Monday, March 19, 2012

My first painting


I recently completed my first painting, a gift for my sister and her new husband as a wedding present from both Molly and I. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to start the painting until after their wedding (which was in November of last year), and so this is a rather belated wedding present. Better late than never!

I've been slowing teaching myself classical methods of drawing for quite a while now, always with the intent of painting at some point. Original artwork is expensive, and I've always wanted to have a house filled with beautiful art and so I figured I'd have to do it myself. After all that time drawing (see some previous projects here) I was finally ready to take a crack at painting, and the fact it was a gift was great motivation to get it completed.

In 19th century French art schools, after a long time of learning to draw, the first painting was done strictly in black and white in order to allow the opportunity to adjust to the new medium of oil paint and restrict mixing of color only to gradations of gray. Subsequent paintings would start introducing colors, which is yet another complex skill to master over time. Given all that, my first painting was limited to black and white, and I used the sight-size method as I did in my previous charcoal drawing of a statue of Mary.

I purchased a statue off of Craig's List for a very good price in order to use it as the center piece of the painting. The statue I purchased happened to be a reproduction bust of Apollo, which is the head of a famous and much larger full-body statue, Apollo Belvedere, from ancient Greece. Typically a white statue is used so that shadows are easier to denote, and a statue is a good way of painting from life without worrying about the subject moving :-)

Here are some photos of the painting process from sart to finish. Unfortunately, the best camera I have right now is the camera on my phone, so the pictures don't allow a great comparison between the set-up and the painting (the camera can't adjust to the light on the statue). Oh well, you'll get the idea.

(Click any pic to enlarge)

The very ad hoc set-up in our storage room.

The viewpoint for comparison between set-up and painting.

The beginning of the charcoal under-drawing. Initial gridlines placed based on major landmarks.

The block-in.

The outline.

The completed charcoal under -drawing, showing the major shapes and shadow areas.

Closer view of the under-drawing.

My first-ever brushstrokes, the beginning of the under-painting, which is meant to map out the large gradations (or "values") with thinned-out paint.

The completed under-painting.

Closer view of the under-painting.

The beginning of the final painting. You can see the much more opaque paint in the  shadow of the statue.

The background and cloth below the statue is completed.

Finished with the most tedious part, the hair.

Closer view of the hair.

Completion of the face and the sash.

The completed painting.

Closer view of the completed painting.


The framed painting.

Bust of Apollo Belvedere
Oil on canvas

My sister and new brother-in-law with the gift, a relief to finally have it in their hands (meaning it miraculously escaped damage by our crowd of rollicking children :-)  This was a special gift from Molly as well, she donated a lot of our time together so that I could get this done in the evenings.


Karla in MN said...

Well done! Quite an accomplishment, I am very impressed with your technique and fortitude. Hope all is well with Molly and the kids...
God bless!

John Curran said...

Glad to see you posting again, and such beautiful work. The limited palette can actually be quite freeing; I did an icon using only yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and ultramarine blue--- it is by far my favorite, and almost painted itself. Hope to see more of your artwork.

Ventsislav Nikolov said...

Wonderfull, job well done! :-)

Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle said...

Very impressive!