I've simply continued to darken shadows. Next, I move on to the Dead Layer, in which I repaint everything you see here in black and white.
If you ever want to write a book, you must start with a chapter. If you write a chapter, you must start with a paragraph. Writing a paragraph must begin with sentence, and if you want to write a sentence you must start with a word. But of course, even before you write a word you must start with a letter. I'm convinced many people never attempt to do much because they don't at least attempt to start at the beginning. It's easy to get overwhelmed!
...and we enter into the Third Dimension. I've glazed a thin layer of Burnt Umber into the shadows. Compositionally, I've placed David's head right in the middle of the Golden Ratio. Of all the paintings I've painted so far, I'm most satisfied with how this one has been composed.
I snapped this picture of Dave, (my father-in-law) on a recent hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The weather had been near perfect! Just as the sun set, a violent storm appeared on the horizon. The sky turned from a Caribbean blue to dramatic red and purple. I said, "quick Dave...smile for the camera!" (I spoke this in Mandarin Chinese, so of course he did not have a clue as to what I said.) He turned and leaned against his walking stick and said, "if you don't put that camera away, I'm going to throw it off the side of the mountain!" At that moment....I took the picture. The rest is history.
(Actually the truth is I took the picture of Dave in the dining room of my home and I Photo-shopped his image onto a picture I swiped from Google Images.)
In these very last stages the changes are almost imperceptible. Some of the changes, I would venture to say, are almost on a microscopic level. I'm applying very subtle glazes with a fat medium. The biggest change would be on the background; I've broken up the monotony somewhat. I had an idea as to how this was going to look early on, and it's getting close. Stages from here on out will be minuscule. I've also signed my name.
I've refined shadows with a mixture of raw umber, cadmium red scarlet. I glazed a mixture of ivory black and titanium white onto background and onto his suit to neutralize the crazy blue. I added titanium white mixed with a small amount of ivory black to get a nice light cool color for highlights. I also refined his pupils and highlights in hair with the same color.
I glazed another mixture of raw sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, and titanium white over the entire face. I then applied yellow ochre onto forehead, vermilion red onto face and ultramarine blue onto neck. This is the old master's trick called color banding. I blended these colors well. I then added Naples Yellow Deep into highlights, blended and then I broke out the Naples Yellow Light and blended into highlights.
I glazed blues, and yellows into the background. It's a little too light at this stage, I'd like to tone it down a bit and make it more interesting, but I'm not sure how.
Whew! A big change from stage 5. I feel like I was able to salvage what I messed up last night. Although this painting looks close to completion, there's still much work to do. The old master's way of painting, aka, glazing, aka, indirect painting, is a series of back and forths. Dark to light to dark to light...each layer building luminosity.
I plan to do something different with the background. At this point it looks very 80's ish. Max Headroom like.
A drastic turn of events this evening! I applied the stage 4 color just as I arrived home from work. After dinner I examined the picture and it felt dry to the touch. So my impatience kicked in, in a bad way! I began to re-establish shadows with a bit raw umber, (very dark brown). As I began to put the paint on the canvas, I noticed it wasn't blending well. I got out a bigger/softer brush and tried to blend it...no luck! The previous layer began to come off! His face looked like it had a disease. So, I got my big brush out soaked in turpentine and completely removed the work I had done earlier, (before dinner). I was so upset, I could have punched my fist through the canvas! Really, I was tempted! So rather than go back over his face again with the brownish color, I had to go with that pinkish paint from yesterday, (I'm doing the one step up and two steps back technique). I'm not going to do anything more until this painting is good and dry! I also re-glazed the background with a bright red, and I scumbled titanium white onto his suit. This technique is not for the impatient.
I've glazed a mixture of burnt umber, raw umber, raw sienna and titanium white over the surface of his face. I wiped out highlights with a dry brush. I also glazed a layer of burnt sienna over the previously teal colored background and his suit as well. It's now a ginchy grey. I believe his flesh is looking a little more realistic.
I'm like THE most impatient person in the world! I could not resist, I went back and re-stablished some of the shadows. Now he needs a suntan. I've got one the tube, it's called Burnt Umber. But first he's gotta' dry.
I bought an inexpensive sheet of plywood at Lowe's hoping to paint a picture on it. However when I primed it with gesso it curled up like a pig's tail! I was able to salvage a scrap piece and make this handy little palette. I designed it myself, cut it out with a jig-saw, and put about 10 coats of polyurethane on it. It's ergonomic: I can hold several paint brushes in my hand and it fits quite well around my midriff. After I had cut it out, I said to myself, "you know, it kind of looks like something...what is it?" It's a guitar! Rock on!...I mean, paint on!
Also, as you can see, I've got an arsonal of paint. Actually, if you remember anything at all from elementary art class you'll know you can make everyone of those colors from the three primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue. But I'm lazy!
I glazed a mixture of flake white (that dangerous lead filled stuff), and vermilion over the green shadows and bright red highlights. He looks a bit pasty right now, but hopefully I can fix it. I plan to to establish shadows the next go around and bring him back into 3-D. I also glazed Prussian blue, (powerful stuff) and Titanium white over the background and his suit. I mixed a little van dyke brown with the vermilion red and glazed his hair. At this point, I frankly don't know how this going to turn out.
I'm experimenting quite a bit with this painting, as well as keeping my fingers crossed too! It looks a little strange, but there is a reason for this stage. Classical painters called this "putting in the apple." I've applied vermillion red on cheeks, nose, chin and ear. I also glazed viridian, (green) onto shadows and other parts of the face. I hope to "tie" these colors together by subtle fleshtones on my next application. The red under the surface will give the appearance of blood under the flesh. I've also glazed vermillion red onto background and cadmium yellow onto suit and hair. I haven't worked on his eyes yet. I'll save them for later.
Don't get excited! I'm not going Andy Worhal. I have applied my first bit of color to this mystery gentleman. I painted raw sienna onto his face and wiped out the highlights with a brush damped with turpentine. I then smoothed it back out with a really soft sable brush. I also glazed vermillion red onto his jacket and tie. If you remember the underpainting had a greenish tint, (verdaccio), so when I glazed the complimentary ( or opposite color of the spectrum), it nutralized that green and turned it grey. The dramatic yellow background will soon be covered. I chose such a brilliant color because it's very reflective. When light travels through those additional layers and bounces off the yellow, even the black areas will sparkle! I'm hoping it will be ginchy!
I have repainted the mystery man. Although you may not be able to tell it, he has been completely recovered with paint. If you look closely, you may still see a bit of the ink pen showing through beneath the paint. I like the look! It's almost as though we're can see deep veins under his skin! The reason you see marks is because I have used quite a bit of Flake white, which unlike Titanium White is very transparent. It's also got a bunch of warnings, (cancer, etc) due to the extremely high content of lead. I'm surprised they sell it over the counter!
It's experiment time again. This is not the Incredible Hulk. I've painted this underpainting with a green tint, (Verdaccio) because I read somewhere if you do this, it tends to help with a more realistic flesh color when the glazing begins. This is a handy bit of knowledge when painting portraits. My previous underpaintings, (also known as the dead layer), were more blueish grey, (grisaille... pronounced griz-aye). My goal is to refine the underpainting to the level of photorealism before I begin to add color.
I've also included a couple pictures of my palette and work area. Before I begin this painting, I pre-mixed 7 values ranging from light to dark. My colors were, Ivory Black, Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre, Burt Umber and to get my white I mixed Titanium White with Flake white in equal measures. I always have a cup of coffee and music going when I paint.