View Full Version : The classic look-an investigation

07-25-2006, 06:17 PM
Once upon a time, (I hope my tale is half as good as the others that started out this way), I was searching the web and came across the Art Renewal Center. I wish I could portray how happy I was to find such a place. This site proclaimed what I think art is. Powerful. Refined. Finished. Please don’t misunderstand me, even studies and sketches are wondrous and remarkable, but when they are taken to completion with forethought and accomplished skill, they attain the heights of magical. It is this that this site is trying to raise to it’s deserved and forgotten level, and I wish to investigate just what is this thing, this look, we classify as classical.

I want to create this. I want to learn how to produce a work, refine it and take it to a finish. Not necessarily to the look of the past, but definitely to the quality that they have attained. I would like your input and help. I know what I can do, and so far if falls short, but who knows what we can do next...
The following is a play by play of the project that I am using for this investigation. I desire your input on every step on the way. The good , the bad, and the ugly. Even comments on how I am writing this are welcome and desired. I am bent on getting to the bottom of this, or is it the top?
I want to create a piece that I can enter into the ARC’s call for entries. Even if I only create a piece that is good enough to enter, I think I will have succeeded in my goal. A winner? Well, I’ll leave that up to them to decide, that is out of my control. First and foremost though is a problem. I have never painted a face or figure before that I could recognize as human before! I can draw them, faces too, but paint? ...Oi.
So, I set about reading everything I could find in books, at ARC, and here at WC. I started imagining and sketching. It was all thumbnails and boxed out figures at this point, but these thumbnails provided me with choices to pursue. Once one was decided upon I then created a more detailed idea and I'll call her the Bather for now.


At this point it is purely from my imagination. This led to a head study


Looking at this made me realize that there was a lack of reality in the draftsmanship and proportion. My imagination just doesn’t cut it and her features just don't work. I wish I had a model to work from. Since I do not have access to anyone that resembles her, I was now forced to work on what I could and let her physical problems simmer in the back of my mind. So, I enlisted the help of my brothers girlfriend whom agreed to let me wrap her in a sheet for the drapery study. Once I had modeled the light from the correct direction, I was able to bring a picture back to my studio/garage and produce fig. 3. -She doesn’t have the time to sit for the 12 hours it took to do the detailed study and I wouldn't either.


Already the 'from life' lesson is proving its worth. Notice the difference between my imagination and from the photo I took.

From here I used some modern day technologies to eliminate the time consuming method of ‘griding.’ I meshed her torso in fig.1 with the drapery in fig. 3 together in a photo editing program, printed it out and shot it on to the canvas with a cheap projector. Since I already created it once, I wondered at my qualms about using the projector, it feels like cheating. But I concluded that if it wasn't mine to begin with then it would be cheating and therefore would not be original. This is just a more efficient evolution of the grid method that does not have the freedom of correction, say, that the full size cartoon would yield. In other words, I am placing onto the canvas that what I want to enlarge, and not something that I could easily change at this point.

I used ink to 'map' it out onto a 24" x 36" canvas and after a little bit of ‘wiping out the white’ with glazes I ended up with this, fig.4


With this outline created I started to fill out areas mainly looking for tonal values instead of finished color. I wanted to get to a 3 dimensional look and away from this 'cartoony, feel. Figures 5, 6, and 7 show this as well as my inherent inability to paint faces and figures.

fig. 5

fig. 6

fig. 7

As you can plainly see, I really need to solve the 'head and figure' problems. The drapery is coming along and I am experimenting with titanium and flake whites both at this point, with various shades of blue and brownish grays. I have yet to decide which I like best. I'm starting to understand that it all will fall into place after I find the finished skin tones and values. These I believe are the key to her sunny morning.

The next figure shows the beginning of the marble terrace. I first completed a small sketch of what I wanted the terrace to look like, then I needed to figure out how to transfer the perspective of that sketch onto the canvas. The vanishing points were too far apart to do on the easel. So I laid the canvas on the garage floor, and with strings and dead weights, I mapped out the horizon line and where to place my vanishing points. I would then rotate the end of these strings (with more weights attached) to the desired angle and align a straight edge to get the proper perspective of the railing and the tiles. Just make sure the vanishing points don't migrate on the horizon line. Also in this figure is another attempt at her face, that I still can't get...

fig. 8

At fig. 9, I have yet again failed at her flesh tones and facial structures, and you are probably wondering like I was at this point, how long is this going to go on? Am I ever going to figure this out? I am not going to give up (this is probably the most important lesson to learn). I have also inekept at the other parts as well. Sky, ocean, beach and hillside are all starting to take the shape of my imagination

fig. 9

07-31-2006, 07:10 PM
Then I came up with an idea.

What if I find a similar face with the similar shadowing and paint it. I will then have the benefit of the 'from life' lesson that gave me the realistic drapery look. So from the internet, after a long search, I printed out a face and projected it on to a canvas. Since I do not have the rights to this photo I was not worried about cheating at this point. I cannot sell it. It is purely an academic study for my walls only. What I wanted to learn was to paint a face, similar in fashion, so I did just that. To my regret, though, I did not document the under painting, I only have the finished pix for you. She has been painted twice, first, with an under-painting of the same tones you see here then again because it looked so flat. This is where the 3-d volume effect started to happen. It occurs in the subsequent layers...

fig. 10

"OK," I thought to myself, "Hereís something to expound upon." Let's take this new lesson learned and go back to work on The Bather...

fig 11

This is what I have today. Itís starting to get interesting. The face is now much more convincing, although it is still lacking in realism. I seem to be moving forward anyways. Yet, another problem arose from my solution/tangent. Her face now looks more like the one in fig. 10 than in the earlier studies. I had realized that her ear was in the wrong place, the eyes were crooked and asymmetrical, and her nose and mouth were not lined up along the center of her face, so when I corrected them, I had errantly brought in what I had just learned from the head study. Oi! I am positive now that there is no substitution for real life. There's so much lost and unimaginable in the imagination that unless you have Ďgot it downí inside you, it will probably not show up. At least without a fight. I think it is this that was causing me so much trouble to begin with. What do I do?
On another note, I have filled in the marble. A little too white maybe, we'll see. Her right breast was moved out from under her arm pit, and some muscle tone was added to her much improved flesh hues over-all, but I still, over-all, do not like it. How can I learn to get flesh like they have in the past? What makes it look like that...?

Ah, another idea...

What if I copy a master's painting...? Iíll have a known finish to shoot for, and the Ďreal-lifeí lesson will apply. Here is where I sit on this one, my next post is of my trip with W. Bougeureauís, Faneuse.


07-31-2006, 07:13 PM
WCampbell- Your painting is gorgeous! It's so interesting to see how you are using classical planning methods to develop your painting!
:clap: :clap: :clap:

Barb Solomon:cat:

08-01-2006, 12:14 PM
Thank you WCampbell for this investigation.
Very interesting to watch and learn.

What got you interested in painting and specific a classic look?


08-01-2006, 01:20 PM
Hello WCampbell,
Good job so far: The drapery turned out great.

I identify with your struggles painting flesh. I have been having a monstrous time learning to do the same thing myself.

I've figured out one thing though which may or may not help you: I find it useful to think in terms that flesh does not have color (except maybe a basic pinkish cast). It is reflective and translucent: which means flesh is going to be a color combination of whatever colors are around it.

Experts: Is this correct ? For example: if one painted someone standing in a purple forest with grey shadows and yellow light - the person is going to have purple and grey and yellow skin basically.

Also, I think the following things are giving your painting a non-classical feel. No toned canvas to tie the whole thing together. Painting was clearly put together in pieces: and it looks like it. Experts: suppose this happens - one could tie everything together by a yellow ochre glaze at the end correct? Also, the model looks like a 21st century fashion model rather than the classical type. Just my thoughts - not trying to be critical or discouraging.

Here's my first real attempt at classical flesh - it has been driving me crazy!!! But, I think I'm getting real close. Right arm is still in progress (moving and repainting it ). Need to restore the glare to her face. I'm too close to this work at the moment for any objective evaluation - does she look plausibly real ?

Notice the drapery disaster: I still can't get glazing to work and I'm going to give Bill Martin a real hard time in his new demo.

08-01-2006, 09:53 PM
Ok, I don't want to hijack WCampbell's thread.

Granby - I was taught that you start out using one sort of basic skin tone and then adjusting it.

The reflective color theory is true. Remember, the kid's game of "Do you like butter?" where the kid hold a dandelion up to someone else's chin and the yellow of the dandelion reflects on the person's chin indicating that they like butter.

You could be right that the composition needs more unity in terms of the colors. I would almost need to set up a doll with colored lights (a mock set up) to answer your question about color reflections. Reflections do all sorts of hard to predict things.

But, I wouldn't worry about the models proportions. Is that a 8 head tall figure or more?

Barb Solomon

08-02-2006, 01:34 PM
Hi Barb, Nickel, Granby, and the rest of you, thanks for lookin.'

I hope it's helpful, both the mistakes as well as the corrections.

What got you interested in painting and specific a classic look?

Have you ever heard of William Alexander and his "The Magic of Oil Painting?" I thought that was great. I wanted to try...so I started making mountains out of pigment with a palette knife. That opened my eyes to what the rest of the world was doing and had done. I have never had to learn to like the realism in a classic painting, I just like it. But with such a convoluted journey as is my life, it has taken me until now to get to a point to try my hand... It is quite a steep learning curve.

Granby, yes, currently she does have a 21st century look. I think I had something in the original sketches but I am getting farther away, any suggestions as to how to turn it around? Perhaps I can keep her current appearance/modeling and utilize the techniques of the past to 'classicalize' her. I'm learning a lot with the Faneuse study...but this solution is not one of the lessons.
How much do her surroundings influence her flesh tones? In this case, it is a sunny morning, she's on a marble terrace and the sky is clear blue? -Think of the background as an impression and just blocked in at this point (I will be goint over all of it again). I do agree with you and Barb about the influences, the facts were just proven to me with Faneuse. They are intertwined and dependent on one another to tie a piece together. It leads me to believe that the surroundings and the flesh have to be done together or is it possible to do the flesh and then the surroundings? Probably a little of both, huh?

