View Full Version : Olmec Priest's Head

Chiara Katerina
10-07-2001, 03:35 PM
Hi !!
Can you help me choose the colours to paint this beautiful Olmec Head...? I have not a clue not even how to start this...


Chiara Katerina
10-07-2001, 03:43 PM
Let's see if this jeg image will be better...

10-07-2001, 05:30 PM
The images never show the colors clearly but...

Well and medium lit zones- white+light ochre/raw umber combination
Dark zones. The same without white.

The colors are not intense, so don't put too much ochre.

10-08-2001, 01:38 AM
I think this is pretty neat just as it is but if you're going to paint him i'd think that Sergeys suggestions are pretty good ones. What type of paint are you going to use? You may be interested in posting this in the alternative mediums forum.

Chiara Katerina
10-08-2001, 07:17 AM
Thank you guys!

10-09-2001, 08:06 PM
If you plan to paint the head as it appears in the picture...then you must (assuming you want realism) paint rotten stone. One way to do that is to paint the head first (see note below) in a single color. Then paint in areas of shade with some blending.

Then you must go over the stone putting in "pits" all over. This means dark holes, shaded edges, and highlights on the edges catching the sunlight. I suggest you first try this on something simple. Try painting a common house brick with pits in it.

To ease your pain, you might try to paint the head with acrylics and then do the pits with acrylics and gesso (for highlights and to remove mistakes) and then when that is done....shade the head with oil glazes. You've picked a hard subject to do realism. Of course if you do a small painting you can get away with solid colors...but then what do you have?

The head itself is not much of a composition. If you could somehow blend it in with some sort of dynamic landscape, or perhaps indian worshippers, etc then you would have a "story" to show. Just ideas...for you to consider.... If you have more questions email me.

10-09-2001, 10:55 PM
:D :D Laughing! I think i misunderstood the question! After answering a question about painting on concrete i assumed she meant what colors to use to paint on the actual head! I'm sorry,

10-10-2001, 01:26 AM
black, white or adobe, raw sienna.

Chiara Katerina
10-10-2001, 07:21 AM

That was a good one!!!!
LOL:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Chiara Katerina
10-10-2001, 07:39 AM

Thank you for the advices!!

I am not sure yet what would be better: to to paint the head as it appears in the picture or to make a impressionist painting out of this...

I used gesso on canvas only in the head part and started painting the sky and green part.

The grass and green trees are not that easy mainly because I am not sure if they will go together with the head part since I have never painted perfect trees and grass...

What would you suggest...?

I have been studying a lot impressionism but still it is very hard for me to understand how colors go together in an impressionist painting... If you were going to paint this head to make it impressionist, what would you do...? Is it a problem that I have already used gesso...?

I agree on the composition part... I thought of making the trees look more beautiful than they are and also I was thinking of something to do about the grass because there is a lot of grass there... I thought of having flowers on the trees so the green part would not be so boring... What do you think...?

The reason why I picked this image is a story itself... I spent some time in Mexico City, a place I will never forget. That city had some sort of mystic influence on me and now all my inspirations come from the pics I took there... I painted a picture I took at Dolores Olmedo Patino Museum (a pic from the entrance of the museum), a magical place where there is some of Diego Rivera's amazing work.

Now, after I finish this, I intend to paint some Maya stuff...

Well, please write again whenever you have some time...!



10-10-2001, 08:30 AM
Hi Chiarina, I was delighted by your impression of Mexico CIty. I too love Mexico City and the Delores Olmeda Museum and Coyoacan, etc. etc.
My wife is from there , we took trips around the country and were also impressed by other places as well..Mexico is full of magic....please keep in touch with us (through personal messages or emails) and we may all be in Mexico city someday, at the same time. That would be fun!

10-10-2001, 01:09 PM
Originally posted by Chiarina Moon

What would you suggest...?

I have been studying a lot impressionism but still it is very hard for me to understand how colors go together in an impressionist painting...

Hi Chiarina Moon,

A big part of the impressionist "style" is not just the paint application or technique. Their colors come from observation...painting from nature. When Monet did paintings studies of cathedrals he would return to the same location, at the same time of day to capture the color and lighting of the moment. So to answer your question about how to get those colors... I think even the impressionist would agree with me that it would be impossible to get the color information they need from a photo.

