At the End of Day 2: Life Drawing into Painting Workshop

Second day of Alan McGowan‘s “Life Drawing into Life Painting” workshop saw us start with three charcoal drawings, both as warm-ups and to increase the number of drawings we do overall during the week.

Workshop Day 2:  Charcoal
This suffers from “head sits above shoulders” problem — straightening the neck and putting the head too high. You can see Alan’s light charcoal marks where he’s shown where it more likely is.
Workshop Day 2:  Charcoal
A lot unresolved, but I like the mood of this drawing. I do wonder if it’s because it’s dominated by line, rather than tone.

Next up, tonal painting with acrylics. My attempt went from “dubious but with a sense of light” to “decidedly dubious and now also dull” (my words, not the tutor’s!). I put this attempt into the “trying too hard” category, where I get so desperate for things not go wrong further that of course things do.

Workshop Day 2: Tonal Figure Painting with Acrylic-two-acrylic-tonal
So much for introducing light into my tonal study. The left-hand photo is where it was when the model took a break; the right where it ended up.

Then onto a colour acrylic painting. Colour…I can do colour, can’t I…?! Yes, but can I do composition, proportions, tone, considered mark making, warm and cool, colour and a living, breathing model…?

Workshop Day 2: Figure Painting with Acrylic
Oodles wrong unresolved in this, and model’s beard definitely too blue, but a few aspects I like.

And finally the initial drawing in acrylics for an oil painting to be done over the next three afternoons. Idea is that if you end up in a murky oil-paint mess, you can scrape back to this acrylic start. The more I look at this photo, the more I see how his legs/arms need adjusting.
Workshop Day 2: Initial Start

Notes to myself:

  • Remember head and neck sit within the bowl of the shoulders, it’s not a lollipop stuck on top. Check position and check again! Think of dotted line joining the two shoulders, and what facial feature this goes through. For instance, bottom of chin or nose, or the mouth. Check relationship to spine and vertical relationships (with pelvis/feet) to check position.
  • Follow the progression: composition, gesture (armature), add the destinations (head, feet, elbows/hands) in probable positions, find the road between the destinations (focus on mass not outline), cross-check the map (check relations between body parts), adjust and repeat, and only when this is sound start looking at tone.
  • Add eyes, nose, and planes around eyes early on for a sense of scale overall.
  • Be deliberate, decisive, find and loose edges with considered looking.
  • Four considerations not two, especially with orange light on model from heater: warm highlights, warm shadows, cool highlights, cool shadows.
  • Most of the painting will be midtone.
  • Eliminate the unwanted light of the paper fairly early one, all the way to the edges; it distracts the eye.
  • Traditionally a dark background would be done with glazed layers not thick paint, which is reserved for light tones.
  • Turner’s known for his landscapes, not his figures.

Related:
At the End of Day 1: Life Drawing into Painting Workshop
What I Found Walking Along the Seashore at Gardenstown
Photos: In Gardenstown (afternoon before art workshop)

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