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View Full Version : William Bouguereau, Nymphs and Satyr: WIP


klopperjohnny
01-22-2014, 04:26 PM
Original Size: 102 3/8 x 70 7/8 in. ratio: 0.69
My Size: 34.6" x 24Ē ratio: 0.69
Support: ampersand hardboard, braced with 2/3 inch plywood
Ground: Gamblin Oil Ground x2 layers (Alkyd based), further sealed with two layers of lead white + stand oil
Medium: Bill Martinís formula 1 part Linseed, 1 part Walnut, 1 part Venice Turpentine, 2 parts Oil Of Spike Lavender
High resolution JPG link to my work in progress: My website, Nymphs and Satyr (http://art.klopper-online.com/?page_id=78) (Click it again for the large version and then again for your browser to zoom in)

I initially started with blue under-painting, but did not develop it to full detail as I realized Iíll be covering it 100%. So just continued layering but adjusting my drawing/values/hue as I go. I am new to this heavy layering style, so I am just rolling with it as I go.

I opted for a much smaller version compared to the original as I worried greatly if I had enough detail in the source photo Ö now I regret not going a bit bigger (maybe 51Ē x 36Ē). But still I think it was a best to play it safe. Why I regret not going larger is the objects are small to work on, to hive you an idea their heads are maybe 1.5" wide, so yea I am using some small brushes to the details in.

I had started with a 1Ēx1Ē grid (not what I normally do) but I wanted higher starting accuracy and after all itís a Bouguereau copy and I did not trust myself to get everything in the right place without a tight starting grid.

I have posted progress in Dec/13 and Jan/14 whatís on your easel threads.

I have been working on this for some time now. Itís especially slow going for me as I get about one day a week to paint :(. I would guess I spent more than 80 hours on it already, I doubt I am halfway done Ö I just stopped counting the hours; this will be done when itís done IMO.

My biggest issue right now is dealing with matting of the paint when it dries. It is making judging the values a nightmare in the background work. I donít think I have a ground issue, as its well sealed and the matting seems to happen even through the painting. I resort to constant coach layers and oiling out to mitigate, but itís driving me slowly quite crazy :(. It could be the medium, but I am not sure. Rather, my best guess is that I like to use ivory black/cadmium lemon yellow but also ultra-marine blue. I could be wrong be; these tend to matt easily.

Currently working on the background foliage and will be for quite some time. My goal had been to first roughly block in leaves etc. Starting with rather dull hues and keep layering and adjusting drawing/hue/values till it is near completion.

The figures I have on hold till I get the background right Ö I feel it very important to now first get the background hue/values right before going back to the figures and doing the same.

Questions and C&C welcome, though one disclaimer that this is not remotely done, the figures are not done, the background is not done :).

Iíll try keep posting as I make progress.

Lastly would like to add I have learnt a great deal since starting this, if I had to do it again for one I would have gone with a slightly different ground and 1.5 larger. Maybe I should have given my grisaille more of a chance too ... but so far I am not unhappy, thinking it have gone a bit faster with a good grisaille.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jan-2014/15688-200114_DSC6658_small.jpg

BrushBeater
01-22-2014, 05:02 PM
It is spectacular. I'm amazed at the detail you can get at that size. Are you using the art renewal center image as a source?

klopperjohnny
01-22-2014, 05:23 PM
>> Are you using the art renewal center image as a source?
Yes, I am a paid member there. But theirs is not very high resolution enough IMO :) Maybe you could blow theirs up to 51Ē x 36", my worry was with background details ... theirs had allot of detail missing and I can't paint what I can't see. The figures in their JPG has decent detail, but going from something so large as the original to an image as small as theirs had me worried hence I went for a smaller painting.

BrushBeater
01-22-2014, 05:39 PM
The met, who has it on loan, also has a fairly large image but probably still not detailed enough. http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImages/ep/original/Bouguereau.jpg

AllisonR
01-23-2014, 03:37 AM
It's looking beautiful so far. Hard to crit as you say you have lots to do. I think you are wise to switch from figures to background and back again - it is too hard to finish one without the other, as they are dependent on each other. YOur skin tones are not so subtly blended, but I assume you will get to that when you go back to the figures again. The only visual problem I see is that in the original his leg turns to fur very subtly and naturally, and yours has almost a hard line. Also I see some value issues - the contrast in yours not so subtle as the original - the girl on bottom right is lighter than the rest, but not as bright as yours. The trees on top right are darker in value than the value of her outstretched are, but not as dark as yours - the value changes are too big. Also with the 3 figures in the distance - they are barely noticeable in the original but in yours the value is too light, making them come forward.

