I’ve been fairly quiet on here since my origin/destination excercises, reason being I was initially away on a family holiday for a week in the beautiful English lake district, near a place called Borrowdale where in around the 1500’s the very first graphite was discovered and mined. Following this the pencil industry began in nearby Keswick and there’s even a Pencil Museum and an optical illusions museum there, for all your art history and forced perspective needs.
The week after, I had the unlikely and unique chance of being able to attend a workshop hosted at Rosemary & Co - The Finest Quality Handmade Artists’ Brushes, in Yorkshire with Michael John Angel. I’ve not been to a workshop before and it was an incredible experience for various reasons. The focus was choosing a Vermeer and copying it. So, under instruction from the Maestro and with many demonstrations and anecdotes from him I painted a copy of the Girl with a Pearl Earring. The procedure:-
i. the underdrawing (we traced a cartoon the Maestro had prepared)
ii. the monochrome underpainting (grisaille)
iii. the big local-colour lay-in (dead-colouring)
vi. toning, glazing, scumbling.
We had 5 days (and hoped to finish each stage for it to dry for the following day) - so a little panic, a lot of quick learning and lots of liquin! By the end of day 5 I was able to get the first glaze onto the face, with the blue cap and brown cloak remaining at the second painting stage, so I still need more time to finish it off. But I’m pretty pleased with it so far, having had very limited experience painting in my whole life (I’ve so far only attempted under a handful of small paintings). Here’s what it looked like on the final day:-
I soaked up an incredible amount of information, help and hints, a fraction of which I wrote down in a notebook. So out of interest, here are a few of those notes, claims and tips for your perusal and discussion, and a picture of the maestro doing his rounds:-
Most modern gesso (and pre-gessoed canvas) is pretty much just white acrylic paint, golden gesso appears to be one of the only brands making anything like real gesso - and as such it has better absorbancy for oil paint.
So - I need to try this brand and see if I notice any difference.
Using chalk for underdrawing (orange chalk in my case) leaves far lighter marks which will disappear into the paint far better than charcoal.
Totally agree, this worked a treat.
Don’t add turps/mineral spirits to black, even mix in a medium it is more likely to make blacks sink in, you can use 50/50 linseed and liquin to help it flow. this also goes to a lesser extent for umbers.
This was demonstrated over a couple of days and proven to be true.
Maestro’s medium of choice is generally 2 liquin, 1 linseed, 2-3 mineral spirits. Always shake liquin bottle and any medium it is mixed in before use as it is an emulsion and will start to separate. Medium also has a tendency to make paint look lighter, but it will darken as it dries.
I went along with everything here and it worked well.
If you’re painting light colours, try and paint very opaquely as they are more likely to become transparent over time and show anything underneath.
Time will tell, but it makes sense and is worth being aware of.
Each day MJA would demo some techniques or principles as and when we needed it to get us to the next stage of the painting. He also showed us some in progress paintings of Bouguereau and Gerome which he had prepared in advance of a subsequent workshop, each containing several stages of completion for an overview of differing styles and discussing the advantages of each. There was a wealth of knowledge and experience on show and it was very impressive to witness at such close quarters.
If anyone has any thoughts or any questions I’m happy to let you know more about things. I might add to this post as and when cool stuff occurs to me.
I’m still buzzing from the experience and my mind is full of ideas and inspiration,
so now I’m back to the grind and my creative time is heavily restricted once more, I can charge onward to the late night shape replication excercises. I’ll be a good artist if it takes me forever.