I still need to get a decent picture of that last still life. Hopefully the painting will be dry enough this weekend to do that.
But there’s no time to rest. I’ve got some new subjects to work from and the process is beginning. I’m starting with some color studies. Typically I start with a pencil or caran d’ache line drawing but I’m trying to refine and streamline my studio process a bit. It remains to be seen if removing the linear drawing and adding additional color studies will yield a more successful end product but that’s the hope.
This is the first step in the process – a Burnt Umber grisaille wipeout on paper. Typically you’d want to use inverted compliments to create the neutral tone for your wipeouts (e.g. sap green and alizarine or cold black and transparent red oxide) and those definitely lead to more interesting, dynamic wipeouts. However they take forever to dry and if you’re going to be completely painting over the wipeout anyway… speed is more important here. Burnt umber dries overnight, especially when it’s been thinned a bit.
For me the underpainting effort is more about getting a rough linear placement and starting to separate the light and shadow masses of the form. It would have been nice to start to get some the warms and cools in but there’s time for that still. There’s still lots of drawing issues that will need to be worked out and honestly it’s not until you resolve those that you have the opportunity to succeed with color and temperature.
The other thing I like about wipeouts is that they just look good. Even when there’s drawing issues and you don’t quite nail the shadow mass… they still look pretty good. Sometimes it feels a bit like cheating. The reason wipeouts look so good is that the shadows are the same color as the background, so the subject feels like it exists in a rational world full of atmosphere. It’s easy to lose that in the later stages of your painting and have your shadows “fall out” of the painting (a problem I didn’t fully resolve in my last still life, unfortunately).
It’s nice to have an initial layer of paint that you can feel positive and optimistic about; even for all its flaws.