Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to create a pen/ink/wash drawing 2

I now start working with the pens establishing and building up the details of the buildings.

To increase the depth of tone, I apply the technique of cross hatching. At other times I stipple or print with either a tissue or sponge dipped in ink.
The Edding pens create a line of uniform width which can look somewhat mechanical if overused. To counterbalance this I also use a brush pen or even a very fine sable brush dipped in ink. The dark timbers on the buildings were created with these.

Monday, December 22, 2008

How to create a pen/ink/wash drawing 1

Materials used will be drawing pens (Edding) of various sizes, from 0.1 to 0.4, a brush pen, tissues, and a sponge as well as watercolour paper, and watercolours. Initially, I quickly sketch in the composition with a 2B pencil

This will be a drawing of Lavenham in Suffolk, with its beautiful old medieval buildings. At this first stage, I am simply getting the basic proportions and checking perspective. (It has to be said, however, that some of these buildings seem to defy the normal rules!) When I am fairly happy with this , it is time to move on to working in ink.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Painting a head and shoulders portrait in oils.

Sometimes, the most successful portraits are the simplest. It is very easy, particularly on a commissioned work, to get carried away with backgrounds, clothing , pose or symbol to explain who or what the person is.
This is a portrait of "Mary", a lady I have painted on many occasions. I felt that focussing in on her head, her expression and her gaze, captured her essential dignity and strength of character. To add anything else would have been a mere distraction.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Painting a landscape in acrylics - part 4

The finished painting.

Find out more about our Painting Holidays in Menorca

Painting a landscape in acrylics - part 3

I am now working at building up the detail and establishing the perspective of buildings and boats in the painting. I try to capture the play of light and cast shadows, and begin to strengthen the colours. Thin transparent glazes are overlaid in certain areas, and Flow Formula is added to the paint where more precision is required.

Painting a landscape in acrylics - part 2

At this stage of the painting, I am blocking in some of the darker tones, and beginning to construct the various buildings. I am using stiffer pigment and building up the texture of the painting. I do this in different ways. I may stipple with a stiff hogs hair brush or sponge, use a palette knife, or print materials down. There are lots of different mediums that can also assist in this process.
e.g. sand texture gel, glass beads texture gel, heavy structure gel.

Painting a landscape in acrylics - part 1

This is a painting of the small village of Alcaufar, one of the places we visit in Menorca on Inspiration Holidays.

Initially, I do some quick compositional sketches in either pencil or charcoal. I am looking at the main masses, at the rhythms and lines running through the painting and how this all relates to the picture frame. I check for the Golden section (or Rule of Thirds) and patterns of light and shade. I find it invaluable to do all this preliminary work, to think about what I am painting and why, rather just sitting down and hoping for the best! On the Holiday, I encourage students to get into this way of working.
Moving on to the painting, I quickly establish the main masses of the composition. I do not do any preliminary drawing with pencil or charcoal, but go straight in with the brush. I am working in acrylics, but at this stage the paint is very fluid, almost like a watercolour.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Acrylic/oil portrait painting 5

The finished portrait of "Val and Betty". It was published in Artists' & Illustrators' Magazine and was judged the "most popular painting " by the public at the Autumn Exhibition of the Cambridge Drawing Society in 2007.

Acrylic/oil portrait painting 4

Now I have started working in oils. In places, the pigment is solid and opaque. In other parts, I use scumbling or glazing techniques, allowing the original acrylic painting to show through and act as a foil.

acrylic/oil portrait painting 3

Out of the chaos, order gradually emerges. Details of clothing, the table and objects on it, and the window gradually appear. I am still working in acrylics and the process so far has taken around two hours.

Acrylic/oil portrait painting 2

Here, I am still working in acrylics. I now begin to feel my way into the composition. The figures are roughly drawn in, as is the basic perspective of the background setting. I establish a cool green underpainting for future warm flesh tones.

Using acrylics as an underpainting for oils

The previous oil portrait was done in a traditional manner. This time I am using acrylics as the underpainting. The reason? It dries extremely rapidly so layer upon layer can be built up quickly prior to adding the oils on top. It is spontaneous and can be great fun, as can be seen from the somewhat colourful and apparently chaotic illustration on the right. But the colours I am using are chosen very deliberately to pick up those in the subject.

The finished portrait painting in oils

Over a number of sessions, the details in the head and hands was built up. This involved various techniques- glazing, scumbling and the use of body colour. At times stiff pigment was used, at others the paint was diluted with medium. I favour a stand oil, dammar varnish and turpentine mixture. The background was added during this process as well as details of the chair and clothing.
The background was painted over the edges of the hair . When this was dry, the hair was dragged back over it and a sable rigger used to establish some of the finer wisps.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Charcoal sketch to portrait painting in oils

Having decided on the finished preparatory sketch, I now prepared to do the oil painting. I chose to work on a fine linen canvas which I had stretched before applying two coats of size and two coats of oil primer. I then stained the canvas with a transparent wash of raw umber. This gives me a very useful mid tone on which to build my lights and darks.
I drew the figure in with a brush and fluid paint ( lots of turpentine) before moving on to the blocking in stage. All this time, I am checking angles, proportions, rhythms through the figure, and ,of course, position on the canvas. There is nothing worse than painting a fine head only to discover it's in the wrong place!
The accompanying illustrations show the painting in various stages of development. The head is well under way, the hands are just rapidly sketched in , and there are still large areas of the original staining. In my next blog I will show how the portrait was developed further.