First day of Alan McGowan‘s “Life Drawing into Life Painting” workshop saw us working with tone only. Started with charcoal, gesture line and block drawings, then longer charcoal drawing.
Next up: graphite stick, white oil paint and solvent on acrylic painted coloured ground. Graphite with white mixes to cool grey. Wiping off paint reveals warmish ground. Get highlights with white or by wiping off; darks from graphite.
Start with graphite drawing, then go over with big brush with solvent, remembering that lots of graphite will turn very dark. Then smaller brush with white paint (50:50 titanium:zinc to give something with properties like lead white ie opaque where thick, transparent where thin) and cloth for lifing off. First time I’ve done this, and really enjoyed it.
Next up: Reductive painting technique, working from dark to light. On cartridge paper primed with 50:50 PVA:water to give a less absorbent, more slippery surface, cover with dilute Van Dyck brown hue mixed with solvent and linseed oil to give an even, dark layer (not a thin, transparent, glazed layer). Use cloth to wipe off paint, lighter tones. Solvent on cloth will take you back to white of paper.
This is a bad photo, taken under strip lights which make contrast much greater and glare on wet paint. It’s a technique that can produce fabulously subtle, gentle tones.
Notes to myself:
- Make curvier lines on gesture-drawing (armature level of drawing), not so angular. Perhaps exaggerate somewhat to counteract subsequent straightening up of figure and check angle on torso more as working.
- Use gesture drawing as armature, building outwards; don’t start at outlines.
- Don’t be so heavy handed with the charcoal, being too dark too early and harder to rework.
- Remember to look for lightest tones, and more variations in midtones.
- Limit quantity of lightest/darkest tones and it can be more effective.
- Put in shoulders and feet in pairs, not separately.
- Balance gestural markmaking with small areas of detail.
- Anchor figure to surface.