Tuesday, September 23, 2014

From Contour Paint-In to Grisaille, The Venetian Technique

Day 5 on the contour phase.   You all would probably be faster.  I am being slow and deliberate--for a complete understanding of the forms and value changes I will be painting--and because a number zero brush held like a pencil feels extremely weird.  The paint does dry overnight though.  I hope to be at the wash stage by the end of the week.  That'll take meinto class next week  ready to do the Grisaille--what the other beginners are already into.  It seems I'm particular.


PENCIL CONTOUR PAINT-IN

There's a lot of homework with this class I'm taking on the Venetian Painting Technique. Last week, I divided the 24 x36 canvas and reference photograph into coordinated scaled grids and drew in the contour drawing over a three day period.  The next step was to paint in those contour pencil lines using Burnt Umbra and two parts mineral spirits to one part linseed oil, preferably Gamblin linseed oil light. I had Grumbacher; I used it.

Going over pencil lines with a fine line, number zero sable brush is--'tedious' would be an understatement--made me anxious, Xanax anxious.  I mean pace the cage growly.  Sitting at the easel, not my usual stance, painting with my nose and a mahl stick. I had to break often.  I took a walk outside. I got a drink of water. I went around and looked at what others were doing. I took a bathroom break. At end of class, I was about half finished. Today, I'll finish maybe? I figure I must finish the contour today or tomorrow, let it dry a couple of days and then lay in the wash, which is done evenly with a two inch hard bristle brush.  By Sunday, maybe the ground will be dry and I can start the underpainting?  I'd like to be up with the others, BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PAINTING. Going slowly with the contour, I had a great likeness everyone recognized.  Going slow with painting in the lines, I found drawing errors and made corrections. And the paint over continues. To relieve the tension today and possibly tomorrow,  poor Henry will get a pair of shoes and details in his flaxen hair. That done, I'll need more Gestural paintings in progress for relief. It's so difficult not to want to shade in forms.

Short story: there was a gal painting her sister's portrait. It wasn't good. The sister looked too chubby; the shadows weren't deep enough; highlights were where they shouldn't have been.  I couldn't keep my mouth shut. On one of my many walk always, I noticed the flaws. During friendly conversation, I told her of the value of backing away from the painting often and squinting at the reference photo and pulled her back. She saw what I saw and knew what needed doing. I like to think I brought something to the party, but Ellis thought I had stepped on the teacher's toes.  I disagreed.  This technique where people sit and never back up and squint to scrutinize their work doesn't lead to a painting with merit.   They're too close to the subject and the paint to see what they're doing. I'm with Schmid on this issue.
 
STILL AHEAD:  LAYING OUT THE PALETTE FOR THE GRISAILLE

For the underpainting,  Raw Umbra and Titanium White  is laid out on the palette in a row of four knobs separated from one another by a couple of inches, more between the two in the middle:  white; white; RU; RU.  The middle knobs are mixed together to form three values ranging from the white on one side of the row and the umbra on the other.  Easy enough. I do work that way with values. 

Todd's linseed oil/ mineral spirits mix seems important. Using it extends the paint. One little dab did me for what you see of the contour. At the end of class, I did't mind tossing the remainder in the trash. Todd insists starting with fresh paint every painting session and is against freezing it. He hasn't told me why yet. 



17 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I didn't mean to remove your comment just because you implied I was doing something silly taking this classical painting class in this modern era of loose gestures and unpainted areas of canvas. My cursor wouldn't work, so I thought I would delete my reply and instead I deleted your comment. Having never taken an oil painting class and being self taught, I thought I should find out how the masters painted. So I am. It's tedious, but classical style portraits are admired by many art enthusiasts, why not know the proper way to do one? There's no such thing as too much knowledge. Anyway, I am sort of liking it. I don't feel rushed--produce, produce, produce. I like that my drawing skills are really being brought into play. And I'm looking at my progress in the same way I looked at my gestural work--squinting from eight feet back. While I used the grid system for the pencil drawing, when I took up the brush, I found myself finding errors and correcting them regardless of any pencil line. This may look like paint in the numbers as you said, but when it comes down to laying in the paint, these lines are just demarcations, I'll be scumbling with the rest of you very shortly--well, relatively shortly. :-)) Okay, I'm going to see if I can retrieve your comment. I don't like it when these machines have a mind of their own.

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    2. I do know why you are doing it, really, but I am way more impatient than you and I have to take the shortcut!

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    3. Oh, and I don't think you are silly taking the course, I admire you for doing it.

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    4. Building patience is something I could use. Maybe this project will calm that urge to finish quickly? That urge, promoted by the artists who blog to sell, made me uneasy. I thought I was too slow. I know you don't think I'm silly, few people who know me do.

      I couldn't get your comment back. I was hoping it was still in the comment listing on blogger's menu. It wasn't. Sorry again.

      That model has an interesting air about her. She looks great in a full slip. :-))

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  2. It sounds like you are painting the way I do all the time :) Pacing, growling, squinting, nose to the board, taking breaks ... I say - take ALLLLL the time you feel you need. And I also agree with you on your gently and tactfully stepping in on that other student's work - good for you!
    Kathryn

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    1. Well she was going to gift the painting to her sister when she visited over the holidays and was concerned that her sister looked fat. She didn't look fat in the reference. the shadows were off in the painting. There were highlights where there were no highlights.

