Friday, March 26, 2010

Copies After Velasquez- A Study In Technique Ill


Day 1
I did a thin drawing with Yellow Ochre and Raw Umber on a gray imprimatura.  An important quality to Rubens work was his layering of warms on cools and cools on warms.  These were either painted in separate layers or wet-in-wet with the idea of layering; not mixing warms and cools together directly.

Day 2
On a couch of balsam-based medium, I painted the shadows and background, then jumped into working the thick light areas.  As I mentioned, I tried to mix on the canvas and keep my warms and cools separate, floating color on color.

This seems like a good approach for projects from life when you have limited time.  The effects were easy to get.  From the beginning there is a complex silver and gold glow that just seems to appear.  Getting close to the canvas, you can see how much the visual effect relies on the warm underpainting which can be a drawback.  The half-tones may have less body than other methods.  Some of Rubens paintings look like they were left like this (it is a very loose, spontaneous look).  Maybe this is what his first painting looked like.  I followed the approach suggested in Max Doerner's The Materials of The Artist and Their Use In Painting.  This was an experiment and I am not a Rubens Expert-FYI...

Copies After Velasquez- A Study In Technique Il


Day 1
I begin on a white canvas to sketch in the subject with Raw Umber and a little Turpentine.
Day 2
I refine more if needed with the Raw Umber then add Flemish White highlights on a thin dammar layer (dammar put only under the areas to receive white).  I let this dry at least two days, more if possible.

Day 3
I have a lightest light represented but have more room to push darks.  I establish a taste of my darkest dark and then make an educated guess at the background color and value.

 I proceeded to paint the hand itself and bring the whole sketch to a finish. Obviously, most paintings don't get finished this quickly.  I used an earth palette for this-no cadmiums etc.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Copies After Velasquez- A Study In Technique I

I began a series of oil copies of a hand painted by Velasquez in order to clarify to myself some of the different technical approaches I am aware of.  I chose the hand because I wanted something I thought I could paint five times without going crazy.  I also wanted to start all five with the same cartoon transfer so they would start out with the same exact drawing.  Next time I do something like this, I will work from a very simple object from life.  It was, perhaps, not a fair set-up because it may have limited color interpretations and textural interpretations.  The other difficulty is that of labeling the techniques.  I settled upon labeling them with a broadly understood term or the great painter that I associate with the technique.  Another limitation I ran into is that, really, this is a "first" painting.  There wasn't much visual information to go beyond that.
Labels and Working Distinctions 
Van Dyck and oftentimes my familiar method:  Transparent shadows first in Raw Umber and when dry, underpaint thick lights with Flake White.
Grissaille:  Opaque underpainting, mixing Raw Umber (some use a warm black or green earth) with Flake White on the palette and painting a covering layer lighter in value than it will need to be later on.
Academic Method/Ingres:  Greater care given to line and an opaque dead color stage for an underpainting.
Rubens:  Transparent shadows, cools and warms kept in separate layers and on separate brushes.
Assael: Start with opaque and higher chroma midtones and build lights and darks into them.  Sculpting very thick highlights.
All grounds are Claessens 13SP (single-primed)
Van Dyck:   White ground
Grisaille:  White ground
Academic/Ingres:  White ground
Rubens:  Gray toned
Assael:  Venetian Red toned

See Image 2

Before Day 1.....In order to keep things similar from the beginning, I transferred charcoal drawings onto each canvas.  However, below I pretend that I am working from life and describe what I did each day under typical working conditions.  Remember this is a very simple, small subject and it would take more days at the later stages for more complex paintings.

The Subject: Image 1

The Grounds: Image 2 Rubens
The Grounds: Image 2 Assael

The Grounds:  Image 2: All other grounds remained white