Today I tried something a bit different. I wanted to see if I could do a session of gestures in oil paint. Doing each gestures wasn’t so hard, it was the transition of wiping down after each gesture that had me moving quickly.
Drawing with a pencil or stick of charcoal is much different from drawing with the brush. But training with charcoal to draw the figure definitely helps for when you move to the brush I could tell that right away when starting these gestures today.
They started out very rough, like all gestures sessions and I was having a bit of trouble with the surface I chose because it was soaking up the paint too much. Of course a bit of odorless mineral spirits would fix this right away but I pride myself in not using any solvents while painting in oil. So, the safflower oil didn’t do so well in quickly wiping down this board each time.
Here I switched to a board that had some previous coats of oil paint on it and it’s surface was much less absorbent.
I moved to the 5 minute gestures because I wanted to see how I could take advantage of the lighter values in the gesture. This will take much more practice if it’s something I want to pursue further.
The on thing that I noticed that I need to work on the most is judging the entire size of the figure form the beginning and planning it so it doesn’t run off the canvas. The purpose of these gestures wasn’t to make a lasting piece of artwork but to get me used to starting a figure drawing well. I need to be looking at the larger shapes, thinking about the figure as a whole and not getting caught up in any details. I also have to train myself to get the proportions of the figure down quickly and accurately.
I still believe that the first 5 to 10 minutes of a figure drawing or painting will decide the entire outcome of the whole work.
Just as a comparative, put up some toned paper and went back to charcoal and did another 5 minute gestures. I had more control over the tool, but I lost a lot of the fluid action from the brush. I may have even focused on the details too much right away. This transition from fluid brush to a “scratchy” charcoal pencil was quite jarring.