This is a quick little demo I did for my evening oil painting students last night. There is something intriguing about glass painted alla prima, it seems as if it should be impossible to depict a transparent, hard edged surface in a loose impressionistic way. When done right, this effect can be more eloquent than a tightly rendered, photo-realistic representation of the reflections and transparency. To achieve the desired result, it’s important to remember to place colors next to one another and not to overblend. Working wet-into-wet is challenging, dark values should be placed first, followed by mid-tones and brights, with highlights applied on top in the last pass. To get the highlights to lay on top of wet paint, be sure the paint is thick and opaque. I don’t use any medium for the highlights. I mix a bit of blue violet into titanium white for the cool highlights, and a bit of yellow ochre into the white for the warm ones. I prefer a soft, angled or flat brush and quickly stroke on the highlights in one pass.
Fabric that has a pattern such as stripes or other prints can be challenging. The best way to approach it is to ignore the pattern initially, and just draw/paint the basic forms of the folds in the appropriate values. For example, the cloth above is a white cloth with blue stripes. I began by blocking in the dark and light values of the cloth in burnt umber as an underpainting, I did not include the detail of the stripes, I focused on the shape of the major folds and their corresponding values. On top of the value study / underpainting, I began working in color. For the shadow areas of the cloth, I chose a yellow ochre, light lavendar and violet blue combination (NuPastels). For the light areas, I used a creamy white. On the background, I added additional yellow ochre. Once I had the white fabric defined with shadows on the folds, I added in the stripes, following the contours of the folds. In the shadow areas, there is less contrast and therefore the pattern is more subdued, in the areas that are fully lit, the reverse is true and the pattern is very distinct. When working with patterns, it is generally more effective to imply them rather than to try and capture every nuance with miniscule detail, otherwise they may become distracting and take away from the overall strength/spontaneity of the drawing.
This is oil on clear-primed linen (linen primed with a clear acrylic gesso instead of white gesso, it allows you to make use of the natural middle tone value of the linen). It is a fantastic surface to paint on. I did this small still life as a demo for my advanced oil students today. The top image is of the underpainting which I did in oil. The linen surface absorbs the oil quickly, enabling you to work directly on top of your underpainting with color with no problem of layers mixing and muddying colors. The brand I used here is Senso clear-primed linen, I would highly recommend it as an alternative to canvas, particularly if you enjoy working alla prima.
This is another in my series of paintings of Morristown, NJ. It was done alla prima on canvas, I hope to do the entire series in this manner, keeping them very loose and spontaneous. I’ve just ordered a supply of stretched linen on which I will produce the remainder of the paintings. I’m hoping the linen will give me the right surface treatment for retaining brushwork while not having to contend with the coarseness of canvas. Can’t wait to start on the next one.
Thinking of trying acrylics? I’ve got a one-day workshop coming up this Saturday, October 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the NJ Visual Arts Center in Summit. Acrylics are a highly versatile medium and this workshop focuses on using them to their best advantage on both canvas and paper. Registration fee is $100, call the art center at 908-273-9121 to register, be sure to request a materials list.
Here is a You Tube video of this exhibit currently on display in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The exhibit has been traveling across the US since 2008 and will conclude in 2011.
The first in this year’s Salmagundi Club Fall Auction series is tonight. The auction starts promptly at 8 p.m. in the main gallery. Absentee bids are accepted if you cannot attend, call the Club at 212-255-7740. Why not make a night of it? The Club serves a fantastic dinner in their pub, call for a reservation. The Club is locate at 47 Fifth Avenue, NYC, www.salmagundi.org for more info.