Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Painting from Life


Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I spend three hours every weekday morning painting from a live model named Magda. She is really lovely. I have three canvases going on: one seated pose on Mondays, one half-seated/half-standing pose on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then a standing view of her back on Thursdays and Fridays. The first two projects are being done on a white campitura (field colour) or in this case, a white-primed canvas with nothing added. The last project is on a toned canvas. There are different approaches one takes in a painting depending on these kinds of early choices and I wanted to learn what my preferences might be, and more importantly, why.

I first sketched in the gesture of her standing figure, using S and C curves to put in the romance of the piece. Later I tightened up my drawing by adding the straight lines to define specific angles (what I think of as the architecture). I want to give the figure enough architecture for solidity and strength of the figure, but keep enough romance in her so that she does not appear stiff and hopefully will elicit some emotion in the viewer.

For the sketch, I used raw umber and just enough white to cut the warmth of the thinned umber. I need to learn to use paint when I paint. That sounds stupid and logical, but I tend to use very little paint and this leads to a thinned, glazed color. Glazing usually makes a color look warmer than an opaquely painted paint. If I use more paint and get my tones, hue, and chroma correct, then even as the oil paint becomes transparent over time, my painting will look as I intended it to look, even after many years.

You may see some light patches in the campitura, especially down near the leg on the left, where the model carries her weight. This is because I must improve my drawing skills. I had the knee too low and used mineral spirits to remove the paint on my original sketch. It also removed the background color. You may also see that I chose to raise the front part of the knee by scribbling in dark background below the knee, lifting it in the process.

The background comes first since I must relate the skin colors to it. It is amazing how a line drawing that looks proportionally well done, looks very different in paint. Mine always seem to grow, in a similar fashion to how I experience “stone expansion” when carving. That is the phenomenon in which I remove plenty of marble in a day’s work, but the next morning the sculpture seems to have grown over night and I see how much more must come off. This work never gets dull! Really.

After the background, I start to add the lights in the flesh. I will do several layers of this, in a large part because of the transparency of oil paint. I want my lights to remain light, not darken over the years to become closer to the darker campitura underneath them. Timing is everything and I have tried to keep a pace on this project that allows the paint time to dry before I take on the next steps.

The last step you see here is my trying to create the forms of each part of the figure. I want to portray the volume of the rib cage and the hips, the head, and the arm and . . . you get the idea. I want them to have the proper amount of turning so that you can distinguish between a cylinder, an egg, and a more boxy mass. You may notice that even though I had designed the shadow shapes in my drawing, I painted over the spine in an effort to make the rib cage one united form. The big picture is always more important than details and everything is related.

Thank you for reading and following my artistic journey. Please do not forget to take a look at the recently available sculptures by my dear friend Vasily Fedorouk: http://www.borsheimarts.com/vasilyfedorouk.htm

1 comment:

Jo Castillo said...

ifbkiwbAhhhh, looking so lovely. I like the negative spaces and her form.

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