This weeks was a rather frustrating painting experience for me. I hit a road block and spend part of this weekend searching for answers.
The painting I’m working on is of the study I shared in the past 2 weeks. I selected a large canvas for this one so I don’t feel “crammed”, but that turned out to be a bit more than I can swallow for this period of time. I run into a lot of problems. For one, working on a large scale makes it impossible to see the whole picture all at once while working on one particular area, unless you step back.
It is easy to become so involved with the painting process and forget to do it, resulting in a well painted area that does not match the rest of the painting.
Yes, big bummer.
Secondly this size introduced me up close to a problem I was having all year long: the style or method of applying paint.
See, oil paint, is by nature a very “blendy” substance. It is rather easy, in my opinion, to make a seamless smooth transition between two paints on a canvas by smooshing them into one another with a brush. However, that creates a surface that is unnatural since most surfaces in real life are not stiff and perfectly smooth. They have small variations in them. This raises the question, how should one use paint, a might mooshy substance but achieve that slighty rough effect?
Here is a painting by William Adolf Bouguereau, a masterful painter (1825-1905):
(Click to enlarge)
You may think it is perfectly blended, but you’d be wrong. Take a look at this digital model to see how a truly seamless blend looks like (Link to the artist’s Deviant Art page):
It looks like plastic (though in this case it was probably intended).
In contrast look closely at the shadow on the neck in Bouguereau’s painting:
You’d notice that the shadow does not have one color, but actually 2: it seems like the darker one is on top of the lighter one without covering it uniformly. This repeats throughout the entire figure. This is what I want to learn to do. I’m not quite sure how he actually achieved this, but I would guess that he softly scumbled the darker paint on top of the lighter one after the lighter one was dry or nearly dry.
Here is an example of a painting that I find very “smooshy” (by a contemporary artist named David Kassan).
This is what oil paints will naturally do for you if you don’t learn to manipulate them to meet your goal.
Working on a large scale, every patch of skin is huge, making it harder than normal to achieve a play of color throughout. But my little research has helped and I hope to overcome the time pressure and other issues and produce a painting that matches my vision, because this one, I really like and want to see done.
Finally, as I mentioned last week, 2 weeks from now my Atelier will have a graduation party. If you live in the Seattle area, please come and feel free to bring friends and family. It is a very nice event & don’t forget to introduce yourself to me.
Here is an invitation featuring my painting on it!