Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Principles in painting basic realism – The portrait

Portrait of a Bride

Tools: Oil on canvas (16 x 20) - Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Flesh Tint, Paynes Grey, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (red), Viridian Green, Zinc or Titanium White.
-Alternative hues: Yellow naples, Blue Ultramarine.
Brushes: Soft – Hard, medium – small size, and blending brush
Other tools: Turpenoid odorless, Pure Linseed oil, soft charcoal, and work fixative.
Technique: Value next to value/blending – Layering

With this demonstration the student will be able to learn and apply some basic principles when trying to accomplish realism in painting in the case of a protrait.
It is important to understand that this is not a Hyper – realistic painting. This form of painting could be considered simply as close to realism or pre/photorealism.

Realism Vs hyper realism in painting.
We can safely define realism as treatment of forms, colors, space, etc., in such a manner as to emphasize their correspondence to actuality or to ordinary visual experience.
Hyper realism or photorealism as an artistic style is characterized by highly realistic graphic representation.(This is in other words like High Definition in painting)
The practical effectiveness of this technique is the key for any artist to approach any classical or contemporary painting style even for abstraction.
Value next to value
This concept or way of painting is one of many approaches in fine arts. I personally find this technique straightforward and effective. In here we are basically making decisions on our values, color, and intensity by selecting the correct value according to lights and shadows and then establishing a relationship between values until accomplishing the desire result. Values must meet and it is OK to overlap.

First, apply a layer as your underpainting. This is a basic coat of painting on your white canvas (middle tone). Your underpainting could be done in acrylics and the colors could be any colors associated with the ones you'll be working for your portrait.
Underpaintings are essential for many reasons and uses. On of them is you don't want to paint in a total white canvas which makes difficult to identify you brighter values when painting. Many artists use the underpainting for their advantage since it is the very basic color foundation for the next layers.
As usual, our very basic foundation. This can be done on soft charcoal which becomes very flexible to manipulate and easy to erase when drawing (even with your hands).
For basic foundation refer to:
The power of objective observation.
Many experienced artists skip the charcoal or pencil drawing and go straight with the brush. You can create your first initial foundation drawing with your paint brush using like a burnt sienna or grey, but no until you have enough confidence in your drawing skills.
After you initial foundation is done, apply work fixative to your charcoal drawing. (outdoors please)
Applying your first values
Burnt sienna
and flesh tint: Mix these two for your first values, dark and middle darks. The more flesh tint you apply the brighter and more natural your skin will get. (Pour some linseed oil on the paint to make it more flexible and glossy, also when it comes time to blend this keeps the paint fresh) If you have an area of intense darkness, don't use black. Instead combine burnt sienna with Paynes Grey.
Remember: Your master and dominant color is the flesh tint, and you'll want to work around it.
In this process of value next to value you want to be organized and consistent with your brush strokes. And also it is important to be able to complete this first process in one day (wet on wet ) so you can blend your values on time.
I always strongly recommend to start applying your darkest and middle dark tones first (for some artists the opposite works better). I believe this gives you a more logical and strong visual skeleton and painting foundation to apply the next values. The best way is to recognize or detect your strongest shadows and place them in the right location. In here you are applying some drawing skills but with paint.
Identifying your shadows is recognizing the shape of it. So you are basically painting shapes. Your dark and middle dark tone values are (in this case) side of forehead, partial side of high and lower cheek, ear structure, eyebrows, neck, side of nose, jaw, shadow under nose, upper back

