Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Head Study: General Grant

    Does this character look familiar? I wasn't lucky enough to have the original pose for me but I did see someone taking on his likeness at the Civil War reenactment at Spring Mountain Ranch near Las Vegas last spring. These types of affairs are great for getting some wonderful reference photos to paint from. Whenever I see a renaissance faire etc. advertised I am in the car with my camera.
   I began this like the previous head study, with a general tone on the canvas. This time I used the shadow on the face as the guide to determine the general color because the majority of the face is in shadow.

   The colors I used were Cadmium Red Medium, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Viridian Green, Cobalt Blue and White. I started working around the image, massing in one color area against another, always asking myself is the shape darker or lighter than what it's next to?  Is the color warmer or cooler? Everything is relative and depends on what it is next to in order to appear as it does. This can go a long way in your freedom to manipulate something the way you want it. For instance if I wanted his face to look really red, I would surround him with a green (the compliment) background.

  Going into the shadow shape on the face, it's a matter of breaking it up in to subshapes, going one shade darker in the crevices with a mixture of Alizarin Crimson, Terra Rosa and Viridian. Getting the sense of sunshine is a matter of adding some warmth into every light struck area.

    He's getting tidied up somewhat here. This is the time I really need to slow down and ask myself if I have missed anything that is important or have included something that really doesn't add to the effect.

  A few minor details and that's it!

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