Friday, April 13, 2012

Iron Maiden Part IV

Posted by: Kate

Time for segment four.  I've been dragging my heels about updating because I'm getting kind of tired of my Iron Maiden joke and every time I write the post title it sounds lamer to my ears.  Here is a photobooth-style synopsis of my first pass of pure paint over the ébauche of her hands.  I find that it's not necessary to jump into details at this point.  Always paint what's easiest to paint.  The cuticles will show up for the party when they're ready.  One thing about fingers: every knuckle is in business for itself.  Even if your fingers are held straight, each knuckle bone points at a slightly different angle.  From hand to finger tip is a slight zig-zag path.  Fingers are crooked.

Meanwhile, on the face, I built up a nice thick layer of pure paint on the most prominent areas--the forehead, the bridge of the nose, the ball of the chin, the illuminated areas right below the insides of her eyes.  The idea is that light hits these parts of her face the brightest because they are the most prominent, so by making them more prominent with thick paint, I will achieve a nifty painting effect that enhances both the tactile effect of the piece and the sense of the thingness of things.  "The thingness of things" is an expression that sounds like it belongs in the mouth of a slack-jawed yokel amateur art lover but in fact I have heard it used by multiple well-educated people who know what they're talking about, so I guess I should use it too.  It refers to when painters paint the essence of a thing as it is perceived by their brains, not just their eyes.  It is the opposite of impressionism and it is one of the things that, if an artist has the good sense to employ it, can make a painting different from a photograph.  If you want to see another example of using paint to capture the thingness of things, check out this post.

This thick layer of paint had to dry for several days (I work with Titanium in my beginning stages because the opacity allows me to make all sorts of flighty last-minute adjustments).  I was then able to begin to rework the face.  My approach is pretty much the same as last time: using pure paint, making a solid effort to hit values and colours, refining the drawing, and just making the painting better in general.  For those of you who use the terms first painting and second painting, I'm basically first-painting twice.  Yep, I have a special permit that says I can do that, and it doesn't become second painting just because I'm first-painting a second time around.  First painting and second painting are just two different ways of applying paint, and while second does come after first, there is no limit to how many times you do either.  I do it this way because it takes the pressure off the first round, creates better and more reliable results, and produces a meatier paint layer.

Not much to say about foreheads, except that you can do a lot by varying the warm/cool tone near the hair line to produce the feeling of form.

The cheek on our right shows how I lay in several strips of colour to demarcate the major transitions in the from; the one on the left shows the end result.

 By the end of this session I had painted everything but the eyes and nose.  Now for the fun stuff.

The background of this piece is going to be completely fictional.  In real life she was sitting in a black office chair in a bright room, but my plan all along was for something dark and textural.  I squeezed a few stand-by colours onto my palette and swished them around with a big brush and some Gamsol.  This palette soup will comprise the "underpainting" of the background.  Notice that my background underpainting extends over her clothes and hair.  This is not only because I want her to seem as though she is emerging from her background, but also because I don't know what I'm doing with her body just yet.  And for the record, one thing I am definitely not doing with her body is making her shoulders a foot across.  She's actually wearing a black cardigan over a tank top, which is making it look like she has little gimpy shoulders.

One of the first painting lessons I learned was to always vary my backgrounds.  One side should be warmer, one side should be darker, brighter, etc.  I'm a very systematic person and if that hadn't been pointed out to me I'd still be laying in perfectly flat backgrounds and taking great joy in it.

I have so many more stages to share and the painting is only just about to get interesting, but it's almost 1am and since Dave brought me coffee in bed this morning it is unlikely that he will do so tomorrow.  Good night.

1 comment:

  1. Nice suggestion on the background. Always find the background to be a challenge, especially if left 'til latter. Love how the face and hands pop forward.