Friday, February 27, 2009

Its coloring time!

Its a dumb title but a suitable one. This week I focused on the color in my work. As I have mentioned before, I am striving to improve my abilities to design my work better, from conception to execution. Since I had so much trouble with it last week I thought I would focus a little on thinking about color.

I have done this before, but I have played it safe for the most part. Only towards the end of my expressive painting class last semester did I manage to free myself up a bit. As you know, I slid back a bit last week.

I decided to continue with what I was doing from last week and to paint with expressive color in the workshops. The female head painting on the left was done in the Monday workshop. It is roughly 16 x 20 inches on Mylar. This one was an interesting one for me because I started with something completely new for me when I began.

The best way to break my habits and explore was for me to not start with the same colors. I usually draw out the structure of my paintings using a neutral color, such as raw umber. This time I chose a pure red-purple. I did this because I thought that maybe the color I begin with influences my later color choices more than I realize. Now I would say that this is most likely true.

In an effort to stay expressive I tried to keep my colors as pure and intense as possible without overwhelming the painting with too much color. I didn't want it to glow.

When working on this, I decided to see if I could control form using color along with the values. I remember being told that to do this it was all about warm versus cool and not just warm light side against cool shadow side. So, I played with the temperature of the colors making some planes cooler that the ones next to them. It seems to have worked.

I took this to my instructor, the feedback was good. The color was strong, but I needed to work on edge control, keeping some edges soft and other hard.

This male head painting is from the second workshop, it is roughly 11 x 14 inches oil on Mylar. In this one I am just continuing what I have been doing in the first.

The difference here is the the model was set up using two different light sources, a cool natural light and a warm interior light. This made exaggerating the color and playing with the temperature easier as the reference was clearer in that regard.

To shift gears a bit, the next stuff up is some prep work I am doing for my next painting.

The sketch to the right is the figure I plan on using. It is from a photograph but is not an exact copy of it. Actually, the photo is of the figure sitting rather than standing. I wanted to do a male figure with a puffed up posture. I liked the gesture of the torso in my reference, so I moved the arms and adjusted the hips a bit and now he is standing.

After that I did some thumbs to decide what is the best compositional

arrangement. I am still trying out designing using the golden ratio. These are thumbs working on that. I chose the one on the bottom right for my layout.

Without too much detail, the next steps I took were a quick value study and a color study, seen below. I do not think the color study works, so next week I am going to do some more to see what I like.

I worked some more I the painting I struggled with last week. I think it is coming along. The color is working out better, though the feet are too purple. I took it in to class to get some feedback. The instructor said that the color was starting to work (he did say the feet were too purple, so they didn't relate to the rest of the figure)

The concerns he saw were with proportion and edges. He felt that I distorted the portion to a level that was distracting. Distortion should be done with intention, that is it should look as if you meant to do it. Here he felt that it didn't. For example, the arms are thin. His suggestion was either correct the distortions to proper proportions or distort more. He also felt that the direction of the fabric was pointing the wrong direction, confusing what the focal point should be. As to the edges its the same feedback I usually get in this area, more control over my edges, soft and hard, lost and found line.

On to the drawings. Shown here are the two drawings I worked on this week. To the left is the finished version of the structure drawing I did last week. It is 18 x 24 inches charcoal on paper. For the last drawing I did in this class, the feedback I received was that it was polished up too much and looked stiff. I guess given more time I try to refine too much and lose the idea that it is a drawing and should have some life to it.
For this one, I worked on bringing some more of expression into the drawing. Here I found it tough, because I am using my drawings to improve my understanding of the structure and anatomy of the human form. I want to tighten it all up and show the detail. (I imagine this is my desire to show off what I have learned) I used the day as an opportunity to decide what detail should be done and what should be left alone. I figured the torso was my focus, so I should refine that as best I could. Then I would get the knees down fairly detailed. Other than that, I worked on keeping the structure of my drawing while allowing the detail to disappear.
The feedback on this one was that the torso was strong and that the structure was good so it maintained the solid weight. The expressive character was better but I could have pushed some more. The instructor also said that I should be careful about heavy line in my drawing, because it flattens things out some. Fortunately, this feedback was given while I was drawing so I could correct it before working more on it. I spent some time loosing edges.
This is the homework in progress for that class. Another ten or so hours, and bit more done. Not much to say on this one yet. I am going to work on the hands and coat next week and see how it goes. No feedback was given on the drawing.
On top of that I have been doing sketches this week to learn more about anatomy, so I have been copying some drawings from a book I have. This is just something I do in my spare moments.

