Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Craig Step by Step

STAGE 1 Establishing the Basic Shapes
I started with a general flesh colour for the face (using Cadmium Red Medium, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Permanent, Gamblin’s Titanium/Zinc White Mixture, and the occasional addition of Yellow Ochre Pale and English Red), then added darks to the shadow side. At this stage, I was primarily thinking about blocking in the basic shapes, and defining the light side and the shadow side. By “drawing with the shadows,” I was able to judge the placement of everything and achieve an accurate likeness early on.

I often block in all of the background colour early on in a painting, but to achieve a more spontaneous result I limited painting in the background to only where it was absolutely necessary to describe the tones and colours of the face.

STAGE 2 Shadow Band and Form Modeling
Next I started to darken along what some academic artists call the “terminator,” and others call the “bed-bug line.” It is the darkened band along where the light side turns into the shadows. Since reflected light bounces into the shadow side, this band is often the darkest part of the shadow. It changes with the contour of the body, becoming thicker/thinner in areas and lighter/darker in areas.

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. Initially, his face felt too wide to me, but it kept measuring correctly. When I started to darken the edges of both the light and shadow sides, making the sides of the jaw wrap around the form, his face started to feel like it was the right proportions

STAGE 3 Hair and Features
For this sitting, I added the hair with my Langnickel brushes. They make really nice looking strokes! I used Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine and sometimes a little Lamp Black for the hair. As I was painting the hair, I also blocked in select areas of the background to establish that relationship.

Then I worked on the features some more, and the overall form of the face. I started to describe the planes of the forehead, and soften the hairline, as well as put a bit more information into the shadow-side. What we see in the shadow-side should normally be understated, so it’s always a balance between selection and elimination with the shadow-side.

STAGE 4 Background and Shirt Block In
I blocked in a loose background, in a very direct fashion, with my 1” Langnickel brush, and tried not to mess with it. I wasn’t sure at first if I would leave it like this or work with it more later (which I did end up doing). I also started to block in the placement of the shirt. I really wanted to keep the painting of the shirt loose and direct, so I didn’t take it too far at this stage. I wanted to have a couple days to think about it before really going in there with it.

STAGE 5 Defining the Background and Shirt
First I went in and defined the shirt, squinting my eyes a lot to really see how the colours and tones changes across his chest.

I noticed that in the last stage the brushstrokes were too distracting and the background was too light, both of these factors were making it hard to know where to rest the eyes, which was supposed to be on the light side of his face! So, one night, in-between session, I went in with a palette knife and blocked in this new background. I wanted to keep some ares transparent and textured, and I found that the palette knife, along with the fairly transparent colours I had selected worked well for that. I was using Ultramarine, and Burnt Sienna with Galkyd and linseed oil as the base, and was tinting it with black, and Yellow Ochre and English Red as needed to achieve variation in the colours an the shadow pattern around his head.


I continued to define the the face and hair, leaving the background and shirt alone for a while. In the face I focused particular attention on the area in the light. In paintings, the light is supposed to define the form, and the shadows give atmosphere, and can be used to create interesting shadows around the lights. So I really focused most of my attention on the light side of his face. Most of the refinements were very subtle at this stage, but in particular you can more definition of the cheekbone and the softening of the hairline in the light.

Final Adjustments

The forehead was a real challenge in this one. I had noticed when I turned the painting upside down that the shadow on the top of his forehead wasn’t blending into the light side properly, and also that the form didn’t feel right in the light side of his forehead either. So I softened the shadow-line and really evaluated the planes of his forehead.

Finishing Details
I wanted the highlights to seem loose but accurate. Also, I really like it when the lightest parts of a painting are thicker and textured, so I kept trying to put on nice thick highlights, scraping it off and trying again, until finally I liked the way the brushwork in the forehead was working.

