Friday, May 29, 2009

Bottle Collection: Overpainting III

Cropped detail of larger painting
full size: 18 x 24 inches
oil on panel

Here are earlier stages of this section:

This first stage is the underpainting and you can still see the graphite line drawing showing through the thin wash underpainting:

Next I did a rough "closed" underpainting -using white instead of the white of the panel. It got more refined than this but still I consider it an underpainting, thinking only in value and using a very limited palette:

Below is the first stage of the overpainting, where I am using a full spectrum of colors, and no black at all, to get a richer, more colorful range of greys. Here I am making what I think of as a "bed layer" - much more refined than the underpainting, but nowhere near the final level of detail. I'm not trying to paint to a finish, I'm just putting down whatever I think will help me in the final stages.

On to the final layers. At this point I am trying to achieve the highest level of finish possible in a very small area of the painting for every session. At a certain point I can see what I need to do to push the realism further, but I have to wait for the layer to dry before I can do more layers:

Below I am working completely in glazes, using honey-consistency glazing medium with just dark, transparent paints, and occasionally bringing a light area just a bit higher. This looks pretty similar to the previous stage, but it represents many more hours of work. This is the final push for the most impact I am capable of achieving with the paint.
Lessons learned: I did my underpainting using a mixture of mars red and ultramarine, instead of my usual raw umber and ivory black, and I regret it. My intention was to make a more colorful, warm red underpainting to sort of "glow through" the very cool overpainting colors and create a subtle vibration. But what I am finding is that the underpainting is actually very, very violet, and I am having to mix enormous amounts of yellow into all the subsequent layers of paint. (Yellow being the compliment of violet or purple, therefore they cancel each other to a neutral). 

I am also continuing to learn how discerning the human eye is, that a tiny whisper of different value or hue between two adjoining shapes makes a clearly discernible edge. I am constantly experimenting with how subtle a difference I can make that will still read as a difference, and describe form. In the shadowy areas of the wax paper we can see a lot of sculpted form and transparency within a very low value range - dark to black, with just little glimmers for highlights.

It's fun to try to emulate that effect, nudging hues and values around in tiny steps to describe the forms.

Dust as always is the bane of my existence. I've taken to turning the painting backwards to tilt downards a bit and tenting it with plastic overnight. I also tent my entire brush and palette area with plastic overnight. I never wear sweaters or wool in the studio, and I never tear paper towels or cut cloth rags inside the studio. All of that has helped, but I still spend a period of every painting session cleaning my surface.

PS: I've made a post about all my mediums, paints and brushes, you can always find it in the materials link in the right column under Labels.