Monday, November 26, 2007

The Warclub, a painting "work in progress"

Hi Everyone,
I've decided to do something a little different this time. I've had some inquiries about the process I use on my figurative pieces, so I thought it might be fun to do a post which follows along as I work on a piece. I will take a photo at the end of each sessionof my painting and explain what I've gotten accomplished in each session. I don't know if this piece will be successful, but that's the way it is with every piece that artist's do. There are no guarantees.

This painting will be called "The Warclub". This mountain man is holding a particularly nasty native american weapon called a warclub. We don't know how he came to have it. He may have won it on the field of battle, or just stumbled across it while traveling the wild country. This weapon was feared and was particularly effective in battle. I guess you can see why. It was made out a a plank of wood, two wicked blades stuck out of the side and it was decorated with brass studs, horsehair twine, beads, and at times, feathers.

This is the way I start most of my figurative paintings. I'm using Claessins #166 acrylic primed linen. I tone my canvas with yellow ocher acrylic paint. Not always, but usually. Then I begin to draw on the canvas with hard vine charcoal. I draw lightly at first, but because it's vine charcoal, it wipes away very easily, so corrections are easy to make. At this stage everything is very fluid. One thing I have learned is that a drawing can look just right when you draw it, but once it's framed it can feel off. And if it doesn't feel right, it's wrong. So, sometimes I will do my drawing while I have the frame around it, or sometimes I look at it framed after the drawing is fairly well along. Here is the drawing in the frame to check how it balances. I always try to use the frame it will be sold in. That way there are no surprises.

Everything is loose at this time, in fact I keep it loose for as long as I can.

Here is a close-up of the head. Here you can see that I've kept the drawing to major areas of lights and darks. Why put in all that detail, if you're just going to cover it up in the block in?

This is the end of my first session. The drawing took 1 1/2 - 2 hours and was done at the end of a full painting day, or I would have started the painting.


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