Friday, February 20, 2009

My Mistake: the aftermath and a little structure added in

This week was both a good week and a bad one. Good in that I was able to spend plenty of time in the studio working on my stuff. Bad because of the painting I did turned out to be troubled. This was especially disappointing as I had begun doing studies to help me avoid mistakes.

Here is what I learned from that whole mess.

One, work out all the problems in the studies before doing the final painting. I had let some things (like how to resolve the feet) slide, figuring I'd get to that later. Oops, when later came I was already working on the final painting and ran into problems deciding what to do (like placing the feet in the right part of the composition without distorting the figure to much)

The second lesson is when I work out something in the studies I need to stick with that. I decided to change the color when I began working on it. I did a really quick color study, but didn't work it out very far. And that was the big disaster. I spend several hours chasing the color around until I came up with a very purple painting. Nothing wrong with purple for those of you who like purple, but that was not my intent.

With all that mess going on, I stopped what I was doing to refocus.

I decided to copy a Euan Uglow painting for practice. I chose him because I like the way he approaches painting the figure and... and I needed someone who knew how to handle color. My adviser suggested I work using a three color design. I looked through a book of his paintings and found a couple of paintings with a very clear three color design. I chose the one similar in composition as mine.

I liked the exercise, I like looking at other art work and trying to work out how they painted it. It is a very hard thing to do. I decided to work out the drawing as quickly as I can, without giving too much up on the structure. That way I can focus on figuring out how he got to his color.

After doing that, I was feeling a bit better about painting again, but I was not ready to work on my painting again. Instead, I did another study trying to incorporate what I have just learned from Uglow. I chose to do a cool side shadow, using green tones, and warm light side in the oranges, my middle tones were in the purples. I it was a little muddy, but it has given me some direction to go.

The rest of my time was spent drawing. For the figure studio class the assignment is another copy of a Rembrandt painting. This time I chose a portrait, because it had been awhile since I have done one. The structure is done, next week I'll start on the rendering.

The in-class drawing was a struggle as well, I just couldn't figure out my measurements. It took awhile to get them down. I found that drawing little vectors to key points helped me figure out if those key points were accurately placed. Once I got the proportions right, I focused on anatomy. The process I learned is to put in the shadow shapes to construct the form, but I wanted to try something different. Instead I drew all the muscles and bone shapes as best as I could, then dropped the shadows in based on how they should fall across the anatomy. It seems to have worked, we will see next week.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Finished drawing, a prud'hon and some studies

During this week I have completed a couple of large drawings, done some more studies for a painting, and did a life painting.

This drawing is again in charcoal and measures 18 x 24 inches. The female figure is a life drawing. This is a two day pose, and represents about 8 hours of work. This week, I worked on the rendering and shading of the figure. Overall, I like it. When I first came back to it I realized a few things looked weird, for example I had made the neck way too thin. After I fixed the mistakes I started rendering.

My goal in this drawing was to render as controlled as I could to get the form as realistic as I could. I have the drawing books done by students at the Repin Academy in Russia, that I admire and want to be able to replicate the quality of their work. I think I am headed in the right direction to achieve my goal.

There was two areas of feedback from my instructor. The first was I need to check my transitions more carefully. I had made some transitions too hard. The other bit piece of advice was to vary my line and strokes when drawing. Everything was looking to similar which makes the drawing look more static. I agree with this. This leads me to the problem of trying to drawing the human form precisely yet at the same time developing enough of an expressive element to the piece.

The next drawing is another Prud'hon copy. It is also in charcoal and measures 18 x 24 inches, and took about 25 to 30 hours to do. I like doing these because they an exercise in detective work. I attempt to figure out exactly how the artist did what he did. Each time I do this exercise, I learn something new. This time, I not only attempted to render it to match the original in accuracy, I was attempting to capture the feel of it.Prud'hon hatched line along the surface as he rendered, I try to emulate that hatching to build the values and render the form with a similar feel.