I know what you mean about sinking in and losing values - What kind of oiling oil and couching medium are you using?

ianos dan
01-23-2014, 03:40 AM
l like that l see already.The drawing is accurate ,the color is great ,because it has some freshness, the original has a little yellowish hue ,probably the age ,but overall is looking good.
You can add some "mist" over the figures from the background ,it will gave some depth ,and also will diminish the unnecessary sharpness. Even if you will find a huge resolution ,the figures form the background will still be blurry ,because Bouguereau intended so :),there is not detail there .Also ,the fragment ,where that group is situated ,is a little lighter ,and gives you the impression that are more developed painted .
Congrats on your painting ,and please post some WIP photos !

ianos dan
01-23-2014, 03:43 AM
Bougurereau didn't use grisaille underpainting ,he just worked in local colors ,on a neutral toned canvas :),so ,forget about grisaille here .

0chre
01-23-2014, 06:37 AM
Great work, so far!

Bougurereau didn't use grisaille underpainting ,he just worked in local colors ,on a neutral toned canvas :),so ,forget about grisaille here .As you know I'm not a big fan of the grisaille ;), but I've done some research based on some good photographs of Bouguereau's paintings and now I am inclined to think that for his fleshtones he did use greys in the early stages of painting. But just in the fleshtones, not an overall grissaille. Here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=19945717&postcount=29) you can find my reasoning for this. Interested in your thoughts about it! :)

ianos dan
01-23-2014, 07:19 AM
Very interesting Ochre! l will look carefully ,it's hard for me to think that he could do a study in local colors ,and than ,he made an grisaille underpainting for the same subject ,in the final painting.it doubles the effort .
But,never say never :).What a do believe is that he used a lot the color of the imprimatura .

klopperjohnny
01-23-2014, 09:37 AM
Thanks for all the kind words; itís really a labor of love and huge time commitment so the encouragement is much appreciated. After having gone this far, all I can say is that I am totally blown away by his skill/genius and his utter attention to detail.

Coach/Oiling out

For coach/oiling out I use walnut oil + linseed oil + very small amount of OMS. I gently rub it into areas and wipe of nearly all of it before I start in again. I donít use my regular medium Ö I premix that into my paints before I start. My regular medium contains Oil of Spike Lavender and I find it extremely aggressive, just a little too much and it can raise paint on layers I thought was dry enough. So I went with a touch of OMS. I have no issue with the coach/oiled out sections going matt Ö only issues with paint layers. I mix Ivory Black + Cadmium Yellow Pale for a very dead base green, from there I tweak the greens more blue/yellow/green as needed. I really think itís my use of Ivory Black, or maybe Ultra Marine Blue. With the foliage I did not want to over commit my hue/chroma to early as I am more focuses on getting the leaves/bushes in place and their perspective correct (which I find very, very hard) with some focus to their values. For the higher paint layers on the foliage, I am starting to add more depth (values) and for lively green I am using Cadmium Orange + Thalo Green I also a user a very vibrant Cadmium Yellow Light + Viridian green. For my more blue greens I am using my base mix (Ivory Black + Cadmium Yellow Pale) and slant it to blue with Ultra Marine Blue. I use Grumbacher pre-tested oils mostly and OH lead white.

Grisaille

I have only one book on his works and itís around the time he spent in America. Good book, though half is more about his American students and the whole book is more focused on the background surrounding his works. Regardless, there is some good stuff in there. I have also read blogs regarding his works and the closest I have seen him do under painting is some of his amazing head studies. But I believe you guys are correct, he only did limited grisaille. Regardless his work is amazing. Iím not totally trying to copy his technique to be honest. Heavy layering is something I had not done before, I thought his work would lean towards it (especially those amazing flesh tones he gets) Ö hence I went that route. I normally like starting with very rough thin oil underpainting/drawing and just build up from there, adding more and heavier brush work as I go. But for this, I wanted to keep it flat and hardly any brush strokes.

My background figures

Oil as a painting medium I have come to learn is (thankfully) very forgiving, especially if you make your own supports and know what is under all the layers. I've had a couple false starts (mistakes), that I rectified though none will be the wiser. Those figures in the background are one area I corrected, but have not covered it up yet. If you follow the link to my website and click again you will get the 12MP image, youíll see the background figures looked a bit diseased :). When I blocked them in I had accidentally put down to heavy brush marks and forgot to flatten them (beat them) before they dried and the paint was too raised. So I had covered it a with a generous layer of my oiling out medium and very gently sanded (grinding really) it down with 600 grit sanding paper then wiped off all the oil. I would never advise anyone doing this, as oil pigment is mostly toxic (and I also use lead). But I believe my approach sound as the oil ensures no loose pigments in the air. Iíll eventually get back to the background figures, for now I am just happy I got them in the correct place and somewhat to proportion!