I think you have a wonderful photo reference to work from none the less! My suggestion would be to first do quick color studies, before attempting a finished painting.

Oil painting is my favorite medium, but at work (occupation: concept artist) I use acrylic, watercolor, and even photoshop :) to work on color studies before I do a finish color concept painting. They are usually fairly small, 3"x5" or smaller. I do several quick color studies before taking anything to a finish, especially when I need to make up alot of what I'm painting.
I still do studies when I work on oil paintings, unless I'm painting from life. Sometimes I have a potiental photo I think would make a great painting, but if I can't get it working for me on a small scale, by the time I work on a large canvas my problems don't go away, they just mutiple in size! :D

10-10-2001, 05:39 PM
When painting from photos remember you are not a slave to the scene that was photographed but rather the photo is only a "hint" as what you might want to use. If your going to make the head as a centerpiece of a landscape and you want to include the brushes, trees, flowers etc then try to use an artistic arrangement. I would also use a "tonal" arrangement with the head perhaps in sunshine and the "jungle" deep in shadow.

The gesson you used for the head is fine, no problem. Let's talk about impressionistic since you want to do that type of painting. I suggest then you forget about the holes etc I spoke about for a relistic approach and instead I suggest you mix a variety of shades for the head color and then place them...carefully on the head with a minimum of blending. Impressionism requires good color and tonal sense.

Again I suggest to get a "story" to the painting tie it in somehow with either the Indians or with tourists etc viewing the head.

Chiara Katerina
10-12-2001, 02:15 PM
Hi Mario!
I am glad you spoke up and let me know about your love for Mexico. I do love that country.
This week I saw a documentary show at People and Arts Channel and the subject was Mexico City.
It brought tears to my eyes because I really miss all of those places I saw on the show. I missed being there because of the way I felt when I was up there.
The Mayas and Aztecas built their pyramids to be closer to the Gods. The made it, man. I felt myself really close to God when I went all the way up the Sun Pyramid.
Let´s keep in touch and exchange some inspirations from Mexico.


Chiara Katerina
10-12-2001, 02:37 PM

Thank you for the further advice. Actually, the thing you said about using the picture just as a “hint” made me feel better.

I really love that picture but it is only because of the beautiful and amazing Olmec Head. I would love to paint Van Gogh´s grass and trees to improve the scene.

This tonal arrangement you are suggesting would be something like the head would be very bright and the trees very dark... It makes sense and I believe it will work very well.
It would make the head almost jump out of the painting, right...?:D
I believe that is basically what I want.

I will try your suggestion of mixing “a variety of shades for the head color and then place them...carefully on the head with a minimum of blending.” Sergey suggested that I used ochre in the head. What do you think...? Can I use many tones of ochre or would it be too boring...? Should I use raw siena also?:confused: :confused:

About the story... I know you are right and I will think of something I just can´t see anything but the head on this painting right now... Anyway, I intend to place it in the wall right beside a painting I made from a beautiful place in Mexico City which is a gate of a local Museum.

I am looking forward to your answers...

Chiara Katerina
10-12-2001, 02:44 PM
To all....

How would you work on the grass...? Very light, right? I am not very good at grass and as I stated above, I love Van Gogh´s work... Can you guys give me some hints on that?

Chiara Katerina
10-12-2001, 02:58 PM
Hi Mmza!!

I agree with you about the impressionist style....

I never thought of working with acrylic colors but I intend to use pastel sometime next year...Oil painting is also my favorite medium...

Thank you for the advices...!!:)

10-13-2001, 12:13 AM
Chiarina Moon

That's a tough question! I alway thought grass, trees, etc. is especially hard to paint... It sometimes looks to acidy of a green. The example of Van Gogh's grass you posted has some nice breakup of green & red (for the dirt) which would make sense since red/green are complementry colors it helps make the grass blades show up as grass blades... uuh, does that make any sense??? Anyways, I guess my suggestion based off what I think you want to do would be to make sure you're not putting just painting straight green for grass. You could use violets and blues in the shadows, and hints of reds like Van Gogh's example.
Richard Schmid does good grass.


Chiara Katerina
10-13-2001, 07:51 PM

Thank you for all the tips. I don´t know how to start my brushstrokes on the grass... Furthermore, can you help me pick the correct brush...?

As you can see, I am very junior...

Kindest regards,
Chiarina;) ;)