Thursday, May 17, 2012

A portrait of my friend, Littleton Alston

Littleton Alston, oil on canvas, 30" x 24" is my portrait of Littleton Alston. Now, I'm not sure I would ever do a detailed underpainting again, but at least now I can say I have done it. I think I will just go back to starting in with transparent coats of the color--similar to what Tony Ryder calls his "wash in". And then do the form painting on top of that. I have been influenced by Tony Ryder's painting method, Mary Beth Mackenzie's textural backgrounds and the brushwork of Gregory Manchess.

Well, and obviously, I owe a lot to my mentor who kept pushing me to go past all of the "safe" paint handling and to actually take risks. My mentor just cut up one of her canvases because it would make a better composition to do so and her quote is if you are going to fail...then FAIL BIG!  So...take chances. I am in a bit of disbelief when I look at my own work and then what I was doing before. It looks like two different artists. I would have never done this painting prior to my time with my mentor. I would have stopped at the safe wash-in stage and painted some sort of overly rendered  background and then removed all the brushstrokes to make it look as photo-realistic as possible. Now, there is nothing wrong with photo-realism, but I happen to love brushstrokes...and I happen to love that I am allowing myself to paint with them! I showed this painting of Littleton to a close friend of mine and her response was "Rachel, aren't those....brushstrokes on your canvas?" hahaha...YES...yes they are, and I rather like them! Here is the progression of the painting throughout the semester:

Charcoal lay in on toned canvas
Grisaille under painting - Payne's gray and white
Light wash-in of color, similar to a watercolor in paint consistency
First pass of form painting, background starting to take shape.
I would have stopped here if it were not for the help of my mentor.

1 comment:

Jude said...

That's a great breakthrough!