Granby, now that's a classical pose you have there, I see we are tackling some of the same issues, and that you've got a good solid start. How big is your canvas? I ask because it plays a big part in the amount of detail you can provide, and blending you can accomplish. Especially in flesh and drapery. How are you going to solve the reflective issues? Surroundings first, then flesh, or vice versa? I have an idea of what she, in mine, looks like and was hoping to modify the surroundings to suit. Is this possible/advisable? She, in yours, is also the key element/actress, in the play. All else is stage dressing, and supporting roles, therefore isn't everything else designed to fit? I wish I had put more color into my marble. Good choice.

Barb, and everyone else, please do not worry a bout 'hijacking' this thread.
We are in this boat together, and anyone who wishes to jump in, I'm glad to have you, there's plenty of room.

Aaaall abooaard!


08-02-2006, 02:46 PM
Thanks WCampbell.....interesting journey you have begun.

I wouldn't worry about myself if a painting has a 21st century look.
Afterall we have to make our mark now.....
And in the 22nd century they can talk about us.....:D


08-02-2006, 03:22 PM
Hi WCampbell,
(First - apologies: was not trying to hijack a thread). For ideas on your painting - go to ARC (Art Reneweal Center) and look up an artist with the last name of Godward. He painted a bunch of pictures of pretty women loitering around on marble on bright sunny days. He also was very familiar with the greco roman classical look, hair, clothing motifs etc.

My painting is small - 9x11 frederix canval panel. I'm new at painting and I suck working with color - I'm starting to get a little comfortable with reddish-orangish-brownish colors but I'm terrible with rest. Without going into a lot of detail - I'm going to make long dramatic blue green shadows going sharply to the right (to contrast & cool & balance all my warm colors). I'm going to put bits of blue and green wherever I can on the figure - and especially the boar to tie everything together. Plus add bluish green and cools wherever I can fit them in and try to darken everything but the center of interest. I hope it works but it is just basically an educated guess on my part based on limited experience. I'm learning by trial and error - My painting has quite a different mood than yours though.

08-02-2006, 05:16 PM
Nickel, good sound reasoning, I wonder if I can pull it off...

Granby, no apologies neccesary. Thanks for the Godward info, will do.
I'm at the beginning stages of a step by step of the Faneuse study, and I will try to fit in the differences of painting small and large. I used to paint a lot of stuff into realitively small areas. This study has taught me something new that I can't wait to share. Your color scheme sounds to be striking. Impact.

Well, what are we doing here?...where's my brush?


08-02-2006, 05:27 PM
Oh, yes, I remember Bill Alexander and his ďall mightyĒ brush!

Both Bill Alexander and the more recent Bob Ross, do some interesting things with brushwork that is often not shown elsewhere. It is good to learn what it has to offer and the limitations. (Sometimes, new painters donít realize that perspective comes into play and they need varying sizes of marks.)

Does the contemporary look have to do with proportions. We used to often draw women at 7 1/2 head tall, maybe 8 heads tall. Fashion models are often dress, photographed and photoshoped in ways that make them seem 9-10 heads tall or taller yet. (Iíve seen 12!)

Okie, dokie! Itís great to see the two of you compare notes! I certainly didn't mean to discourage you!:thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

08-05-2006, 03:01 AM
Here's a few thoughts from along the way re: difference between life studies and photo studies. Some of the problems are a discrepancy of perception.

1) the camera's bevel skews the acquired image, i.e., simple experiment to prove photo inaccuracy is photograph a large-size canvas. PhotoShop has a distortion removal feature.
2) Life studies offer the artist the ability to look around the subject and learn the anatomy rather than parroting 2D.
3) Photography removes many gradient values we see, generally crowding the highlights and shadows into whites and blacks.
4) Perception for the viewer formatted with photography is generally not the perception an artist would format a live study.

Exceptions exist . . (arguments exist too), and some artists are really talented and experienced with both composing for the camera, and transposing it to canvas unbeknownst to the viewer.

When I try to do something from a photograph, I get very weird results. So I've had to reverse-engineer these problems of mine, to understand, and I see you doing similar oddities. The result is, you're tweaking the anatomy to fit the camera skew instead of painting what you would see with a model. Or some blurb of push-me pull-you. That's the best I can word it.

Long winded, eh?

There are probably at least 3 preliminary sketches you could've done before jumping into this with a painting. One of them you did, the drapery, and it's beautiful. You could've also done a seperate sketch for the portrait. Then another for the entire figure.

cc: Next time . . do the the preliminaries first. You're painting will reward you for it.

Example of procedure -- W. Bouguereau

Preliminary Sketch

Finished Drawing

Oil Sketch

Finished Painting

"The craft of picture-making as practiced by Bouguereau basically followed the principles of academic theory as codified by the seventeenth-century aesthetician Roger de Piles. The code embodied the fundamental idea whereby a painting could be judged logically and objectively by its conformity to ideals established for its divisible parts, which were determined to be: composition, drawing, color harmony, and expression. The method Bouguereau used to execute his important paintings provided ample opportunity for the study and resolution of problems that might arise in each of these areas.

The separate steps leading to the genesis of a painting were:

1. croquis and tracings;
2. oil sketch and/or grisaille study;
3. highly finished drawings for all the figures in the composition, as well as drapery studies and foliage studies;
4. detailed studies in oil for heads, hands, animals, etc.;
5. cartoon; and, only then,
6. the finished painting. "

http://www.realcolorwheel.com/Bouguereau.htm (http://www.realcolorwheel.com/Bouguereau.htm)

08-05-2006, 03:33 PM
Richard, Awesome. Now that's what I'm talking about. "Long winded," you ask? Nope! In fact, I'm sorry it ended. I've read and understand all you have said, and your pix/representations are like the mortar between the bricks.
I'm a starving artist alright, but not for food. My meals are fine, it's the information that I crave. -And where else can I get it out here in the desert? Thanks to you all, keep it coming. Hopefully I'm not the only one benefiting from your help and my mistakes...

--I'm just finishing up Faneuse, and will get to writing about it this afternoon. I hope it's interesting to you folks...


Carey Griffel
08-05-2006, 04:24 PM
Hopefully I'm not the only one benefiting from your help and my mistakes...
No, definitely not...I have learned several things myself just from following along here...so it's very much appreciated!

Richard--terrific info, I've never heard it explained so well.


08-05-2006, 05:43 PM

the answer is simple,set it up in nature.

The folds need to be simplified and brought
into harmony in the painting.[cartoon needed.]

To do the kind of work expected at the ARC
competition you have to be willing to go the
extra mile.

Pay the model's cost,it will make all the difference,
and get out to a landscape that you can work

08-05-2006, 07:31 PM
Hi Richard,

That was an excellent description of the classical process of creating studies to eventual compose a painting! I also like that your objections to photos is fairly presented.

I expect that with the classical painting process, there are several stages that should give someone a chance to find any problems that are cause by the use of photos.

Thanks for presenting a thorough explanation of your ideas!

WCampbell - Good luck with the Faneuse! Iím looking forward to seeing your progress!


08-05-2006, 08:11 PM
Hey everyone.
We pick up the tale where we last left off. The flesh tones are still lacking that finished look we are all after, and I had had an idea. The idea was to copy someone elseís work that I admire in an attempt to discover what they had done. Until now, I had never thought I would try to make a copy, but through further thought, it does makes sense. Itís almost as if the Ďfrom real-lifeí lesson is once again showing itís venerable head. First, it is already finished. Second, the colors have been chosen and because I admire it, they seem to work (very personal reason). And finally, I plan to eliminate as many drafting errors as possible, to get right to the painting.
Before, I figured, why waste the time. I should work on my own projects and solve those same problems as they arose in a work that I could sell. To this I now say, variables. In a work I am in the process of creating, the finished look is still an unknown. Plus, if I have something to learn along the way then I also donít know how to get there. Too many unknowns. An unknown quantity must be thought of as a variable until it is a known quantity. A variable is something that has to be juggled in a fashion of more/less in/out up/down. Like the drawing, should I move this or that, make it longer or shorter, bigger or smaller? For the purpose of learning, as many variables as possible must be eliminated or controlled.
Here is how I set that up...
I admire W. Bouguereau, and his Faneuse stood out for a number of reasons. I like it. It is not one of his monumental pieces, and it looked to have the right amount of flesh and drapery for this exercise. The hands were going to be tough, as I hate hands and feet, but practice makes perfect. Another element I wanted to experience was painting it as true to life-size as possible. Why did he paint so big? All of my life I have utilized small canvases and placed as much detail into them as I could in order to get the right look. Yeah, for the look I was after at those times, I would finish entire canvases with a small/tiny brush. Well itís time I find out what the difference is.
Uh-oh, Faneuse is listed as 39-7/8" x 31-7/8".

Faneuse original

My largest canvas (at the time) was 30" x 24". Maybe I should pick something else... unless, maybe I can crop it to a new, and pleasing, composition? As luck would have it, yes, I think this works. What I did was turn on the grid in the photo editing program and counted out my canvas size. Here the grid corresponds to two square inches each and the dotted line is equal to my available canvas size.

Faneuse original pre-crop

I then moved the dotted line box around until I was pleased, and the pitch fork hand was in the 2/3'rds area, then cropped it to this.

Faneuse original-1

I printed out and projected this cropped picture on to the canvas to pencil it in. I figured that this is a learning experiment so I decided to speed it up this way. If I were to utilize the grid method of laying it out it would have taken up most of the first day and I may have re-introduce errors, variables. Since it is a copy to begin with and not my idea I opted instead to mechanically reproduce it. This wasnít about my drawing skills, itís about painting, so, letís get to it...
This one shows the mapping out stage on a prepared canvas. It is an eight ounce cotton duck canvas that has been triple primed with acrylic gesso. 100% commercial. To this I applied another ground layer of Permalba (titanium white), black, and burnt sienna mix, in oils, to smooth it out and give it that warm gray tint I had read that Monsieur Bouguereau liked. I applied it with a palette knife and brushed out the ridges. The canvas is now smooth wi just a little bit of the canvas texture left.


In Fig.-13, I have started in with the tonal study, or grisaille. It is also known as a dead palette study I believe, correct me here if I am wrong. I have had zero formal training. I used titanium white and ivory black.


With Fig.-14, I have roughed in the background.


