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Old 04-15-2012, 10:09 AM
Merethe T's Avatar
Merethe T Merethe T is offline
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Crushed it WIP

Hi all, I'm working on a new painting, and someone mentioned in a previous thread that it's been a while since I did a wip. That's true, so I thought I might as well do this as a wip.

I've been working on it for a while and have progressed quite a bit, but I have taken some progress shots of previous steps. I'll post them all here.

Step 1


I do the initial drawing on a separate sheet, and transfer it to the La Carte using transfer paper and an old Mungyo set. I got this set many years ago and don't use it in a painting. It works for the transfer though... I use a very thin layer for the transfered lines, and fix it with a light layer of fixative. I don't want to fill the tooth of the paper, or risk that the color of the sketch lines will be visible under the actual painting. The drawing is worked out in different ways. For more complex objects I'll use a grid, also for perspective in some paintings. I'll put down the main lines this way. For details, shadows and higlights I'll draw some in, others not. This is freehanded either on the sketch, or as I paint. I'll figure out which details to paint as I work through the painting, I find it easier to see what's needed when I paint.

Before I get to this point I have already worked out the composition. I work from a photo ref, and do a lot of the composing when I take the pics. I'll study the set up and adjust during the photo session, and can work out potensial problems there. I also use PS for composition work, where I check out if there's any problems with the set up, and adjust in the first drawing. This way I have solved most composition issues before I get to the actual painting.

So, here's the first part of the painting prosess. In the beginning I make my choises regarding colors, and pick out the main colors I'll use throughout the painting. I'll build up a pallette to use as a base, and this makes the painting come together in the end. I pretty much finish one area before I move on - or more correctly, I'll put down 2 - 3 layers and do a rough detail-finish. I always go back to previous areas later on, I'll usually spot some errors I need to adjust, or some value issues that need to be solved. In the end I've usually managed to spot issues like these, and this saves me from bigger problems during the process.

Working from photos works for me, but there's always room for trouble. Here's where I'll use my artistic lisence to make the painting work. I know some would say that I am a photorealist. I don't think so myself, even though I admire many photorealists' work, I'd be honored to be one. But when you look at my paintings and compare it to the ref there's always a huge difference between them. Especially when it comes to colors. I don't try to match colors to the ref, I interpret what I see and pick colors that isn't really there. The best way to describe it is that I somehow "feel" some colors, and use them in the painting. Maybe the colors is there, underneath the base colors, or maybe it's in my head - I don't really know, but the painting will always look different. I'll play with it and use colors you usually wouldn't find in real life. A photorealist would probably try to stick as close to the real thing as possible? I think this shows in this pic, I've exaggerated some colors in the eggshell, and some of the colors isn't really there in the photo. The blue color on the shell, and the green color in the egg white is made up by me, but still look realistic. Value is very important, that's the one thing I keep a close eye on all the time. Details can differ a lot from the
ref pic, some I'll leave out completely, some may not be correct - it doesn't really matter as long as perspective and the lines are correct.

It's actually interesting to write comments to my own work in a wip, it makes me think about what it is that I do when I paint, what is important to me and what are my guidelines. It's not easy, I don't normally think about it when I paint, I just do, lol! But writing about it makes me realize there's a lot going on even if I'm not always conscious about it when I paint. My usual model is - I look for shapes, values and color. I paint larger shapes first, than add smaller details. I focus on values and color while I paint the larger shapes. It's more important to try to stay true to the shapes in the photo for the larger areas, for smaller areas and details it's not that important. I've found that even if the shapes in the painting doesn't match the shapes in the photo it'll still look realistc.

Enough for now, I'll post this and come back with the next step. I hope this makes some sense, I tend to keep ramlin on when I get into this, I'm sorry if I get a bit tedious and boring!

C&C is always appreciated, I always appreciate your sharp eyes and comments!

Oh, and before I forget, this is painted on La Carte, 9x12". I'll come back to the pastels I'm using later on.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:18 AM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Wow, Merethe, this looks very good, that egg shell is to die for. I like your comments about photorealism. I think part of the problem is that when you take a photo of your painting it changes it somehow. The painting effects somehow disappear. I have that with mine as well. Looking forward to see you progress this one.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:55 AM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Step 2


Next step, working on reflections in the egg white. I love reflections of water and other fluids, I find it so fascinating and always discover new things. What I thought I saw in the set up isn't really what I thought, reflected colors from the surroundings, objects reflected - there's always new little discoveries to make! What inspires me do to a painting is often strong light and shadows, it's not always a specific object that draw my attention. In some cases I'll have an idea for a painting, where the objects is the main focus. But the way the light play is always important and will be crucial for my final desicion.

I have a computer in my studio and keep my ref there. I started doing this when I ran out of ink in my printer, and ended up always working this way as it was much easier to go directly to the source. This way I can scroll in to see what's going on in the different areas, and I don't have to worry about the printer changing the colors. It's not really the best environment for my computer, but hey, some things have to give, right...

People often ask me how I get the smooth look. The answer is thin layers, La Carte, a light touch, finger blending and hard pastels. I build up each part of the painting in very thin layers, and blend each layer with my finger. I use harder pastels for the most part. To me this means Faber Castell, Nupastel, Girault, Ludwigs and Rembrandts. I usually mix every area with several colors, adjusting the small color shifts by mixing. I use pastel pencils quite a bit, both for smaller areas as the base color, and for mixing. Even if I have managed to build up a wide range of sticks and brands through the years I always seem to miss a color and have to mix to get the one I want. I guess I am a detail freak and can get caught up in tiny little details, mixing and changing until I get the right look. It's the fun part of painting for me, and I always discover something fun in the reflections when I sit down and paint. I can't possibly paint every little detail in the photo, but there's a constant on-going debate in my head regarding what to keep, what to leave out and what to change.

