Sunday, 27 January 2013

Exercises in Black and White Oil Color

Leaning on One Arm - Half-hour Study
26 January 2013
Oil Colour on Paper
42cm x 53cm (17" x 21")

Section 22 of the Natural Way to Draw introduces three exercises using black and white oil paints:

  • Gesture drawing in oil – This is a five minute study. It is similar to the gesture study in black and white (see Gesture in Black and White and More Gestures in Black and White) except it uses black and white oil paint instead of Conté crayons.
  • Half-hour study in oil. This starts as a gesture study and continues into a combination of a modelled study and an extended gesture study.
  • Sustained study in oil color – this is similar to the sustained study in crayon (see Sustained Study in Crayon and Try and Try Again) except for the use of oil paint instead of crayon. The instructions offer the opportunity to skip the contour study for the clothed pose, but I’ve chosen to include it.

Arm on Knee - Gesture Drawing
25 January 2013
Oil Colour on Paper
28cm x 22cm (11" x 8.5")

I am using water mixable oil paints (see because I don’t want to stink the house up with turpentine or some other nasty solvent.

Kimon Nicolaides says oil paint is the best medium for the study of drawing, but I am yet to be convinced. The biggest problem is the brushes don’t hold enough paint to make continuous strokes – this is my excuse for why the gesture drawings are stilted. I couldn’t build up any momentum because I was continually having to stop to pick up more paint.

Hand On Hip in Oil - Gesture Drawing
25 January 2013
Oil Colour on Paper
29.5cm x 38cm (7.75" x 15")

Since painting these studies, I’ve started to add water to soften and loosen the paint. This has made the exercises much more enjoyable, but goes against Nicolaides instructions. He suggests the student should take moisture out of the paint to discourage it from spreading and mixing on the paper. I suspect the paints he was using were a lot wetter because the undiluted water mixable oils don’t show any tendency to slosh about on the paper.

Sustained Study - Section 22 - Contour Drawing
27 January 2013
Graphite Pencil on Tracing Paper
27.5cm x 51cm (10.75" x 20")

This is my contour drawing for the sustained study from Section 22. When I took the photo, the face detection facility on the camera noticed Elaine’s face. This surprised me because its never found a face in a drawing before.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Glazing Techniques

Country Landscape
(Based on Don Rankin's Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor)
Watercolour on Paper
18cm x 18cm (7" x 7")

The pictures on this post are my versions of some of the exercises from Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor by Don Rankin.

Sea Mist
(Based on Don Rankin's Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor)
Watercolour on Paper
20cm x 18cm (8" x 7")

Glazing is the process of painting a thin ‘wash’ or ‘glaze’ over a dry underpainting. Its most common use is to adjust the colour or tone of an existing wash, but some artists use it to build up a whole painting out of multiple layers. It is a very controllable approach, but it takes experience and practice to perfect.

The technique relies on the transparency of thin watercolour washes - they do not completely obscure the colours and tones in the previous layers.

The Mud Flats
(Based on Don Rankin's Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor)
Watercolour on Paper
22.5cm x 13cm (8.75" x 5")

I am interested in the glazing technique because it is useful for creating interesting surface textures and atmospheric backgrounds. When I started painting, I would sometimes mix a colour on the palette and paint large areas with the same uniform colour. The result tends to be boring and unrepresentative of anything we see in the real world.

Mixing colours on the paper as a wet in wet wash is one way to create variations and transitions in colour. Glazing is another more controllable way to achieve similar results.

Glazing Swatches
Watercolour on Paper
12.5cm x 21.5cm (5" x 8.5")

These swatches may illustrate the point:
  • Swatch 1 is a green I mixed on the palette from Indian Yellow, Winsor Blue (Green Shade) and a little Winsor Red.
  • Swatches 2, 3, 6 and 7 are wet in to wet washes using the same colours. For each of these I painted the swatch yellow and then added red and blue to the wet paint.
  • Swatches 4, 5, and 8 are glazed. For each swatch I painted a yellow layer, let this dry, glazed it with a blue layer, let it dry, glazed it with a red layer, let it dry and then added a final blue layer. I deliberately applied each wash unevenly so the resulting colour is not flat.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Silver Birch

Silver Birch
(Based on Geoff Kersey's Trees, Woodlands and Forests)
Watercolour on Paper
11cm x 16.5cm (4.25" x 6.5")

This is my version of another demonstration from Geoff Kersey's programmes about “Trees, Woodlands and Forests” on The Painting and Drawing Channel.

I have being using Geoff’s demonstrations from these programmes as warm ups at the start of each painting session (see Warming Up and Scratching and Scraping). They are ideal for this purpose because they are small vignettes rather than full-blown paintings.

The challenge in this picture is to make the tree trunk look solid and cylindrical. It is an exercise in modelling. The solution is to decide where the sun is relative to the tree. In this picture, it is to the left. The side of the tree facing towards the sun is practically white and the trunk becomes darker as it curves away from the direct sunlight.

The background is a simple wet in to wet wash of different greens. When the background was dry, Geoff wet the whole of the tree trunk with clean water. He added a pale purple mixture to the middle and right hand side of the trunk. While this was wet, he added some blotches of browny orange to the right of the middle and some dark brown at the extreme right hand edge. These colours merge and mingle to give a gradual darkening from left to right, which reads as the change from light to shadow on a cylinder. (I should have put a shadow on the ground to emphasise the direction of the sun).

Geoff finished the picture by adding the distinctive black rings to the bark of the tree. These curved lines help to accentuate the cylindrical effect. It is important to remember that the marks below eyelevel appear to curve downwards from the edge and the marks above eyelevel appear to curve up.

Cross-sections of a Cylinder

Before I started the Natural Way to Draw, I had to think about this sort of thing. Now I have done so much modelled drawing, it is second nature.

Geoff used dry brush marks to indicate the rings. He let the brush skate on the rough paper to create broken marks. This is something I didn’t get right in this picture and which I’ve been practicing since.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

More Gestures in Black and White

Leaning Forward - Gesture Drawing
22 December 2012
Conté Crayon on Paper
26cm x 28cm (10.25" x 11")

The gesture drawing in black and white exercise from the Natural Way to Draw (see Gesture in Black and White) has caused me some problems.

Eventually, I realised the main difficulty was that I was trying to use the crayon like a pencil. The exercise became more fun when I stopped expecting the precision of a pencil and started to enjoy the different types of marks the crayon can make.

Shake It - Gesture Drawing
2 January 2013
Conté Crayon on Paper
28cm x 40cm (11" x 16")

For me, it helps to decide whether a line is going to be curved or straight - which fits in nicely with the ideas from the Straight and Curved Lines exercise (Straight and Curved Lines).

Hand On Hip - Gesture Drawing
6 January 2013
Conté Crayon on Paper
26.5cm x 39.5cm (6.5" x 15.5")

It seems the exercises that have caused me the most difficulty are frequently the ones I’ve learn the most from and have ended up being my favourites.