      My contour looks like I don't--old. While I put in the lines, (cuz Todd said the more demarcations the better), designating skin tone changes and anatomical details, that just tells me where there will be some very careful blending going on to suggest form. The gal treated some of her lines like deep folds in drapery. Her values weren't close enough to each other. I didn't tell her that. I hoped she'd see it when she squinted at the reference when she stood way back.

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  3. Can't wait to see what it will look like… your progress is so interesting to watch.

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    1. Like watching paint dry. :-)). Who are you kidding. I just wanted you all to know I was still alive. You're very kind Agnes. Thanks

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  4. It is a pleasure to see your drawing develop - who doesn't love seeing a good contour taking full form?
    It will be exciting for me to see the next step.
    We each used to have a reducing glass at art school for times when we could not get up and step back in case of
    disrupting the space of someone else. Back in the day, it was considered important - and to squint too.
    You did her a favor.

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    1. She seemed pleased when she tried it. She could see what I was talking about. I was surprised the instructor never mentioned this simple way of checking values, but then he's teaching a technique to high level students. My work with this small brush is a lesson in itself. At first I was shaky,, two days later I'm starting to free wheel. I had small brushes, I just never had a need for them with the Gestural style. It is , however, uncomfortable to not be working in my studio. Awkward. A lot of packing and unpacking , loading and unloading the car, dragging stuff up and down hills. I work better at home. The interaction is nice though.

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  5. Bonjour,

    Je suis contente de pouvoir voir évoluer votre oeuvre étape par étape... La prochaine va être aussi de grande ampleur ! J'ai hâte de voir plus !

    J'aime comme vous avez pu apporter votre jugement en ce qui concerne cette jeune femme qui peignait le portrait de sa soeur. L'oeil parfois se fatigue pour certains détails et oublie celui qui peut tout faire basculer. Il est bon de recevoir un avis qui peut tellement tout améliorer ! La sincérité aide souvent.

    Gros bisous ✿❀✿

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    1. we all could use a fresh eye!
      I agree. I wish I had someone around my studio to tell me what I'm not seeing--or when to stop painting, it's finished. that's why I liked Schmid so much. One pf the first things he wrote was you don't have to cover every inch of canvas once you've captured what made you want to paint that subject; it's done. Obviously, the Venetians didn't think that way, but they were painting not for their own pleasure, but for the gentry and their livelihood. what Todd hasn't mentioned. is that Venetian masters worked in guilds with appretices who did the hard stuff like the grid drawing. :-))

      nous avons tous pu utiliser un œil neuf! Je suis d'accord. Je voudrais avoir quelqu'un autour de mon studio pour me dire ce que je ne vois pas - ou quand arrêter la peinture, c'est fini. c'est pourquoi j'ai aimé Schmid tellement. Un pf premières choses qu'il a écrit était que vous n'avez pas à couvrir chaque centimètre carré de toile une fois que vous avez capturé ce qui vous voulez peindre ce sujet; c'est fait. De toute évidence, les Vénitiens ne pense pas de cette façon, mais ils peignaient pas pour leur propre plaisir, mais pour la noblesse et leurs moyens de subsistance. ce Todd n'a pas mentionné. est que les maîtres vénitiens ont travaillé dans les guildes avec appretices qui ont fait les choses difficiles comme le dessin de la grille. :-)). I Je devrais dire les trucs ennuyeux bodering sur ennuyeux. Contour n'est pas difficile.

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  6. This contour drawing is so good. I am glad you are showing us the stages. And, I agree with you..it is turning out to be fun (well, I am not doing it...but, I am having fun reading about it). I bet the student was happy for your help. If I had been in the class I would have accepted your advice. Your work is so good and she probably recognizes that you have a handle on things. One of my workshop teachers said: "Try to learn from each other...that's what they do at the Acadamie" (He was from Russia). That stuck with me, because lots of the people around me are very cooperative, sharing what they know. The teacher can't be everywhere. It is nice to give and get help from a "comrade" . I have to agree that trundling gear and materials back and forth is a drag. It is the only thing about outdoor painting that I don't love....trundling. :)

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    1. Would you had offered advice though if you were talking to someone who was complaining about her sister looking fat and you knew why she was and how to fix it? Ellis thought I didn't know how to mind my own business. I figured as long as she said something and I saw something in the reference that she didn't, I should tell her. Why leave her standing there still wondering what was wrong? Some teachers/artists/designers are receptive to info coming from an 'underling' ( in their opinion), I don't know Todd that well to know how he is with that. That's an ego thing. I like it when someone helps me cut to the chase rather than leaving me to figure it out for myself. I mean, the holidays aren't that far off. :-)). --trundling. So that's what it's called. I hate it. I think that's why I never did make it outdoors any further than the backyard. Too much schlepping. One of the guys in class said out of the blue, ' I can't understand why artists love that plein air so much.' There's so much stuff to take. I guess he didn't stop to think that there he was with 3 cases of materials for his six hour painting class. What's the difference? :-))

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  7. Ik ken deze techniek niet het lijkt mij heel moeilijk om te doen maar jij doet het super ieder in zijn eigen tempo dat geeft niets lieve groetjes Danielle

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    1. De Venetiaanse techniek wordt ook wel de Vlaamse techniek. Het werd gebruikt in de hoge renaissance, door zulke meesters als Titiaan. Het is zorgvuldig georganiseerd. Het is arbeidsintensief, maar het palet niet. Het palet werd beperkt tot enkele kleuren.

      The Venetian technique is also sometimes called the Flemish technique. It was used in the high Renaissance era,by such masters as Titian. It is meticulously organized. It is work intensive, but the palette was not. The palette was limited to a few colors.

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