Fig.-15 shows a new layer of black and white flesh tones. I wanted to get it smoother. It looked too mottled and Ďbrushyí for my tastes with only one layer of paint to cover up the ground. When I finished, it was here that I realized the differences between painting large or small. I had never been able to create or model if you will a face the way it came out here. By painting larger, Iím able to do more with an area and stand back further to view it. Distance blends. A newspaper photo is proof. If you get close enough, you will see it as a jumble. With distance, it blends. For me here, into a nose and upper lip that I am proud of. In fact there is some brush work that I can only see when I do step back. This is something I didnít expect and noticed by accident. It doesnít start to make sense until I give it distance and let it blend. When I paint small, yes, I can do it all with a tiny brush, but it had better be perfect. Because when it is properly viewed, it will be from a close up viewing point. Any blending problems, twitching of a muscle, or off colors will be noticed at a much greater detriment to the viewer. Please try this. With a ruler, lightly draw a line across a page. Then with a heavier pencil or pen, freehand a line over that one. Keep it as straight as you can and look at it. Close up, you can see every twitch and wobble, gradation, and imperfection. While from across the room...you be the judge.
Plus, my painting is almost life size. Her head is 8.5" tall. It is a Ďfrom the waste upí view and if you look at another person, how far away do you have to be in order to take in a Ďfrom the waste up view?í Hmm, I bet itís the same as my painting. So now with a large format I am able to recreate what youíd expect to see, person to person. To me that sounds ...natural. The detail level I need to make is the same as that which I and the viewer can see in real life. Cool. I donít know about you but Iím hooked on as large as possible...my results are much more...beautiful.


Now to start the terre verte (green earth). I am very new to the idea of painting under the flesh a green hue so if you feel the need to snicker or just plain laugh, please feel free. I do. As I understand it, the green interacts with the later layers, graying them out and in a sense nullifying the pink tones to a shadow value. So why on earth I painted the well lit areas as well as the shadows is beyond me, but I did. Looking back I think it would have eliminated at least one whole glaze had I instead stuck with placing the terre verte just in the shadows. I should have painted the lit areas or should I say the direct lit areas with white and used say, burnt sienna to alter the tone and to show curvature. This is just a guess at this point though as I have not yet actually tried it. Leaving the lit areas alone is also an option. Also, here in Fig.-16, I have added color to the scarf and vest ties(napthol scarlet, cad. red lt., titanium white and terre verte), her hair (burnt sienna, raw umber, yellow ochre, and titanium white), her blouse (titanium white, cad. red, cerrulean blue and black), and her dress (raw umber and titanium white). For the record, there is a lot more red in her blouse than I have, I couldnít at the time believe how much was actually be used. It seemed like way too much... It just goes to show you that what you think you see isnít actually what you see. Sometimes you need to relearn even that...


Finally, the flesh. Fig.-17 has in it the first glaze of flesh tones. Titanium white, naples yellow, and cad. red are the base colors. -I started out with titanium white in this first glaze, but with the subsequent layers I have changed to flake (lead) white. To this I added terre verte to gray it. Now you can only add so much terre verte before it takes on a greenish, unwanted tint, so if you have to darken it use black or maybe brown. The shadows in the palms, for instance, although its not a perfect reproduction, I mixed up the gray with naples yellow, cad. red and terre verte and then I could change the value with white and black. To warm it up as in a reflected lighting area I would add the red or burnt sienna. All of the tones turned out to be quite pink. An affect I suspect was introduced by the terre verte under painting and her very white skin. Very little yellow was used in these flesh tones as her skin has very Ďun-tannedí look to it. A great portion of the skin is gray tinted towards pink, or should I say pink tinted towards gray. I seemed to be constantly working one value toward the other. Check out her temple by her eye...
Her pitchfork received its raw umber, yellow ochre, titanium white, and mars black (I ran out of ivory black at the end of the dead palette stage) pigments in this frame as well.
P.S. Gamblinís chromatic black, which is a mix of chlorinated and bromated phthalocyanine and quinacridone red b does not give this effect.


Fig.-18 shows the next glaze added on to her face and neck. Still too green...add pink.


The second glaze has been applied to her hands and arms here in Fig.-19 and with the exception of her hands I like what is happening. I may be on to something...
The background is under way with the use of mars black, raw umber, terre verte, titanium white and yellow ochre. The lake is the surrounding green and ultramarine blue, a clear miss from the original but it will do. Maybe Iíll play with it some more when I have the sky to judge it off of...


Fig.-20 shows a completed background and an untouched lake. I believe Iíll leave it as is.
The highlights of her scarf were knocked down in intensity with a little terre verte added to the napthol scarlet and cad. red lt. I didnít just add the green, I repainted all the highlights with this new mix and dry blended it into the midtones. Some black was added to this to darken in some of the deepest folds and then dry brushed in and blended. Other than that I left the mid tones alone. Now itís not so brilliant.


Other than some touch-ups, like her ear, the sky, the strap across the shoulder, some leaves in...OK, maybe I still have a ways to go, but here it is...


Another glaze has been added to the flesh and her hair is finished, and for all purposes here, it is now your turn to weigh in. How did I do? What should I do, have done, differently? Whatís bugginí you about this or that? Does anything stick out? Does it work? Does it fail? Iím really anxious to here your thoughts and reasons. This is the closest I have ever come to something like this, and quite frankly, Iím surprised this is sitting in my garage! Iíve learned a lot. I know I have missed in respect to Monsieur Bouguereauís work but this is my best, and right now itís as if Iím too close to see the obvious. So please get your fingers danciní on your keyboards and tell me straight up whatís on your mind about whatís on my easel. I will spend one more day on it, what am I going to do?

Then it is about time to take these lessons back to "The Bather."


08-06-2006, 03:41 PM
wcampbell, what a journey you have taken in this thread! really instructional, thanks so much for sharing what you've learned.
i think that 'faneuse' needs a little modeling on her forehead to make the far side 'turn'.
i am going to rate this thread a 5!

08-07-2006, 11:47 AM
Brilliant job - really good. I especially like the forearms and hands - I will love to see how this practice helps with your first painting. I think you picked the right route in copying a master to eliminate a lot of the variables as a leaning experience - and if I have any sense I'll do the same thing myself soon.

08-07-2006, 12:00 PM
Good morning!

I thought I'd post this image, first to show that I rounded out her forehead with shadowing, (thank you, Antgeek, maybe I'll round it out a little more) and second to show how photography can play with your head in yet another way.
When I finished the step by step post on Faneause, I noticed my fig.-21 was washed out, compared to the pix of the original. I really needed to fix this, but when I went out to the original, it looked adequate. So I printed out a 8x10 glossy, zoomed pix of the original face, taped it up (use a drafting tape, it's less sticky and won't pull off paint if not left on for more than a couple days) and realized I was OK. Or was I? A couple of things could be going on. My print out may be misrepresenting the original, my painting may have a higher contrast between the dark background and her light face, which would wash out one or the other with a camera, or both situations are occurring. As I do not have access to the original I cannot verify this inadequacy...
My photography skills must also be suspect...

I hope this new Fig.-22 may be of help and not hindrance.


Your thoughts and ideas, as always, are desired and appreciated! Please keep up the great help!


08-07-2006, 07:07 PM
A couple of suggestions on what to pay attention to: chroma and edges.

1. 19th century painters used paint mixtures that were mostly low in chroma (intensity). My first reaction to your nude was that the the background greens and blues are far more intense than would ever be used for backgrounds in 19th century academic painting. High chroma colors come forward while low chroma colors recede. Remember also that they had much less chromatic palette choices than we had, and they disliked the high intensity look, involving newly discovered synthetic organic pigments, that the impressionists embraced.

2. Most of your edges are hard and even. Ths is clear, for example, in comparing the edge of the forehead in your copy vs. the orginal. The great 19th century painters knew how to create depth, space, and mystery with the systematic modulation of hard, soft, and lost edges.

I hope this is helpful.

08-07-2006, 11:09 PM
David, yes this does indeed help me. Your insight given to me concerning chromatic matters may help more than you know. I remember reading somewhere about chroma and I had forgotten the term. You have jogged my memory and I will search for that article again. I do believe, although I cannot yet put my finger on it, that this is what I'm searching for. I do wish to knock it back down into the distance in the same effect seen in the very 19th century works you referenced to. I may find a solution for my background after all. And yes again. My edges. Right now they are from my trained draftsmans' hand and not yet refined to that of an artist. I think it has something to do with 're-oiling.' Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think they re-oiled the dried paint in order to blend the two edges together. To paint the entire painting in one sitting is for me impossible. Some of it dries. If not all the way then at least to a point where trying to blend becomes an attempt at drybrushing instead. Although Faneuse may not benefit from the experiments (I'm nervous I'll muck it up) The Bather will surely feel the exercise. Have you ever heard of re-oiling? Perhaps I'm on the wrong track, too. Do you know how they dealt with an already dry edge? Anyone else...?

Thanks for the info, if you can think of or spot anything else...

Also before I forget, I noticed in the original Faneuse, that he had what appeared to be red paint in the background around the scarf and white by the blouse to get it to 'glow.' I don't know if this was a trick of the pix or not but I suspect not. This I did not do either...

08-07-2006, 11:32 PM
I think it has something to do with 're-oiling.' Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think they re-oiled the dried paint in order to blend the two edges together. To paint the entire painting in one sitting is for me impossible. Some of it dries. If not all the way then at least to a point where trying to blend becomes an attempt at drybrushing instead. Although Faneuse may not benefit from the experiments (I'm nervous I'll muck it up) The Bather will surely feel the exercise. Have you ever heard of re-oiling? Perhaps I'm on the wrong track, too. Do you know how they dealt with an already dry edge?
Oiling out was a common procedure. It is also called painting into a "couch" of oil. Impressionists denegrated the technique, calling it "painting into the soup." It involves applying a the thinnest possible layer of oil to the dried painting surface before starting to paint on it again (I apply it one drop at a time with a fingertip and spread it as far as I can before adding any more). Oiling out eliminates any dull sunk-in areas and helps to lubricate subsequent brush strokes (walnut oil, being more slippery than linseed, is particularly good for this). I like a couch of linseed mixed 50/50 with Venice turpentine for glazing. Oiling out should only be done over areas that you will be painting into, since excess unbound oil on the surface will contribute to later yellowing. It does make blending easier, but is not, so far as I know, a secret method for making soft edges.

