Rough conceptual drawing that I’m getting ready to trace on canvas panel, which will be painted on 27″ x 43″ custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel. Drawing by Alex Castro
My apologies for the delays on this piece; between teaching, painting the miniatures, developing three other complex compositions and my website, my plate is pretty full. That being said, I’m glad to be back with you and doing what I love the most. I have a new website that is currently under construction. The paintings are up but I need to redo the reading material, www.alexcastro.com
The “Druids Dreams,” is a composition of a young girl dreaming, but at the same time she is the dream. Overall, I wanted to create a mysterious and esoteric mood in this work.
There are compositional considerations that have gone into this piece. The overall piece is a wide-view landscape with an image superimpose on it. At this stage, I wanted to get a few variables balanced out: the solidity of the stone work versus the softness and the transparency of the girl (Yen & Yan). Also the composition is static in nature. To balance this out, I suggest movement in the clouds as well as movement with the girl’s hair.
The panel board I used is from a company named ArtBoards ([email protected])
from Brooklyn, New York. They handle all my canvases and panels.
As you can see on the picture above, I use a large roll of tracing paper ( Sally’s Wax Free Artists’ graphite Paper) to sketch and compose the original drawing. This avoids the extra step of transferring the drawing from paper to tracing paper!
Using gloves and paper mask, I then take white lead called litharge and carefully paint the canvas. I add some thinner to obtain a thick heavy consistency. Note, I use regular 2” or 3” house painting brushes to apply the white lead paint. The strategy is to apply it evenly over the entire surface at an angle. For texture and impasto effect, I apply the lead paint again in a helter-skelter fashion. Lastly, I stroke in the direction of objects. I consider this an important step because it provides direction. For example, if the clouds are moving left to right, I will start to stroke around the area in a strong left to right direction in an impasto effect, emphasizing movement. If the horizon is going vertical, I suggest but not imply direction. For the stone, I make the strokes vertically. The girl’s hair, which is blowing from right to left, I stroke it in that same direction. Once again the white lead paint is applied to emphasize texture and movement in a very subtle manner. I let this dry for a few days.
Then I take the carbon paper and gently tap it onto the board, careful not to smutch it too much. I make sure I have good tape that will hold the carbon in place on the board. I gently tape the original drawing over the carbon making sure the composition is where it’s suppose to be on the board. Then I tape from the top only. The idea is to be able to swing the drawing over the top and out of the way, yet be able to flip it back in place if need be. I use a hard pencil (REXEL Cumberland Derwent Graphic 6H pencil) with a very sharp point to gently go over the drawing, keeping in mind the toning and shadow work is not necessary and that all I want is a very thin ghost-like covering, which can removed with thinner or paint later on.
Note, try not to rest on the work or press on the carbon. This really requires a light drawing touch. Once I’m done and convinced that everything is where it’s suppose to be, I then spray it with fixative. It’s better to spray a few times, letting it dry, than applying a thick application that may drip.
I allow the drawing to dry for a few hours.
This rough conceptual brunt umber wet drawing will be painted on 27″ x 43″ custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel. By Alex Castro
Using Winsor & Newton impasto, I mix up a batch of medium and burnt umber, 40/60 ratio (40 medium & 60 paint). I thin out the paint with thinner not oil. The Winsor & Newton impasto (Liquin Original) comes in three thicknesses. Note, depending on the area, I use different batches of medium; I will use the heaver batch of impasto on the same canvas in different areas. The rougher the surface I’m painting, the thicker the medium.
I then place gray tone paper under the pallet glass for tone value and I use the same gray paper pallets for my portable pallet as well.
Note, some people consider this stage as a painting stage. I consider it a wet drawing.
I use burnt umber to cover the graphite pencil. I also use it to establish values and more importantly to establish some sense of drama and mood with my values. The burnt umber adds warmth to the composition. This process dries overnight and can be easily removed.
When I apply the umber, I use mostly small bristle brushes. However, I also use my hands and paper towels to soften and smudge some softer areas. I use anything that works to get the effect I want! I also use Q tips to remove lines that are too thick or not needed.
Close up transparent girl in her own dream, done in bunt umber and medium wash wet drawing.
Note transparency and emergence of the image.
This will be discussed later on and will be painted on 27″ x 43″ custom made oil primed Belgium linen panel, by Alex Castro
Some final points:
I try to leave the lighter under canvas come through whenever possible to obtain that inner light look in the clouds and other luminous areas in the painting.
I also try to work the entire composition, making sure I have enough time and energy to finish off a complete section.
For example, if I start the sky I will stay with it until it’s completely painted.
That being said, the girl will require a lot of time and attention. She will have a transparent look to her.
Well this is it for this sitting. I will be painting the girl in with burnt umber in the next sitting.
Thanks and stay tuned.
Best regards, Alex