Posted on November 28, 2017
I’ve nearly finished this portrait painting. Its had 5 glazes over the initial underpainting. This picture shows the grisaille, the first glaze (which I filmed and is on youtube) and then the 5th glaze which is almost the last one. I still intend to go over the hair and background again amongst other things. The background was a dark green the glaze before this! It still shows through and gives it a nice depth. The lovely thing about working in this way is that everything can change with just one glaze. This portrait has been through many stages while painting each glaze. Sometimes I misjudged a colour or hue or the values of light and dark weren’t right. In each case I was able to correct the painting in the following glaze, either lightening or darkening.
I love painting highlights in a portrait so I guess I overdid it somewhat and the lightest light ended up too bright by the 4th glaze, but in the latest glaze which you can see here I went over the whole portrait again with a darker glaze just to soften it a little. In areas where it was too dark again I just used a dry brush to pick off the paint and continue blending. I can always keep adjusting a portrait at a late stage if the client commissioning the portrait feels there is something that needs changing.
It is surprising just how close to the original grisaille the painting is, even when its possible to see how much refining and drawing has gone into the portrait over all the glazes. Its strange to see later very finished versions of a portrait where the grisaille is like a ghost, still very present but disguised under veils and glazes of colour. The grisaille functions like an anchor that holds the structure of the portrait in place, and many many changes can occur but the painting is still held firmly together by the initial drawing. Its the main reason I started learning how to paint using the grisaille method.
I always use the same mixes when I paint portraits using the grisaille method. All my glazes start with various quantities of the same colours: Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Raw Umber and Sap Green (a warm Sap Green). All the later glazes are mixed with these colours but with other additions, like Ultramarine Blue to cool it down, a bit of Titanium White to make a velatura or semi opaque glaze, some Cadmium Orange.. but always hovering around the same original mix. Of course this depends on the commission and the sitter having their portrait painted.
Posted on November 23, 2017
Here are a selection of photos showing the completed glazes done over the grisaille underpainting in this portrait commission.
Posted on July 30, 2017
When I began investigating Old Master techniques I had some brilliant instruction from James Scrase, a portrait painter who was trained by Pietro Annigoni (see his fantastic self portrait). He learned every traditional painting skill from Annigoni, including fresco painting, and he taught me to use Burnt Umber as a wash to draw the portrait first, and then build up layers of slightly opaque ‘half-pastes’ using colour and a little white. Also I was taught to add white with small amounts of blue and then glaze over it with flesh tones. This was one of my first attempts, of my cousin Jack. Of late I have been focussing on a strict grisaille underpainting but looking at this I think I prefer the slightly more fluid quality burnt umber can achieve with thinner washes.
Posted on March 3, 2017
Portrait of Bea. After feeling around what might work for the background I settled on this regal blue, and I gave the painting a few glazes of Michael Harding’s Ultramarine, which is both warm and sharp, and has a depth while also firmly hovering on the picture plane. Ultramarine blue was discovered around 1820. Before that the only available version of this blue was the extremely expensive Lapis Lazuli, from Afghanistan. Duccio and a whole lot of 14th century artists would have loved to use it to save some cash #oiloncanvas #oilpainting #portrait #portraitpainting #art #contemporaryart #figurativeart #bandana
Posted on November 10, 2016
3rd glaze done. Still a few more needed #underpainting #grisaille #portrait #portraitpainting #oiloncanvas #art #painting #fineart #devon #glaze #contemporaryart #contemporaryrealism #oilpainting
Posted on November 8, 2016
Before and after #rosycheeks #babyboy #stars #oilpainting #portraitart #portraitpainting #grisaille #underpainting #glazing
Posted on April 21, 2013
Alice’ carved in Carrara Marble. 20x25x20cm. The sculpture is created from photos – One master photo, and then others to guide the 3D form. When someone smiles the cheeks get pulled up, they then narrow the eyes, the ears get pulled a bit, the neck creases.. All these things need to be pulled together at the same time to create the piece. Working in stone always makes me think of a Nichiren Buddhist quote: ‘It is like the case of a fishing net: though the net is composed of innumerable small meshes,when one pulls on the main cord of the net, thereare no meshes that do not move. Or it is like a garment: though the garment is composed of countless tiny threads, when one pulls on a corner of the garment, there are no threads that are not drawn along.’ The 2 milk teeth were fun to carve, but I need to get some really small chisels to carve inside the mouth