Foreground figures

The Satyr is probably the least developed of the my figures Ö will eventually get back to him. You will see blotchiness in some areas Ö that will go away as I add more transparent layers that more closely match early layers in value. I am not too worried about that.

Anyways, I will keep posting as I make progress every weekend. Thanks for all the input.

klopperjohnny
01-23-2014, 10:10 AM
Great work, so far!

As you know I'm not a big fan of the grisaille ;), but I've done some research based on some good photographs of Bouguereau's paintings and now I am inclined to think that for his fleshtones he did use greys in the early stages of painting. But just in the fleshtones, not an overall grissaille. Here (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=19945717&postcount=29) you can find my reasoning for this. Interested in your thoughts about it! :)

Ochre, thank you for sharing your link. You have some very nice close ups of his works ... I am envious! :) I agree with this statement of yours. "... grey paint in the underpainting, by scumbling a light opaque paint over a darker area, and grey flesh tones in the overpainting"

I would add that with masters, they had complete control and knowledge of what they were doing. I think even when they slightly deviate from what they wanted, they could easily wing it using small adjustments, scumbling, layering in higher layers. Its amazing the effects and you can achieve with layering, intentional or not - Just my opinion, I am no pro :)

I included below a rather crappy cellphone photo of my very earlier layers. As you can see I to some extent chose a rather vibrant blue under the flesh tones and went a bit red for foliage area. Good/bad I don't know, but that was my start. I made those choices by take my source photo, pop it in PS and found the negative colors and mostly chose that as the base. I had maybe gone a bit to vibrant and light, but my reasoning was that layer on layer will either cover it 100% or would obscure it so much that I need more vibrancy underneath. Either way, I think it helped my flesh tones in the higher levels, the foliage not so much ... I tend to learn everything the hard way :D

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Jan-2014/15688-20130914_190941.jpg

AllisonR
01-23-2014, 01:36 PM
Coach/Oiling out

For coach/oiling out I use walnut oil + linseed oil + very small amount of OMS. I gently rub it into areas and wipe of nearly all of it before I start in again. I donít use my regular medium Ö I premix that into my paints before I start. My regular medium contains Oil of Spike Lavender and I find it extremely aggressive, just a little too much and it can raise paint on layers I thought was dry enough. So I went with a touch of OMS.

Thank you for this interesting tidbit of info. I have had such huge issues trying to oil out, first with a too fat medium (50+% linseed) that never dried, then to a too harsh medium that ripped up 6 month old paint (80%terp and 20% linseed). I keep trying to find an oiling out medium that will work for me, because as you say it is hard to see the values and colors once they have sunk in and dried. However instead of oiling out, and destroying my paintings, I am just going with using my memory of what the color was.

I also LOVE making greens out of yellows and blacks. Have you tried terre verde - the old masters had access to this color, and it is such a neutral green, not harsh like verdigris.

Grisaille underpainting - you should do what you are comfortable with, and will learn the most from, even if it is not exactly as the artist did it. Sometimes a very subtle color shift is enough. For example people often talk of a grey-green flesh tone in underpainting. I am doing a raphael (he has very glowing and more pure skin tones) where I did the grisaille in only earth color - I think raw umber plus white. Yet, in later layers it looks like it was a green grey, only because it is next to, or under, warmer layers, so it looks green grey by default.

klopperjohnny
01-23-2014, 02:02 PM
Allison, I have a love/hate with oiling out. My logic is to try the same medium thatís in my main paint layers and stick to the fat over lean rule as much as I can. So when my main medium is say stand oil + OMS, I would use stand oil as coach/oiling out. In this case I had walnut + linseed so I used that, I figured the Venice Turpentine was already in my paints and did not need to add it Ö and solvents well they can lift even ďdryĒ paint, I guess it is debatable if it needs to be in the oiling out medium there is so little and the OMS probably evaporate before the oil is even dry. You never want to leave coach/oiling out medium on the canvas (its gets sticky and can shrivel and shrink), I gently work it in, then wipe it all off Ö gently testing with my finger to make sure what remains if close to nothing Ö I just want the values deep again. I also check the canvas at an angle that there was no accidental oil runs! Those are not fun to fix after the fact. If it was a coach layer, I would then just work back into that for extra bite and that lovely oil in oil feeling as you work.

