Saturday, March 7, 2015

Step by Step on "Diana" oil painting

I've been working on my painting, "Diana" and thought I would blog about my process step by step.
 She's on a wooden board I found at the local SOS Thrift Store for $10.00. It's a large board 36X11 and it has a built in frame that curves towards the back.  It had a Paragon botanical print on paper glued to the front.   I've been painting on wood lately after nine years painting on canvas.  But I feel in love with working on wood when doing encaustic pieces early 2014.  I like the smoothness of it compared to the cheap canvases I buy at Michael's especially for figures which need fine details, and I really love the idea of upcycling items I find in thrift stores. The wooden pieces often don't need to be framed which can get really expensive when going larger.
 I primed the board wi5th about six layers of beige acrylic paint.
The first day's painting was about six or seven hours and resulted in the completed face and a figure I wanted to underly the garment I would paint later.  I used a palette of Winton and Grumbacher oil paints in dioxyzine purple, Payne's gray, and flake white for the background, sienna, lemon yellow, yellow ochre, vermillion and a touch of sienna for the skin tone, using sienna and Payne's gray for the shadows. I used burgundy and sienna for the hair and allowed the beige of the primer to show through for the highlights.
So far I've used  used eight different size brushes from medium large for the background and body to very small for the eyes and details.  I used round stroke, rake, angular, chisel and liner brushes and I use the cheap white ones filament ones with the natural wooden handles in the blue packages from Michael's because they're hard and I use heavy pigment right out of the tube most of the time.  They cost about
$6.99 a package of twelve varied brushed of different sizes and types. I've had very good sable brushes in the past and they're too soft for the way I paint.  I'm very rough and fast and destroy brushes quickly so the cheap ones are best for me.  I have a Michael's within less than a mile from my house so shop their for most of my art supplies although I will buy oil paint online from Jerry's Artarama from time to time. 
The first attempt left me with a too small body, the left arm too long, unfinished hands and no garment and an unfinished background.  I was also missing a clavicle.  But the hair and the face were complete.  I listened to IAMX while I painted. My daughter said she thought it
looked like a man when she saw it, say8ing the breasts and hips were too small and the face was masculine.  I agreed with her.on the body but disagreed with her opinion of the face.  While I was going more for a Pre-Raphaelite style, similar to that of Burne-Jones or Waterhouse being a huge fan of the brotherhood and having seen the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery in Washington, DC last April.  I was able to view many by my favorites in real life some of them very large. Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Waterhouse being my favorites. She reminds me a bit of Bottecelli's Birth of Venus for some reason but that was purely by accident.  Her hair is a different color, her head is tilted at a more severe angle, she's dressed as opposed to a nude and the background is plain instead of a landscape. She's not as delicate as a Pre-Raphaelite figure or as detailed and I didn't come close to creating the perfect body as Botticelli did. . 
I let the painting dry for four days and then made the second attempt adding terra verte to my palette for the dress . I mixed it with some zinc white.and thinned it with a mixture of equal parts of  linseed oil, Damar varnish and Turpenoid so that it would be more like a wash and allow some of the flesh to peak through as if it's a slightly sheer summer dress.  
When I finished this session the body was covered, but I felt as if I'd left too much of the flesh on the breasts to show through, the left arm was still too long, the hands still unfinished and the background incomplete. 
I let it dry four more days.
Today I have been working on it since 7:00 this morning and it's now 5:10 pm.  I took breaks here and there to peruse Facebook and Tumbler and to do a few posts and to cook spaghetti for supper. During this session I completed the hands, filled in the dress, shortened the left arm and finished the background. I'm
happy with it except for the right hand which is too small and positioned in an awkward pose but there's a lot of wet paint on the board and I'll have to let it dry before I attempt to fix it.
My usual method is to paint wet on wet and complete an oil painting in a day, but this is the largest medium I've ever worked on and a more difficult figure due to its size for me.  I plan to enter this into either the Anderson or Pickens, South Carolina juried shows depending on when I finish it in relation to their deadlines for entering.

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