Monday, February 13, 2012

Painting a Head Sudy, Part 1

I've started a new project with my Tuesday class. We are doing a head study working from a photo. This is the first time I've done this project with them, so it's kind of an experiment.

We are all working from the same photo, one of mine. I chose a mostly full front view of the face. It is classic Rembrandt lighting, in which there is a triangular patch of light on the shadowed side of the face.
I printed an 8x10 grid on a transparency to lay over the image. The grid dissects the image into thirds. This helps with the drawing, placement of the head on the canvas and of the features on the head. I think it is also helpful in learning to draw.

It helps to start to see things flattened and in relationship to each other. Drawing the individual shapes within one square helps to see it primarily as shapes. This shift in the way of looking at something is very crucial in learning to draw.

We first drew the image in a graphite pencil.
Next we redrew it with a Faber Castell permanent sepia pen.
I noticed (after it was drawn in the pen) that I had the right side of her face too wide, but that's okay. Oil paint is very forgiving and the marks will be covered eventually with paint. 

The important thing, listen up here my students, is to make the correction as soon as you see it! It's much better to have caught and corrected it at this stage than later after I had perfectly rendered the ear.
Next I did a rub out using Burnt Umber thinned a bit with linseed oil, mineral spirits and res-n-gel (to speed the drying). I painted in a few of the darkest areas.

My intention was for everyone to get to this stage in the first of four 3 hour classes dedicated to this project. None of the students got to this point. I spent about two hours additional after class, getting  this far. Most of them had their drawings well along. Next time I will know to leave two class sessions for this stage of the project.

You  may recognize this model from another painting. I'm excited to be painting her again.
"Cardea", 16x16, oil on canvas over panel.
She was part of my Elements series.

Here is a post I did about under painting with Gamblin Fastmatte,
And another about this under painting technique, "Aye, There's the Rub".


  1. Thanks again for posting, I love your demos :) Great tip about the Faber Castell permanent sepia pen, I will have to try that! Damn I need to move closer ;)

  2. Thank you Tracey, I do love the sepia pen. Maybe we will meet up at a workshop some day!

  3. Very nice from you that you share your experience! that shows a great heart!

  4. I love to see how people do its works. Thanks.



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