Soft edges are best developed when the paint is still wet, by feathering with a soft dry brush that is cleaned frequently as it picks up excess paint. I use a thick synthetic sable round for this, and also to remove any unwanted impasto or texture that develops in the paint.

If the paint has dried without my realizing that an edge needs to be softened, I sometimes find that wet sanding helps. Here's a post on my web log that describes the procedure:


Also before I forget, I noticed in the original Faneuse, that he had what appeared to be red paint in the background around the scarf and white by the blouse to get it to 'glow.' I don't know if this was a trick of the pix or not but I suspect not. This I did not do either...
Subtle bands of red along edges are one technique, sometimes used by academic painters and also occasionally by Sargent, Zorn, and others. It does create a sense of glow when applied correctly (it's easy to overdo). Some modern painters, such as Pino, sometimes use this technique as well.

08-08-2006, 12:31 AM
David, Thanks for saving me some of that most precious commodity, time. It appears that oiling out is not what I had hoped it to be. Though still good info to store away in an 'illusionists' bag of tricks, eh?
I blend the same way. It's the area's such as her face to the background where the background is already dried that I have a problem. With one side already dried, I can not achieve that wonderful 'blur' that I can say, fold to fold (wet on wet) in her blouse. I wish I could see an original. It would be very telling indeed. Perhaps I need a fieldtrip... Perhaps I need to learn some new kind of brushstroke plan. Plan ahead? Hmm? We'll figure it out...some way anyways.
Maybe the secret is in the fact that the surounding areas have that glow technique? He could be going back in with wet paint of a very close match, then blending it, and enjoying the 'glow' of his success... This way you could go either way in almost every instance. Background to subject, subject to background, which ever way you needed to achieve the desired effect. Two birds, one stone...and it's not the easy way. Sounds like it will work. What do you think?


08-08-2006, 10:08 AM
Maybe the secret is in the fact that the surounding areas have that glow technique? He could be going back in with wet paint of a very close match, then blending it, and enjoying the 'glow' of his success... This way you could go either way in almost every instance. Background to subject, subject to background, which ever way you needed to achieve the desired effect. Two birds, one stone...and it's not the easy way. Sounds like it will work. What do you think?
That's probably the way to go at this point, although I've always found that edges softened while the paint is wet are better than those created after the fact. I occasionally look at a painting after a section is dry and smack myself with the realization that I should have handled an edge differently.

08-10-2006, 08:34 PM
I thought I was coming here with lots of questions, but nope.

WCampell, this is a great thread, thanks very much for sharing your journey. And thanks everyone else for all the info and thoughts added.

I have learned some too. :)

Anita Murphy
08-10-2006, 11:23 PM
WOW - this is superb! I love the fabric particularly! Great Once upon a time story!

08-11-2006, 12:00 AM
Hey Bard, they say that every journey begins with the first step. I think it begins with the first question...

Sometimes though, a step back to a question is in order.

When I turned The Bather around and looked at it for the first time in weeks I asked myself, "If I had to critique this as someone else's, what would I say?"
First, her proportions are askew. It took me a while to pinpoint it but her head and arms were too large for the rest of her. I realized this by measuring out picture after picture after picture trying to find out the acceptable variances of body parts. Pelvis to belly button, bellybutton to chest, to chin, to top of head. I applied the 7-1/2 (Thanks Barb!) head tall rule to The Bather, and with these acceptable variances applied, I came up with that first conclusion. By variances I mean how far out or, up or down is the belly button allowed to wander before it is out of place completely. I did this to each body part to try to get her back into shape. But, what do I fix, the rest of her or her head and arms? To keep her from sliding too close to the bottom I could not fix the rest of her. ...Oi! It's time to sand off her head and arms...
Second, my brain keeps buggin' me about the horizon line. Why does my brain keep imagining it lower. What would happen if I lowered the horizon line? The viewer's apparent eye level will go down and I will get more sky, by themselves, these are not good enough reasons. Then I asked myself, "to where," and it hit me. The golden rectangle. Her upper body is made all the more important by being above the horizon in a rectangular shape. If I move it down so as to make it proportionate to the 'devine ratio' of Phi what would happen? I have got to try it... I could always move it back if I don't like it. Besides, if it works I will have to completely redo the marble terrace as the vanishing points will no longer meet on the relocated horizon line...Oi? I hope I don't like it...hehe.

The "Golden Rectangle" is also known as 'The Devine Ratio" and it is supposed to have some wonderful attributes associated with its design. I really haven't played with it very much to know for sure what exactly is so wonderful, so I will leave that to the experts, but there is a lot out there on that subject. It is all wrapped around the number called Phi. Phi is 1.618...etc...on and on and never ending. It is used as a ratio of one length compared to another. In my case it is the long side of the rectangle (24" top side of canvas) divided by Phi, 1.61803, which equals 14.83." So I would have to move the horizon line down to 14.83" from the top to create my rectangle of special proportions.

First where's the sandpaper?
After sanding it down to the ink lines shown in fig. 4, I traced out her head and arms on tracing paper, redrew her to a more proportionate human stature, and transferred her back onto the canvas by coating the back of the corrected drawing with graphite. Here she is, or isn't...

Fig. 24

With the confusing double lines I couldn't' get a good read on how I was doing so I painted in a blue sky and brought her back to ground with black and white paint. The face is untouched because I did a poor job at sanding it smooth and I have to go back. But, since the blue is wet I'll have to wait. I started in on the drapery to keep busy, and have a basic modeling of her anatomy filled in. I'll correct it and polish the details on the second coat. Note how you can still see the 'ghost' of her arms in the sky... Boy, was I off.


The horizon is in it's new location as well, and I have to say, "I like it." (Oi!) What do you think? Should I move it back or keep it here? To what ends? The terrace perspective will become less angular or flatter looking. Yeah, a lot of work but I need the practice... What about her proportions? Do you think it's an improvement or a step off the deep end?
As always, please weigh in.

I think I need a glass of wine...


Anita Murphy
08-11-2006, 10:51 AM
The porportions look a lot better. I'm not a figure expert by any means (in fact would call myself a figure ignoramus :D) What bothers me more is the almost central lines of the wall and horizon. I think I would have positioned her lower and slightly to the right (our). This is probably just my personal compositional choice though and should be ignored! :p I have to say that I think your fabrics are superb though. A treat to see!

08-11-2006, 11:55 AM
Anita, thanks for your critique. Good stuff.
I hadn't realized how much was going on towards the center of the picture until you brought it up. It is certainly a compositional guideline that needs to be considered. It will only be more accented when the railing gets flatter...
Hehe, when I look at the before pix she know looks like an Olympic swimmer on 'roids. This was a much needed correction and is now a lot closer to acceptable. I think her leg is too short and will lengthen it a couple of her inches, meaning her ankle will show up below the hem. This should conclude the structural part of her and I will be able to move on to the cosmetics, or to stay with the metaphor, architecture.

...unless any one has anything to point out..?

Remember, -have fun.

08-15-2006, 04:56 PM
Where is the update WC Campbell :) What have you done to her since the other day? I'm terrible about smack dab center too. It works sometimes.

I am sorry; I don't remember this painting is on canvas? I am looking forward to seeing the progress. Nickel

08-17-2006, 08:58 PM
Good afternoon Everyone.

Quite right Nickel, what is going on with this piece?

First, to your last question. It is oil on canvas and is 24" x 36".

After painting so large in Faneuse, I'm not happy to go back to small...
Her head in this one is only 3.5" tall.

At the end of today, I finally feel as though I am out of reverse and am at least in neutral. Here in fig. 26, below, I have tried out a couple of things with the aid of technology again. What I did was take a picture of the painting and printed it out on regular typing paper. I then grabbed an ebony (soft and very dark) pencil and some white chalk and started drawing out new ideas directly over the ink. It allows me to try numerous ideas with relative ease. If I don't like what I've dreamed up I can toss it and start on a clean one. I like what I came up with this one, one of a couple, and am going to go with it. It has the lowered horizon, corrected terrace lines and a modified coast line.
Notice the mottled yellow patches on her face left over from the sanding. I had to get rid of this for fear that it might show up later on down the road. It was taking quite along time to sand out so I tried a Dremel. A Dremel is a rotary hand held multi purpose tool with many, many attachments and it worked out great. But I would like to warn anyone so inclined to be very careful. It is very easy to go too fast and too deep. Use a rounded sanding bit because anything with an edge will eat your work and is hard to control. I took my own sweet time here and saved a lot of sweat-equity.
Also, the drapery has been reworked to a finished feel. I still need to add the reflected colors of the marble terrace to it but the body of it is starting to show volume. As it is, I think just the titanium white, mars black, and cobalt blue pigments shown here are too bland. It needs a spark.

Fig. 26

But, before I can do that I have to finish the terrace...and that means getting rid of the old one with the now incorrect perspective.
I am currently studying Alma-Tadema and Godward, mainly at ARC, for their expertise in marble. Man, are they good or what? I have some time here because the paint required to cover over the old had to go on thick. I used a palette knife to fill in the old cracks and then brushed out the ridges ever so lightly. When it dries it should be smooth enough to cover over with a base color. A light burnt sienna I think. Then I plan to glaze in the marble surface to attain some depth in a manner similar to water or flesh.

Fig. 27 shows a second sky coat of cobalt blue and tit. white for it's opacity. I think one more coat is going to be needed to once and for all cover up her old arms. But the next coat and the clouds are going in with lead white. The puffy marine layer near the horizon is in with lead white and the warmth of lead white is perfect. I have blocked in the new coast line and some base ocean colors here as well. They still need to be knocked back into the distance but it's a start. Like David said, I need to adjust the chroma and add some atmosphere in front, that should put them into their place.
Fig. 27

I finished up today by blocking her body in with black and white. I want to get to the correct tonal values as fast as I can, and I do believe that I can get there next time. ...after it dries.

Like always, please ask me any questions about any thing I have forgotten to mention, and your comments and critiques are very welcome.

Thank you,

08-18-2006, 12:33 AM
Yeah, it is easy to get carried away when using mechanical sanders. If you go a little to far, you can get nasty gouges!

Iím really enjoying reading and watching you do this. I tried one of my own pieces a couple of years ago. This sort of fully worked out classical pieces, though mine was more mythological about Pan. To make something like this creates some different sorts of problems than someone sees if they just paint from a regular set up.