Here's a video of me working on the painting around stages 3 and 4.
Cinematography by Mike Kerr and Nick Cross
Editing by Nick Cross
Music by Patrick Metzger

(I'm the luckiest person in the world to have so many talented friends!! Thanks guys!!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Artist Checklists

When I was at the Portrait conference this year, they talked about how every artist should keep track of the critiques that they receive and compile a list based on the mistakes that they seem to keep making. Actually, this reminded me of when John K made very specific checklists for us Ren and Stimpy BG painters to actually physically check off before he would even look at our backgrounds, and to my surprise when I started doing it I started doing some decent backgrounds, which finally started getting approved;) Anyway, so here’s my current painting checklist:

Most Frequent Mistake Checklist:

- not looking long enough at the model before making a brushstroke
- don’t mistake the area of highest contrast as the brightest/darkest
- seeing warm in the shadows, but not comparing it to the warm in the lights, so making it too chromatic
- cast shadows should be sharp(ish)-edged, dark, often cool, and united with the contained shadows
edge of a warm object gets cooler, and colours get warmer at the edges of a cool object
not so loose at edges (treatment inside a shape can be loose, but refine the edges)
usually darken at edges (so it wraps around the form)
in painting trees, use careful strokes, like calligraphy (actually, this applies to almost all brushstrokes ideally:)
working without enough paint
leave some brushstrokes!
don't put in detail highlights before the big form modeling
don't over do it with the highlights!
shadows should be transparent

Capturing a Mood in a Portrait

Matthew Innis sent me a bunch of articles, essays, write-ups and soooo much other great stuff, and I was reading through it the other day, and came across this really cool article called “The Difference Between Genius and Talent in Figure Painting, by an artist.” It had some really cool ideas about doing meaningful portraits and figure paintings.

First the artist should conceive of what it is that they want to express with their painting. What they want to capture or to say about them. Perhaps an inner emotion or feeling, or an “elevated form of a genuine human character.”

Then select a pose, gesture and expression that embodies that theme.

Then, the REALLLYY interesting part was that when you are painting, get into the mood that you want to convey in the piece. When we are in a certain mood, we naturally create brushstrokes and shapes that express that feeling!

Anyway, I just thought that was really interesting!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interview on CBC Radio

Eee, I manged to track down the recording of THIS INTERVIEW that I did on Tuesday with CBC radio's Adrian Harewood for All in a Day about the Juror's Choice Award that I just won for Easter Sunday at the Orillia Museum of Art and History:)

"Easter Sunday," oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches, 2007

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Painting on The Edge

I just found out that my painting, "Fiberglass Venus," was accepted into Painting on the Edge at the Federation Gallery!

There were 700 entries to the show, so it's an honour to have been among the 50 selected artists.

The award ceremony is August 21, 2008 from 6pm-9pm at Federation Gallery on Granville Island, in Vancouver. I doubt I'll be able to make it (being on the other side of the continent and all), but my Dad'll probably be there, so any of you who can make it should look out for the guy with a thick Scottish accent and glasses that are supposed to automatically turn into sunglasses in the sun, but instead stay half darkened all the time - he's my Dad:) Anyway, I love and miss Vancouver so I always love it when I'm in shows out there:)

Fiberglass Venus, 12 x 9 inches, oil on panel, 2007

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Ava Triptych

With my fancy new Canon 40D digital camera, I was finally able to get decent photos of the Ava Triptych! Yay! What a difference a good camera can make!
I had done a post earlier with the step-by-step to this painting, but I was never really happy with the final picture that I took of it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Time's Running Out

Well, there's officially only five days left to vote for my Ogrant!! Thank you soooo much to everyone who's already voted and left all theat really sweet feedback!! and yeah, for those of you who maybe haven't heard about it or havent had a chance yet to vote.. any Canadian Student in college or university can vote!!

click here http://www.ogrant.com/ActiveVote.aspx?aid=259 (in the top right corner), then, after you've verified your email click "SUPPORT" (also in the top right corner, kinda under the registration/login area) to vote for me!!