Sunday, 9 October 2011

Charles Reid Day 2

The weather intervened today. The light drizzle made us abandon plans to visit a local National Trust property. The prospect of spending a whole day working wet in wet didn’t seem the best way to advance our technique.

So two ‘models’ were drafted in for a morning’s demonstration of portrait painting. The models were in fact non painting partners of course members. The Reid style of portraiture is immediately recognisable and his portraits never fail to inspire people.

David - Drawing

Charles begins his portraits with a faint outline that represents the general shape of the head but makes no attempt at an accurate outline. He then, by a series of dots begins to map the main features, starting with elements like the eye socket or nose. Each mark he makes relates to a previous mark and as the marks increase the number of points for cross-reference grows.

Once he has sufficient points of reference he begins drawing and as he draws one feature he finds another closely related feature to move on to, for example the nose bridge to the eye corner. His pencil strokes go Press, Lift, Stop. This emphasises the relationship between the two related points as well as leaving lines that are not too heavy.

The important thing about his approach is that he builds the portrait from the INSIDE not as many do and create an outline that is subsequently filled in.

David - Photograph

Once it is time to paint Charles explains the colour mixes that he uses. His basics are Cadmium Red Light and then either Cadmium Yellow Light or as is the case today, Raw Sienna. He also uses Cerulean Blue to tone down the mixture and create shadow areas. Other than that he makes occasional use of other blues, a touch of Alizarin and Raw Umber.

David - First strokes

Before paint gets on to paper he advises squinting to determine the highlighted areas. Those familiar with his work will know that highlights are often created by leaving white paper, one of the distinctive characteristics of his practice.

He then emphasises the brush strokes. The advice is PLACE PAINT, DRAG to create shape and then SOFTEN to mix the appearance of edges.

David - Development

David - Watercolour by Charles Reid

After the first demonstration our second 'volunteer' arrived.

Perry - Photograph

Perry - Drawing

Perry - First strokes

Repeat - OOPS

Charles' Palette - Note mix on right

Perry - Development

Perry - Watercolour by Charles Reid

Evening sees the dreaded Critique Session where all the work of the day is reviewed by Charles. Here he emphasises teaching points as each student is asked to review their work. The problem we’re left with is translating those tips into our practice.


Caroline said...

Both your Charles Reid demos have been fascinating to see. Thank you so much for posting them here. Has Charles seen your still life work he would be proud of you? I hope you get some good weather to get out and paint. Today after all the rain it is lovely weather here with sunshine!

Mick Carney said...

Caroline - Thanks. Yes Charles has seen my work and given me lots of very focussed advice to improve technique. His insights are always illuminating and the rationale he develops for his critiques gives you lots of food for thought.