Thursday, February 19, 2015

Start Your Mark With A Grid--or Not?

Ruby in progress; the Burnt Umbra draw-in, 20 x 16, oils

Ruby Grid Drawing-in came first.  The 20 x 16 canvas is divided into 2" squares.
After Ruby's mom sent me a photograph she loved, I cropped it in proportion to a 20 x 16 canvas, 8" x 10", on the computer and converted it to black and white . I made value adjustments to get the most information out of the darkest areas.  I printed out the reference photo on HP bright white photo paper and divided the photo into a one inch grid.  The canvas was divided into a two inch grid.  After that, I drew in the subject very carefully and very slowly. In the hand and face area , I subdivided my squares into fours--also where the fork is on the plate.  Precision counts.  Then I began going over my contour lines with a medium thinned Burnt Umbra. It dries fast.  When the paint draw-in is complete, the whole canvas is covered with a Burnt Umbra wash.
Ruby, the reference photo converted to black and white

While I painted the self portrait grisaille ( blog header) in the Venetian Technique class--and also did a preliminary grisaille of Erin, I have started to scumble in the values as I'm working with Ruby.  I suspect I'm about to mix the rigid Venetian  Technique with  the easier going Line and Mass and Monochromatic Wash-in start techniques I've  used for free hand painting starts BTV (Before The Venetian).



Sorry these photographs are so crappy.  I lost my photo editing software cleaning up this ancient laptop and haven't been about to get it back as yet.  I left the  grid drawing dark--because that was the only way you could see the grid--maybe even the sub divided squares too?  You can also see that this stretched canvas is sagging.  Unfortunately I have no canvas pegs--they don't include them with cotton gallery canvases, only linen.  I haven't been able to find them either.  If anybody knows where to buy them, I'd appreciate the information. (l.roth2@comcast.net) They are good to have on hand.  I will wet the back of the canvas and let it dry.  That method may work to satisfaction?

Then there's The Accountant's Wife.  I gave her another thirty minutes this morning and will probably give her a few more minutes over the day.  With free hand starts, there's always minute corrections to be made that make all the difference in the accuracy of the likeness.  Plus, I couldn't leave her looking so unattractive. There's another thing for the portrait artist to take into consideration: the subject's vanity. :-))

The Accountant's Wife, Graphite ,6 x 8"
Sketches are always in progress as new relationships are noticed;
this gal needs volume.

16 comments:

  1. A very good start with an interesting composition. It will be fascinating to see you combine the two methods. I find a precise initial drawing very inhibiting........BUT........... I then always have to spend so much time correcting. Each to their own...I am eagerly anticipating really good stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well look at Maggie. She was a free hand start and even using straight edge associations, there were errors. Speed of production is desirable when an anxious client is waiting to see the portrait they commissioned. The grid speeds things up by minimizing, if not eliminating errors. The grid technique has its uses.

      Delete
    2. I am way too lazy. If speed is required I use projection.

      Delete
    3. Whatever works to save time correcting.

      Delete
  2. Linda: I have no idea if it means anything at all, but it strikes me that Ruby in Progress looks considerably older than beautiful Ruby the Reference. Good stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's the hard lines of the draw-in. After the painting process begins, blending--softening what needs softening--begins.

      Delete
  3. Beautiful start on your painting of Ruby! I look forward to seeing your next post....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Hilda. I'm seeing a red painting here. She has glorious red hair.

      Delete
  4. It's interesting, Linda to compare what you do (above) with what others do, and I have had such a chance. We had a TV series, 'Portrait Artist of the Year'. This is basically a competition in which artists are give 4 hours to paint a 'sitter' ... onto the semi finals and then the final. I saw a lot of artists working. The ones that made the finals did one thing in common: they came with canvases prepared with grids drawn on them (same as your Ruby one) and then took a photograph of the subject with an iPad (not sure if that's the right technical name) which had a grid on it that replicated the canvas grid (but scaled down, obviously). It saved so much time.

    There was a lot of criticism of this technique, which was quickly put down, on the grounds that if artists had to conform to strict rules, wherein they weren't allowed to do such things but relied on basic methods, then by the same virtue they would have to make their own paints, build their own canvases, make their own paper etc etc

    Really interesting, Linda. You should consider making a video of this sort of thing, and make a fortune. It is both instructive and, with your Roth-writer skills, entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See what I wrote in my reply to Sharon. While I haven seen a video on the use of a grid, I have seen David Hockney's documentary on technology and art. It would open the eyes of the most romantic artist who, even though they work like crazy to produce and sell, shun any of the technologies that offer expediency. To them, the tools of the trade are the paint, the brushes, a support and an easel. Just recall how people responded to your "mechanical drawing" when you designed ships and I designed building structures--that's not drawing--it's math. --Kandinsky might have written something on the use of math in art...someone of his era?

      The grid and the use of contour under-drawings is an age old practice that was used on both paintings and especially on the frescos in all the churches and public buildings by the very best of the best artists.

      Delete
  5. Well said John Simlett! It is a technique as old as painting itself, how can it be in any way wrong? Artists have always found shortcuts, which doesn't make their work any less valid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of artists are romantic purists. Somehow they got the idea that using technology to speed up production detracted from the art. Ridiculous. David Hockney's book and a documentary on YoutTube made from that book, show the research he did into history and how long artists have used tools like the camera and mirror and the grid to facilitate the painting by minimizing errors. There's two segments each about an hour and a half. they are well worth watching. Making art--producing product--is a part of the business of art, a class that was ignored in art colleges. More product, the more chance of profit and a piece of the good life. Here's another thing that get's artists panties in a bunch. Art is decorative. The public likes stuff hanging on their walls and making their homes homier. This is a gigantic topic none of us who like to spend our days painting want to take the time to probe. But its interesting as hell.

      Delete
  6. Linda!
    I love your graphite portraits! You are so very talented! I love the way you use the medium! Great skill and great art! You are so very prolific! I so love being your art blogging buddy!
    Take care!
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I love having you. That snow painting of yours is astounding. I do hope you frame it. This has been a winter of winters. My heart goes out to all of you Bostonians.

      Delete
  7. One thing i got out of this post and comments is - whatever rocks your boat is OKAY!
    Me - I would go nuts with a grid and have spent a lot of time getting rid of photo like accuracy, but at the same time
    I see it as a wonderful way to work for those who value it. I teach it too.
    As for decorative art. It has its place in my heart and I adore much of the art deco period and artists like Klimt.
    Pleasing to the eye and heart is good for me, but I recognize the many different venues artists may chose to follow
    is right for THEM! We must always allow the individual artist the right to express in whatever way they want to.
    It is a fascinating world of art and never boring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely is. There are so many factors involved that we could talk about this for quite some time. A business course--more extensive than how to sell online, how to work through a galleries-- would have been very appreciated when I was in art college, but the romantic notions of young, impressionable fine Artists at the time, thought business was a dirty word--just like technology and industrialization. One can hardly fault the artist for using a grid--it's been used for centuries--frescoes got up on those church walls via the grid system. And what really is the difference between working from preliminary sketches and photographs the artist set up and shot herself? None. Romantic notions keep artists poor. With production limited by anti technical attitudes, the artist must supplement their incomes via teaching, making videos, doing demonstrations and selling workshops. With the rent paid, then can paint whatever and take as long as they like doing it.
      --I'm also for getting deposits on commissioned work particularly portraits--and having a policy on how many adjustments the artist is willing to make to please the client. Business is business. What and who is more arty will be an on going debate. --Wonderful discussion going on here. Love it!

      Delete