Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Processed Piece (Part 2)

Okay, so in the last post I  introduced you to my keep it simple approach to how I go about a new painting. It really is very straightforward, and I am sure many of you follow much the same principle, but somehow putting it down really seems to get you thinking about what you do. 

Having already gone over steps 1 - 3 in Part 1 (see also Processed Piece (Part 1) it's time to get onto the nitty-gritty of steps 4 - 6 where it really does all come together, (or fall apart).

Step 4 Colour and Tone

Well the title says it all really, and in this step I really like to build up the colour and get those tonal values singing. The more tonal values you can create in a piece the more 3 dimensional the appearance. The achievement of tone is all about understanding highlights, mid-tones and deepest shadow tones, and again for this it's down to careful observation. By using a live subject, you can study it's colour variations as you go and keep looking at it as you paint. I think many students forget this bit, as they get carried away with painting.

Building the layers of colour and tone on the bramble leaves
for Bramble Pradise

Some details come into focus on the peony seedhead

Step 5 Depth, Detail and Shadows

This is the step where I like to think of myself going out of my comfort zone with the depth. When you start to get into the finer details of your subject, you will notice that some of the tonal values get a bit lost, especially in the deeper register. In this step, I like to really oomph it up with the darkest tones and adjust the shadows to their darkest range. Even on very light subjects, you will be surprised how dark you will need to go to get it right.

In this stage, I also like to begin to pay attention to the imperfections, surface textures and characteristics that can only be done once the early washes are dry and the tones are built up.

defining subtle detail to the back of a leaf

Moving round the dahlia

Going very dark in the shadows 

The very darkest tones are layered over the midtones

Step 6 Finishing

I like to do this a day or two after I think I have finished a painting. Only after the eyes have rested from the constant closeness of the work can you really see where adjustments need to be made. Picking out tiny highlights with a scalpel should only be done once the paint is absolutely dry, and there will always be something forgotten, such as the tips of prickles and thorns, a few more hairs or an untidy edge that could do with tightening up.

This stage is all about looking closely at the work and tightening everything up, so it's as good as it can be. Often, I will go over a completed piece with a magnifying glass, just to make sure all those pencil lines are gone and every edge is finished properly.

Tightening up the edge of the stem on the clematis

Going over the bramble thorns

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