Monday, 24 June 2013

Taking it to the next stage .... and the next ...

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : Acrylics on canvas : 24" x 24"
Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

So ... this is actually really three stages further on from the last posting. I meant to take another photo in between before I started applying colour to the background, but I forgot. Similar to the last (yellow) stage though, I glazed over the whole thing with 2 different blues (cerulean and ultramarine), both with quite a lot of mixing white, until I reached what I thought was a good balance of colours - and suddenly we have rainbows! The aim is to get an overall 'grisaille' effect - i.e. a grey monochrome underpainting, which is actually made up of lots of different colours that look grey from a distance ('optical' greys).  I then lifted up the brightest highlight areas with titanium (i.e. opaque) white.  Kind of like turning up the contrast in Photoshop, only it takes a whole day rather than 2 seconds!

Of course I added another layer of white flowers at this point. Can't have too many flowers ....

Lastly, I brushed over the background areas one by one with plain water, and floated some bright colours in over the flowers, using the acrylic like watercolour.  Just applied the hair-dryer and am now hoping the surface is tough enough for me to glaze over the background areas with some dark blue and green to finish them off (for the moment at least).

Onward ...!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Painting - first stage done. Work in progress.

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : 24" x 24" : Acrylic on canvas : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

The first stage of painting complete. I sealed the surface of the drawing with a couple of coats of matt acrylic medium. (This was the point at which I didn't really know that the whole thing was going to work - it could have just dissolved the whole surface and I would have lost 2 weeks work!). Then I covered the whole thing with 2 successive transparent yellow glazes, one in lemon yellow and one in deep cadmium with a bit of mixing white. I blotted off some colour at each stage with a rag to get in a bit of texture and depth. Once that was all dry I washed a very thin veil of titanium white over everything. That makes the next stage highlights easier to feather and blend.

After preparing the surface as above I worked on reinforcing all the highlighted areas in titanium white, improving the '3D' modelling of the shapes and adding specular highlights. This process gets continued in the next stage, but hopefully I'm beginning to get a bit of depth appearing. At this stage the colour ranges from white through various shades of yellow and orange to the dark red / terracotta background which is still evident in some areas. That last is important - I don't want the red to get completely obscured since it's going to make an interesting violet (I hope!) when combined with the blue glaze that goes on next ...

Oh, and I added a few more flowers for luck.

All the way through here I'm using ordinary Windsor & Newton Finity & Galleria acrylics, mixed with Daler-Rowney System 3 glaze medium for the transparent colour glazes. I'll be getting on to the fancy new Atelier Interactive acrylics in the latter stages.

Today I'm concentrating on getting the next colour glazes onto the surface - that's where the magic happens, I hope! While coats are drying I'm off to the builder's merchant to pick up wood for the custom frame...

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Work in progress again ... drawing completed

Finally finished the base layer of my painting "Everything in the Garden was Beautiful". First time I've tried actually painting directly over the drawing itself ...

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : Ink, pencil, acrylic, egg-tempera on gessoed canvas : 24" x 24" : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert
Since the last stage I deepened the shadows using sepia pencil and ink and lifted the highlights, using white acrylic in this case rather than gouache as I'm going to cover it with a water-soluble medium.  I also deepened the background colour then painted in some 'millefiori' texture in the white. Next stage is to let it dry completely overnight then seal the surface with a couple of coats of matt acrylic medium before I start actually painting (finally!).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Work in progress ...

Work in progress - first stage of drawing complete, 3 whole terracotta pencils later.  Now have a month to make this into a finished framed painting ....! Eek.  Next step - bring out more contrast with some sepia pencil.

Work in progress. Working title "Everything in the Garden was Beautiful". Terracotta pencil on gessoed & sanded canvas with egg-tempera imprimatura. 24" x 24".

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Last chance to see ...

At the opening on May 18th. Photo by Arvid Parry-Jones for the Cambrian News
Don't forget, "Synthesis: Works on Paper by Martin Herbert" finishes at MOMA Wales in Machynlleth this Saturday 8th June! Don't miss the last chance to see the exhibition.

In the meantime, I haven't had time to prospect for other galleries to show this work, so to save it all being propped up in the corner of the studio doing nothing, anyone have a suitable space which is crying out for a ready-made exhibition of large-scale figurative drawings all framed and ready to go?