Thanks for the tips on greens, Iíll check it out. I just have viridian (I like it in my flesh mixes) and thalo green on my pallet Ö all other greens I mix.

I get downright angry when I gently wipe and see paint on the rag! So I try to mitigate that. By the same token I hate flat areas on a painting. It really is love hate situation. Maybe one day I will get it all figured out :)

Nathalie Chavieve
01-23-2014, 06:20 PM
Beautiful work, klopperjohnny ! Looking forward to see the finished painting !

I am not familiar with Bouguereau painting technique, but I think, when discussing his techniques is very important to remember that he was a master of French academic painting. It might explain lot of nuances of his technique.

I have heard the opinion that Bouguereau was using glazes over all ready painted flesh tone to create such beautiful shadows of the flesh . That what it looks like to me on the first pictire ( foot) of Ochre post about Bouguereau technique.

It is wise to check the painted color layer if it thoroughly dry or not before applying the next color layer ( if you use glazing technique ). You can do it in two ways : first way is to dampen a rag little bit in linseed oil and lightly rub the canvas ( or panel ) on the place you want to paint with it - if you will see a color came off on the rug it means the color layer is not thoroughly dry and you must allow it to dry more. The other way is to use a shaving blade - scrub gently the surface with a blade , and if the color will come off like a powder - it is dry enough, if it comes off like a shave - it is not dry.

MissAmerica
01-24-2014, 11:34 AM
This guy is a little silly at times in this video, but he tries to explain his interpretation of how Bouguereau did his glazing on skin. Lots of grey, purple, green tints. It starts about minute 3.

http://youtu.be/s7PJ52L4H7E

0chre
01-24-2014, 12:11 PM
Ochre, thank you for sharing your link. You have some very nice close ups of his works ... I am envious! :)You're welcome! Unfortunately I did not make the close ups myself. If I had, I would be much more certain about Bouguereau's painting methods. Now, with just the photos, it's still a bit of a puzzle to me with a lot of guess work, because it's so difficult to distinguish between layers and to see what's on top of what in a photograph.

I got the close ups from this blog (http://taotothetruth.blogspot.nl/). Search for Bouguereau and you'll find some more neat close ups.

Either way, I think it helped my flesh tones in the higher levels, the foliage not so much ... I tend to learn everything the hard way :DI tried using more or less the same reddish color as an underpainting for greens myself about a year ago. Didn't work for me either. I learn the hard way too. But I think that's the most interesting way as well! :)

klopperjohnny
01-25-2014, 06:51 PM
My progress today, I wanted to work on the top foliage but it was still wet ... and some serious matting in progress too :( (I took some pictures).

I just worked on bottom foliage, water, reeds today. I like the progress on the raised knoll the far left figure is standing on. The water is also starting better, maybe 1-2 more passes on this background area, I an maybe done. The colors look a bit to saturated in this photo compared to my canvas.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2014/15688-012414_DSC6669_copy.JPG

... and the matting that's driving me crazy:

That light green under her arm was a minor correction I had made to the shape of arm, trust me it was the correct value when wet ... and will again be once oiled out, but shocking what it looks like now.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2014/15688-matt_01.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2014/15688-matt_02.jpg

The leaves I worked on a week ago, all look like its the same value now that its getting dry, lost all its subtle values ... will regain it once oiled out, but really? This bad ...

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jan-2014/15688-matt_03.JPG

klopperjohnny
02-10-2014, 10:25 AM
Iíve decided to put this on hold for 2-3 month for it to dry enough as I will probably be switching mediums. As much as a loath switching mediums hald way through, I have reached a point where the constant matting of drying paint is simply interfering too much with my ability to judge values. Oiling out does correct the issue, but every time I do it there is always some minor paint lifting of a prior layer Ė and that adds up quickly.

Frankly I rather oil out/coach as little as possible.

So I for the last two weeks I have been researching and doing test strips with various concoctions.

So far I am leaning towards Ralph Mayerís glazing recommendations. I have also been tempted to cook black oil, but the danger of the cooking process is putting me off that idea. The lead I donít mind, I am quite a fan of lead in my paints really.

I am quite set against anything synthetic like Alkyd based mediums, currently leaning towards sun thickened linseed oil + venetian turpentine + damar (5 pound cut) + regular turps.