Iím really enjoying hearing about your choices and questions! Keep up the good work!

Barb Solomon:cat:

08-20-2006, 11:30 PM
Thanks for the update.
but I am afraid you take my breath away using a dremel sander

so now I am composed .....

Yes you should be careful though I think it better to go slowly if one sands to avoid going into the ground and avoid spreading the dry pigments.
just my five cents worth because I care.

I like the background, nice solid blue.
The marble looks good.
Waiting to see your figure update.


08-21-2006, 12:08 AM
Nickel, you are quite right. I forgot to mention the great need to wear goggles and at least dust mask. Personnaly, I upgraded the mask to a filtered respirator, and caught or cleaned up as much of the dust that I could as I went.

An update is in the works and should be knocked out tomorrow afternoon during the heat of the day...


Anita Murphy
08-21-2006, 07:18 AM
I like the idea of the wall ending where she is sitting though it was weird at first seeing different levels. I'm a little concerned about the colour of the green of the hill and field, I think it might need toning down a little to make it recede more into the distance. The left hand hill - suggest you raise it slighly so it isn't exactly the same height as the distant horizon. I notice in the first image you have a branch there and I really like that idea - maybe coming down from even higher and taking up some of that expanse of blue sky. It would give a nice visual layer, something that comes in front of the landscape. Just my tuppence worth - not worth a lot! I want a Dremel!!!!

08-22-2006, 12:50 AM
My apologies for no update tonight. While writing it up I was 'unlogged' by the computer some where along the line, and when I had finished with the update, it asked me to log in again. Only this time it gave me a message that it was an invalid thread, and deleted my update. Hitting the back button did no good to my asuage my, well, anyway, I'm out of time tonight. -Will try again tomorrow. This time in a word processor.

Is there anyway to save as you go?


08-22-2006, 01:44 AM
Yes use a word processor.....sorry, I know these things happen.
Sometimes you get lucky and it post anyway, but mostly not.

By the way, there is a way to wet sand, I haven't done it, but I've read about it but I can't find it to show you.

I have a dremel but mainly use it to destory things I am trying to fix around the house. ;)

08-22-2006, 01:02 PM
WCampbell - Iím sorry to hear that your post did work!

Iím another one who always uses a word processor to type my messages and then copy/pastes them. It lets me use the spell checker too. (But, sometimes I donít! )

Iím looking forward to seeing your next update! It has really been interesting!

Barb Solomon:cat:

08-22-2006, 11:36 PM
Hi Everyone.

Does any one have a better way of dealing with oversized perspective?

The time came to re-create the terrace in respect to the new horizon line. Back in fig. 26 you can see my idea for the new design. Figure 28, below, shows how I figured out how to draw it on the canvas. I suppose you can also do this on a long wall, but I donít have one I can repeatedly tack in to. So a wide flat floor does the trick for me.

Fig. 28

The first thing to set up in my method is the horizon line string. I tied it between two dumbbells set far enough apart to encompass the vanishing points I will use. You can see one in the upper left next to the garage door, the other is located to the right, out of view. I then had to figure out where the vanishing points were going to go. Since I had already drawn the small sketch (Fig.26) with its own vanishing points, I could measure the distance from the side of the sketch to each point, measure the width of the drawing, and then scale that ratio up to the width of the canvas. This gave me the distance to the extended vanishing points from either side of the canvas. So to save myself some trouble I placed the horizon line dead weights at the distance that I needed for the vanishing points. In my case, the distance on both sides was the same. I could have also placed the horizon line dead weights farther apart and then tied a perspective string to the horizon line string at the point where I wanted a vanishing point to go. Just tie it on with a knot that wonít slide
Now that I have my vanishing points set with the strings tied, I secured the end of each of them to their own dumbbell/dead weight. You can see them in the middle with the strings crossed. These weights I could then rotate as needed to obtain my changing lines of perspective. Just be careful when you move them not to disturb the horizon lines position. Itís now time to bring in the canvas and align itís horizon line to the horizon string.
Where to start? For my problem everything else except the height of the wall is going to rely on its base. To solve for the base I had to figure out where her foot was supposed to be, so I sketched that in. Then using a perspective line crossing under her big toe, I lined up the straight edge and lightly drew a line to the upper right vanishing point (vp2). Using her belly button as center of mass I brought a line down with a T-square and where they crossed is the center of the base of the wall. After you Ďguesstimate the width of the wall you can line up a perspective line to the upper right vp1 and pencil in the base of the wall. From here you have to decide the size of the tiles and then just start building your terrace and wall from there.
When I finished it took on the look in Fig. 29, below. I enhanced the photo to show the pencil lines better and ended up with some very stage colors, but you can see what an ordeal this can be.
Iíve come to understand why so many of the old paintings have only one vanishing point located inside the frame of the painting. Iíve also marveled at the huge landscape paintings of entire cities with all of the buildings, each with its own individual 2 and 3 point perspective problems. It really is mind boggling.
For the stairs, I ran into a problem. The canvas on the left side stopped short. I could have continued it with paper but I figured out another way instead. Under her right foot you can just make out the Ďghostedí steps continued down from the right side of the stairs. With these drawn in I could take the information from them and transfer it over to the left side of the stairs. Just remember to subtract its respective foreshortening. This can be obtained from the tiles that are drawn in and the ratio of their decrease interpolated to the length of the stairs. If thatís a problem to figure out, your best bet is to add paper to the left side and draw it in.
Also in this version of the terrace, I was able to work in the third vanishing point. It is located on the horizon line, half way between vp1 and vp2, above and right of her belly button. This is the point where the corners of the tile, when projected up, should meet. That is, if the tile are square. In the first version of the terrace, if you project the lines up, the vp3 would be somewhere up in space behind her back. Oops, I missed. I told you I needed the practice...

Fig. 29

The rest of the day was easy. Erase all the unusable lines, fill in the outline with the adjacent color and tint with burnt sienna, and I end up with what is in fig. 30...

Fig. 30

Notes of interest:

If you have an old kneaded eraser around that is all dried up, donít throw it out. I found that it is the best way to erase pencil on canvas that I know of. The next best is one of those old typewriter eraser sticks. It has two types in it. One end is for pencil and the other I presume is for ink. I can sharpen it and really go in to just the details. It is very easy to control and works with every kind of drawing as well. These are great to have.

With this solution to perspective problems, you will want to make sure that your canvas is secured in its spot or that you keep verifying that the horizon didnít get bumped. It will be very difficult to trace back to where things started to look funny. Also if you create or place your vp1 and vp2 arbitrarily, take a measure and right it down. This way you can rebuild it easily if you what to correct or move something later. From experience it is pretty hard to rebuild without knowing where the VPís are.

Don't forget the blanket. If the floor is hard, it will be an even longer day without it.

For those of you that have taken the time to put fingers to keys, Thank you! Your thoughts and ideas, help and wisdom are greatly appreciated.

For the rest of you, jot down a note or two. Let me know if you like it or donít like it. Is it taking on a classical composition? Am I doing it the hard way? Where does the white go when the snow melts? Do fish get thirsty? What is the speed of dark?

I would love to know what you think...


Anita Murphy
08-23-2006, 08:18 AM
Can't help you with the perspective though I know a gal who can - she is flying in today and I will see if she has any suggestions for you - she is the Queen of Perspective. I really think you have put dumbells to the most creative use here - I always wondered what they were good for! :D

08-23-2006, 01:46 PM
Hi WCampbell - I remember once laying a drawing in the middle of my front yard and measuring off the lines with string staked into the ground by mean of cheap yellow office pencils.

I had to rethink this method when one of the receding lines would have put me into the far side of my neighbors front yard! If I ever try it again, Iíll have to go over to the schoolyard!

Iím enjoying seeing your demo! Itís so great to see how other people do these things! I think that many of us were trained to paint in a way that made us impatient about taking these steps, but they are helpful! You are right to take the time to get this one right!

Thanks for the kneaded eraser tip! Your quite right about the blanket too!

Keep up the good work!

Barb Solomon:cat:

08-25-2006, 09:48 PM
Hi Anita. From the Classic Studio thread it looks as if you are enjoying your trip. The National Portrait Gallery? Wow! Let us know how their new digs look.

Hi Barb. Necessity is the mother of invention. I wonder what the actual need was when they came up with the yellow office pencil? Could it have been to stake down perspective stings and someone thought, "Hey, wouldnít it be great if these things had graphite in them?" They say everything travels in circles...

Day something Ďer other...the project goes on and I hope Iím not stuck traveling in circles...

I have a sky, with clouds and everything. I zoomed in for fig. 32 to show a little more detail. David, can I get your thoughts onthe intensity of the blue, with respect to chroma? It is cobalt blue, lead white, and a touch of alizarin crimson to knock it down and gray it out.
You can also see that the coastline is still getting reworked and the close in waves donít mesh yet with the far away seas. The bluffs are taking shape, yet I have not found the correct color hue to put them in the right distance. I need more atmosphere. I have looked on every one of my tubes of paint but none of them have it in them...:smug:
Her face at this point is still being tried on for size...and discarded (painted over). I donít know how many times Iíve drawn it, looking for the secrets to its success. Itís in there, somewhere.

Fig. 31

Iíve started in on the marble here in Fig. 32. This time itís not going to be so white.
Thereís a cypress tree blocked in on the left horizon. I had to cover a cloud that I liked, donít you just hate it when that happens? Iím trying it out size wise. Any larger and I believe it will bring the coast too close to the fore, but as it is, it looks too small with the way the Ďbushes and grassesí are constructed. Iím going to try and change that first before I try and modify the coast. I think Iíll have a much greater chance of success.
Her foot has been moved over in line with the apparent shape of her leg, and her torso has a lot more muscle weight to it. Terre verte is now in the shadows and as soon as I find the right shape and shadow of her right arm pit and pectoralis muscle then it will be waiting for the face to catch up to move on to flesh tones.
Yep, another face. This one has potential. A little coarse and a lot of fine tuning is needed but I think Iím on to something. I know it doesnít look Ďclassically Roman,í yet it has a certain, I donít know, Mediterranean quality? If I remember correctly, the plan is to make it timeless. Right now I am trying to build up the base terre verte. I want to make sure that nothing below returns to haunt me. Anyways, it is all going to weigh on her right eye to carry it off. Without a good emotive gesture in it, I should probably try and put the paint back into the tubes.:o

Fig. 32

Iím starting to get enthusiastic again and am starting to see the possibilities, if you know what I mean. In other words, it isnít drying fast enough.

