Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sketching R2

I'm a slow learner.

I've been sketching on canvas with charcoal almost the entire day. But my method has been wrong. I've been reading Al Gury's Alla Prima and trying desperately to improve my technique. It's tough this painting gig. But, after about 5 hours sketching I finally nailed the technique that works for me. Now,I gesso the canvas (or board). Then I lightly sand it. And then I paint a thin layer, a sketch of the subject using turps and oil concentrating on the big shapes thinking about composition, and form. Then tonal values, and when I'm satisfied I hang it up to dry. I've been using burnt sienna, and/or red transparent oxide for this process.

Before this I was sketching with charcoal directly onto the gesso, and then painting over a 'ground' with the thin layer of turpentine and oil paint. But the problem was that the charcoal would get mixed with the paint, and distort the lines, and form. And it would change the colour of the paint. What a pain. I've got 3 canvases sitting here that I've wiped clean using turps due to my frustration with this entire process.

Well, I started sketching with paint today, and it's working much better. So, tomorrow I will continue using this method and see if I can't sort out step two - getting the colour mixes sorted out. I'm working on a number of portraits at the moment, and have been using a pallete of titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, deep rose, transparent red oxide, cadmium red, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, and negro black - and it seems to offer the balance of colours I need to create the right skin and hair tones.

So, "Arthur" above (pronounced R 2 in Portuguese) was a sketch I made after discovering what works. R2 is my neighbour's 5 year old child and he pops in to have a paint every now and again with me.

Well, let's see how tomorrow goes.

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