A case in point is the new and old versions of the rooster titled "HI Look at Me".
The specific new skills that I wanted to bring to bear on this work were improvements in drawing, color, and the painting techniques of impasto knife work and glazing. After describing the specific changes to the rooster, I will outline a few of the major sources that have provided breakthroughs for me in the continual effort to learn to paint.
I still had my old reference photos and was able to significantly improve the drawing of both the large shapes and many small details. I am amazed that as my drawing skills improve, I see details that I previously did not seem to even recognize, such as the face and the individual feathers. I did this by directly painting over the old image on the canvas!
In the area of color I had used a warm burnt sienna type basis for the feathers. I now recognized that there was more of a magenta tinge to the feathers. Now that I am using my Augmented Modern Color pallet exclusively, I switched to a basic triad of quinacridone magenta, hansa yellow medium, and phthalo green (blue shade). Varying these components with a judicious use of white, I was able to better replicate be intensity of the beautiful rooster feathers.
In addition to appropriate color mixing, part of the replication of the intensity of the feathers was the use of glazing. I use the Golden OPEN Acrylic Medium (Gloss) with appropriate amounts of my OPEN paint to control the transparency of the glazes. Multi layers of slightly different color glazes provides a depth and vibrance to the color that a straight application of paint can not achieve. The final layers of more opaque paints provided the highlights.
In some cases a final glaze of pure color helped to give an appropriate glow and temperature. For example, a final glaze of napthol red light gave a warmer glow to the sunny side of the neck region. Similarly, a final glaze of hansa yellow medium gave a glow to the chest area.
Knife work was used to give the texture of grass to the foreground of the grassy area. A mixture of OPEN and regular gel mediums was used with various green mixtures to give the foreground grass texture, as described in My Painting Methodology section of the website. Note the texture fades away as you go into the background. This along with a cooler coloring helps the ground recede and helps pop the foreground. Patches of dirt were added to add interest to the ground. As a final step a spotty application of a yellow glaze was added to the foreground to further reinforce the sense of space and the warmth of the sunshine.
I like to draw attention to the shadow area under the rooster, Note it touches the lighter tufts of tail feathers to add emphasis. Also note that while it is in shadow, you can still se the texture of slight color variations in the grass in the shadow area. this was achieved in to ways. First the shadow was achieved by glazing a red over the normally painted grass. Finally, additional strokes of grass were painted directly into the shadow area. Note also that there are a number of sunny blades of grass that stick up in front of the shadow area to give a realistic feel of space and light.
This was very satisfying to apply what I have learned to improve one of my old painting.
I just want to summarize the key elements that have driven my growth as a painter. The first is of course hard and continual work! Beyond that the follow are some of the key elements.
1. Studying with my teacher Scott Nickerson, a master oil painter, www.scottnickersonfinearts.com. Scott has guided me over the years through the details of drawing, composition, value, creating form, and introduced me to the power of techniques such as glazing and color strategies. Of particular value has been Scott's classes to recreate a master painting. Examples of my work in these classes can be seen in my various galleries on the website, including works by masters such as Vermeer Gerome, Cott, Bougeoreau, Bierstadt, Caravaggio, and Lefebvre. I can not over emphasize the value of recreating a master's work. The greatest aspect is that you have a very specific target to achieve. You can't just do anything you want. Scott is outstanding in helping you figure out what was done and how to achieve it.
2. Studying the Bargue, Gerome Drawing course. Scott initially introduced the course to me. I went on to study it and reproduce the various exercises on my own. After havein worked on this for several months, I went to a wonderful exhibit on VanGogh's work in Amsterdam. The first work in the exhibit was Vangogh copy of one of the Bargue exercises which I just completed my self. It turns out that VanGogh had work through the exercises two times on his own. I subsequently learned that Picasso and many other have also worked on these drawing exercises.
3. The introduction by Golden Paints of the new OPEN Acrylics, which have completely controllable drying times. With research and the help of the Golden staff i have figured out how to replicate any of the oil painting techniques that i have come across. Also as I describe in My Painting methodology section, my paints stay workable on my pallet for months and allow me to work on my paintings over time with the same color mixtures available. This leads to color harmony and saves a lot of money in paints!!!
4. Color mixing has been on ongoing learning process. my first beakthrough came studying Michael Wilcox's book "Blue and Yellow Don't make Green" along with his other books from the School of Color. Then I read the magnificant book by James Gurney, "Color and Light , a Guide for the Realist Painter", which introduced cancepts such a color gamut, which I find very useful, particularly for appreciating the next and most important source. Golden Paint Company introduced the Modern Color Set and mixing guidelines, which I describe in detail in the My Painting Methodology section of the website. I added some whites and black, which I call my Augmented Modern Color Pallet, with which i can mix virtually any color. I no longer have to keep buying different tube colors of paint!!! This is a great cost saving, leads to greater color harmony, and is really fun to use. I have also figured how to mix the various OPEN and regular mediums to control texture and transparency to support many pallet knife and glazing techniques.
Well these are some of the key events along my artistic journey to date! I present them hear in that they may help others avoid some of the dead ends and false starts that I experienced along the way.