Tag Archives: artist in Brugge Belgie

A Piece of Me #19, acrylic over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #19, acrylics

A Piece of Me #19, the underdrawing in pen and ink.

A Piece of Me #19, the underdrawing in pen and ink.

A Piece of Me #19, acrylic over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #19, acrylic over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Beginning to plunge into the compositions that contain figurative elements. In this case, a part of my linen jacket in the foreground, a plastered wall, tips of hands and shoes in the middle ground and tiles receding into the distance.

Primarily because acrylics are so siccative, brush strokes can be hard to mask, that is, if you don’t want them – and generally, I don’t. So you have to revert to other methods. Like the previous panel, I used the painting knife and a small sponge to achieve textures that were not dependent upon or dictated by a paint brush. For example, after freely brushing in the chiaroscuro of the linen jacket (and letting it dry), I used some raw umber on the sponge to darken but soften it all up. The same with the receding tiles. After laying them in somewhat graphically, I used the sponge to lighten and mottle them up.

Additionally, because this whole project is conceived of as an experiment in substrates, the texture of the substrate also needs to be accounted for. In this case I was painting upon a panel prepared with a coat of linen glued to it before the gesso coating. Fabric/linen is perhaps the most favourable substrate for acrylic. The linen easily absorbs the paint as well as its tooth catches the stroke in its weave. This is also true for oils.

In contrast, it’s a remarkably different feel to paint upon a wooden panel with no intervening cloth, just gesso. The stroke is what it is – and receives no additional assistance from the texture of the substrate. For egg tempera this is exactly what you want. Because the egg tempera is so fine and graphical the coarse texture of a fabric’s weave can interfere. Also, if you paint on panels with oils, there is the additional difficulty of actually getting the stroke to actually stick to the slick surface (at the beginning of a painting session a light coat of varnish that is immediately wiped back off before drying helps with that). Anyway, the choice of substrate does indeed play a role in the touchy-feely way that paint performs.

Technical write up of my use of acrylics for indirect painting in this project here.

 

A Piece of Me #54, acrylic over acrylic modelling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #54, acrylics

A Piece of Me #54, pen and ink underdrawing.

A Piece of Me #54, pen and ink underdrawing.

A Piece of Me #54, acrylic over acrylic modelling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #54, acrylic over acrylic modelling paste on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

With this panel I began moving into some of the more figurative elements of the foreground in the overall composition. The preparation called for some pre-painting sculpting, so I used acrylic modelling gel. I sculpted the surface according to the elements of the composition: the tiles with their grouted grooves receding into the background on the right, on the left, the chipped plaster wall in front of which you see the undulating tip of my pants leg. Thus, fabric, plaster, stone.

I began painting with the yellow plaster wall. It had already been sculpted but I decided to increase it’s texture by using the painting knife. Then I dug out all the chipped grooves and lay in some gray paint. I painted in a good coat of white on my pants leg and let it all dry. It was already taking shape but the big fun began with the sponge. After blocking off the left side I daubed out tones of gray, raw umber and ultramarine blue into the tile design on the right. Results came quickly. Of course I had to move quickly to reclaim the grouting lines. But instead of leaving the grooves as a tint of the exposed substrate, I came back in with a neutral grout-gray to clean it all up. Pop!

After everything dried I used raw umber to apply some stains onto the plaster wall and to put some volumetric washes onto my pant leg. I’m really happy with the way this one turned out.

It’s very haptic. I could eat it for breakfast.

Technical write up of my use of acrylics for indirect painting in this project here.

A Pice of Me #47, the mixed technique on panel, 21 x 13.3 or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #47, the mixed technique

After a long hiatus I was finally able to get back to the studio yesterday. Hooray!! This piece marks the beginning of the upcoming “mixed technique” series. For a full description of the mixed technique see the category description to the right.

A Pice of Me #47, egg tempera underpainting

A Pice of Me #47, the egg tempera underpainting

A Pice of Me #47, the mixed technique on panel, 21 x 13.3 or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Pice of Me #47, the mixed technique on panel, 21 x 13.3 or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

So on the right you can see the preparatory work consisting of an egg tempera underpainting developed over an india ink underdrawing (no image of the B/W phase). On the left you can see the final panel after a session of maybe an hour or two, working oils into its underpainting. Saturation and contrast/depth is quickly achieved – but only because the groundwork has already been developed. I remember the words of James Brown: “Now brother don’t leave your homework undone”. Viewing the results of the oil though, It’s easy to understand why their discovery in the fifteenth century was such a revolution.

I’m thinking that this speed of image development will most likely be true for all the “abstract” panels of this project (see link for a full description). The figurative panels will, most likely, require more time, thus more working sessions. But we’ll see. Onward and upwards!

Write up on the mixed technique here.