& shoulder and why not some of the hair.
Make an effort in working in the same color family to keep consistency in your hues.
Next, paint some of your middle tones and middle light tones by adding the right and necessary amount of white to the initial color you initially built. Also is a good time to apply some pink produced by white and the Crimson (red). You don't want to overwork this color and only apply it as necessary.
Then, by enhancing the amount of white to your first original color you should accomplish your light tones and your brightest bright tones. Use naples yellow as an alternate color to create a more natural skin color if desired.
At this point you should have pretty much an abstract portrait painting, and all the main tone values should be in position. If you want to you can fill in the eyes and lips to have a more complete figure. Nothing changes here you are still working value next to value, only this time on smaller details.
As mentioned before the ideal and more effective approach will be to accomplish this first process in one day
to allow blending in most of the areas of the figure.
The blending process is probably the most important aspect in this process. In here we are giving a more logical sense to the portrait. Blending values is a repetitive process, and the elegance you want to accomplish is really up to you.
You will blend your values using a blending brush (don't paint with this brush)
Blending brushes come in all sizes and they are similar to make up brushes (soft round-wide).
Begin by blending your values right where they meet (at this point you are spending a lot of time looking at your source reference). Blend your dark, middle and bright tones.
You can blend in different directions and the motion while blending must be subtle, barely touching the paint. Our mission is to establish a logical and soft relationship between values in where the transition is soft and natural. This can also be associated with
Once your blending brush picked up to much painting from the blending process, clean it using your turpenoid and dry it well with paper towel and then repeat the same process of blending.

It is important to fade these values in a way that you built unity in your tones.
It will be ideal to wait until this process completely dries. It might take two or more days. At this point you should have a blended portrait including eyes and mouth.
This is a great time and opportunity apply new layers to accomplish a more natural skin color.
When layering you'll want to work with thin paint. (almost transparent) The reason for this is that you still want to keep those first layers that you blended with sienna, red, and flesh tint.
Linseed oil is very common for this process (many artist use a variety of other mediums for other purposes and intentions like liquid, galkyd, glazing mediums, etc.)
I find pure linseed oil very flexible and easy when it comes times for layering. It will make your paint thin and will allow you to work with the pre-established underlayers. (warning: don't over do linseed oil)
*Mix white and Alizarin Crimson (red) with flesh tint and start layering as necessary, this will give you a nice natural pink for the skin. Obviously the more white you add the lighter will get. Use it specially in some of the dark areas, in that way the face won't be completely brown and with a tan.
In some of the middle tones you can apply a combination of yellow ochre and flesh tint. And you can safely use a little Naples Yellow and White for your brightest bright.
Remember this is a dry on wet process, and these layers must be very thin!!!
Layering is also ideal for detailing, like the eyes, lips, ears and hair. Use a fine thin small brush for this purpose. When building hair, eyebrows or eyelashes several layers are required with meticulous details. (Just like drawing)
Green in the skin?
Yes, but not grass green. We have all kind of colors in our skin and also it depends of our ethnic background. But the most predominant are earth-ground colors, such as browns, siennas, ochres and greens. Of course we are also affected by external color reflections that could be any colors(greys, oranges, purples, blues, etc.)
We definitely have some greens in the skin, again this is something you don't want to overdo.
*Mix some paynes grey with yellow ochre and may be a little of sienna and you'll get a nice green for the skin and apply it softly as one of your final layers on the skin in the dark areas.
When layering hair, a thing brush is required. And you'll want to create natural hair. When you created your initial painting foundation for hair you set by blending a relationship between skin and hair(you don't want to make it look like a wig).
A world in the eyes
I encourage to work intensely in the eyes. This is the soul and expression of the figure. Attempt to paint the smallest detail in the eyes, from the eyeball, to the pupils, reflections from the external world and highlights. (note in this painting the reflection of the person taking the photograph)
Creating atmosphere
It is important to place your figure in a natural environment. When painting the background make sure you establish a solid relationship foreground-background. You can accomplish this by softening the edges either from the negative space or the positive and then fade the contour lines. (This work better the first day wet on wet)
When is wet on dry, use some linseed oil with very thin paint to create this effect.
At the end you want to create your figure in a natural space-environment, and not make it look like it is pasted onto the canvas.


Adam said...

your tutorial on oil painting is just what i was looking for!!!

thanks! and happy new year BTW!

Jerald said...

Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

Jerald said...

Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

Portrait Painting