A bit of drawing and a bit of painting this week. There’s a yellow rose, which I had to dotwice before I got anywhere near, some more cafe sketches and four more noses.
Two Yellow Roses
Who would have thought a little yellow flower could teach me so much about painting?
Yellow Rose number one.I really struggled with this one. Everything appeared to be goingfine until it came to putting in the colours on the rose. Try as I might, I couldn’t get theyellow intense enough. I thought I’d put this little problem to bed some time go, obviously not. Ifound that I could either get the intensity of the hue, but the tone was too dark, or Icould get the tone light enough by adding white, and would lose the intensity of the hue.
After a lot of adjusting this way and that, the rose finally became so overworked that I had toleave the painting alone. It put me in a bad mood. Not good.
Yellow rose number two.Suitably chastised by last Friday’s failure, I made a special efforttoday with the colours and the tones. I reduced the amount of light on the rose by setting it backfrom the window and covering all of the window but the top foot or so with a dark cloth. Paradoxically,the painting came out brighter. I also changed the way I used my little colour checker with, I think,dramatic results.
Although this painting is rough in terms of application of the paint and of form, it has muchmore life and light than rose number one. Confidence restored.
What it comes down to is another case of my undisciplined brain tellingme big fibs about what my eyes are seeing. Throughout rose number two, my brain was fairly screaming at me”Too dark! Too dark!” every time I put down a colour note. But I’ve come across this enough times now to know that Ican’t trust my brain to correctly interpret what my eyes see, I need to use some little helper or other tobypass my errant brain and make a direct connection between my eyes and my hand. Well, eye, since Ihabitually paint with one eye shut now, and with the open eye forced slightly out of focus to help me ignore detailsand concentrate on colour and tone. The colour checker came to my rescue today. I found a new way to use it.Finally, after about eight months of playing about with it, I think I’ve finally figured out a way to use itefficiently.Read all about it here.
More Cafe Sketches
I seem to be settling back into these sketching trips. I think the break in June did me good,I’m back with a fresh approach now. Basically, they’re more basic. I’m starting now with themain shapes and making sure I get those right before I go any further, gradually refining until eitherI finish the drawing or my sitter leaves or moves.
I’ve also reduced the amount I try to get done by concentrating only on the heads. Usually I havetime to get a bit of the shoulders in too, but I’ve come to accept that there’s only so much youcan get done in five or ten minutes. I’ve remembered why I started these drawings, to get me out ofmy little back room studio and out into the world, which I don’t see enough of. But I also think that I’mhoning an approach which I’ll be able to use in the future on portraits.
Speaking of which, I still plan to set up on the streetat some point and do some quick charcoal portraits for free, but I just haven’t had time to do it yet.It’s going to take a modicum of organising, never my strong point, and also means I’ll have tobuy another easel. I just don’t fancy struggling with my big old student easel, bashing headsin the high street with it as I go. Also I must admit I’ve got money worries at the moment, and Ineed some more paint more than I need another easel. So the street portraits will have to wait fora little while yet I think.
Continuing the series of features, I’ve just done four more noses.
I really enjoyed these drawings. They were all done one after the other over about two or threehours. They’re also the first drawings I’ve done for some time where I’ve allowed myself to use sometone. Because of the trouble I’ve had with painting flowers, tone has been occupying my mind muchmore of late, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my main weak point now. So I think it’s timeI got off my ‘line only’ diet and started throwing the charcoal around a bit more. ok, so I only filled inthe nostrils, but it’s a start.
Three more noses to go and I’ll have finished this series, there’s only the mouths left to do now of theoriginal four series, so as soon as those last noses are done I’ll be starting on two new seriesdesigned to bring me back to full tonal drawings eventually. Stay tuned folks, it’s about to get messy.
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