Thursday, January 10, 2013


Today, I did two underpaintings for some future paintings... hopefully future show pieces.
The first was a gladiator-like figure, mostly for the sake of practicing my skill of painting the male figure.

The second... is pretty awesome.  I tried my hand at a type of portrait that I've seen before, but never actually tried.  It's an old man with a long white beard, and I've always loved seeing paintings like this... with the white/gray fuzzy facial hair, and not to mention someone with a lot of character in the face.  So I am doing one such portrait, and as it turns out he looks hauntingly a lot like Gandalf.

Some of my very favorite artists like Velázquez and Rembrandt never began their paintings with a preliminary drawing.  But in a way, they kind of did.  Even going straight into the paint on the canvas, their drawing was in the form of the underpainting.  This was also widely used by many of the Impressionists, and something I have incorporated into my paintings for the past couple of years now.  I used to begin my paintings with a light contour drawing on the canvas with a regular graphite pencil.  Then I proceeded with a sort of "paint by number" technique where I filled in the drawn contours with shapes of colors.  This is how I painted one of my most beloved paintings by many, Camel in Giza.

I also found this gem in my vast collection of photos of my work.  This is an in-progress look at one of my older paintings called Skull, in which you can see that I would also start off with a canvas primed with black gesso or black tempera.  This simply helped me to see the colors clearly as I put them on the canvas.  Although my process and technique have changed since then, I thought this was a pretty cool picture of what I used to do.

I actually do know of a few artists that work in a similar fashion.  It is an effective way to paint for some.  For me it was, but it was also quite tedious.  So with my lack of patience in painting (which I am working on, seriously) it never seemed like the best way for me to paint.  In other words, I always wanted to find a better way.  So in my studies of the old masters and practice of classical drawing, I'm learning to draw effectively and directly with the paint itself when I do my paintings.  Certainly it is a good thing to also do some drawing beforehand anyway as a way of mapping out how the painting is going to look.  It will also make the underpainting go a lot smoother and quicker.
More to come soon!  Go draw something.

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