Saturday, 31 March 2012

March Challenge

The latest in our monthly challenges, that is myself and fellow painter Peter Ward who can be found at

Peter set this piece and I have to say that I found this a real challenge as it required working at a few things that I don't enjoy a great deal. The main one is the huge number of bare twigs that take up so much of picture area. Rigger to the ready. Having said that I'm afraid I didn't exhibit the same degree of commitment to this project that I normally expect of myself, foregoing the usual preliminaries of sketches and paint experiments. In particular this shows itself in the foreground where a degree of sloppiness detracts from some of the passages that aren't too embarrassing.

As you may have detected I'm less that happy with my performance here but it is now recorded here to remind me of the swings that take place in painting form.

March Challenge - Photograph

March Challenge - watercolour on Not paper 18" x 12"

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Towards Tynemouth

Managed to produce a small landscape piece yesterday. The view is one I see regularly when painting with my friend who was the subject of the portrait posted last time. He had loaned me some water mixable oils and I was quite keen to give them a try out.

The first thing I noticed was that they were very good for preparing an underpainting and drawing as, diluted with water, they are easy to put on and dry quickly. After that they perform just like my regular oil paints. I'll be interested to see how the finished picture dries.

As to the painting itself I'm a little disappointed in that I've not managed to create sufficient drama and the only way to have done that would be to have created my own lighting plan. Never mind the next one will either take advantage of the current sunshine or be based on something with a little more contrast. I've decided that I enjoy a wide range of values in my pieces.

Towards Tynemouth - Oil on canvas 12" x 10"

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Portrait WIP - Staged Approach Demonstration - Day 3

I thought it was about time that I shared with you the main source photograph for the current portrait project, so here it is. It's the label for the current EP of my pal, Jed Grimes. If you're interested you can find it on iTunes. Well worth a listen.

Jed Grimes - Album Cover

I further thought that you might like to see how I'm working. The next picture shows my trusty Open Box M with the linen mounted and the pigments mixed. My basic flesh colours are made with Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Burnt Sienna with the usual Titanium White. Changes in mixtures might be altered with the addition of a blue, in this case Indanthrone Blue or some Yellow Ochre.

Easel Set Up for Portrait

Today the adjustments that I've made are small, some sifts in shadowing and slight alterations to the mouth. After that some work on the hair.

I've now reached a stage where I'm almost at an end but need to spend some time studying how the painting fails to meet my aspirations for it. I've already spotted one or two things that might create more of a likeness than I have at present, but I want to sleep on it for a while. So I'm going to call this finished but not complete.

Jed Grimes - Oil on stretched linen 12" x 12"

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Portrait WIP - Staged Approach Demonstration - Day 2

Today's work began by building on the start made in the last session of yesterday. Starting to build up the colour across the picture thereby getting a feel for the relationships as they develop was the first task.
Yesterday I'd noticed that there were adjustments to make to creases, mouth width and chin length so I started by making marks that would take account of that. I then moved on to blocking in colours to make further assessment as to deciding on warm/cool shifts and value relationships. At this stage you begin to get a clearer idea of the way the painting is taking shape and the decisions that follow on from that.

Jed - Portrait Stage 5

I purposely put in a warm tone for the shadow side to demonstrate the making of adjustments. It is too warm and also a little strong in terms of value. So in the next picture you can see the way that I've cooled it down and reduced its value.

As well as these adjustments I started the process of refining shapes. I also began work on the eyes and mouth as well as beginning to shape the hair.

Jed - Portrait Stage 6

Another night or two thinking about the next stages before taking this any further is now called for.

I hope some of my readers have taken the chance to catch up with Jed's music on iTunes.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Portrait WIP - Staged Approach Demonstration

This week's project for me is another bash at portraiture. The subject is a life long friend of mine, Jed Grimes. Jed is a musician and artist with whom I share the odd day's painting as well as our regular social get togethers. I have a number of photographs of him as well as drawings that have been done in our art sessions. The picture I chose to base the portrait on is one that appears on the cover of his latest album, so if you're interested in the source material have a look at iTunes, type in Jed Grimes and look at Heart and Hand. You might take the opportunity to sample his music or even decide to purchase the EP. Well that's the advert, so on to the portrait.

The following pictures give an idea of the process I go through in making an oil portrait.
The first stage is to sketch an outline of the main elements. This was done in this case with Indanthrone Blue diluted with some odourless spirits. At this stage I'm not aiming for the accuracy that I would want in a drawing for watercolour, just a crude starting map.

Jed - Stage 1 the initial drawing.

Once the initial drawing is done I use a weak wash of burnt siena to begin placing some of the darker shapes and finding an outline.

Jed - Stage 2 placing the darks

Once this is done I begin assessing the accuracy of the elements. In this case I decided that the eyes were a little far apart and the chin a little long. A rub of the rag and an adjustment got the yes a little closer and a resolve to shorten the chin at the next stage was planned.

Jed - Stage 3 slight adjustment to eyes.

The next stage is where the first application of colours takes place. It is after this stage that the close study of progress is made with a view to deciding on the refinements that will be necessary as a move towards applying smaller more precise strokes in the next pass at the picture. This is a good stage to sleep on progress so far. With this one I've already spotted a number of things that will ned to be addressed when I get out the brushes in the morning.

Jed - Stage 4 first colour application