Friday, September 4, 2009

From Doodle to Work of Art

If you've ever wanted to see the various steps that go into completing a painting, now's your chance!

The Idea: It all starts with an idea, and I wanted to create a flowing composition with kelp, ocean critters local to the central coast, and a dynamic struggle between opposite colors: blue and orange. Of course I wanted to to all revolve around a beautiful mermaid.

The doodle: you sketch it out a few times on a really small scale, just to get ideas, make a small "rough." Hard to imagine a completed painting from this, right?

Blocking in color: Next, you lay it out on canvas with vine charcoal. This charcoal can be easily wiped off so if you make mistakes and change your mind a lot like I do, it's very helpful. After this step, I paint in the final lines, still correcting and changing as I go.

Mixing color: I spend quite a bit of time mixing up all my fleshtones and the neutrals for painting skin. Every element in the painting reflects its color on the skin of your subject.

Blocking in: Then it's time for the first coats of paint to be blocked in in large areas of flat color.

Glazing, Blending and half tones: Transitions between areas of shadow and light are very important. I try to not make mine too smooth, so to avoid an "airbrushed" look. I enjoy seeing thick areas of painted piled up to define space, and luminous tones that "emerge" from the background. Glazing really gives the water a 3 dimensional glass-like appearance. You have to wait for each layer to try, but it's worth it.

She's not done, but she's close! I have to wait for her to cure up so I can glaze a bunch more, put a fish shadow on her skin, and to spend a bit more time on the water and kelp. Final photo coming in a couple weeks!