View Full Version : Need advice on this WIP

Old Tex
02-13-2007, 08:54 PM
Okay, one more post and then I'll lay low for awhile. I don't want to wear out my welcome. I love this pose, and had to do it. I'm not going for a likeness here, because the stock photo looks suspiciously like Henry Fonda, and I just want an interesting cowhand, not a portrait of Henry Fonda. I'm satisfied with where the face is going. I'm going with a little darker skin tone because I think it will make a more dramatic painting. My problem is what to do with the large expanse of shoulder and upper arm. I've included the reference photo in case it helps. I'm thinking the arm is going to have to be mostly directional strokes with a large brush, and then get out.

9x11 gouache

02-14-2007, 05:33 AM
If you replicated the pattern in the source photo, it might detract from the sensitive work you have achieved in the face. Why not try out a couple of colour options on scrap paper and see how they look covering that area before you make a final decision.

02-14-2007, 08:31 AM
Hi Ralph!
Great start on this one. The folds you've indicated in the sleeve already look just right. I agree with Sonia about leaving out the pattern. However, one great expanse of color may look a bit boring. I suggest using a dark shade in the sleeve for composition, and use the graininess of the gouache to create texture. Perhaps use some wet-on-wet "blobs" of color underneath, let it dry, then directional strokes on top?

Just suggestions - I'm of course learning too. I'm eager to see how you decide to handle it. I've had no success in creating large areas of opaque coverage unless I put texture in it. If I try to make it smooth, I just end up pushing the paint around and get lighter streaks.

Good luck!

Old Tex
02-14-2007, 09:18 AM
Hi Sonia and Meg,
Both very good ideas. I know I don't want a pattern, both for the reason Sonia mentioned, and the fact that I don't have good enough brush control yet to even attempt it. I've got a few more nights of work before I have to make a final decision. I cross posted on the portraiture channel, but I think my post has already moved so far down that I won't get much reaction there. Thanks for the suggestions!

02-14-2007, 09:20 AM
My suggestion would be to just crop it entirely, just a little below the chin. The subject is his face, not his shirt.

Old Tex
02-14-2007, 09:26 AM
David, I have to tell you that just before I turned out the light last night, that was one of my thoughts! Just crop the arm off. That may turn out to be one of the best solutions. Thanks!

Old Tex
02-15-2007, 09:03 PM
Well, I'm not sure if this is the best solution, but I feel better about it. I raised the armpit slightly, and cropped just a little bit. Still a little work to do around his left eye, the crown of his hat, and maybe a little more color on the chin. Then I'm close to calling it done.

02-16-2007, 04:39 AM
Great - I like the subtle texture you've achieved in the shirt.

Alachua Artist
02-16-2007, 12:31 PM
This is looking really good - I like how you handled the shirt and lightened the deep shadow under the hat brim. Well done.

02-16-2007, 08:44 PM
Great job! The shirt looks great. How did you end up doing it?

Old Tex
02-16-2007, 11:03 PM
Hi Meg! I worked it a little wet, but not so wet that it bloomed, using a 3/4" brush. Even working opaque, I tend to apply the paint rather thinly. It's a combination of strokes down the length of the arm, then some crossing strokes. And added just a few touches of slightly thicker white in an almost dry brush stroke.

One of the challenges I'm finding is that by working wet and thin, the paint dries much lighter. The wetter it is, the lighter it's going to dry. When I come back the next night and try to stay at the same value, I have to anticipate what the new strokes are going to do when they dry. You wouldn't believe the amount of trial and error that's gone onto that face. Assuming I don't totally screw it up, I'll post the finished piece into this same thread hopefully by tomorrow afternoon.

This weekend, I'm going to start on a new piece (assuming I'm satisfied with my rights to the reference photo, because if it works, I think it could sell), and the new one has two things that have always frustrated me: hands and hair! Should be fun (or completely demoralizing).

Old Tex
02-17-2007, 04:54 PM
Done. Learned a lot on this one.


02-17-2007, 06:30 PM

Old Tex
02-17-2007, 08:53 PM
Thanks Sonia!
This is a whole new ballgame for me, and I'm loving it.

02-17-2007, 09:32 PM
Looks excellent! Thanks for your reply about how you worked it - trial and error is the best way to learn, and talking to everyone gives me new ideas to try. :D

Alachua Artist
02-18-2007, 01:11 PM
excellent finish!

Working with gouache, myself included, it tends to teach more about the medium than most other paints do. I tend to experiment - which could be a bad thing - and luck out. You, on the other hand, seem to know what you are doing. :)

Old Tex
02-18-2007, 05:07 PM
Thanks Wendy! I really appreciate that. I've done a lot of faces in drawing media, so that may be helping, but I'm honestly just trying to find my way using brushes and paint. I know how I want to paint, and gouache is a convenient medium for my tiny working space. The experimentation, for me, is seeing if I can make the gouache do what I want it to do, and it appears that it's possible on larger subjects. Now I'm going to spend some time working on smaller subjects, and try to learn a little brush control. I'd really like to do more than portraits.