Figure Start: Establishing A Method

In my earlier years as an artist (pre 2013) I lacked direction and organization. But, as I have matured as an artist I have seen the need for establishing a method.

“Practice makes perfect”, is said a lot, yet the statement is wrong. Just randomly practicing anything will not lead to perfection. It is important to analyze what we practice and establish what we can improve on or what is working well. We need to strive to find our mistakes and try not to repeat them. This is what leads to perfection.

For the last few months / years I’ve been doing that. I’ll try something new, I’ll draw or paint daily and blog about what I like or dislike. I’ll try and find what I did well and what I need to improve upon. What I have found with this analysis of my work are methods that work for me. These methods may not work for any other artist but myself, but this is fine, it’s what leads to individuality.

So, I think I’m getting very close to establishing a method for figure painting that I can live with for a long time. These last couple figure painting starts have been a joy to work though and I’m very happy with how they have turned out.

I’ll outline some general materials and parts of the method

  • Acid-free paper
  • Two coats of Golden acrylic Gesso tinted to a warm gray
  • Gesso applied with a brush and rolled out with a speedball roller
    • I may interject a step here and begin to rub an umber mixture over the canvas and let it dry before I start drawing
  • Draw figure in graphite
  • Take a long time with the drawing, get this correct no matter what
  • First establish the shadow areas with lightly applied burnt¬†umber
  • Rub in umber over the entire background
  • Establish the light areas with lightly applied simple flesh mixtures
  • Work into the shadow areas separating values slightly and making them darker
  • Build up paint in the light areas with more accurate color and value
Figure Start: Establishing A Method, setup

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