Painting Boot Camp: Classical



Oversized gourds are beautiful when bathed in a directional overhead light, and we’re going to use them as subject matter for a two session painting intensive, studying the classical method (6 hours in total).

First we start with a tonal drawing. Here’s mine using a gourd that had the light placed slightly differently:



This is done in charcoal and uses an eraser; it is important to carefully observe light fall and it’s relation to shadow. We want to build a form in space by drawing the various tones that describe the form.

Next, using a birch panel that has been sealed with a polyurethane coating, we apply a burnt umber ground, and wipe away the light shapes of the gourd using a soft cloth and brush lightly dipped in turpenoid.



This is also called a Reductive technique. We are taking away (or reducing) the paint in order to tonally describe the form that we are painting. Simultaneously we keep the tonal drawing handy to observe the charcoal study.

Here are some of my students (John, Lourdes, Rebecca, Evelynn) reduction work:






We then let this stage of the painting dry for about a week, and then come in with the first color pass: a limited palette using ultramarine blue and burnt umber for the darks, and we make our own yellow ochre by mixing cadmium yellow light and burnt umber. White is used as need to lighten the values. A second color pass should be done using the same palette after the first pass has had a chance to dry. Here’s my first color pass:



A second color pass will also describe smoother surfaces, and delicate transitions of value and color.

Here were some of my notes during the class:



Happy painting!


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