Sunday, January 23, 2011

Beginnings-More Richard Schmid

 by Richard Schmid

The second of Richard Schmid's "beginning" methods (he has six in total) is similar to his first and is called a Transparent (oil) Monochrome Block-In ( I'll call it TMBn to shorten it a bit)The TMBn is basically a value study done in one color on a white support.  This method is a good one because you work out all the problems of values, drawing, and edges without worrying about color.  Schmid suggests using a warm red, a mixture of transparent oxide red, burnt sienna, and with a touch of ultramarine blue.  Other colors can be substituted to create a warm paint color such as red brown and terra rosa with a little of the ultramarine blue.  However, stay away from Vandyke brown or burnt umber because of their cracking potential.  Brush on the block-in paint for dark values and wipe away paint to get light values.  

Schmid's third "beginning" method is similar to but just a little different than methods one and two.  Schmid calls method three The Transparent Monochrome As a Finished Painting.  Method three is like method two but carries the process further by adding transparent color and/or add opaque whites in the last stages.  Texture may be added too by a light rubbing of sandpaper, or steel wool, or palet knife scraping.

There are three more ways to begin a painting according to Schmid. I will review these in future blog posts.  I must say, however, that I love the monochromatic studies—they stand alone very well.  Try these methods for yourself and let me know what you experienced.  What did you like about each? Which beginnings method do you use most of the time?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Beginnings-Richard Schmid

In my reading, I came across a wealth of information on beginnings in Richard Schmid's book--"Alla Prima-Everything I Know About Painting."   He lists six different beginnings, starting with the most supportive, where elements of drawing shape and color are rendered separately, and ending with the the most difficult method, where you begin with the correct shape and color.   I love what he says about starting methods.  "It is hard to exaggerate the advantages of having a variety of starting techniques at your disposal.  Unquestionably, a flexible response to the demands of subject matter and conditions 
is better than having a single individualistic style of working ."                                                                                                                                                                  

Schmid calls the first method "Line and Mass Block-In."  This method is good for organizing complex compositions, or large paintings with numerous figures or object. First the canvas is toned, then draw and mass in tones by scumbling, or using an oil wash.   Finally, cover with opaque pigment.  Lines should define borders between shapes without adding volume.  Two drawbacks to this method is that is that it is time consuming and the quality of edges may suffer when finishing paint is applied because of a tendency to paint up to the "lines" but not into them.  If you are interested in learning from this master artist, check out the monthly on-line lessons called Learning From Richard Schmid  presented by Katie Swatland. She has created a marvelous opportunity to watch and learn to paint as if you were right there in Schmid's class. In my next blog post, I will share more of Schmid's starting methods. Until then ... Peace & Love

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beginnings-No Toner Results

After doing the charcoal oil sketch on an oil primed white canvas with no toner, painting on the white canvas had some surprising results for me.  First, painting on a white primed canvas without a toner seems ideal for high key portraits---especially for portraits of children.  Why?  It's easier to keep it in a high key.  Kendal, who is extremely fair haired with almost ivory white skin lent itself to a high key image process.  Having said that, I'm thinking that value relationships are keyed to the white easier than with a canvas toned with a darker value because I'm making a lighter dark side of the image.  Does that make sense?

As I looked for support for my developing opinion, I observed that artists like Jeremy Lipking demonstrate on a white/light canvas .  At the Weekend with the Masters (2009) for example, Lipking demonstrated on a white canvas whereas  David Leffel began his demonstration using a darker pretoned canvas.  Second thought;  knowing what you want to achieve in the finished work is essential to how you begin the work.

In my next blog post I will focus on "beginnings" using the alla prima method on a pretoned canvas. Again, thanks to all who have taken the time to give me input on your method.  Your comments, pro or con, are welcomed and encouraged!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Beginnings-No Toner

As the saying goes--"different strokes for different folks."  One beginning method used by a few artist is to begin painting on a white, untoned canvas.  I read in John Howard Sanden's book, Portraits from Life in 29 Steps, that he begins with a white canvas.  "I paint on a white, untoned canvas, since this seems to reflect the colors in the truest and clearest fashion.  Another reason I rarely tone the canvas is because I use a white palette. . . . I also enjoy the feel of the bare canvas texture against my brush."  He also goes on to write that "for the premier coup method, which calls for a single layer of paint laid in as swiftly as possible, toning the canvas in advance is a contradiction in terms and is useless.  It is contradictory because toning the canvas implies judgment prior to observation.  It is useless because the subsequent paint should be a correct and final statement, without support from preliminary toning."

I am reserving judgment on this beginning method since this was not how I was taught.  Curiosity got the better of me and I thought I would try painting a portrait on a white canvas.  Here is my beginning.  I prefer to do a charcoal sketch first and fix it with a fixative (shown here).  When I finish, I will post the results.  Who knows, I might like it.  If any one uses this beginning method, drop me a comment and tell me why you like it.  Or if you totally disagree, tell me that also and why.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Beginnings-A First Look

     I love research and this subject of how to begin a painting has me combing through my art books and other resources with gusto.  First and foremost, I need to put beginnings into the biggest categories of practice-  alla prima (from the Italian) or premier coup (from the French)  also called the direct method.  The words come from a loosely translation meaning direct or spontaneous attack.  The other practice is the indirect method.  In its true form, colors and values of the painting are tweaked through subsequent layers.  Previous layers show through by scumbling, washes, and glazing.
    What does this have to do with how to begin?  Everything.  I fine it difficult to add pictures for the purpose of demonstration because there are several different "beginnings" within each of the major oil painting categories. What category do you fit within?  Do you paint using the direct or indirect method?  Why do you prefer the one method over the other? Do you think a certain process in the beginning makes a difference in the end product?  Hmmm?  For those of you who have responded to some of the questions, I thank you for your input.  This issue has plagued me for a long time.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How to Begin A Painting

Have you ever been confused about the "right way" to begin a painting?  Do you read different experts, or take workshops only to come away confused because you are told/shown a different way to begin a painting with each new workshop?  One workshop presenter says not to tone a canvas and keep it white (they give support why they believe this to be better).  Another says to tone it to a value scale of 5.  Some say the toner should be warm while others use a color that is neutral.  These are just a few of the issues of "beginning" a painting on panel or canvas.  After much reading myself it has dawned on me that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY!  So how do you choose? My blog for the next few months is going to deal with this issue and hopefully I can shed some light on this question.  My husband says it's kind of like choosing your faith or religion.  It's a matter of what you believe.  I want to explore as many ways to start a painting as practical and explore the strengths or weakness of one method over another?  How do you begin a painting on panel or canvas?  Let me know your method, okay? I will post as many different practices as possible.
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