An art dealer made a strong suggestion to me a few weeks ago. He urged me to do a complete inventory of all of my paintings both sold and unsold. ALL meant going back, way back into the sixties. It was a daunting task but it is now done. As I posted earlier I had been remiss in not keeping up with my work as thoroughly as I should. Along the way in this journey I had some pleasant surprises and was forced to review a lot of older sketch books that I had forgotten.
Class Demonstration: Simplicity
One of those items is the subject of my posting. Standing Nude was included in the updated, revised edition of Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol.1. This is a small painting that was done for one of my life classes. It is a small piece yet it conveys a powerful effect. The piece is deceptively simple. I’ll also confess that I was very fortunate that it clicked so easily. I have always believed that students deserve complete honesty. I’ll explain. It is my opinion that students need to see an instructor work. It can be nerve wracking but there are times when we just bomb out and the demo just doesn’t work. OOPS! Can we say AWKWARD?
Doing an impromptu full figure can be a dangerous choice. Thankfully, this one worked beautifully in a very short period of time. Everything just clicked into place.
All too often watercolor students think that watercolor glazing techniques are slow and tedious. Well, they don’t have to be. The choice is yours. The work can be bright and spontaneous; it all depends upon you and your subject.
The first color, Winsor Violet, was used as an under painting or grisalle. The complement, Indian Yellow, was washed over the dried under painting. Nothing fancy, very simple, yet the effect is very profound. As I stated earlier this piece was a part of a life class demonstration. We were working with the wonders of color and complexion. At the time we were discussing the Royal Academy method of dividing complexions into various color schemes or sub-groups.
While one may not want to paint by formula the basic rudiments are very helpful for a foundation. It may be a surprise for some that with this method blondes, red haired models and some ethnic groups are often depicted with the fewest number of colors while brunettes have as many as seven (7) key colors.
I discuss these formulas as guidelines for those seeking to gain a foundation. Hopefully no one will allow the suggestion to become a strait jacket or rigid law of operation. Always let your model and your perception guide you.
Careful under painting is the secret:
The secret to success is careful under painting. What do I mean? Think transparent. The early strokes will make a great impact upon the final piece. Always remember that the white of your paper is your brightest bright. Consequently you want to make sure to avoid painting the brightest highlight areas. Some call it “saving your whites”. No matter what you call it keep your painting fresh. Be judicious but not uptight as you apply your first washes. Keep in mind that the initial washes will shine through and influence your finished painting. I hate to use the analogy, but think of a monochromatic photograph. In a properly lit and exposed photograph one can see a variety of values. Think about this when you are painting. Let your washes blend and merge with a delicacy that gives the illusion of flesh. The graded washes of violet are almost invisible in some areas while the Indian Yellow was applied very sparingly. In this interplay of color combination the colors tend to lose some of their individuality and merge to produce the illusion of living, glowing flesh.
Careful observation is the beginning and is of utmost importance to a successful painting. Take time to really observe your subject. For some of us this may take longer than it does for others. Find your own pace. Strengthen yourself to avoid being intimidated by what you think others are doing. Be true to yourself. After all you can’t really be anyone else, now can you?
You can see the date on this painting. It may have been painted before some of you were born. In the ensuing years some painting formulations have changed. You may or may not get the same effect from brand to brand. The answer is EXPERIMENT. All color in this depiction was produced with only the two colors mentioned. What is the point of the post? Open your eyes to the possibility of the color combinations you have. Take the time to play with your colors. Change the ratio of color mixes in order to see what happens.
Today I use M. Graham Indian Yellow and Winsor Violet. In the 90’s I may have used Grumbacher Indian Yellow or something else. As I get older some things dim in my memory. Regardless all sorts of color possibilities exist. Do you know what your colors can do for you?
You can see more of Don’s work at http://www.donrankinfineart.com
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Mastering Glazing Techniques in Watercolor, Vol.1 by Dr. Don Rankin :Order direct at http://www.createspace.com/3657628
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