Saturday, 23 February 2013

Painting from sketches: an experiment

Since I have been doing a lot of work from photographs, or directly from life, I wanted to see if I could produce an oil painting from drawn and painted sketches, rather than photographic reference material. The model was Freya, who is a dancer that holds the most wonderful poses, so it seemed a shame to be only studying her head for this experiment!

I started with the familiar, of making a detailed drawing over about 45 minutes. This was to be my main painting reference.

Drawing from life in charcoal pencil
The drawing does not really look like Freya, but I liked it for the tonality I managed to capture. The lighting was difficult with the face being mainly in shade, and as the light is from skylights, it was altering rapidly with the changing weather outside.

The next stage in gathering information, was to make a colour study. I used to take oil paints to the classes, but I found that transporting the wet paintings back to the studio, or home, ended up with paint all over the car, so I have swtiched to acylics for colour sketches.
I like acrylics in that they dry quickly, but I am still getting used to the fact that when being overlaid, they tend to dry darker than when applied. The heat of the life studio also causes problems with the paint drying too rapidly on the staywet palette, so I will need to remember my extender medium next session.
Acrylic study on canvas board, 30 x 30cm

Back at my own studio in the afternoon, I started a small 30 x 30cm oil painting to be based on the drawing and the acylic study. The main difficulty was that her head had obviously moved a little between sittings, so I had two different viewpoints to work from. I based the main portrait on the drawn element, but tried to make it more like her, as with the painted sketch.

oil painting on canvas board, 30 x 30cm

 At this stage I am not very happy with the result. I have used too much white in what is meant to be an underpainting, and the face looks unnatural as it is half way between the two pieces of source material. It doesn't look like the model I miss my photographic crutch at this stage. I obviously need to choose one of the poses and stick to it!

To help with the next day's painting, I 'messsed' up some of the marks to remind myself to keeep spontaneous with the marks and not to get too stressed and therefore, too fussy with the way the paint will be laid down.
oil painting messed up a bit, ready for more work.
It should be dry enough to work on by Monday, so maybe I will have more success then.

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