Anyways I have a couple months to play around with test strips to see which I like best. My goals are that I require my medium to dry glossy and handle mixes with earth pigments, or ivory black (all seem to matt easily when dried). I want it dry to touch in 2-3 days. The paint needs to level easily. Minimal beading and strong paint film.

Below is my last session, I worked on the background figures and foreground foliage (not shown). You can see matting around my recent work.

Iíll probably complete my Joaquin Sorolla Ė Walk on the beach copy next, link below. Joaquin Sorolla Ė Walk on the beach WIP (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?p=19971579#post19971579)

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Feb-2014/15688-curr_090214.jpg

klopperjohnny
09-28-2014, 06:44 PM
Ok, I am picking this up again soon. I just have another painting I am finishing up, very close.

It's been sitting over 6 months and I have formulated a new medium that dries quicker and dries with high(ish) gloss eliminating matting after drying. No more oiling out! :crossfingers:

The figure in the left of the image holding the branch I used the new medium with. You can't tell in the image but she dried glossy, enamel like smooth with no matting. The hue on her leg reaching down is a bit off ... I find this painting very hard :( I'll correct that along with so many other things that still need work.

Anyways, excite to get back to it. Only thing that may prevent me to get back to is a potential commission in the works :thumbsup:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/28-Sep-2014/15688-curr_02.jpg

IronPawn
09-29-2014, 07:26 AM
Great staff!

Crystal1
10-02-2014, 10:43 AM
I've enjoyed watching you paint this, and hope you have less trouble now. It's a beautiful painting. Would you please share what your new medium is made up from.

klopperjohnny
10-02-2014, 02:27 PM
I've enjoyed watching you paint this, and hope you have less trouble now. It's a beautiful painting. Would you please share what your new medium is made up from.

Thanks Crystal1, hopefully I can complete this successfully and not bungle it up :D. This has been an extraordinarily difficult painting (at least for me). Not sure what I was thinking when I decided to try copy it.

My new medium below.

Of it I can say my Damar % is probably a bit high. I think 30% is more correct ... but I was not taking any chances with matting after drying.

Damar + VT both also service the purpose of remove any beading issue whatsoever.

Per Ralph Mayer (I believe) adding Damar to your paint (in moderation) does not add much to yellowing. However varnishing with it is a another story.

Also some people don't like the way Damar tack up in your medium in the pallet cup as they work. For that you could swap out the turps for OMS (does not evaporate as aggressively), or just do what I do: I add a couple drops of Turps (from eye dropper bottle filled with Turps) to my cup as it evaporates. I don't find it a big deal at all.

Using Wallnut & Stand Oil then adding the Cobalt Drier is a bit of contradiction. But I value properties of both the Wallnut (slipperiness during glazing and enamel finish and self-leveling of the stand oil). Wallnut & Stand Oil is all about thin layering, but important is to flog the canvas (wet paint layers) between sessions/before drying of a layer. Lastly I am in the process of making some Sun Oil from home made linseed oil, I may work that into my formula to get rid of the cobalt drier.

Very important, I live in Florida (hot and humid) I need all the drying help I can get, if your climate is hot and dry you probably won't need the extra help.

I use Grumbacher Cobalt Drier and my ratios should be on the safe side if Mayer is correct.

Don't forget the 5 pound Damar (I make it myself) already also has some Turps in there (to dissolve the crystals). I did not really count that solvent in my percentages - but its there. I use this Turps Diamond Forest (http://www.diamondgforestproducts.com/~shop/list/?prdPerPage=5&catId=34919).

Lastly my paint film strengths % are purely guesstimates.

If you choose to use this formulae use at your own risk. I am not making any claims whatsoever other than I like it.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Oct-2014/15688-glazing_medium_01.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/02-Oct-2014/15688-glazing_medium_02.jpg

TracyBond
01-30-2015, 10:54 AM
Absolutely beautiful painting, Well done!! For some reason when I joined my painting class I chose to try and recreate a Bougereau painting of cupid - It didn't turn out well - maybe once i have learned more skills I will go back to it. Yours is wonderful!!

klopperjohnny
01-30-2015, 11:06 AM
Thanks Tracy! I just need to finish it now ... been in painting funk the last 2 months not painting :(

jort68
08-10-2015, 11:24 AM
I love this piece! Congrats man!
I can't wait to see it done...

ladyinred1991
08-20-2015, 02:19 PM
Oh my.... Im speechless on your effort and work which you've put here. It's pretty amazing how it turned out. Especially accurate colours!