Friday, 29 January 2010
I have been painting a lot this month. At the moment I am experimenting with underpainting. I frequently paint directly onto a white canvas but applying a wash of colour mixed with turpuntine can have a great impact on how the painting develops. In this painting of my old friends Sandy and Rebecca I painted the canvas with a wash of burnt sienna. It had to be transparent so as not to obscure the pencil drawing I had done underneath (when painting people I almost always carefully draw an outline in pencil first, it can save a lot of time later when you are trying to obtain a likeness). I mixed the burnt sienna with turps and used a rag to wipe back the paint when the pencil underdrawing was not clearly visible. I had previously fixed the pencil underdrawing with cheap hairspray, this stops the graphite from muddying the underpainting, I am surprised the turpuntine doesn't dissove the hairspray, but it seems to work fine.
Other colours can be used as a wash, I read recently about an artist who does wonderful portraits first covering the canvas with a mixture of flesh tone and grey. As you can see from the painting of Sandy and Rebecca, the underpainting enabled me to leave spaces between subsequent blocks of colour, saving me time and also unifying the colours in the painting. If you look closely you will notice that Sandy's shirt, hand and pint glass are captured very simply. I actually got a bit bored at this point and decided that if I put too much detail in the hand it might detract from his face...excuses, excuses. Even Sandy's face reveals a lot of the underpainting showing through.
Sunday, 3 January 2010
Saturday, 2 January 2010
Of the two drawings I've provided in today's post, the first is of my English student Mariana Galan's granddaughter, and the second is my driving instructor Oscar's baby. I just passed my driving test in Spanish so as a thank you for putting up with me I drew his baby.
Friday, 1 January 2010
I enjoy drawing in pencil very much: there is so much less to worry about regarding colour and tone when using graphite than working in paint. My friends also seem to appreciate my drawings more than my paintings: maybe they look more professional, maybe, like black and white photography, they just look classier. Either way I get lots of people asking me to do black and white pictures of their children and grandchildren, as well as the occasional grandmother and grandfather.
Here are two old men I drew freehand from photos in the newspaper. The first is actually of the owner of Harrods, Mohammed Al Fayed, but I wasn't interested in getting a likeness. I had seen some interesting cross-hatching in a gallery in Edinburgh and I wanted to have a go at it. If you look closely you can see I employed wavey cross-hatching to build up the shades, I think it turned out quite well. The second was also an interesting photo I found in a newspaper. I like to start a pencil drawing with a hard pencil and then move step by step to softer pencils as the drawing requires deeper and deeper tones. In this way I usually don't have to use an eraser as the hard pencil lines are almost invisible when you get to the 6B-9B. However, I do like to use a putty rubber at the final stages to add highlights. In these two drawings I wasn't concerned about achieving a likeness, but if I had been drawing someone's child I would probably have started by drawing a grid on the photo and paper to get the proportions exactly right, I don't want to offend any parents by making their babies ugly. I'll post some photos of children later this month.