Sunday, April 18, 2010

First String Daily Demo, Day 5

Hi Everybody,
Today is "Paint a Cowboy" day. Time to get the rest of the canvas covered. That means painting in the shirt, jeans, boot and hands.

The shirt is in as well as the hands and part of the jeans. Like in the rest of the photo, I've simplified the folds in the shirt. The things I'm concentrating on for the shirt is getting the proper values in the right places. And getting in the light effect. This means adding colors that the photos don't usually contain. As you probably know, photos are great for giving us details that (my mind at least) we have a hard time retaining, or an even harder time making up. And though, the computer monitor is better at getting the colors as close to the original as we can, it still is only as good as you can tweak it. And you can only tweak it as good as you understand what happens with light. It's why I paint on location whenever I can. Nothing is better at teaching you the laws of light. I've never really mentioned another reason to paint outside. Willingness to publicly fail. I find that it's a very humbling experience to paint on location. Nothing, and I mean Nothing, draws people to you like setting up a tripod and paint box. People who would normally never dream of talking to perfect strangers, feel completely comfortable walking up to an artist and starting up a conversation. I've found that the law of crappy attraction applies, at least for me, while I'm painting out. This means that people will be attracted to your easel only when you are struggling with a painting, and come up at the worst time. People never seem to even see me when I'm working on a painting that's going well. That will keep anyone's ego waaaay down. So, back to the painting at hand.... now I'm working on painting in the light effect.

Here's a detailed view of the shirt which has a good representation of the warms and cools in both the light and shadow areas. Since the light areas have a warm light source, most of the lights are warm.... yellows, oranges and such. But it's important to put in some grays and blues here and there to make the effect more believable. I keep the warms an cools close in value and the human eye accepts the temp changes. Lots of reflected light in the shadow areas, especially where the reflected light is bouncing off the shirt itself.

The jeans go in next. The thing I spent the most time doing here is painting the top of the jeans more blue, and transitioning the pant leg to have more dust down at the bottom. So it ends up being warmer down at the boot. Two reasons I'm doing this, even though the reference doesn't have this. It makes the scene more believable, since the cowboy should have more dust on his pants down by his boots, since there is so much blowing dust. And it keeps him from looking like he's been pasted into the scene. Also is doesn't draw your eye down to the foot, and keeps it at the focal point, where it belongs.

The shadow areas have a nice warm reflected light bouncing onto the leg and really helps to turn the edge. I'm also keeping the edges softer in these areas. This also turns the edge and keeps your eye moving.

Here's the complete figure painted in. The canvas now is completely covered.

The painting at the end of day 5. I forgot to mention that I also went back into the foreground dirt and added a nice thick area of paint to bring more excitement to the painting. The thicker areas of paint are usually the first things people see when they look at a painting. But that's usually one of the last things I paint.

Only now that the entire canvas has paint covering it, can I begin the process of refinement. Now I can begin to adjust and balance the values which are too weak or strong, warm or cool, hard or soft edges. This is always my favorite part of a painting. This will make or break it's success.

I darken the shadow area of the horse's breast and bring it's value up to where it belongs. I also start to work on the lead ropes, softening edges and refining lights and darks. In the next couple of days I will be concentrating on adjusting any of these trouble areas. Also it's time to start perfecting the anatomy of the musculature of the horses legs and hooves. Finding the balance between detail and simplification. I will also be concentrating on getting the fence and gate finished, as well as adding the background details. Lots to do, but it really is the fun part.

Now I wait for a couple of days till the surface of the thicker paint dries. Right now it's in that weird tacky stage and can't be worked on till the entire surface dries. Then I'll bring the paint back to it's true colors by coating the surface, but more on that in the next installment. Needing to let the painting dry is why I work on several paintings at once. See you in a few days...


Candace X. Moore said...

Thanks for the great description of your process, Steve. And it helps that I like your aesthetic, too. Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

labrown said...

Cool! Thanks again Steve.

Dana Cooper said...

Thank you for your detailed demo...this piece is stunning!

Jeremy Elder said...

Thanks for the generous close ups - I am learning a lot.

Diana Marshall said...

wow I just love this painting the colours are wonderful, for me it's perfect as it is.