Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Master Copy Challenge"

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Cornelis Van Der Geest after Anthony Van Dyck
11 x 14 in
Oil on Linen
I FINALLY did the master copy after Van Dyck, I apologize for taking so long.  I'm glad I did this I learned so much from this technique.  Originally I was going to approach it the way I'm accustomed to painting,g taking each section to a finish and moving onto the other which is technically Van Dyck's method as well.  The difference is that he had an under painting to go from, I in the other hand would just start in an area and not even have an under painting.  It made things harder as far as relationships between shapes, values, and chroma's.  I was also noticing there wasn't a unity of shapes or the whole picture wasn't coming together the way I wanted to, which you will see what I mean in the process pictures.  Originally I wasn't going to show the beginning steps because it wasn't going the way I wanted but I realized that its better if I do show them, you guys can see how I learned from my mistakes and brought the painting to the level I was desiring to do so.  I hope you guys can get something out of my process and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask.
I started the drawing with a bit of raw umber on the brush, more of a dry brush technique.  I wanted to keep the lines as light as I can so I can easily erase any errors I had along the way.  I had issues with the placement on the canvas and making the design work, but it worked out after a couple tries.  Some people draw the portrait on paper and transfer the drawing to the canvas, I could of done that but decided to just draw directly on the canvas.  
After the drawing was completed I started on the background, doing the first layer of ivory black.  Ivory black is a slow drier, I wanted to lay the first coat down by the time I got to the second phase of the portrait it would of been well on its way to a finish.  I didn't use any mediums with the ivory black.
This is the area where I started to just concentrate on each section and take it to a finish, little did I know how wrong I was.  It started going well, it was looking a little too orangey for some reason but I kept working at it.  I can say the drawing was not completely there either but a good hint of it. 
Then I moved onto the second eye and still hatching away on the drawing while still trying to get the values and chroma's right.  I was sort of liking the way it was going but new it wasn't coming together the way I wanted it too.  The colors I used where yellow ochre, raw umber, burnt sienna, ivory black, and lead white.  The challenge called for the use of this limited palette which was nice and challenging. 
I finally came to my senses and started to do an under painting which consisted of raw umber, lead white and ivory black.  This method is what the Flemish painters used to do, Van Dyck and Rubens famously used this method.  Once I started applying this method I noticed a huge difference in the painting, I was able to get the drawing down better and the values where also being take care of.  I saw that unity in the painting that I was looking for, you can see in this picture how the painting looks in comparison to the one eye that I didn't paint over on the left side of his face.  I eventually painted it over to create more of that unity in the under painting.  I still didn't use any mediums for this stage, I found it better not too it dried much faster and I kept the paints fairly thin as well.  
Then I fixed the eye and also rendered the ruffles area around his neck.  I am really liking the progression in this painting by now, I had the drawing down and also took care of the subtle value shifts.  
After the under painting is complete I started to incorporate colors into the portrait.  I also started to mix in to the colors some refined linseed oil to thin it out and flow nicely along the portrait.  I did the portrait first and left the hair, ear and ruffles area for the last day.
Before starting on the hair I did the second passage to the background with ivory black and a bit of refined linseed oil.  This allowed me to keep the edges soft when working in the hair, and the goes the same in the ruffled area.  I finished the hair and moved onto the ear and took that it to a finish.  The last area I worked on was the ruffled area around the neck, it was fun softening some parts and keep other areas gestural with thick impastos.  The completion of this painting is exactly what I was going for, I learned so much from this exercise and strongly recommend everyone to try it.  Thanks again for your patience and now to the next challenge!  




6 comments:

Paintings by Irit Bourla said...

Its a WOW piece. Amazing!

Susie Morrell said...

This is an excellent example of why using the grisaille method is so important. I, too, hesitated at first wanting to go right to color straight away. But through studying my my instructor, Dot Bunn, I have come to the realization that there is no substitute for first handling the value study by working up a grisaille before attempting the color. Your work is wonderful and although I haven't posted until now.. have been enjoying following your progress!

Jill said...

your work is amazing, learning from you!

Candace X. Moore said...

Awesome work and post, Jonathan. I'm a fan of master studies. It really accelerates learning. Your results here are luminous. Inspiring.

A few questions...why didn't you use the white of the canvas and do a pick-out, instead of including a white in your underpainting, as you did? You used raw umber...was that the greenish variety? Hard to see in photo. Did Van Dyck use that for underpainting flesh? Are you going to varnish this? Seems like ivory black would make the sheen uneven. Okay, enough questions.

I've always liked this particular portrait, too. The spirit of the subject really comes through. Wonderful. Best, Candace.

Jesus Estevez said...

Great work Jonathan,very inspiring.Congratulations

SEILER said...

Holy crap man, this is insane!