Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Painting process--ugly duckling stages...

So here you can see the ugly, seamy underbelly of paintings.

At least MY paintings. I know of a pet portrait artist who regularly shares photos of her paintings in process and they almost NEVER look this chaotic. However, she also only uses TWO coats of paint. In TOTAL.

That's kind of hilarious to me, since I often end up with up to 10 different layers of paint (maybe more) at different points on the canvas. It's just how I roll. My process might not be as EFFICIENT as this other artist's, but, to be honest, I VASTLY prefer the way my work turns out at the end.

Even though the trip along the way is filled with ugly, ugly versions of the painting. And sometimes I feel like "HOLY CRAP MAYBE I SHOULD BURN THIS TRAVESTY BECAUSE IT'S NEVER GOING TO EVOLVE INTO THE THING OF BEAUTY I'D IMAGINED IN MY PROBABLY DELUSIONAL MIND."

Anyhow, here are the "before" photos, just for your information.

When I start, I like to use a bright color for the underpainting. Right now I'm working on a portrait of a Boxer and I'm finding that the way the bright crimson underpainting glows through is really adding to the way the whole piece comes together at the end. Some of this is due to the way I use acrylics.

Acrylics, feel-wise, are this cool hybrid between watercolors and oils. Until they dry, they're water-soluble, which means you don't have to use nasty stuff like turpentine to clean your brushes. And, if you use acrylics straight out of the tube, they can go on nice and thick and opaque, like oils. But you can also THIN them with water--and then can apply them to the canvas in varying degrees of transparency.

So I use acrylics in BOTH of these ways -- in opaque layers and also many, many translucent layers to build up the image. And I find that a really POW color for underpainting, like the red I used under the shepherd's brownish parts, glows through all the other layers and gives the painting a depth that it wouldn't have, otherwise.

Or maybe it's all those OTHER layers that I use.

The second photo in this sequence is actually one of my little cat, Windy, who seems to be putting her pawprint of approval on the piece. But then again, she's a cat and, while I've heard that cats actually see in MORE colors than just black and white, I've also heard their color sense is EXTREMELY limited. So, although she gets to boss me around on all sorts of other matters, her opinion on when my painting is finished carries NO WEIGHT AT ALL. Because the piece is NOWHERE NEAR FINISHED.

The last photo (which, probably isn't showing UP as the last since Blogger has decided once again to thwart me and I can't figure out how to get images showing in the correct order) is the one of the shepherd partially blocked by my paintbox and palette. I put this photo in to show yet ANOTHER layer -- that of the greenish-yellow around the dog's neck. I realized that the photo had a nice glow on the dog's ruff of light reflected up from the grass. But my painting, up to that point, had lacked ENOUGH of that. So here I go again, backfilling and adding yet ANOTHER layer of paint, to capture that reflected light.

I'm surprised my paintings aren't about 3 inches THICK!

Final image in next post. It will look VERY DIFFERENT!

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