As for technique it's probably more correct to say that I draw, what I do feels like drawing. But the color mixing may justify calling it painting? I'll use soft pastels too, I like Unisons and Great Americans and use them a lot, and Ludwigs should probably be called soft...however, I'll use a light touch when I use them and blend between the layers. I'll usually save soft pastels for the later layers and for the finish. There's some colors I couldn't do without from the softies, especially dark colors from Ludwig and Unison are must-haves in all paintings. I like my paintings to have a brilliant finish color-wise, and the softies are unbeatable for that. I don't use an easel, I use a drawing board and often sit with the board in my lap. Pretty hard on my back, and a big drawing table is high up on my wish list! For small works I'll use the pencils a lot, for bigger work I'll use more sticks. To keep control in small areas I'll pretty much stick my nose in the work to see where I put down the color. Not the most comfotable position, but it seem to work...

Talking about colors - I tend to drag out every stick and color from my boxes for each painting, creating a mess in the studio! I have found a basic pallette of colors trough the years, some favorites are used in most paintings. I guess this happens through experience, through tries and errors you find a pallette that work for you. For a finished painting I've usually used somewhere between 50 - 70 different colors. Getting mud can be a issue when you mix pastels, but I ususally don't have a problem, and I think this is due to the thin layers. Most times I'll just paint over an area with a new color if it doesn't work, and the new layer will cover it. I keep a kneaded eraser in my work area, but seem to grab it more seldom now.

Ok, posting this step while I catch my breath....
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:10 AM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Thank you Marina! Yes, the photo will give a smoother look than watching the painting in real life, and the strokes isn't as visible. But even in real life I often hear that it looks like photos, which I don't really get...to me it's obvious that it is painted, but than again I've been sitting with the thing in my lap for hours, lol! I even had a mayor open my show, complimenting me on the great photos. My agent pointed out that these are paintings, and he was a bit embarassed I think...made for a good laugh though.

It was quite interesting to listen to what people pointed out at the exhibition, and it seemed to me that one of the things they got hung up on was the "shiny" effect. This may have something to do with the photo-comparing. People ask me all the time, how do you get that metallic look, or how do you make it look so shiny? It's all a matter of values to me. I always use a number of colors in the shadows to make them come alive, and I don't use only white in the highlights - there's different colors and little colors shifts in the highlights to make it look more lively. Maybe that's why it makes people think of photos?
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:12 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Thanks so much for doing a WIP, Merethe! It's as interesting to see your progress as it is to read about your thought processes. I always wonder what goes on in other artists' heads - now I know!
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:49 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Wonderful : You have an exeptional sense of observation !
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Old 04-15-2012, 01:09 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

You haven't lost your touch Merethe...It's gone up a gear or 3! Wonderful WIP! Keep 'em coming!!!
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Old 04-15-2012, 01:18 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

hello
your description in post 3 strikes a chord with me , that is ,
mixing sticks either on or alongside the working surface
in order to get ' the right ' colour ,
and adapting with the sticks that i have .

with a thousand sticks , there is the possibility of a million two-layer blends !
( i figured that on paper , and pencil )

value and colour temperature really do help to hold together the visual result
while exploring the nuances , the ' harmonics ' .

looking forward to your next post

Ed :}
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Old 04-15-2012, 02:04 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Merethe, I like your story about the shiny effect. Something similar happened during the exhibition I have at the moment. I friend of mine was there and she was explaining a visitor about the medium pastel (not very known here) and the reply was but how does she get it so shiny, does she spray something on it. We had a good laugh.
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Old 04-15-2012, 06:09 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

wonderful start and Im really enjoying reading about your process thank you for sharing!
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:06 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

This is such a treat Mereth. Thanks so much for doing a wip, I'm really enjoying it already. Your thought process is wonderful to read, I love hearing how another artist approaches their work, it's just great. This is looking fantastic so far, that egg is brilliant. I'm really interested in seeing the liquid egg white develop, soooooo cool! This is waayyy better than watching TV, great stuff!
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:03 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

I love watching you work it both amazes and fascinates me so pulling up a chair.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:31 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

This is so helpful to me. I often wonder how artists make their choices and you are proficient in explaining clearly what you do. It is lovely already.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:54 AM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

This wip is a great lesson for me Merethe! Thank you so much!
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Old 04-16-2012, 04:21 PM
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Re: Crushed it WIP

Donna, me to, it's always interesting to know how other artists think...I'm not sure I know exactly what goes on in my head though... Thank you for looking!

toniov - thank you so much! Observation is key, paint what you see, not what you think you see. Fun process, I guess that's why I enjoy realism so much.

Deirdre - I can always count on you for support, thank you....

Hi Ed thanks for stopping by....possibility of a million two-layer blends, yes! That's a rather uplifting thought, isn't it?! And quite overwhelming...I always stick my working surface on top of a larger sheet, and do little tests and mixes along the sides. Very helpful indeed.

Lol, that is a funny story Marina! A nice compliment too really....

Thank you Sarah!

Chris, thank you for support and wonderful comments, it means a lot to me! You know I love your wip's, and I'm glad you enjoy mine...

Jen, thank you so much, it's so nice to "see" you, I'm glad you enjoy it!

Sherry and Evie, I'm glad you find this helpful, I'm afraid I'm not the most structured artist when it comes to my own working process. I'm learning too as I try to describe it, it helps to put it down in words. Thank you for watching and commenting!
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