Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Start Is Just As Important As the Finish

One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to rush to a finish. A long time ago an instructor asked me if I was trying to finish an oil painting in one sitting. It's taken me a long time to learn that a painting or a drawing needs to be built on a strong foundation, that what I'm painting needs to be carefully examined or all the drawing errors that I glossed over in the start will reappear and weaken the final image. Most of the important work is done at the beginning of a painting.

I made the pencil drawing (above left) with the intention of painting over it in gouache. I took the time to carefully map out where the lights and darks were to be placed. I scanned the drawing so that I would not lose it, just in case I need to start over on the painting. With the drawing scanned I thought it would also make a good under drawing for a digital painting. I opened the file in Sketchbook Pro and painted the monochrome self portrait above.

The painting went very smoothly because I already mapped out  and planned in my mind how I was going to paint the portrait. The time I took to make that careful drawing in the beginning carried me through the entire painting.

Bellow is a YouTube video I made showing and explaining how I made the digital portrait.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Advantages of Working In Gouache

Gouache is a medium that goes back a long way. The watercolors that were painted by Durer were actually done in Gouache which is opaque watercolor. The medium was used to illustrate manuscripts in the middle ages. It has been used by just about any artist you can mention,  Fran├žois Boucher, JMW Turner, George Innes, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, etc. When you hear the term body color (which was used in a great deal of studies by the painter Peter Paul Rubens) it is actually gouache the artist used.
I like the medium for several reasons.
 It is more forgiving than transparent water color. I also love working in transparent watercolor but sometimes I would rather work with the advantage of building the image without worrying about leaving areas white and dreading that irreversible mistake.
Because of its opacity I can build the image in the same way I would paint in oil but without the solvents and without the long drying time.
It's an easy medium to travel with. The set up would be the same as transparent watercolor.
You can read up on the history of the medium by clicking  here
There are some great examples of Gouache paintings at this link
A lot of golden age American Illustrators also used gouache. It would be a good idea to research those illustrations to examine how they used the medium and what is possible with it. Steven Dohanos and Harry Anderson are two illustrators who used the medium often.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why Drawing The Same Subject Never Gets Old


I filled up most of my sketchbook with drawings of my Mom. I don't get tired of doing them because  I try to make each one better than the last. Each time I draw her represents another chance to go at it again and get it right. I don't see myself getting tired of drawing her when There is so much to get right. It's always about making a better drawing. 
 Maybe I need to try to do a bit more, introduce some color or try to get more of the room she is in. But there is so much to get out of drawing her head. The expressions on her face, her hair, learning to simplify the drawing. Choosing only the lines  and marks that can give the image meaning. Its not just about the subject but also how you communicate visually  what and how you see. That way the drawing becomes more of an experience if I can just communicate those things I mentioned in the drawing.
Pursuing those things can take up many sketchbooks and never get old.