Figure Drawing, November 25, 2019

Tonight we had one of our regulars, a large, jolly lady who usually brings her own props with her. Tonight, though, no props, just flesh. But because she is so massive and takes interesting poses – particularly on the shorter ones – I found that the four minute sketches turned out better. So here below are some of the shorter poses, including the spotlighted one displayed above (shown on the wordpress site but not the ezine):

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

Charcoal on tinted sketching paper, 35 x 50 cm or 13.75 x 19.75 in.

A Piece of Me #26, egg tempera on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #26, egg tempera

A Piece of Me #26, egg tempera on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #26, egg tempera on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

Finally, the last in the egg tempera series. A fore-ground composition full of meaningful, three dimensional human form containing a full range of values: strong contrasts of light and dark. Rendering the flesh tones of the hand and the warm glinting light of the gold bracelet were wonderful challenges. A Renaissance painter would have applied real gold leaf(!) – to the bracelet, that is..

After completing this panel last November I returned to this panel after it cured. I wanted to intensify the saturation of the main shapes of the pants leg and the green sweater with more coats of glaze. I warmed up the hand too. But it’s also important to keep in mind that egg tempera, in contrast to the other media  of this project (that is, oil, encaustic and acrylic) requires a final coat of protective varnish. This varnish will darken all values by about 10%, so I don’t mind leaving these panels a little bit lighter than their companions. Compositionally and chromatically I’m not trying for seamless alignments but at the same time the values should more or less align.

A technical write up here of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels.

A Piece of Me #31, egg tempera over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #31, egg tempera

A Piece of Me #31, egg tempera over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #31, egg tempera over linen on panel. 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A panel of abstract geometric shapes – diagonal trapezoids except for one lonely cigarette butt lower left. Deceptively easy. Create a few washes and that’s it. But no, there were cool tiles, there were warm tiles, there were neutral tiles. How to create an interesting unity of these subtle contrasts of hue? Then also, how to emphasize the extremely reduced value range – inherent to the original subject – so that this panel, too, is interesting by itself? This is the result. I’ll take it.

Note to self: this was an egg tempera over linen panel. I am slowly finding by experience that the linen is not a good addition on a substrate for egg tempera. It affects the absorbency in a negative way and influences the brushwork in a negative way, too. For oils that is the opposite. For the next time, perhaps a very fine linen weave might be OK, but not a coarse one.

Write up of the overall project here.

A technical write up of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels.

A Piece of Me #11, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #11, egg tempera

A Piece of Me #11, underdrawing in india ink

A Piece of Me #11, underdrawing in india ink

A Piece of Me #11, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #11, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 5 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.

This was one of the more, if not most, complex compositions so far. It was both a surprise and a challenge to do since it contained so many figures – and parts of figures. But because of my approach on this project I do not (for the most part) design the composition, rather, I design the approach (and even aspects of that are still luck of the draw). As it turns out, egg tempera on a flat substrate is perfect for such detail.

Interestingly enough though, the composition also contains the components of a traditional landscape. In this case, the edge of my shoulder appears in the foreground far right, along with the tip of a man’s hand in the far left. Then there’s the lady in the blue striped shirt, perhaps best considered still as foreground, though I was careful not to render her as fully saturated chromatically nor with a full value range. Then there’s the couple in the middle-ground, left. Finally, the array of receding figures. By my count about thirteen in all (!).

So I began with a fully developed black and white underdrawing in india ink, see right. This allowed me to proceed with the egg tempera level slowly and gently by laying in light washes to test for color relation and value development. I realized as I worked that it’s very similar to the process of colorizing old black and white photographs. Luckily, most of the clothing on the figures in the background was (cool) blue, which works well for reading distance, so I kept with that. But I also decided to keep a few of the warm background colors in some of the other figures too, although in extremely light washes. These washes helped to provide a chromatic unity to the warm flesh tones of the foreground.

Like the previous panel this, too, was delectable to colorize. I’m happy and hoping to wind up the egg tempera series soon. A technical write up of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels here.

A Piece of Me #1, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #1, egg tempera

A Piece of Me #1, underdrawing in india ink.

A Piece of Me #1, underdrawing in india ink.

A Piece of Me #1, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A Piece of Me #1, egg tempera on panel, 21 x 13.3 cm or 8 1/4 x 5 1/4 in.

A piece of a man’s head with a hat. An evocative untold story? Or no story at all: just this. The weave of the hat was an absolute delight to render, both in the india ink stage on the right as well as the egg tempera on the left. The black and white preliminary drawing then, allowed it to come alive with a light wash of terre verte followed by another light wash of yellow ochre. Fun too, was the supporting neck with its soft fuzzy hairline. The neck, underpainted with terre verte, provided a warm contrast to the cool hat above and the cool shirt/sweater combo below. The perceptive effects of color are always relational. And off in the distance the arabesque details of the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca beckon.

You can read a description of the full project here. A technical write up of the lessons learned about egg tempera in this series of panels here.