Now where did I put my brush...


08-31-2006, 04:14 PM
An update with requests for assistance,

I do believe the grisaille is finished on her torso and face. Her hair and foot still need some going over and an old eyebrow is still just showing through, but this is what I'm going on with. The shadows on her face can be attended to with the flesh tones...I believe.
The cypress tree is growing a little and the grassy field behind her has been altered again on the left side. I'm still trying to get the right distance. Does any one have any solutions to point me to? Maybe some piece where someone else solved a similar situation?

Fig. 33

Here's a close up of the new marble (Fig. 34). It's in progress with just the side that is lit up by the sky has been finished here. Studying the greats like La-Tadema and Godward has made it's mark! It's a big improvement over my last stuff.

Fig. 34

For all of you florists at heart and green thumbs at hand...
I was thinking of flowery type plants in the green section right above the stairs. I'm after a dark green leaf with a yellow flower. It should grow near the coast, but doesn't have to. Any ideas? I'm lucky if I can spell 'boatanicall.' A very pale red would work, too. Just throw out some names and I'll track 'em down like the IRS after our bank accounts.:thumbsup:

Thanks for looking,

08-31-2006, 08:32 PM
I'm still trying to get the right distance. Does any one have any solutions to point me to? Maybe some piece where someone else solved a similar situation?

The right distance as in aerial perspective? Light scumbles increasing towards the horizon.

08-31-2006, 11:26 PM
The marble is in.

The question is...Is it too gaudy? This time I have it much darker than before and that helps a lot, but is there too much going on?
Also I'm not sure about the shadow she's creating. Shouldn't it be a little darker? This is the truest color image I could produce of it, having gone through a RAW format and then converting it to JPEG. How does everyone else transfer images and get the truest colors and contrasts? Hey, that sounds like a thread in itself. ...If it isn't already.

Fig. 35

Thanks CRH, Do you mean to paint it out and then scrumbble some atmospheric colors, like white, blues and grayed out complementaries, over top? And yeah, perspective wise. I need the proper overlapping of the receding fields and bluffs. There is an interesting combination I just haven't found it yet.

It is now time for something cold.

09-01-2006, 12:20 AM
Hi WCampbell - I think that the marble will be fine once the woman gets some color. Right now, her lightness is making the pattern on the marble look stronger. It should stay a fairly subtle marble though.

Iím sorry that I wasnít able to comment on the cyprus before. It did seem close in color to the grass. I wish that I knew more plant names, arbor vitae and such.

Keep up the good work! It is such a treat to watch this as it develops!

Barb Solomon:cat:

09-01-2006, 02:01 AM
Thanks CRH, Do you mean to paint it out and then scrumbble some atmospheric colors, like white over top?



09-01-2006, 09:03 AM
Good morning CRH, Thanks for the example. No more questions on my end about the scrumbles suggestion. Your simple "yes" with a thousand words spoken by the painting was perfect. (Boy, mine looks bland compared to Mr. B's)

Barb, Hey! In regards to the marble I hope you (and I) are right. If not I'll paint it again. OI!

I think the only way for me to get a green thumb is to paint it. Arbor vitae is a port in Greece right?;)

And Thanks for watching,

09-01-2006, 12:37 PM
Hi All & WCampbell,

I've been watching this post with interest and finally found some time to reply. Here is my thoughts. I took the last image and manipulated it a little bit to make my point. I imported it into photoshop-converted it to greyscale-and then used the 'cutout' filter. The cutout filter takes an image and squishes all the values together into distinct parts (5 parts in this case). All three images I'm posting use the same cutout settings. The first image is a greyscale cutout of your painting as is. The second image is greyscale cutout of your painting with the contrast auto-adjusted by photoshop. The third image is a greyscale cutout of the painting 'A Mirror', by Godward - 1899 - for a general comparison.

I think the contrasts need boosted a lot. Darken all the cast shadows, (Under her breasts, where her left hip is sitting on the wall, etc..). Also, concerning values overall - right now your darkest darks (except her hair) are in the middle ground. The lightest whites are the clouds in the background and the greatest area of contrast is the horizon line. Typically darkest darks, brightest lights, and highest value contrasts should be in the foreground.

I'm just throwing out my ideas - ignore me if you like - just trying to help. Making Art is hard. If you think I'm being critical I'll post a painting of a flower I did recently which is earth shatteringly horrible - and you can mock me endlessly :)

09-01-2006, 07:30 PM
Granby, You're a big help. Thanks for pointing all of this out.
I confess though that I am skeptical of some of the conclusions derived from this process. Since I'm not a professional photographer (either) I am cautious of the image uploaded to this site that you utilized for your test. In truth I could place 6 different images in 6 different lighting conditions with 6 varying outcomes all from the same shoot. For instance, If I provided a slightly brighter image, could that be enough to change the shaping of the 5 tonal areas? well, not if the whole image changed accordingly, right? But what if I took it outside and used a UV filter in the shade? Brighter whites, and darker darks. I wish I knew how they shot the museum pieces....
I agree with boosting the contrasts. This it does show unequivocally. The shadow under her drapery is not dark enough. I can't go lighter on the marble because it is just too much white, but I can darken the shadow and adjust her to suit. One thing I'm trying to achieve is direct sun light. Not blinding, but more so than what I've seen in the old paintings.
Every time I work my way through it, I come to the conclusion that there is going to be a bunch of light bouncing around and off that marble. It is going to be bright in the foreground. Your point about darks, lights and values is understood and well taken. I'm going to have to find a way to compensate. IF she is going to 'pop' out of the image, contrasts are the way to go. The middle and background need to move farther back.

Now about you being critical. Yes, you are. But that's what I want. The way you handled it was truthful and honest without malice. This is the stuff that helps everyone figure this elusive quality called 'classical' out. This is the good stuff. I didn't get much painting done today but I didn't waste time either. In fact, I still may have moved ahead without taking a step. Thank you for your critique.

(oh, and no need to post any image unless you want to.)


09-01-2006, 07:55 PM
I have no clue how I overlooked this thread. A truly interesting and refreshing expose of self teaching.

Your sand and repair job is an example of marvelous luck, as it wasn't necessary in the first place.

You seem to be resolving false starts and solidifying ideas as you go. All to arrive at a satisfyng end. The first and most urgent need of correction I see is her missing left foot. It might be covered with fabric, but the light on the fabric should offer a clear suggestion of parts of the outline of the foot under the fabric, and properly located too. There is much left foot ambiguity in the present underpainting. Depending on just where the left foot is located, the left lower leg might or might not narrow back at a sharper angle. This is foreshortening and tricky. Practice on paper before committing paint. And you don't have to sand off to correct this! Everything at this stage is only underpainting.

No real sky is ever a uniform photographic blue. The sun is shining on moisture in clouds and will give off very pale hints of pinks, barely perceptible orange or yellow, and quite a bit of peral lustre. This will be far more harmonius with the girls flesh tones when you get there, and look less "stagy" than porcelin skin against a uniform blue backdrop. Now is a good time to start modifying that sky, but don't go overboard. Paint in mere hints, which will serve as a basis to guage the development of the skin tones. If the skin tones turn out better than your wildest expectations, you might need to go back and tone the sky down, or up more, or leave it alone. Unity, or harmony that doesn't call attention to itself is the goal.

Real water isn't photographic blue either. The bluest and greenest color will be nearest the surf line, and fade to grayish at the horizon line. The horizon line will almost merge with the lowest sky line. So the lowest sky line will be hazy gray and bleach out to lighter colors, or a purer blueish, as it rises to the top of the canvas. This is aerial perspective. And this hold true for land masses.

The grass nearest the terrace will be the most distinct (faint stippling, blotting, swatching, however you choose to do it) and rapidly diminish to undetailed smoothness as far back as it goes. Same for the headlands (if that's what they are called). One will be smoother in paint and lighter in color than the one almost blocking it.

Same for the terrace. You will have three areas of aerial perspective (AP) in this painting. The AP rule demands that anything painted at the bottom of the canvas have the clearest distinction of all. Not necessarily the sharpest detail (though this is true 90% of the time), but the clearest distiction of shape, line, and color. This will make or break the short distance of tile to the bench, and is absolutely necessary to lead our eyes to the steps and tell us unequivocably there are steps there, that go down.

And what are those tiles? Marble? Some rough terra cotta with color? Will the drapery on the girl have color and what will it be? Will the tile color enhance her drapery and skin tone, or compete with it? Whatever the foreground masonry is, you want it to play it's part in the unified harmonious whole. No more, no less. And the sky, water, land masses, and girl will have great impact on how the terrace behaves. Starting at the top and painting down will establish guages to set the standards of that terrace behavior. From top down will also establish AP, and give the girl and the bench she sits on a 3-D illusion. If you handle this right, there should be no need of flower pots to clutter the terrace. But this is your painting and not mine. Your final drafting might end up with an empty spot that needs something to anchor it.

So, so much to think of and plan out when you teach yourself to do a really good painting. And I think that is exactly what you have been doing all along here.

Anita Murphy
09-01-2006, 09:47 PM
lose detail towards the horizon and make it bluer - blue recedes. Also less rich a colour - does that make any sense?

The National Portrait Gallery is nice though the layout is a little out there - some super work though - well worth a visit!

09-01-2006, 11:48 PM
WCampbell - You just wouldnít want the marble to get too much darker than it is now.

CRH - That is an incredible Bouguereau!

Granby- Thanks for the photoshop ďlessonĒ! I had never used the cutout filter this way. Good idea!

Barb Solomon:cat:

09-02-2006, 02:31 AM
I don't want to overload you with suggestions right now, but when you get closer to overpainting the hair I'll have a tip or two. God knows that's about the only thing I've ever done right in a painting.

09-02-2006, 10:10 AM
Just a quick note to say,

"Thanks everyone!"

These inputs and suggestions are really great. Now let's see what kind of student I really am.

CRH, bring it on early if it's convenient. I am constantly 'chewing' on all of these thoughts and ideas as I'm working.

I'll try to address all questions and suggestions this afternoon when I'm chased out by the heat.

Now it's time to smear pigments.

