Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 13

Finishing the under-painting

I want to get the whole canvas covered with color. Using the Zorn palette is a challenge and I realize that I won't be able to be a purist on this. I will need some quinacridone red (Q-red) on the wood block and a real blue on the bells handle.

Meanwhile, I am under-painting the keyboard and after I got a rough placement of the keys, it all looks wrong. Under careful scrutiny, my big problem is that I don't have a real keyboard, here. Remember I just the cardboard box standing in for it. And it's only doing a so-so job. The base of the keyboard is too deep, so I have lengthened the keyboard by one key. I absolutely refuse to measure and repaint those keys. I will have to redo the black ones. That's not too big of a deal.

So right now the keyboard looks a bit strange where I wiped out some black keys. There was too much wet paint to continue, so I'll wait and re-draw and re-paint when it is dry.

As I tackle the unicord and bow, I see that the bow is no longer where I had it. I even had it taped to the instrument. I moved it and retaped it and I like it better, so that's where it will stay. I hope I can paint it before it moves again.

Adding the white paper and refining the clarinet a bit also helps. I wanted to see what the little drum sticks looked like...I am so afraid they will look like blond eyeballs. Now that I have painted them, they look OK. I think no matter where I put them, they might look funny.

At this point, I'm just eager to get this part done so I can get to finishing the painting.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 12

Color under-painting, step 2

Continuing on to the right, I got involved in some of these smaller items. I wanted to see how the colors of the limited palette worked on these items, and how much variation I could get. As you can see, there's lots of variation.

As I got down to the triangle, I saw that the drawing wasn't quite right. So I corrected it and basically finished it. It still needs some highlights and brighter reflected lights, but right now it is the most finished part of the painting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 11

Color under-painting, step 1

This still life set-up is basically browns and blues. I think I can do this with the Anders Zorn limited palette of white, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, and black. I will use the Gamblin Chromatic black, which is really a mixture of blues and whatevers. But no ivory black, which tends to crack.

I like using a limited palette for two reasons. First, there's the built-in color harmony. Secondly, it is SO easy to remix a color, because you have so few choices.

I started with the gong, trying to work back to front. Then I moved to my right and down to the tambourine. All the while I am painting this, I am still refining my drawing. For instance, I realized the tambourine wasn't thick enough, so I had to make adjustments there.

The "blue drapery" is just black and white, which looks very cool and blue next to the warm colors. The gray on the tambourine, is black and white, plus a dab of yellow ochre and cad red light to warm it up. So it is actually a warm gray.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 10

The underpainting

I need to redraw everything with paint and get rid of the charcoal...this is critical. I don't want to mix the dry charcoal in with the paint.

Using just ultramarine blue and terra rosa, I wiped away the charcoal with a dry rag as I painted in the lines and values. With these two colors, I was able to rough in some color similar to the colors that will be in the final painting. The keyboard is starting to look more like a keyboard.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 9

Final Charcoal Drawing

I redrew everything more precisely, still moved a few things a bit here and there. I am still looking at shapes, negative shapes, and tangent lines. But everything is basically where it was in the rough sketch. There are no details in at this point and some of the shapes are a little wiggly. Drawing with soft vine charcoal is it's own challenge, since it's unclear where the tip of it will connect with the canvas.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 8

Rough sketch

This is a VERY ROUGH sketch. Before I could go any further, I had to see if everything fit on the medium gray-toned 18 x 24 canvas. I loosely sketched this with soft vine charcoal, sight size, fiddled a little more and got it all in. I had to lower the gong and the temple bells about an inch, but that was OK. Right now I am only interested in the larger shapes, the negative shapes, and tangent lines. No details here.

I will be drawing and painting in the sight-size method, see above. I have placed my easel with the 18 x 24 canvas EXACTLY parallel to the set-up. (The distortion you see in the picture is typical camera distortion.) This is by far the easiest and most accurate way to draw and paint. The concept is simple: What is on the canvas must look like what is on the set-up. Measuring and comparing is a breeze.

The long white vertical strip on the right is where I cropped the set-up. All my vertical measuring was done from the left edge of the strip. The horizontal lines all line up...I hold a stick horizontally and make sure the image is the same as in the set-up. For instance, the top of the pitcher and the bottom of the pitcher is the same on both. As I say, it is a breeze.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 7

Set-up #7

Since I have not been able to condense this set-up satisfactorily, I have put the tambourine back where it was several steps ago. But I have angled it more so that the jingle-jangles are more visible. (Sorry, I don't know the technical name, but you know what I mean.)

The entire set-up is now much tighter and I will probably crop a bit off the right as you see the picture. I am thinking of letting the drum bleed off the right side.

In general, I think I'll go with this. There are still some tangent lines that have to be dealt with, but I'll do that as I go along. For instance, the top of the pitcher lines up EXACTLY with the line between the black and brass areas of the gong. And the left edge of the soft drum stick lines up almost with the left edge of the blond tone block. The black part of the tambourine runs right into the black part of the gong. The two drumsticks on the sheet music could be a bit more artistically positioned.

It is a great help to me to photograph these set-ups and study them before I tackle the actual painting. I am able to see things that I probably wouldn't see otherwise.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 6

Set-up #5

The clarinet arrived and I am tickled to see it in the set-up. It adds a lot of class!

I fiddled around with the tambourine...I had said earlier that I thought it was too close to the gong because it mimicked the shape and size. So I moved it to the far right and pushed the Buffalo drum more to the left.

I added the can see one set on the drum and the other is tucked away on the far right. They are difficult to place because if I'm not careful, they'll look like large black blobs. Each pair is joined with rust-colored cord which adds another colorful touch. I'll try to use both pairs, but I'm not sure I can pull it off.

Here again I am struggling with containing the set-up within the 18 x 24 allotted area. By moving the tambourine to the right, the whole set-up grew width-wise again. This won't do at all. I can paint the items slightly smaller than life, but I have to be careful that they don't look strange. I'll try again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 5

Set-up #4

In a communication with my client, she indicated that she would prefer a clarinet rather than the recorder. Since I don't happen to have a clarinet, I replaced the recorder with paper-towel holders the length of a clarinet, which is about 6-8 inches longer than the recorder (top picture). I knew this might make a difference in the set-up. I took a picture of it, printed it out, and painted in the clarinet from photos on websites. I like it SO much better (bottom picture).

She also wished that the painting could include castanets. So I needed to visit her and pick them up and photograph the keyboard, which I hadn't done in the initial visit. I showed her the picture where I had painted in the clarinet and she also liked it SO much better.

There was a long shot that I could paint it from photos, but there was no way. It's a complicated instrument with lots of silver doodads casting shadows all over the place. To make a long story short, I bought a used one on e-bay. It was actually cheaper in the long run than renting one a half-hour away. Remember, I live in the country where nothing is convenient. This way, that clarinet might turn up in another painting some day. It is really a beautiful instrument!

Everything is now on hold until the clarinet arrives.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tools of the Trade, Step 4

Set-up #3

I moved the keyboard to the left and put it in shadow. This works much better and keeps the emphasis off the white keys. I also placed the sheet music on the table for the same reason.

What bothers me most about this arrangement is the repetition of the gong shape in the tambourine. I'll have to work on this. Meanwhile the items on the right are quite jumbled, but it's a start.

I think with a bare minimum of tweaking, the left side will stay basically the same. I'm having a difficult time squeezing everything into the 18 x 24 space.