Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Robert Beaulieu, Painting the figure

After many years of painting figure studies at Scott Ketchum's Monday night workshop, this past monday, I took some shots of my work as it was in progress.
I like to share with you my approach to working with the figure.

Photo One.
Photo One. You can see that I did an overall warm wash with oranges, burnt sienna and a little blue.  I usually always start this way, but may actually use olive greens , or even blues and purples, I kind of do this by the skin tone of the model.. very pale, actually greens work well ( then all over tones are kind of pinkish)... a little outline of the general porportions of the model are created, as well as taking a soft paper towel (Bounty only) and wipping out a few highlights.. you can see form taking shape already. The background was also serves a slight lubricant for further application of paint.

Photo two
Photo Two:  The form is now being further defined by scumbling in some of the background tones and adding a few more highlights (as well as a few shadow areas) and tones to the figure. I'm keeping my tones still in the mid range so that I have an option adding lighter highlights, or accent with darker tones, all to eventually create more form.

photo 3
Photo Three: Its really a building project. More tones are added to the figure.  I may now start concentrating on one part of the body (the head). Hands, heads, etc, I ususally try and do during one sitting between breaks, cause no matter what, the model never seems to get into the perfect duplicate postions (especially hands).  But, I still leave myself the option of painting different parts of the figure, to ensure, I am not getting too misbalanced with this particular point. Also, make sure you walk away form the canvas, step back take a look... and no cheating while on break.. you can touch up background, but no touching the (ahem) model.

photo four
Photo four.  We definitely have some form and rhythm going now, and all is starting to take shape. Its now time to add a little more background in to accentuate the model and softly build up the figure..  With the wash applied in the beginning, (using turpenoid) my canvas is still oilly, ( but not goooey) so that tones can be easily applied, spread and molded. You can still see how the initial wash is still an important part of the overall tone.. Its basically the mid tone color range. Literally in some cases my "pinkey" finger becomes a great smoothing tool ( and thats probably why I have paint all over my Mitsutbishi as well.) As you can see I have also taken this one setting of the model to start detailing out the left hand.  Actually the right hand is out of the picture, (she has her arm extended over the couch) but I have indicated putting the hand back in for balance of the composition.

photo five
Photo five. Although I do the face and hands in one setting, I'm not afraid to go in and detail it a little further (we have really already captured the positioning etc. of each.) More detail is added to the background as well as reflected lights.  note that the skin tones tones will reflect the surrounding light, hence, a bit of green bouncing back into the shadow areas. I asked the model to change her hand so that I could start painting the right hand...other participants in the workshop at that time, have established their studies well enough, that a 10 minute diversion does not bother them. As I build my background, I staart working my greens, and in the shadow area, I go cool, and basically use a purple tone, makes a great contrast.  As a footnote.. I Never use black... I don't even have a tube of black in my paint box. there were two definite wraps the model was sitting, you an se the separation in the previous photo, but as i went further into the detail, I found the separation of the two caused a misbalance in the composition, and it became too much of an eyesore, hence, it was omitted and softened.

Photo six:  Viola, three hours later we are done.  What happened to the hand..
photo six
Well to be honest, it just did not work in the location I had wished, and it just didn't look right, so, easily, I omitted it, and went back to the original pose.  Don't be afraid to make changes along the way, and especially don't try and correct mistakes, they tend ot get worse.. Many times doing these three hour poses, I may find that after the first hour, I wipe my canvas clean and start over.  In Plein Aire, which I will do another time, you always need to be able to edit, omit, add or change.  Anyhow, as you can see many of the finer highlights are added since photo five.  Could I continue to work on the painting longer, yes, but do I want to. No.  I really like the spontaneoty of working for three hours.. If I came back and did another three hours, the following week, i would feel as though the looseness of the study would be lost.

Thank you for viewing and will post plein aire in the near future


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