Sunday, March 15, 2009

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

This was one of those "if every day was like today" kind of days. For one, the weather was beautiful, by March-in-Ontario standards. Sunny, "warm" (that means above freezing)...and I have the pictures of the happy muddy horses to prove it! It would have been a great day to ride, but with the footing going from frozen to mud over the course of the day, well, it wasn't the greatest of options. Instead, I distracted myself by throwing myself into the new mare and foal painting of Toula and her baby...fueled somewhat by a 1kg bag of Peanut M&Ms supplied by said mare and foal's 'guardian,' shall we say! And no, I didn't finish a whole bag of Peanut M&Ms!

This is a good time to give the blow by blow of the early stages of one of my "traditional" oils, done with a complete underpainting. I decided on an 11 x 14 Raphael linen panel for this painting. The first step is to tone the surface, and my current favourite colour for this is Burnt Sienna. This stage is very simple - I dab some paint on the panel straight out of the tube, dip a large brush in solvent, and smoosh it around! As it gets to be half-dry, I'll take a larger, soft brush and even out the brushstrokes, or I may take a rag and smooth it out if I want to eliminate those brushstrokes altogether. Next, comes the drawing. I've used a sepia coloured pencil because it smears less than graphite with the introduction of solvent. The drawing doesn't have to be perfect, because I'll continuously correct and refine as the painting goes along. The image above shows things at this point.

Next comes what I term the "rough tonal." This is simply straight Burnt Umber thinned with varying amounts of solvent. I just want to block in some basics; I don't spend a lot of time on this stage (above). Often I will put the painting away for the day a this point, but today, because I had time and unprecedented motivation (:-D) I carried on. I'd decided I would try and video the process so that I can try putting together something. Interestingly, I found I painted more steadily because it was almost like having an audience, which in turn felt like subtle pressure to produce results! So after a short break to go throw hay for the horses, I was back at it.

My palette for underpaintings is simple - this time around, Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue and Titanium White. The first layer is typically very loose and quick. The foal went so fast, tonight I just kept on and thought I might actually get the whole surface covered. I have to admit I'm a little shocked that I managed that, by about 10pm! And yesterday I didn't even *start* painting until 9pm!

Now, I will leave it. The paint is very wet, so I'll let it dry for a while to decide whether I'll refine the underpainting with another layer, or dive into colour. The colour variations you may see are due to the difference in lighting as the day wore on! At the very top of the post I've put a detail image to give an idea of just how loosely I'm painting at this point.

And just because I mentioned it, I must post a photo of some muddy horses! Gives you an idea of just how small Monster is compared with Gladys, too! Quite the pair, don't you think?

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