Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Progress From the Front Lines 11/01/05


Well, I somehow let a month go by without the almighty update from the front lines. Trust me when I say that I have worked on this painting, I just have neglected to update the blog about it.

So here we go...

Up above you see the gray color that I mixed specifically for use on the angel's gowns. I ended up doing this with just two colors, the gray and the tanish pink of the angels' skin. Now, although I say that these colors were specific to those areas, that doesn't mean I just slap it on to have a finished painting. I consider these base hues (hue basically is another name for color) that I can modify to become darker or lighter in value. Usually this is done by simply adding white or black, but I noticed during painting that some areas were actually leaning toward different hues. If you look closely at this angel close-up, you can see that there are areas of the gown that seem blueish in comparison to the base color, as well as parts of the skin (look at the arm) which are much redder than the skin hue.

If you have ever painted, you might have come across a lot of color theory which explains why this is. So forgive me if I try to sum it up quickly.

Basically, light comes in color. Indoor lights tend to be very warm, leaning toward the orange spectrum, while day light is very cool, leaning towards blue. What this means is that shadows also have color to them, and those colors are often the compliment of the light's color. Warm light results in cool shadows, and vice versa.

So with our angel here, we see that the warm light hitting the skin has resulted in a much cooler red being seen on the shadow side. The same with the shadows on the gown...more bluer than the original gray.

"But," you may ask, "what does that have to do with adding black and white, like you mentioned earlier?" Well, the way I paint usually involves a bit of both. Therefore, you accommodate the darkness/lightness of the hue, and also accommodate the "temperature" (warm/cool) of that hue to achieve the optimal color. Too often artist will not see the temperature of the shadows they wish to depict, so if anyone can take a lesson from today's posting, it's to pay attention to the color of your light!

Of course, in addition to being extra mindful of color when painting, a reproduction like this demands exacting precision and minute attention to detail. Pretty much what I have to do is look back and forth between my original album art and my painting to make sure each drop of paint is exactly where it should be. You may think that this is essentially filling in the number painting, but in my case that's not it at all. Granted, if you were a machine and could meticulously paint each color exactly as it should be from the start, that's a way to do it; but I can't do it that way.

What I do is layer the painting. Think of this as focusing the lens on your camera; essentially every shape and form is there from the beginning, when it's blurry, but as you sharpen the image everything finally goes into focus. That's how this painting is coming along - a slow focusing of elements from "general" to "exact".

The first thing to do is lay down the base color, making sure if falls exactly where is should go. Now this is trickier than it sounds because in this case I'm still making sure I don't obscure the drawing underneath. Therefore, I apply paint to only areas that closely match the base color, and avoid other areas, like shadows. But I only do this to the extent that I can make sure my shadows look exactly the same as the original, and I only do it with the larger areas. Smaller areas I just lay down the color, and go over it with refining paint layers later, since I don't have to worry too much that my marks will stray too far from the original.

It's a very, very time consuming and meticulous process, but it's a great experience for someone like me, since I feel it helping me develop my sense of color and form even more. By training your eye to recognize something exactly as it is, your drawings and paintings in turn become that much better.

You can also see that I'm working from left to right. The reason for this is very simple...I'm right handed. This way, my work isn't obscured by my hand, and I can easily see how the work I am doing right now matches up with the work I've done.

See you next post!