These first three are imprimaturas (wipe outs) using one color on a white surface that is then wiped back to reveal the white of the canvas to varying degrees to get at the effect of light and form on the surfaces. These were done as alla prima demos in class ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 hours in class.
|Cast paintings are better when dressed up.|
This is a grisaille done using cold black and titanium white. In this demo I intentionally left some areas less finished than other areas to serve as a reference for my students. My demos get pinned up in the classroom. I start with a fairly rough imprimatura, which you can see in the background, bowl and mushroom. I lay in flat colors in the light first, as you can see in the light part of the mushroom and the table top And then I modulate those tones from that middle average to lighter and darker parts of the light side. Depending on the final effect I'm seeking I may leave the shadow areas largely untouched by white, as I did in this demonstration.
The next section is the warm/cool and dead layer. This is a sample of one of the dead layer exercises we do. I have them grid their A4 sheets into 1 cm squares on a pre-toned dark brown surface. Using Venetian Red, Yellow Ochre, Blue Black and Titanium White they must choose the single color that most belongs in each block. That may be either an average of the tones of that region or the dominant color. The choice affects the final effect of the portrait. Each square must be filled in completely with no ground showing through and each square must be assessed and filled individually. When painting from the live model, I arrange for the model to remain with the class beyond the end of the class period so that they may keep working after I have left.
The final two exercises involve simplified versions of the Neapolitan Method (Carravaggio) and the Venetian Method (Titian). The Venetian method is shown below. The white surface is toned before class in a soft layer of Venetian Red or any other warm earth red. For this class I go into the local meat markets and procure a pig head, which is frozen between class sessions. I also leave the pig head out for after class ends for students who wish to continue to develop it. The surface is oiled out with linseed oil before painting and liquin is used to accelerate the drying time.
A brown tonal imprimatura is laid over the pre-toned surface for the drawing during the first session. During the second session a layer of white is used to describe the forms primarily in the light side and some thinner layers in the dark side. No other colors are used, simply white that is thinned out to describe the form. Students are encouraged to develop the texture of the surface based on the tactile qualities native to the object and to consider the use of the cooler temperatures that emerge in the interaction with the lower layers as the paint is thinned at the cooler turnings of the form. The third session is a glazing session, where transparent colors are placed broadly to describe the general colors of the area. This works well with the white and adds a more luminous general effect. Warm tones are especially emphasized in the crevasses to heighten the effect of subsurface scattering. During the fourth and final session, also the last day of classes when students are already mentally gone, a finishing layer is applied using a couch (a thin soupy tone that is placed over everything as a unifying layer) and then the opacity of the lights is reestablished. I brought in some of my flake white stash to show the special subtle working properties it has. Due to time constraints, I focused primarily on the pig head during each evening of class. Edges are emphasized and the shadows are generally left alone as the forms in the light side are developed tonally and topographically.