Back in October, my wife an I traveled back to Ireland. We took a zillion reference photos in hopes that I would be able to eek out a few paintings. Here’s the first of, hopefully, many more! This guy lives on the island of Inis Mór. If you are on a walk to Dún Aonghasa, you may very well encounter this guy as he eats his hay hanging from the blackberries at a break in the rock wall. This painting is relatively small (8×10). Oil on Carton.
A few more that seem to signal a transition point in this series. I’m not sure what, but we’ll see soon!
A few new pieces this week! I really should be outside working…
I’ve gotten a few folks asking about how I get such neat little sticks for my lead holders, so I’ve decided to post photos of the process I use. First, I grind up the broken bits of natural sanguine. I’ve found that the consistency is usually fine without adding any binders or chalk if I am using mostly the natural clay. If I add any iron oxide pigment to the mix, I will add some tragacanth gum and a bit of kaolin clay to give it a nice texture. After getting it all powdery, I sift it onto a piece of glass. Then I add distilled water and mix it with a knife until it is the consistency you see in the photos. I then load it into a children’s Tylenol syringe that I cut the tip of of with a razor blade. After loading and carefully squeezing out any trapped air, I extrude lines of the mixture onto a cardboard or other absorbent surface to dry. I prefer extruding to rolling because I am able to control the consistency better.
In this case, I decided to use a food dehydrator to speed up the drying a bit. It worked quite well, I think. I’ve done this before by cutting each into uniform segments that are cut at a 45 degree angle so that they are sharp and ready for drawing right away. That worked really well also. I hope this helps! All the best.
I thought I’d post a bit of my process for painting a portrait in oils. Or, at least, a step-by-step guide to my basic stages.
Stage 1ish: The drawing and toning.
I usually draw my composition directly on the panel or canvas. I tone the board with a careful brushing of matte medium , then matte medium toned with burnt umber. This time, because of all the hair, I scratched and rubbed out areas that would be highlights or heightened. I figured that would help me in the long run. I was sort of right…
Step 2ish: Block in render to umber/ultramarine shadows.
There is a step missing before this. I blocked in the color using glazes so that the umber lent it’s warm tone to everything. Then-Using one of those handy hair/grass brushes you see in the art supply store, I went to town on the hair.
Step 3: Fluffing up the hair/ more rendering.
Step 4: More shadows, more hair, and I’m seeing stars.
I went tighter on the face, deepened the shadows to obscure edges, and casually messed around.
Step 5: More shadows and more hair.
I wasn’t happy with the hair yet, so a combination of lights and darks as well as falling back into the original hair pattern helped get it back on track. No more messing about!
Face detail after loads or rendering.
Step 6: The final leg.
This is where I tool about; making sure my values are in balance. I found this board to be poorly prepared- the surface was too rough for finer details, but I did what I could.
I’ll keep it in the studio for another month, messing around with it as I see fit. More or less, I see it as finished. After all- My name is now on it! 😉
Every year, my wife and I create a Valentine for each other. It’s really all we do for Valentine’s Day. Here’s mine to her for this year!