Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today was a day where I just didn't have it in me for a marathon painting session. I started out wanting to get the majority of the trees into the right side of the painting and realized there were so many dark areas that I needed to let it dry before moving on. I also realized that I usually just show photos of the end of my sessions, which does not allow you to see some of the actual steps, so this is a good opportunity to see the actual block in of my darks. It's really just a map of the dark areas, they'll be refined in the next stage. So the first photo is of the end of today's session. The second photo shows the wider view, from about 3 feet away, so you can get a sense of the distance in the painting. It was taken right after I blocked in the darks and before I moved on to make some changes. I wish I could put them up side by side because there are a lot of little differences between the two. I wanted to start tying in the balconies and roof areas to the rest of the painting, so the first thing I did after blocking the darks was to put a glaze of payne's gray and ultramarine blue over the coach house roof. It darkened the value just enough that it allows the face of the figure to come forward a bit and it will work with the darker values on the roof that I will need. I ran the same mixture over the bridge house roof too. It's a very subtle difference but it's giving a nice depth to the colors. Then I blocked in and detailed the very first balcony and roof, just above and slightly to the right of the figure, at the edge of the largest and furthest building. In a painting the rule usually is that once you change something, you always have to adjust the things around it to fit, and it held true for this too. I went back in and reinforced the wall edges, the windows and faded out everything together. It's not supposed to jump out at you, just sort of blend into the building's edge :) I also took the brush that I'd used for the roofs and lightly ran that mixture over the reds in the building to knock the intensity back. Pure white is rarely used in paintings, except as accents. Whites have shadows...warm for the sunny areas and cool for the shaded side. So even though the balcony looks white, it's far from it. One side tends towards blue and the other a rose pink. The dark gray of the balcony roof is mostly a mixture of burnt sienna and ultramarine blue and the lighter side of the roof is mostly white and ultramarine blue, with just a hint of pink to it. The red cross bar is burnt sienna dulled down with paynes gray. Then I went back to the face. This face is only 7/8 inch's extremely difficult to shade something that small for dimension. You can see where it was when I started in the third picture. The photo is a little fuzzy, but so was the face. Every hollow and contour of the face is defined by highlights and shadows, just as in real life. I have been using a triple zero brush which is extremely tiny, but it's very hard to control in such a small area. I used a mixture of burnt sienna and payne's gray and very carefully added shadows under the cheekbones, at the corners of the mouth and around the nose. I then took a little bit of a mauve and used it to shape the sides of the face. The end result is the last photo. This is probably as much as I can refine the face. I still need to do a little work on the hands, at 1/4 inch there's not much I can do with them and they need to sort of fade into the background as much as possible. This is where being a perfectionist can drive a person crazy :D but I'll return to them later. This is just how I'm painting this particular piece, every artist approaches things differently, and even I will change approaches depending on the painting. This painting has so much going on that I constantly have to re-evaluate the situation to keep the flow. I'm very happy I started as I did, it's much easier to adjust the background to the focal area than vice versa. And if you will notice, almost every color I use is echoed somewhere else in the painting, which in the end should make for a harmonious color palette. That way everything seems to fit in the scene without standing out like a sore thumb :) I think tomorrow I'll work on the highest balconies and roof tops. I'll have to go darker than I want for the roofs because the sky color will actually work into the roofs to give an atmospheric effect. That's the plan anyways! Thanks so much for following along! :)



  1. Wow! Sue, that painting is really coming along. Thanks for the step by step commentary. It helps me to understand your work!


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