Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tone Painting

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I have been working back in oils lately, fabric specifically. And my mind drifted back to one of my very first oil paintings. It was 1992. I worked as an Image Preservationist for about 60 hours per week and each Tuesday evening for two hours I attended Mission Renaissance Art School in Austin, Texas.

I started off learning to draw with charcoal on newsprint. I later moved into monochromatic oils. Then my teacher had me do a tonal exercise by painting a white cloth draped over a tin can. I was supposed to do the painting assignment in raw umber and white, but I must have been feeling a bit restless even then. I painted the cloth in blues.

It is still, oddly enough, one of my favorite paintings. Painting white fabric is a great tonal exercise and probably even more of a learning experience if you do it in a more neutral tone. You want to learn the subtleties of how light responds to form. And you want to drape the fabric in such a way that you have a variety of folds, some tight enough to create small hollows (for darker shadows) and more open … curves more than folds … so that you get to paint reflected lights that change in a more subtle manner.

The painting that I am working on now is white fabric and I am playing with warm and cool in the shadow parts. I am having a lot of fun, struggling a bit, and learning a tremendous amount. But now … onto the stripes!