from Life; Paint Clean

Paint Table, oils, 5 x 7", palette knife drawing exercise #1

I needed another green on my palette. Viridian wasn't enough--too blue. I charted Sap Green and discovered it better suited my woodsy landscapes. Charting is tedious business. To relieve the tension, I started painting from life--my incredibly dull life as it was sitting at my disorderly paint table painting squares. My palette knife set sat near by all shiny and bright. What better time to try drawing with it as Schmid suggested? Learning it's capacity for line was my intent.   Though awkward, this still life painted from life, not a reference photo as usual, came out surprisingly okay.   Having no models walking about the house, woodsy landscapes and still lifes are my only choice for exercising and honing my drawing/painting skills--till Fall when the open studio session begin. 

Sap Green chart.  Add another color to your palette, check it out by doing a chart. Doing this one,
made me realize I need both Viridian and Sap Green in my palette. It's not the best chart around. The near
whites aren't near white enough.  The point is to recognize  that.
Making charts as well as painting pictures require regular brush and palette cleaning throughout the painting process.
 Schmid cleans his palette every twenty minutes during a painting session.  He cleans his brush after every stroke. YES, EVERY STROKE. Cleaning his brushes involves two canisters of mineral spirits. After applying a color, he cleanses the brush in one container, wipes it relatively clean, then cleanses it in the other container and wipes it cleaner.  Lot's of rags or high end paper toweling is used.

My new palette knives, shiny and bright with flat handles.  They do not roll over
when set down like the old encrusted ones on the right.
Totally concentrating
upon mixing color
At the end of the painting session, Schmid "shampoos" each brush with a bar of gentle skin cleansing soap till the bar is clear of color. Then he shapes the bristles  and paper clips the flat brushes between two pieces of heavy-duty paper--he didn't say what kind, but I think index card stock would do. In three days, when all the pigment has settled to the bottom of the mineral spirit container, he pours off the clear fluid to be reused later.
As for the sludge, I don't recall that he mentioned how he disposed of it.
I've decided to wipe it out and throw the paper toweling into a tightly closed receptacle to be thrown away. Washing it down the drain just seems irresponsible. We do not want poisoness paint pigments going back into our water supply. 


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.