Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Sophie" Step by Step

I just finished this painting yesterday at my friend Helder's house, where we were both painting his girlfriend, Sophie, who was kind enough to pose for us.


For this painting, I started with a general flesh colour for the face, then added darks to the shadow side. Normally I would block in all of the background colour early on in a painting, but to achieve a more spontaneous result I resisted, and limited painting it in only where it was absolutely necessary to describe the tones and colours of the face. At this stage, I was mostly just thinking about blocking in the basic shapes, but I was also thinking a lot about “big form modeling.” This means describing the larger, overall forms, such as the egg shape of the head and the cylindrical nature of the neck and body.


For this sitting, I added the hair with my nifty new Langnickel brushes! They make really nice looking strokes! In rendering the hair, I thought very carefully about each stroke before putting it down. Then I made sure not to mess with them at all afterwards, to maintain the spontaneity. I used burnt sienna, burnt umber and ultramarine for the hair. Then I refined the features, and the overall form of the face. Once the dark hair had been added in, I found that I had to darken my shadows quite a bit from the first sitting, to get them dark enough.


While I liked the feeling of the brushstrokes in the hair after the second step, the shadow side of the head needed to be darker, so I worked into the hair a bit more, as well as refining the features and adding her necklace.


Although I liked the looseness and of the background up to this point, some of the diagonal brushstrokes were too distracting, and the contrast of her hair against the light background was just way too strong, so I carefully carried some more of the background colour around her head a bit more, being careful not to mess with each stroke too much, as I did want to maintain that looseness. I also worked quite a bit on her neck, which is a challenging area of the body to render successfully. The goal was to render it’s anatomy, which consists of tendons and large muscle forms, while also capturing the soft quality of the neck. Lastly, I went in and softened the cheek and hairline slightly.


innisart said...

Wow, Kristy. You draw so well. Very nice.

Kristy Gordon said...

Eee, thanks Matt!! That's actually really nice to hear:)

Troy Little said...


Kristy Gordon said...

Eee! Thanks Troy! (and Wow to your new grant for Angora Napkin!!!:)

innisart said...

How do you like the Langnickels? They seem to be the brush of choice of the Californians (and Richard Schmid). I have a bunch, and have used them, but end up finishing with other brushes instead. I can't get myself to treat them the way Schmid does; imagine Frankenstein's monster wielding a rake.

What medium are you using?

What is your current color palette?

Kristy Gordon said...

AAAHAHAHA YOU"RE HILARIOUS MATT!! And, as usual you know more about the history of my painting techniques then I do (I didn’t even know that Richard Schmidt uses the Langnickels!) I just got them after watching the Jeremy Lipking DVD, and actually I'm really liking them! But I can see how they could get to be a bit unruly maybe... but I think maybe the way I've been wrapping them (Yuqi Wang style) in newspaper (or in my case torn up phone books)helps keep 'em all easy to use, right down to the finishing touches. I'll see if I can get a video of me wrapping them, but basically I just wrap newsprint or whatever around them in a certain way, to keep them all flat (also, I mostly only use square tipped brushes these days:) I've read of other artists pressing their brushes between two pieces of cardboard taped together to keep them flat. I'm sure that works well too:)

Anyway, yeah, and I'm going to do a post today or tomorrow about what's on my palette! Thanks for the good question Matt!!

Shawn William Clarke said...

I love these tutorials! I can't create visually to save my life, but I still enjoy reading your posts.

Kristy Gordon said...

Thanks Shawn!

innisart said...

Another good use for an old phone book. I've heard of some people ripping off the covers, and using the rest as a palette, tearing out the top layer of pages at the end of each day.

Some artists drop their brushes in containers filled with oil, and dig them out only when they need them. Others wash them like human hair with conditioners (Juan?). Some people tie strings around the hairs to keep the shape when drying. Me? I've just been washing them well with cool to warm water (natural hair brushes), and laying them flat to dry so the water doesn't get into the ferrule.

I'm just too much the stereotypical Scotsman to abuse the brush like Schmid does. I also can't squeeze out a lot of paint on my palette for fear of expensive waste. Always too timid, I guess.

Kristy Gordon said...

Hey! That's a good idea to use an old phone book as a palette!! And yeah, I'm trying to start being a bit more liberal with how much paint I put on my palette:) That's a good point too about how if you let the brushes dry laying flat, so the water doesn't get into the ferrule! THANKS MATT!!

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