09-02-2006, 02:38 PM
Soft hair is a venerable characteristic of a good painter.

Thin paint application is the only way to get truly soft effects in oil. To accomplish this, first lay down a thin couch of your oil medium. Massage it in thinly with you finger to lubricate the surface; then load your brush lightly. For instance, tap into your paint and then tap it back out on a paper towel. The couch will help spread the paint further than you would think. And then rub on the paint, following the hair in a playful manner.

I would repeat that in one or two additional layers to build up the hue/value shifts. And would avoid mixing color wet into wet this way.

And keep a soft focus around the hair, the way Mr. B did it.

09-03-2006, 01:05 AM
How is everyone?

I’m cooked. I can’t verify it but I swear a little red button popped out somewhere in back of me...

Saintlukesguild, Now that’s a full post. Let me see if I can address some of the issues you’ve brought up.

Her missing foot. I can see now where it is starting to look like her foot should be visible. I hadn’t noticed this before as I still see it in my mind with the folds covering it up. They still might be when they are replaced, but I will definitely watch this to make sure. Good eye.

"No real sky is ever a uniform photographic blue." I agree. This one, has Alizarin Crimson in it to knock it down and gray it out. I even brought in a haze layer to break it up. Take a look at the close up in Fig. 36 below and see what you think.. Pardon the bright spot in the upper middle section. This only shows in the transfer image.

"Real water isn't photographic blue, either." I think what you see has something to do with my image transfer, because there is Cobalt, Ultramarine, and Cobalt Turquoise blue. Along with titanium and lead white added to black for a light gray reflection effect from the clouds. Perhaps you were talking about the blue band that hadn’t yet been finished?

Actually, it still isn’t. From the horizon to the marble is still in the works. Which also addresses the detail level from front to back, where you and I are in agreement again. To place a higher detail level in the foreground and diminish it gradually the farther you go into the background is a successful strategy along with the inclusion of more and more atmospheric effects. This one I am still trying to pin down...I’m getting closer.

"And what are those tiles? Marble? Some rough terra cotta with color?" Man, I thought I had done a pretty good job on the marble till I read that. OI!

"Will the drapery on the girl have color and what will it be?" It will be white with the surrounding colors blended in to anchor it to the painting. It’s going to be hard to pull off but I’m willing to try...

The rest I will keep chewing on as food for thought. Thank you for the encouragement and for taking the time to really get on board and speak up.

Anita, I envy you on such an adventure.

"lose detail towards the horizon and make it bluer - blue recedes. Also less rich a colour - does that make any sense?" Yes. Is this a step in the right direction? See the Figures below...

I’m with you Barb. If I go darker with the marble it takes on an overcast day look to it. What do you think about the new shadow? Does this help the situation. Granby's work has made a big difference here. I’m afraid to make it darker than this because it starts to look like a cutout. As it is, it still retains some of its reflected light glow. I hope this comes through in the Fig. It looks really cool on the easel.

If you're out there, Granby, Thanks again.

CRH, I have never used a couch on a painting before in my life. I’ve barely even heard of the process. But I’m willing to try. I wonder what an unsupervised experiment can produce? Just answer this, how do you get the couch into the brush cleaning jar when your finished? :wink2:

Is this another one of life’s full circles? Start out finger painting...end up finger painting? The way you put it sounds quite..um..fun. I may have to start using this couch process all the time!

Here it is, split to get a detailed view of where I’m at. From the planter to the horizon is still just impressions. A play on colors and tones. The sky and the marble are 95% in. Just a tweak and peak session left for those...the rest well, I have 9(?) days left before picture time. I suppose I should figure that out...

Fig. 36

Fig. 37

Remember, if it's not going to kill you, its can't be that big of a deal.

09-03-2006, 02:26 AM
"And what are those tiles? Marble? Some rough terra cotta with color?" Man, I thought I had done a pretty good job on the marble till I read that. OI!

You have done a fine job.
This person hasn't taken the time to read the thread.

Is this another one of life’s full circles? Start out finger painting...end up finger painting? The way you put it sounds quite..um..fun. I may have to start using this couch process all the time!

Just the medium.
When I said rub, I mean that as a tactile example of using the brush.

09-03-2006, 01:09 PM
Right, the brush, I knew that...:lol:

Anyone seen my brush?

Anita Murphy
09-04-2006, 12:12 AM
The marble is looking great!!! The hills are beginning to recede but think they could still do with some more fading out on the right side of the picture to get the distance. You are definitely getting there with this - great to watch it appear!

09-05-2006, 12:37 PM
Great job over all. I read a quote somewhere which I really liked " A painting is never finished - only abandoned."

Before you start painting the flesh I think there might be a couple minor things you can do to improve the figure as you go along- although it is good as is- I only mention them because I can see you are striving for excellence. The lower facial features seems slighty off center to the right - draw a center line down the oval of her face and you'll see what I mean. You can probably improve it with minor tweaks, move the center of the hairline to the right and the bottom lip a skosh to the left maybe-not sure. Also, the breast is attached to the side of the chest cavity in sort of a teardrop shape at the lower-mid level outside of the breast - you may want to hint at that on her right breast.

Good luck wrapping it up. I admire your tenacity with this and your bravery of showing the whole painting in progress.

09-07-2006, 09:51 PM

Anita, thanks for the praise on the marble. I’m glad you like it. The background has ‘receded’ again, you were right...again. I’m liking it more and more the farther it goes back. It’s weird how you can sometimes not see the solutions. How do I learn to do that?

Granby, I’ve heard of stories where an artist, J. W. Waterhouse (I think) have taken small stocked paint boxes to their shows and in the middle of the night corrected or fixed things. -Sometimes they aren’t even abandoned...

“The lower facial features seems slightly off center to the right.”
-Oh, that face...You’re right, and I’m still trying.

“Also, the breast is attached to the side of the chest cavity in sort of a teardrop shape at the lower-mid level outside of the breast .”
- I’m not sure what you mean here, but I do recognize something erroneous in what I had. Check below and see if I am back on track. I’m going to try and match the other side with the pectoralis major structure. Does this sound about right?

Fig. 38. First, the lighting is different in this shot and the upper right corner has gotten darker. I’m trying for that perfect upload...
Her skin has received two glazes. The first was so insignificant that I didn’t even take a picture. This one, though, shows up nicely. The background has been played with extensively, and some textures have been added to give it an organic feel. The tree is still a thorn in my side.
Here’s the rub? How small does the brushwork have to be before it is no longer considered to be impressionistic?
I remember walking up on a Van Dyke from the side which placed me quite close to a large painting. I imagine that it was about 8'x8' of the Queen and her daughter. The first thing I saw was lumps and squiggles of multi-colored paint on the upper left breast of the daughter and thought, “what is that?” When I back stepped to a more viewable distance it transformed into a most elaborate jeweled broach. I was amazed. It was not even good impressionism up close but at the correct distance it was beautiful.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
Is it true that realism is just micro-impressionism?

CRH, I tried the couch method on the part of her hair that shows up again below her chin. Boy did I screw up. Too much oil I think. I’m not defeated and will attempt to play again. If it’s the easy way, I’ll never get it right, but if it’s difficult...then it will prove to be the way to go.

Fig. 38

May you always have a brush to paint with,

09-08-2006, 01:08 PM
Let me see if I can't find some sort of scrap ground, and I'll try to post a little demo for you. Prove I'm not lying.


Give me a few days.


The background is looking good. Particularly the field just to the left of her.

09-11-2006, 08:21 AM
Hi WCampbell!!!

The painting is coming along beautifully! :thumbsup:

Anita Murphy
09-11-2006, 11:45 AM
Anita, thanks for the praise on the marble. I’m glad you like it. The background has ‘receded’ again, you were right...again. I’m liking it more and more the farther it goes back. It’s weird how you can sometimes not see the solutions. How do I learn to do that?

If you ever find out let me know - its amazing how the answer is obvious to someone else and totally invisible to the artist!

In the museums recently in DC I was aware of that "squiggle" illusion too and how when you stepped back it suddenly became something very realistic. Its amazing how little suggestion you need to fool the eye into thinking it is incredibly detailed - have a look at lace on old portraits - its probably only detailed in a tiny area and the rest is just suggested but our eye reads the detail as being all over.

The whole painting is coming to life now - its a pleasure to watch this.

09-11-2006, 06:53 PM
No.6 Round - Hog Bristle
Opaque Burnt Umber

Massage in just enough to cover. You don't want to paint into a puddle of your medium.

Load the brush lightly & tap out excess.

Paint will be semi-translucent do to the thinness of application.

Let the bristles create the subtle strands of hair. In the next layer or two you will begin to apply the form shaping values in the same way. I went on to paint a large curly tuft of hair, and when it dries I'll show you the next layer.

09-12-2006, 12:05 AM
CRH, Hey alright! This is great. :music: You Rock!:music:

Rose, and Anita, Thank you.

It makes me :) when you give me a :thumbsup:.

I worry sometimes that this thing has just become a blog and this is not the place for that. I'm glad that some of you are interacting with my project.
An update should be ready tomorrow. CRH, you couldn't have had better timing with your demo! It's time for the hair...

-heading for the finish,

09-12-2006, 12:09 AM
WCampbell - Don't worry! I've been having a great time reading about your process of painting! It's covered a lot of concerns that come up when people paint that don't get covered in other threads.

I think that this is a great thread and I've been so glad that you posted in this forum!:clap: :clap: :clap:

What's next? :evil:

Barb Solomon:cat:

09-12-2006, 07:53 AM
WCampbell, it is good to hear about ones jorney! I know I benefit from it. The thread is so good I rated it 5 stars. There is so much info from you and others shared it and will be a good reference for others.

Thanks for updating us on this painting process. :)

09-12-2006, 05:35 PM
0 & 6 round - hog bristle
Burnt Umber and Thalo Blue were used


Laying in darker values.
Working in layers allows you to correct mistakes immediately. Rub it off, no harm done.

That will be the last picture I post. I don't mean to take the focus off you.
I'm looking forward to your next update. :thumbsup:

09-12-2006, 08:59 PM
Coming along nicely.

Two Points.

[1]if this is to be a sunlit image,I would suggest
standing outside and taking a good look at the
blue in the sky.
Early morning,Afternoon?

[2]With very dark or black hair,less is always more.

