Thursday, July 23, 2009

Portrait of Scarlett: Step-by-Step

I thought I'd give everyone a break from my philosophical rants and show a demo of a recent study I completed. Paintings such as these are only for my personal development and not for sale. My original paintings will be done from live models or my own photos, if necessary.

My reference picture is something I found on the internet of actress Scarlett Johansson. Mainly, I'm working on my drawing skills with brush and paint (instead of painting over a charcoal drawing). You can click on any of the images to see a larger version. For you painters out there, I've noted the color mixtures used in each step.

Step 1: Value Block-in

I'm just putting some color down to place and size the head on the canvas. I also want to see the value relationships between the areas in light vs. the areas in shadow. Flesh color mixed with Cad. Orange, Ultramarine Blue, and Titanium White. Shadow color is a mix of Burnt Sienna with a little Viridian.

Step 2: Painting the Eyes and Nose

Starting to get the main features of the face and putting some of the hair color in so I can evaluate the flesh color against something other than the white of the canvas. Hair color mixed with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Titanium White, and a touch of Viridian. I add Ultramarine or Alizarin Crimson to the flesh color to warm or cool it for various areas of the face. I take the eyes and nose to a fairly high level of finish before moving on to make sure my value relationships are reading correctly.

Step 3: Painting the Mouth and Neck

I mark in the lips and shadow under the chin. At this point I'm unhappy with the placement of the features and start looking for my propane torch to use the panel as kindling. Damn, no torch. I step back and take a good long look to see what isn't working for me. After 3 cups of coffee and a lot of cussing, I realize the eyes are too small, too far apart, and at the wrong angle. The hair on the right side of her head extends too far away from her face. Nose is too big, and lips are too full.

Step 4: Fixing the Drawing

That's better. I've corrected the things I saw in the previous step and continue refining shapes. In the past I would have wiped the painting off and started over, but I wanted to force myself to find the problems and fix them this time.

Step 5: Block in Sweater and Hand

I adjust the shape of the lips and start modeling them using mainly the flesh color warmed with Cad. Red and Alizarin. I block in the sweater with a mixture of Burnt Sienna with a touch of Viridian and mark the location of the hand.

Step 6: Finish

"Scarlett" Oil on Linen 11" x 14"

I model the hand very simply so as not to detract from my main focal point of the head. Paint in a background so I have some paint to work edges as I finish out the hair. Add a darker, cooler color over the sweater using Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, keeping it loose to indicate the folds in the material.

Photographs don't record color well, so I've compressed the value range down so the darks don't go black and the lights are not pure white. Something you learn when you paint from life.

I could have easily worked on this for another week, but its just an exercise, so I'll put this one to bed and start on something else.

1 comment:

sunshower said...

Wow, thanks for the make it seem so easy yet difficult at the same time! :)