Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Memento Mori - critique of process and results

Taped a sheet of canvas from a canvas pad onto a masonite board of the same size using white artists tape
This worked quite well. It frees up the rest of the pad and allows me to have several paintings going at once. plus the masonite board fits snugly into the slot in the easel clamp things.

Doing charcoal pencil sketch and projecting it up on the canvas
Also worked extremely well. Love the flexibility of being able to print up a really small version (saves ink as well as allows me to have the projector sitting fairly close to the easel). Plus I was able to punch up the contrast in the sketch severely to make it easier to see the lines while drawing.

Need to be careful where I put those diluted india ink lines
They show through clearly under light colored paint. I need to only draw them where they'll be covered by dark paint, like around the outlines, the eye sockets etc. I don't need a complete drawing, just the basic points to keep everything in scale and placed properly.

Need to find the right viscosity for paint
I'll be switching back to alkyds for a while at least - that should make a huge difference. They're all uniform in viscosity and drying time, as well as not having that strong odor of clove oil the regular oil paint has. I might even get a small tube of M Graham paint (manufactured with the M Graham walnut oil) and see how I like it. But if the alkyds work well then no need.

Very pleased with the results overall
Despite all the frustrations and problems, it came out quite well in most regards, though obviously I think it would have come out better and I could have carried it farther if I didn't run into the weird problems with the paint. I think the reason it did work out well is mostly because I was following (mostly) the Harold Speed advice - mixed colors to (what I thought were) the right values - worked monochromatically - blocked everything in flat - developed the edges.

And speaking of values
I need to follow another piece of Harold Speed advice, which is to immediately get some of the darkest dark and the lightest light down on the canvas so you can see what you're working against. Even the lights color will look too dark on the pure white of the canvas (as I discovered - after putting it down I gasped and immediately added a lot more white to it - which was a big mistake as it turned out).

Final notes
I'm sure I put too much detail in in places - especially in the shadow area. When I squint at the skull (should have been doing that all along!) the shadows all mostly become one solid shape that looks pretty flat. In fact the shadow shape ate up parts of the right eye socket (image right, the skull's left eye). If I had painted it that way it would be a much stronger image.

EDIT - Just noticed - if I squint at the painting just below this post the right eye socket disappears partially into the shadow just like it does on the skull. Still I probably should have accentuated the effect - at least made those edges much softer.

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