Updated: Feb 17
January Term 2020, I have been trying to tackle ALL the issues I had roadblocks in previously. I deliberately have been choosing subject matter that was previously very difficult for me or I would avoid because drawing wise I saw them to be intimidating. This term I wish to get rid of that 'here we go again' feeling everytime I start a new painting. That sinking feeling of dread and despair. That just means I need to challenge myself the MOST this term and continue to paint and draw everything I find difficult.
We started off the term with a single session (3 hour not including breaks)
I chose to use charcoal, in the beginning of the term, I generally always choose to do a charcoal sketch at the start of the term as the poses are generally shorter sessions and it is also to warm up as well as practice this medium that I don't use as much anymore.
During the second week we went up to a 3 week pose, similar to using charcoal I applied to same principle to paint and chose to do a monochrome painting. The first image is by one of my favorite artists Robert Liberace. I turned it to black and white to see if I could emulate his play of light. Obviously I am not as skilled or experienced as Robert Liberace but I do find it useful to have references in mind which will always help with the end goal of the image. The idea is that if you can visualise the end of the painting you then know what you are working towards when you are painting. It helps in making choices and being mindful of every decision you make. Although the final image ended up much darker than I wished initially I am okay with this painting. There are proportional issues with it as I made the image too big for my scrap piece of linen. However with this exercise I wanted to practice values and brush work more. I wanted to model the form with my brushes following the specific area of anatomy I was describing. For example you can see a little more clearly the direction and placement of my brush strokes in certain areas in the third image below.
The pose below was also a 3 week pose but extremely hard. The angles were just insane and his raised arm was very difficult to get anatomy wise. However I decided the main focus of the image was the back anyway to I rendered that up as best as I could. Backs have softer muscles compared to the front of the torso so the rendering can prove to be very difficult. Despite all that I am pleased with the flesh tones.
I spent two sessions on this one, the first one just trying to draw out each hole of this damn lantern only to not get it accurate enough and erase it all and start again. Another goal this term for me is to execute better backgrounds, less heavier backgrounds and also create more atmosphere in them. In the painting below I am starting to explore this.
Flowers are the devils work. Having started the term off well in terms of tackling everything I find hard I decided it was time to paint a rose. An impossible task. enough said.
In the spirit of not giving up my painting partner brought in more roses for us to practice. This time I set up an interesting composition and changed the lighting so it was more bottom lit. Again there is never enough time to practice painting flowers in a limited session but I am glad we approached them again. You learn something new every time!
Since backgrounds and flowers have been the challenge from day one of this term why not do both in one painting? Of course I always do that but why not choose an artist I am inspired by and a painting method I have never tried before as well? YES. In a complicated setting? LET'S DO THIS!
Henri Fantin-Latour was my inspiration for the following painting. In particular his timeless looking flower paintings as well his backgrounds and use of glazing. I spent 2 days on my carnation flowers. About 4 sessions. 6 hours a day, it's remarkable how much more you can get done when you're working on a piece back to back rather than single sessions spread out.
To the left is a painting by Henri Fantin-Latour and my inspiration.
Detail shot of my loosely painted carnations and glass.
Rembrandt! One of my favorite artists eveeeerrr! For our 10 week project we chose this image of Rembrandt to reference. Before the term even started I was lucky enough to see this painting in person and take some of my own images which were far more detailed than the one below. You could see the looseness he painted with as well as the thick generous amounts of paint he used.
On the left below I started off with a quick study of the composition as well as trying to work out some issues I may face for my final piece. I chose my canvas for my final piece to be slightly smaller than the original. Only because the school ran out of stretcher bars that would have been the exact dimensions but that's okay with me!
Each photo is my weekly progress, the painting above to the right is the beginning of my painting on my final canvas. I went with a warm wash underneath as Rembrandt chose to do in his.
I spent a very very long time battling the gesture of her head since I didn't really get it correct the first time around or even in my study. I think I got it close enough in the last session on the image below to the right. I still see some issues with it however the huge issues have been sorted. I wanted to worry about drawing before I wanted to worry about colour and so that's what I did. I may consider adding more to the background as the weeks go on but so far so good. It has taken 6 sessions, that's also doing 2 full classes a day to get it this far. Even though there is more time on this long project as a painter you want to slow down the pace and use each day as a step by step process, creeping up to the end instead of painting everyday thinking you will work on an area until it's finished. It won't be finished until the end! So don't be precious about areas you like, or think are developed enough. They can always be improved.
Adding her hair really made it work a while lot nicer as well. I built up thick areas of paint around her neck and clothes and in the background as Rembrandt did however I could be much braver still. I adjusted the flesh tones a little in the face as I felt like her anatomy was making a little more sense. I generally try and battle one issue at a time if I know it's going to be hard for me to fix. Hopefully it's clear that she is walking through water or a lake and her legs aren't just cut off because I ran out of canvas. This was not the case, I also placed her lower down on the canvas as Rembrandt did.