Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Top Ten Tips for Painting From Life! And then some..

Here is my demo from my painting class at The Los Academy of Figurative Art last week. Painting time about one hour and a half hours. And yes, that is my hat!

1. Paint a model that interests you. Ask yourself  'what is your point of view'? before you start to paint. Talk to the model. Bored sitter, boring painting. Engage!

2. Work on a dry mid-toned canvas and a mid-value wooden palette. Think value first, color second. Most of the story happens in the mid-value.

3. Work dark to light, general to specific, thin to thick paint, broom to needle, brush.

4. Simplify what you see. Three values for the light, two for the dark.  Keep the value pattern of light and dark separate. These two families hate each other and don't like to mix.

5. Think sphere. The head is an egg. Paint it round. Look for the highlight plane,  large mass of light, transition, turning edge, reflection, cast shadow.

6. Stick with a limited palette of colors. Learn what they can do.  They are your keyboard so practise how to play them. Look at the color wheel once in a while. It is useful. Play with color temperature around the light source, warm versus cool etc.

7. Make two soups on your palette. One for the light, one for the dark side. Alter the soup a little this way or that by adding slightly different colors into it.

8. Repeat color wherever you can. A dab of purple here, well, why not a dab of purple there. Leads to color harmony even if it doesn't make sense at the time.

9.Think of your three best friends: time, distance and a mirror. Judge your canvas from a distance rather than pressed nose; look at your work in a mirror to see its' flaws; and take some time away from your painting, ESPECIALLY when the model takes a break. Art school coffee is there for a reason. 

10. Imagine yourself a sculptor...carve out those planes. Know the structure of features so you can rely on that knowledge. Learn the anatomy of the head AND from the neck down. Draw, draw, draw in between painting from life.

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