No matter what you do,the painting must always
feel as though it were all painted on the same
Otherwise all you have is paint model and add a

09-12-2006, 11:29 PM

Barb and Rose, that’s very kind of you to say.

A big Thanks to you, Rose, Antgeek and to the others for all the stars!

CRH, to paraphrase, I will create a thin film of medium to work in a ‘wet in wet’ condition. Only because it’s just medium and no color, I will concentrate on just the colors I bring in. From there, I build layers and a ‘hair style.’ Does that sound right? By ‘wet in wet’ I mean, smooth flowing. By doing this I will get a brush stroke that is extended past a normal length, -glides on smooth with zero/near zero scrumble?
That was very nice of you to demonstrate. I’m sure I won’t be the only one to benefit from this explanation. I’m going to try it. The benefits look beautiful.

Titanium, Thank you. It is quite diferent from when I started. Could I ask for some clarrification...

"[1] if this is to be a sunlit image, I would suggest standing outside and taking a good look at the blue in the sky. Early morning, Afternoon?"
-Actually I took the painting out and lined up horizons on a similar type of day with a similar shadow angle/time of morning. My blue to light blue (top to bottom) matched pretty close with the painting at about 4 to 5 feet from me. Given the scale of the painting, I figured this to be a suitable illusion. Since she’s short her scale is about half mine or less which puts her at about 10 to 12 of her feet away in the painting. Is there a better way? How do you match them?

"[2]With very dark or black hair, less is always more."
- Less as in volume or as in, as far away from jet black as I can? If it is as far away from black as possible and still get the point across, then I’m with you. I already have a contrast problem and what I think you’re saying is that too black is something that will hinder and not help.

P.S. Back in post #15 you said, "Pay the model's cost, it will make all the difference." You were/are right. If not for the rest of the reasons then for this reason alone..creating a human from scratch is for crazy people and gods. Oh, and for artists better than I...

This project has brought me past my deadline (in three days) to enter the competition. Yeah, I missed my goal. I thought it was far enough out that I would have something done. It is just too much to learn. But, as a project of learning I am still on track. That is, I’m still learning. So, doesn’t that mean that I’m now freed up to GET IT RIGHT? No deadline? Let’s see what we can do...

Fig. 39 shows an altered tree/bluff, minor adjustments to grass and walkway, and the third glaze of flesh tones. Her hair now has some added ‘holes’ in it to break up the outline. In other words, some sky is going to show through and break up the mass a little. It will be quite a bit more stringy/wet looking than it is now once I get proficient at the couch method described by CRH.

Fig. 39

For all of the preceding glazes of the flesh tones I was using a lead white in a new to me brand of Daler-Rowney. To me it seemed I was not getting anywhere very fast. This lead white is very oily. Just on opening up the tube, the oil flowed out without any pigment. I mean a lot came out. I don’t now if it will get better but for now it’s like butter in the sun on a hot day. For finishing a skin surface or a light glazing this will probably be indispensable but for building a body I wanted something with a little more body or thickness. Something I could lay in and work with,
blend and delineate. So I tried Old Holland. Here in fig. 40 a large step was achieved in getting her fleshed out. The Old Holland lead white is quite thick and still workable. I like the having the option of making it as oily as I wish or think it should be. But (isn’t there always a but), I was not prepared for how strong it came across. How do I say this? Her flesh tones are now off. If I were trying for a plastic Barbie doll look, then I would be pleased, but I’m not. There are a few spots that are on track and I did gain some mass out of this but it is definitely not a good ‘ole classical flesh look. I think I’ll look at and study as many paintings and skin tones as I can before picking up the brush and trying again. The trick is going to be to bring it back from here with this showing through and influencing the ensuing paint layers above. Ooh, sounds like an experiment...If it doesn’t work then there is always the green stage to return to. Any ideas for an experimenting lab rat to start on tomorrow morning?

Fig. 40

'...Pinky, it’s flesh tones we’re after not the whole world.' 'Zort, right Brain!'


09-13-2006, 12:46 AM
In figure 40.

The sky feels better.The hair feels comfortable.

Perhaps it would have been better,if for the time
being,you had just painted the flesh in a formula
mix.Working opaquely,and not bothering with
the fancy stuff.

Remember if she is outdoors,you will at some
point have to register effects of colours bouncing
White cloth cannot be only white outdoors.

You will by now have realised how high you raised
your degree of difficulty to complete and make
the painting,believeable.

The landscape,the grass is nicely done.

Remember to keep checking your anatomy.

This painting is worth much more than being
just an entry into a competition.
Take your time.
Can you find someone in the real,for your
flesh.Maybe a lightly tanned lady.
Blue plays heavily in your image.

Practice your flesh mixes on a separate
piece of canvas,not on the painting,please.

09-13-2006, 01:19 AM
CRH, to paraphrase, I will create a thin film of medium to work in a Ďwet in wetí condition. Only because itís just medium and no color, I will concentrate on just the colors I bring in. From there, I build layers and a Ďhair style.í Does that sound right? By Ďwet in wetí I mean, smooth flowing. By doing this I will get a brush stroke that is extended past a normal length, -glides on smooth with zero/near zero scrumble?
That was very nice of you to demonstrate. Iím sure I wonít be the only one to benefit from this explanation. Iím going to try it. The benefits look beautiful.
You got it.
Make sure you tap out your brush on a paper towel before you begin painting. Very little paint on the bristles.

But (isnít there always a but), I was not prepared for how strong it came across. How do I say this? Her flesh tones are now off. If I were trying for a plastic Barbie doll look, then I would be pleased, but Iím not. There are a few spots that are on track and I did gain some mass out of this but it is definitely not a good Ďole classical flesh look. I think Iíll look at and study as many paintings and skin tones as I can before picking up the brush and trying again. The trick is going to be to bring it back from here with this showing through and influencing the ensuing paint layers above. Ooh, sounds like an experiment...If it doesnít work then there is always the green stage to return to. Any ideas for an experimenting lab rat to start on tomorrow morning?

I'm only posting this Rembrandt painting to make the point that you don't have to glaze the entire figure. I've spent a lot of time studying a very good copy of this painting in person. Looking at the torso, only the area I circled was glazed. The front of the chest was done opaquely.


09-22-2006, 04:47 PM
Hi everyone.

I realize it has been a while since an update has been posted and for that I have a good reason. An actual commission for a family portrait has come my way and I have been working on that. It should take a couple of weeks before I'm able to return to this project, and for that I apologize. I will work on this as time permits and post progress reports as I am able.

As of now she appears as shown here in fig. 41. I have darkened the foreground cast shadows again and it appears to tie everything together more. It also has the effect of making her 'pop out.' Her flesh tones have been brought back to a more workable hue. -no more plastic. Her ankle has a nice look to it, and I intend to tie it in with the torso when it gets closer to the finished look. I have also started to tie in all of the folds of the fabric. I took a sheet out into the sun and draped it over a chair, left part of it in shade, and manipulated it until I produced a full range of colors and values. It is from this that I am trying to match and adapt these characteristics to my composition.

Fig. 41

CRH-I didn't realize that they only, in some cases, glazed just a portion of the subject. It all fits to what is happening in some of the areas I come across and have studied. I wish I would have gotten to her hair sooner...

Titanium-This coat of flesh colors is opaque and heavy. I wanted to get back to a workable hue. I believe I have a good starting point here to create the depth, add muscle tones, veins, etc. Her ankle, although it doesn't match the torso, has that finish.

"White cloth cannot be only white outdoors." -In every fold there is a white to blue to gray to tan transition. You can see that,here, when it is done right it looks 3-d in some of the folds towards the middle of the drapery.

"Practice your flesh mixes on a separate piece of canvas,not on the painting,please." -For me I usually end up with the wrong color. I usually mix it on the palette an try it on the painting. If it doesn't work then I can wipe it off providing that it is dry below. -and keep mixing till it is.

Thank you for the positive notes and encouragements. I wish I could find some one to sit for me. -and not just for this piece...

I will post again as soon as I can,
Thanks for looking!

09-23-2006, 12:18 PM
WCampbell - It must be the shadows that are making the colors look so nice! Keep up the good work! I'm really enjoying watching you work on this!

Barb Solomon:cat:

09-25-2006, 02:06 AM
Thanks Barb. The shadows do seem to be helping.


10-17-2006, 03:45 PM
Ok WCCampbell, you've been quiet too long....
You haven't had the dremel out again have you?
What's up?

10-20-2006, 01:42 AM
This ia a facinating thread and I admire you cambell for your tenacity. And the result is astounding. You have the makings of a classic beauty.. can't wait to see the next installment.
Thanks for sharing!!

10-20-2006, 04:27 PM
Hi Nickel and PushingPixels,

I'm very close to getting back to this. A day or two at most.
Please don't mention the dremel!:D From here on out I am hoping that whatever is wrong can be corrected in a much more 'lenient' manner.
I have delivered the family portrait to the middle man and they were pleased. Now I'm waiting for word that the the client was satisfied.

Thanks for the encouraging inquiries. I hope to have something good to post very soon.

10-20-2006, 08:40 PM
lol, took me a long ......time to figure out lenient.;)
I must say, a sledge hammer works really good but leaves
too many hard edges.:)

Good luck for happy clients......

11-08-2006, 01:17 PM
Hi everybody,

I have experimented, tested and played with all kinds of flesh tones, most of them just wiped off. All for, well, nothing special. This is what I could come up with having not ever seen this person (or place) before. The sky, drapery, and foot is from a photo. The rest is made up and it shows. I must conclude that without having a real life example that I am limited in what I can come up with. So, until I am able to stage this with a live person in similar lighting, I am currently unable to take it to the next level. It is unsigned for now and awaiting a fresh attempt, a model, and better skills.

CRH- I really like the couch method you showed me! I will definitely practice and apply its wonderful attributes in future works! It's a pretty poor rendition of it here, but I recognize the benefits! Thank you for your tutorial.


I hope you have gained something from my attempt at the classical look, I have.
I would like to thank every one who helped me in my investigation. You all owe yourselves a pat on the back for your perseverance in traveling the way of an artist.

We will never complete the task of learning, we will only complete paintings.

I am currently trying to find some one to sit for me. I do believe that this is the way to go. From life to canvas.

Again, Thank You for your Help and Kindness.
I have learned (am learning) ALOT!