Charcoal is a great medium as it is as fluid as paint, so a smear here and there adds a lot to a line drawing. This is a drawing I did on toned paper– after some drawings from the original concept art for Bambi. 11 x 14, charcoal, conte and chalk on tan toned drawing paper.
Painting the same thing several times gives the artist a good look at all the details. Draw several sketches, then paint a small version. It sounds tedious, but I can tell you this is how I have created my best and favorite large works.
This is a 5 x 7 panel, executed quickly. The horse still dominates the scene, although his actual size on the canvas is about 2.5 “. Acrylic on panel, 5 x 7”
If you took all the pigments in the color spectrum and mixed them together, what color would you make?
Every spring, Gamblin Paint collects a wealth of pigments from their Torrit Air Filtration system. They filter the air around the areas where workers handle dry pigments so that they are not exposed to pigment dust. Rather than sending the expensive pigments into the landfill, Gamblin paint makers recycle them into “Gamblin Torrit Grey”. The result is a little different each year, and they have a competition for artists to use Torrit Grey, black and white as the only hues. Check out the entries at Gambincolors.com, and head to Jerry’s or Dick Blick and get your own tube and enter!
One quick tip that I learned from Erik– Mix your colors using a value scale, about five shades of grey and white and black. Prepping your colors before you start painting will give you a profoundly different result than mixing as you go. My own tip- start painting with the darkest value and save the lightest for the end.
Gamine, 8 x 10 painting, oil on canvas.
This was a Quick Draw competition, in which the artists had to start with a blank canvas at 10 a.m. and finish when the horn sounded at 12 noon. That is 120 minutes to sketch, underpaint and finish off a painting. The time goes FAST and I am a fast painter to begin with! The finished paintings looked vibrant and exciting with a couple of dings, scratches and mistakes that only made them more interesting. Selecting a view was the hard part- had to be complex enough to be interesting, but not so complicated that I could not finish it. I selected a row of houses for the color, perspective and the very prominent American Flag.
A couple of notes:
– I had 120 minutes and used at least 30 on the charcoal sketch. This made a much better painting than I could have done otherwise. So begin with the end in mind- the drawing is the bones of the painting and we all want to have good bones!
– Use true, not local color. I used Gamblin’s Portland Greys for the sky as it was very overcast, I saw more than one finished painting with a bright blue sky- not a criticism, but a different choice than I made. There were very few sharp shadows which made for a more serene mood.
– I left out some details because there just wasn’t enough time to get them all in. You know you are looking at the American Flag whether or not there are detailed stars on it.
– You may want to pack a ruler!! Even in nature you may need to make a straight line here or there.
– Take some breaks and step back about 10 feet and take a good look. The parts that need work will jump out at you
– Prepare to do a lot of talking. Or listening. Many people will want to discuss what you are doing and that is part of the experience.
– Some fantastic colors for landscapes: chrome oxide green (instead of pthalo), cadmium red light, ultramarine (has replaced cerulean in most of my outside stuff), Portland Grey Light, Portland Grey Medium, Dioxy Purple (don’t make yourself crazy trying to mix red and blue!) and Windsor Lemon. The bricks are a grayed down Alizarin with a little white- a mixing accident that nailed the color!
– The whole Quick Draw experience was a lot like running a 10K- you may not be the best person out there, but you will get to finish and have your moment of triumph, large or small. Pause and appreciate this!
– Have a price in your head in case someone wants to buy your masterpiece and you want to sell it- this painting went home with an art lover, which was fine with me.
Lined up easels at the finish line:
It’s late Friday afternoon, big 3 day weekend ahead, and I left nothing on the table! I mean the easel. Here are the three paintings I have been working on, and think they are finally ready to escape from the studio. The Batman, well, really happy with this one. The island painting saw a surfer get painted in, then painted back out. Let me know what you think- should there be a person in this scene? Last, the abstract wave on paper. I have heeded the advice “don’t fear the bold highlight”. Especially in acrylic, that will make things happen for you. Tip of the week, if you are going to have refreshments in your art area, make sure your paint thinner isn’t near and /or in the same size cup as your iced tea. See photo and don’t drink your paint water by accident.
One of my art teachers said “Invariably, you find the most complicated thing to draw”, meaning that I won’t find the simple things and work my way up. This results in some frustration, as drawing someone standing, head on, or in full profile from eye level is much simpler and faster than figuring out all the resizing. For example, in drawing a face, the subject’s relaxed hand should be about enough, palm to fingertips, to go from chin to forehead. For a man, the shoulders should be about 3 heads wide. And so on. Use an extreme high or low POV and all things change. Hands become huge when they are near the viewer, body proportions change dramatically.
I loved this Superior Spiderman cover so much I could not stop looking at it, so I painted one. This is an acrylic painting 24 x 36″. I used the AMAZING Liquitex glaze– great oil paint effect.