The Laws of Nature

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Painting Demo

This weekend, I decided to take a break from all the oil paintings I've been working on to do a new painting and try out the proportions I've been writing about in previous blogs. Here's the subject matter (left) - eggshells. What else???

I began by creating a Root 2 Rectangle. First, I drew a 15" square, then measured the diagonal which was 21.25". I took the square root of the diagonal and added that number to the length of one side of the square. The resulting rectangle is 19.6" x 15." (below)

Next, I decided to create a simple armature for the Root 2 rectangle. (below)

I decided to use the long axis as the vertical on my painting, so I upended the armature and also decided which part of the armature I wanted to utilize for my design (in orange). I also identified the important nodes with red circles. (below)

Then, I drew eggshells on tracing paper laid overtop the armature paying special attention to placement on the nodes. (below)

Next, I created a value drawing using charcoal paying attention to the directionality I selected in the armature as well as the nodes. (below)

At this point, I was ready to transfer the drawing to my watercolor paper (Arches 300 lb. cold press) using graphite paper. (below)

Before painting, I had to determine the palette. I settled on Faience Blue, Viridian, Cadmium Yellow Light, Cadmium Orange, and Permanent Red. You may well ask if there is a special reason I used these hues. Actually ... not really. I'm running out of watercolor paint and I still had plenty of these left! But, I did want the primaries and two secondaries, and I didn't want to exceed five hues. Often, I'll limit my palette to three hues. The fewer hues used, the greater chance of creating harmony. (below)
As I began to apply paint, I paid special attention to the value drawing I made earlier. This is critical! First, I applied masking fluid to areas that I wanted to keep white. Then, I applied a light blue wash to areas that will recede (below left). After that, I just started painting in all the eggs. I've posted several steps below showing my progress.

The completed painting (below).

Next, I have to check my work. So I loaded a digital image of my painting onto the computer and changed it to grayscale. When I compare the grayscale image (below left) to the original value study (below right) they match. I don't need to work on the values again.

Finally ... what did I learn from this? Well, it's got me thinking more about design. Although I didn't attempt a complex armature for this painting, I did manage to adhere to my intended design. Being able to paint intentionally is a huge step toward painting masterfully. OK - so I didn't shake up the art world with this painting, but who knows what the future will bring :-)


Mark Sheeky said...

Fascinating. Thanks for this detailed walkthrough. Interesting that use used frisket to mask, and more interesting that use used a root 2 rectangle. I find that hidden maths can improve a picture if done carefully. I don't think I've heard of Faience Blue..? Looks like Ultramarine from here.

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hw (hallie) farber said...

Well, Kathy, you shook my world. What a great demonstration. Now I need to think, doodle with rectangles a bit, and return later for a second reading.

M said...

I love this walk through because it covers what I believe are the important considerations for a successful work. Now I would like to say that I always practice what I believe to be true. Some people have the knowledge to plan but do not consistently apply it. That's me!

Carolyn Abrams said...

hi Kathy, this demo was totally fascinating. I love the end result and especially loved following your steps. I am learning how important all these steps are. Thank you for sharing this!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

I enjoy reviewing the process an artwork, which allows us to learn technical aspects, including how the artist works and thinks when being creative.

We all have unique rituals and work methods and having a little peak is just great. Thank you.

Warmest regards

Unknown said...

Thanks Mark, PAMO, HW, Margaret, and Carolyn. Oops, thanks for point out the "frisket" mistake, Mark. I meant to write "masking fluid." I'll make the change :) Maimeri blu w/c paint makes Faience Blue. It's very similar to ultramarine light, but a little warmer.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much, Egmont! I felt it was time to post a painting demo and needed to get away from oils for the weekend.

Celeste Bergin said...

"paint intentionally"....yessir. I knew your work was demanding--and all you do to prepare and follow through..well, the proof is in the pudding..beautiful work. Thanks for the sequential explanation--so interesting!

Unknown said...

Thanks for commenting, Celeste! I should add that I don't mean to imply that this is THE method for creating a painting. Rather, it's another method, and a lot of fun to explore.

Unknown said...

Wow.... I swear Katharine... you already have enough in these posts to show to a publisher for your book. I will even place a pre-order.

Unknown said...

Hi Sheila,
Well ... I guess this IS my book :) I'm just publishing on a blog and so it's FREE! Now, there's a good deal during this recession. Of course, I'll accept donations ;-o (just kidding!).

-Don said...

Kathy, There's a huge bruise on the bottom of my chin where it hit the desk when my mouth flew open in awe... I've read this and re-read this while looking at every illustration about 5 times. WOW! Love it! Thank you for sharing this well-written, thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, butt-kicking look behind the curtain. WOW! -Don

Unknown said...

Hi Don ... I'm more than flattered by your very generous comments, and glad that you liked the post. I'm blushing :)