With this little study I couldn’t resist taking the wash-in a bit further and introduced some colour notes so it hovers between drawing and painting. The pencil grid lines are a traditional method to help with placement and correspond with a similar grid I’ve made on clear acetate in a slide frame.
Grid method: Make a clear viewfinder and draw your grid lines onto it. A piece of clear acetate in an old slide transparency frame works well for a small portable grid. Then draw a matching scaled-up grid on the canvas. Look through your viewfinder to select the scene you want to draw/paint and then transpose that scene onto the canvas. It’s like marking reference points on a map. You can locate key points on the little viewfinder’s grid…top of head, left knee, right big toe etc…and mark them in relation to the grid on the canvas. Of course it also works for still lifes, landscapes and other subjects, and for scaling up photographs etc.
NB: Make sure both grids have the same aspect ratio i.e. the ratio of the longer side to the shorter side needs to be the same for both the canvas and the viewfinder. Otherwise you’ll be all over the place!
With a bit of practice this can be easier and more accurate than placing the whole scene without a reference grid, especially if the composition is quite complex.
This was an experiment with an Umber wash-in, which is a traditional way to begin an oil painting, though I think how I’ve done it probably isn’t very traditional. But it is very washy. And drippy. There’s a wonderful freedom working this way which is essentially drawing with a brush. The oil paint, thinned with genuine turps, can be pulled and pushed around for quite a long time before it dries. This would be the first layer of a painting, describing the general shapes and values. The next stage would be to paint the scene again on top of this layer again using monochrome values, but with opaque paint. The third stage, when that second layer is dry, is to add colour, and finally the highlights. Oil paint can take days to dry so this is potentially quite a long process.
Yay colour! Well almost. This is quite old but I dragged it into the light of day to remind myself of the technique I used i.e. smudging oil pastels onto the paper and then drawing the outlines in thick Black Beauty pencil. They don’t make those any more. I still have a couple stashed away but haven’t wanted to use them up. The closest you can get now is a Derwent Graphic 4B but it ain’t the same : (
Anyway I might do some more using this method and see what happens…maybe I could even give those precious old Black Beauties a bit of a work out. Or do I need to save them for when I open that pencil museum…?