Woman, April 17, 2006

I tend to think of my work as broken up into three rough groups. First there are my "serious" paintings, which tend to be big and take me a few sessions to finish. They come from ideas which kick around my head for years and years -- one of my more recent paintings started out as a sketch in pencil back in early 2000. I've been painting these large paintings on canvas glued to birch plywood because Robert Gamblin says this is the most durable surface for painting. I love Robert Gamblin; having discovered his products and the kind of research he and his company does into longevity of painting materials, I use his products exclusively.

The second group is drawings. I dash these off pretty quickly, don't take them very seriously, and treat them pretty badly. In fact I lost most of my drawings recently because I was storing them under my kitchen and something leaked all over the box I was keeping them in. Easy come, easy go. Still, looking back after a few years, I find I really like some of my drawings.

The third group is small paintings. I haven't done too many of these but I'm trying to do more. I do these quickly -- each one takes about a day, maybe a little longer -- on canvas textured paper. These are just to see what I can do quickly. It's one of these we'll be looking at today.

This one's a bit of a departure for me. My drawings and small paintings are usually done entirely from my imagination. This one I decided to use a couple of photos I found as a reference; I'd had the idea for the pose I wanted, and I happened to find online, entirely accidentally, a photo of a woman in very nearly the pose I wanted. So I printed the photo out on my inkjet and worked a bit from it. The painting is quite different from the photo, ultimately, and I'd show you the original but it's under copyright and I don't want to upset anyone.

[Woman, first image] Start time: 12 noon. I begin by mixing Portland Grey Light with a little bit of Burnt Umber to warm it up. I've never tried this before. The last small painting I did I used the Grey straight; the result was quite cool (both in color temperature and quality of result). To this I add some Galkyd SD to loosen the paint up and keep it from drying too quickly. I sketch in the painting. Hey, this looks pretty good. Maybe I should stop here. Oh, who am I kidding? I couldn't leave it like this.

[Woman, second image] Next I mix a skin tone out of Flake White, Indian Yellow, and Napthol Red. I keep this tone a little on the yellow side because I'm looking for a warmer skin tone than I've used before. I add Galkyd SD to this also and then paint in the figure, leaving the paper blank in the lightest areas. I find myself annoyed with the Flake White; it's been a bit since I used it and I'm finding it too thick and pasty for what I want right now.

[Woman, third image] Now I mix some Radiant White with Galkyd SD and block in the highlights of the figure. I'm running out of Radiant White, but I like it better than the Flake White at the moment. Then I restate the drawing of the figure using the Grey/Umber mixture I started with.

[Woman, fourth image] It's time to grab the fan brush and do some modeling, blending together the paint on the paper.

[Woman, fifth image] Back in with Radiant White highlights.

[Woman, sixth image] I mix up a lighter, more yellow skin tone and add it back in to the figure. Whoops, too much yellow. Now she looks a little jaundiced.

[Woman, seventh image] I decide that the shadows need to be stronger, so I mix the earlier Grey/Umber color with a little Terre Verte and some Chromatic Black. The Terre Verte vanishes under the onslaught of other colors so I'm not sure why I wasted it, but there you go. I redraw the darkest parts of the shading. Then I whip up a pinker skin tone to counter the yellow from the previous step and blend that in. I go back and forth here, blending skin tone with shadows and highlights. The final highlights and skin tones have only a little Galkyd SD mixed in.

[Woman, eighth image] Final painting: I mix a dark pink from Napthol Red and Radiant White and paint in the lips; I add more Radiant White right on the brush to get the lighter pink of her tongue and nipples. I add some pure white to the lips, teeth, and nipples, and blend this in. There's some more back and forth between the shadows and highlights in the figure. The paint has started to dry despite the Galkyd SD (where the SD stands for Slow Dry) and the areas with more paint are getting sticky. So, last, I take some pure Indian Yellow and paint in the hair. Finish time: 7:30 pm.

I'm pretty happy with the result but I've got some issues left. As usual, I didn't so much finish as abandon the painting when I started to do more harm than good. I'm not too thrilled with the buildup of paint on her stomach. I like the rendering of her hands (especially since I made them up out of whole cloth) but the darker shading dirtied up the lighter parts of the skin tone. As usual, too, the figure got a little muscular around the arms. I start to fall in love with the curves I can paint and get carried away. I feel like something went wrong with her right arm but I don't know what I could've done to get it right other than better draftmanship at the beginning. I'd give this a 7 out of 10.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Rywalt published on April 18, 2006 2:54 PM.

Centerfold, May 2006 is the next entry in this blog.

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