Today, I am posting my oil painting grisaille study of Cornelis van der Geest, by Anthony Van Dyck. This has been a three week study. I don’t consider it a successful study, meaning that I am not satisfied with the results I am seeing. I am going to shelve it for awhile. To be honest, I feel I am slowly ruining the study: my values are shifting all over the place with each pass that I do and I am slowly loosing the likeness as well. So, it makes sense to walk away from it for awhile and return to it with “fresh eyes”.
My process is very standard. I do a drawing first on the panel, then I seal with a mixture of 50/50 Dammar Varnish and Odorless Mineral Spirits(OMS) with a hint of burnt umber to create a wash. I let lit dry for about a day.
Here is my initial drawing using a graphite pencil. I try to keep the drawing loose and to include only the essential marks that will help me with the underpainting. Sometimes, I tend to include too much detail which eventually get obliterated when I start painting. Do not spend too much time in the drawing phase, especially for just doing an oil painting study. If you are just starting with oil painting, the goal is to get comfortable with medium and learning various brush handling techniques.
I sealed the drawing and did a light wash of burnt umber. Some of my initial drawing was lost in this process, which is okay because I can find the forms again during the underpainting. You still have to draw, even if you are painting! Your ability to draw is essential.
This is my first pass. I am loose with the values. At this point, I am just establishing the relative values I see at first glance so to speak, they are not accurate. I am also doing some form modeling, establishing my lights, darks, and halftones. Regaining the forms that I lost during the umber wash. I am using a 2 to 1 mixutre of OMS and linseed oil (lean medium) to thin the paint.
I believe this was my second pass. Here I am refining my forms, and doing my best to accurately depict my values. In addition, I am using a mixture of 2 to 1 mixture of linseed oil and stand oil (fat medium).
That’s it so far. Stay tuned for another study, this time it will be Gustave Courbet, The Desperate Man, 1844-45
Portrait charcoal study on Canson paper. For this study I employed the “wipe-out” method where I first covered the entire paper with a medium tone of charcoal and then proceeded to wipe out the lights with a piece of leather chamois. At this stage I am only establishing the major light and dark patterns (Notan) of the portrait. I am also checking overall proportion, gesture and shape accuracy. Initial darks are laid-in with vine charcoal.
If I feel confident of my major proportions and shapes, then I switch to charcoal pencil and start to delineate smaller forms lightly, being careful not to make any permanent marks (I have a tendency to press to hard with my charcoal pencil). At this stage I am searching, adjusting for smaller forms, again checking proportions and shape accuracy and how the smaller forms fit within the whole. My darks are still relatively light at this stage.
After massing in the smaller forms, and feeling confident about their placement, I start to model; taking the relatively flat shapes and making them 3-dimensional.
I just love doing this value study of William Merritt Chase’s “Portrait of a Woman”. It supposed to be a preliminary sketch for an oil painting value study that turned into a full charcoal value study. The support is for oil, not charcoal, and therefore it was challenge getting the values just right. It was difficult laying my darkest darks as there was little tooth to the surface. There was something haunting about this peace, however it could be the music I was listening too whiles drawing: Wars of Faith by Audiomachine. Anyway, it was a great study and I think I will do another one from this artist again. Hopefully, I won’t get carried away again in charcoal.
Portrait quick study side view on smooth newsprint.