Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Prodigal Parents Progression

The Prodigal Parents
Oil on canvas, 24x20, 2011 

This next progression is going to move pretty quickly as I didn't take a very good record of what I did on this one, but you'll be able to get the basic idea. This painting was to try out something different. My cousin suggested I try to paint some snowy mountains, and as it was outside my comfort zone, I thought it would be a fitting challenge.

I knew going into this project that I hadn't used these colors before, so before I started I went and opened up some of my art books. In particular, I opened up my book of Maxfield Parrish paintings. You can see a lot of his style in this painting, though obviously not to his master level of quality, ha.

The basic palette I used was from the method I suggested in an earlier blog where you take a cnavas and mix a bunch of colors, then pick the ones you want using your eye. For this one, I did a study of various purples. When you think purple, you generally only think of one color, but once you start applying that to color mixing, there are several different blues and reds to choose from.

You have cobalt, cerulean, pthalo, pthalo green shade, pthalo red shade, indigo, ultramarine and a bunch of other blues. You also have cadmium, cadmium light, cadmium hue, cadmium dark, alizarin crimson, and a bunch of other reds. It can get tricky and you definitely don't want to experiment on your painting, so I mix and bland on another canvas until I'm happy with my tones as well as the saturation levels of red, blue, and white in each.

Like always, I start with raw sienna. This was the last one I painted before I started using the powdered pigment and mixing it myself. When I get to those, you'll see an obvious difference in this first step.
Anyway, this is pretty self explanatory. One thing to note, however, is that I also built up textures in this painting using titanium white in very thick and heavy applications. It is hard to see, but if you look at the background areas, you might be able to spot it. It is mostly in the mountains, the frozen lake, and the snowy hill the house sits on. That is all pretty heavily textured by the time I start adding color.

Next I start adding in the darker raw umber, as well as some texture in the dark spots with pumice additive. You can sort of see it in this photo if you look closely at the walls of the building.

Whoah, what happened crazy fast forward guy? Honestly, I wasn't thinking of blogging when I did this, so again, I didn't track my progress all that well. Here you can see a lot more of the texturing. I applied heavy amounts of pumice to the snow in the foreground. I mixed the pumice with the different shades I selected when I first mixed my palette.

As mentioned in a previous progression, the pumice doesn't want to stick and generally resists your attempts to make it so, but keep at it and you'll win the day! Plus if it isn't sticking well, you can let it get mostly dry, then us paint to further glue it on as you build up the layers.

You can also see how I used a color wheel in this piece. I tend to do a lot of triangulation in my paintings. Each object is supposed to lead the eye somewhere else until it comes back to the main focal point or action.

In this painting, even though there are characters, the main action seems to be the mountains in the back. Kind of unusual and not what I intended, but it is what it is. Anyway, I harmonized the purples I selected with a green and yellow triad harmony from the color wheel. The green is seen in one level of the mountains, the sky, and the guy's backpack. The yellowish-slash-vermillion color is seen also in the mountains, the building, and in the woman's clothes.

The basic concept is to draw the eye to a spot, then away from it to simulate action in a painting using color.

There is also a geometric aspect of triangulation that does the same thing. While this painting has mostly soft edges and has a peaceful feel to it, there is some sharp contrast between the background mountains and frozen lake, and from the frozen lake to the foreground hills. There are also sharp directional lines that draw the eye from the back to the mid to the front and back again.

You dig?

So, here is the finished work. I am overall pleased with it. Of course, there are always things that can be done better, but for my first go at this specific genre and palette, I'm happy. I probably need to spend more time in the snow to do much better than this.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have or if there are any styles/techniques/palettes you would like me to cover. And of course, many of these artworks are available for sale!

As always thanks for looking!

More bookworm to come...

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