Sunday, December 23, 2012

7 Steps to Plaster Cast Painting For Artists

Step 1- Beg, borrow or steal some cool casts. One of my students happened to have them so she has generously loaned them to my class for a few weeks. If you're not so lucky, you may have to buy them like she did here.

Step 2- Set each of them up and add some funky lighting.
Hint: To arrange them up I set up a table easel, used S hooks to attach them to a sheet of masonite that had been covered in a black drape, and lit it with a clamp-on light. The bulbs are Phillips, Director, 60W, 120V.

Step 3- Do a pencil drawing on a canvas or panel.

Hint #1: Get in a comfortable position and plant your feet. Choose to stand or sit but remain at the same eye level. Try to move only your eyes to keep your view of the still life the same.
Hint #2: Check proportions, how wide is it compared to how tall? Start in general, straight lines, loose shapes and move to more specific. 

Step 4- Redraw with a permanent sepia pen. I have them using a Faber Castell.

Step 5- Next do a rub out value study.
Hint #1: Using burnt umber, mixed with a little medium (linseed oil 60/oms 40) cover the canvas and begin to rub out the light areas with a scrap of T-Shirt, removing the most paint from the lightest areas of the still life.
Hint # 2: Continue refining your drawing. As you see mistakes in the drawing simply correct them at this stage.

Most of the students finished this step in our first 3 hour class. I encouraged them to take their time on it, check the drawing at each step, refine and make changes as they proceeded. Be sure to pay attention to the relative values on the cast and match the values in your painting accordingly.

Step 6- Mix a grey scale.

Hint #1: We matched the grey scale printed on inside the cover of our Jack Richeson Grey Matter Palette Paper. This is a wonderful tool to have on hand. Yay Jack Richeson for thinking of it. Most students had time the first day to pre-mix the palette.

Hint #2: They store their palette in a Masterson palette, in a garbage bag in the freezer. That easily kept the paint fresh till the following Tuesday. Storing paints in the freezer will not damage the paint, it just slows the oxidation process which slows the drying. Do not store paintings or brushes int eh freezer!
For black, #11, we used about 50/50 raw umber and ivory black. This is a quirk of mine when doing these gray scale paintings ivory black is almost blue, so I add the raw umber trying to get a colorless gray, not brown, not blue. I use and most of my students use Rembrandt so you'd have to experiment with your brand of paint to fine a good color.

Then gradually add white for 9 more steps, till finally reaching #1 that is pure white.

Step 7- Paint it, working from the background to the foreground and darkest to lightest. 

Hint: Be careful to keep soft edges saving sharper edges for the closer areas and focal points
in your painting.

They came up with some great work!

Zeus, Forstall Art Center's mascot and resident cutie dressed for the season.

Merry Christmas Ya'll, from Birmingham, Alabama!
Happy painting!

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