These next ones are larger more detailed studies for the painting I am working on. I did two value studies and one color. The fist value study is a small one, I didn't like it so I decided to do a larger one, rough 9 X 15 inches. The study helped me to further refine the focal point and value pattern.

The color study was a disaster. I muddied up pretty quickly. The feedback on it was the color choices were interesting, but hard to tell what I was trying to do. I had changed my mind in my color decisions and didn't stick to a three color pattern. Next time I will. I think, I am going to look at the artist Euan Uglo's work to help me here.

The feedback I got from the instructor this week was not as much about the details of my work, rather he said I need to work on defining the direction I want to go with my painting. I had given him my artist statement to review and he said I wrote a good statement on painting in general but did not really give him anything that told him why I paint and more specifically paint the figure. I don't think that I was that general in my statement, but I do see his point. I think that this may stem from me trying to put too much into it.

I have been trying to really evaluate what I am interested in doing and clearly define it. I am stripping it down to the minimums of my interests and building from there. I think that I am interested in the figure structurally and compositionally. This is my base, for what I start my work with. From the the emotional and psychological will come from that. I am interested in perception, but I don't think I want to evolve into themes beyond a structural, formal, physical concept. Anything to far beyond this might be me trying to inject too much into my work at this point. The perception of the physical form is what I am interested in. Now how to translate that into my work.

This last painting is the one I did from the class, 16 x 20 inches. It is a life painting done in about two hours. Here I tried to find an interesting way to place the figure in the composition. I exaggerated the tilt of the figure, and attempted to play with the color a bit.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Second Week

I have been working on a few projects this last week, I have been doing a couple of drawings and preparing for a painting. I also when in to the workshops to paint form life as well.

This semester I decided to work on developing my design skills. Like I have mentioned before I haven't really focused all that much on this. Usually I work directly from a life or a photograph with out planning anything out on the painting. This has created some problems for me while painting. I am now working with an instructor to develop this, so far so good.

Right now I have been doing some preparatory sketches for a back view of a female figure. I didn't really know where to begin. I started by selecting a photo I liked. Then I did some thumbnail sketches to work out some value patterns. I did this for two reason, one to see if the reference could work, and two if it did work then I could brainstorm ideas of what I want to try.

After which, I did a couple of larger sketches to work out a little detail in he value pattern. Here I was contemplating whether or not to do a high-key or mid-key painting. I chose mid-key, that way I could place the focal point in the light area of the body.

After doing these sketches, it was suggested that I work out the value pattern without any line. These is because, the line will separated the values that are close and if I don't plan on using line there I would be giving myself a false sense of separation. It would show up in the final painting, and there would be a problem.

Here you see the final value pattern sketch I did to remove the line. This is basically three values, I am trying to keep it simple at this stage. I am looking to create movement from the upper shoulder down the back towards the feet. The feedback I received on this was that the value was a little confusing, because of the heavy shape that is the lower arm. I will probably will lighten that are up.

I also thought I would try out designing based on the golden ratio. Here is the overlay of that on my value study. I tried to place shapes in a way to connected to important points within the rectangle. This is new to me so it is fairly simplified, but it was interesting to try. I do not really know what to say about this now except I plan on working with this some more.

Next I did a couple of color sketches. I like the color of the second one better. Though I think I will change the temperature of the body to something warmer, so that there is a little more contrast between the body and the background. The next step will be to do some more detailed color sketches.

I worked on two drawings this week. In both I only worked on building the under lining structure of each. I will finish them up next week.

This one is is another Pruh'don copy. This is the first homework assignment for the class. It is good to do this kind of exercise. I am able to construct more each time I do these.

That is why I am pleased with this second drawing. It is the life drawing from that same class. This time I am able to work on the drawing for two session, rather than just one. I am excited about this as I will be able to finally complete a drawing. There are a couple of mistakes in this one, but they are easy to fix. I think they stem from the fact that I tried to adjust the figure in my drawing so that the pose wasn't so stiff. That is one obstacle to overcome painting from life as the models have to sit in positions they can hold for long periods of time. This means they are more stiff than they would naturally sit. I will correct them before I add value.

Finally, here are the two painting I did at the workshops. The first one was just warm up. I hadn't painted from a live model for over a month so it was good practice. The second on I worked on color temperature, to get rid of a bad habit of painting all shadows the same color.