For this figure start, I used the same photo as yesterday. But this time I focused on getting the drawing correct before moving on.

I will admit that the color in these photos is dead and uninteresting. If I was looking at this model in real life I would see more greens, blues, and other variations of warm colors. This generalization of the overall color is the biggest difference I notice when comparing life and photo. And even though the shadows are flat and just as uninteresting the photos do provide good information on the relative value. I think the best thing I can learn from photos is drawing and modeling form. I have no issue with seeing the planes of the face or the turn of a ribcage.

So this is another good reason for me to focus on starting figure paintings. With photos, I can work on the initial drawing. Then move to the planes of the figure and see how the relative values turn the form. Even if I was painting the model directly from life I wouldn’t put much work into capturing the subtle colorations of skin tones until much later into the painting. And even then I would probably need several session with the model before I got to that point.

When I’m in an open studio and I have less than three hours to capture a figure on canvas I need to focus on getting the drawing accurate right off. Then I need to model the general planes of the form with correct relative value. That is all I have time for. But, if I get that begging part right the rest of the painting we go very smoothly and I can just relax.

Figure Starts #2
Figure Starts #2
Figure Starts #2, setup


  • Session: 1396
  • Work: 1181
  • Width: 11"
  • Height: 15"
  • Medium: Oil
  • Location: Home
  • Art Time: 2
  • Creative Time:



3 Responses

  1. I am really learning a lot from your posts Chris. I am going to try some of these I am ready I am tired of black and white only works I have been doing. But they are of great value. I will continue but I like what you are doing very informative and inventive.

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Chris Beaven

I am an Artist and a programmer currently living in the amazing state of Washington. I have a passion for art, but I'm stubborn as hell with it. My day is complete only when I do some piece of art each day, no matter how small. "There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile."