enjoying success and learning from failure


Alla prima painting made a comeback again this week.  If you recall from Episodes 4 (read here) and 8 (read here), alla prima means to paint all in one sitting and there is a time limit of two hours or less.  I also had to practice drawing the foreshortened figure.  Foreshortening is to capture the human figure with the illusion of a body part coming toward the viewer. For this assignment, I started with a few sketches then moved on to the oil painting and then back to drawing.  I did this to accommodate being away for a few days for Thanksgiving.  This means I am also slightly behind but the time away was worth it.  

There are three alla prima paintings.  One, to practice doing a composition of white on white, then black on black, and then a limited color palette composition.    I had a lot of fun this time around with alla prima.  It was much easier for me than it had been before.  I found that remembering the rules has gotten a bit easier although there is still work to be done.  I hope to do this practice again because I learned a lot about color mixing and placing the cool paints and the warm paints in the correct places on the canvas. (Just to explain, oil paints have a temperature.  Cool paints recede from the eye and warm paints come forward.  This affects how the subject matter is viewed.) In my haste to get the painting done in the time period, I neglected to leave my brush strokes and did a bit too much smoothing and mushing of the paint on the canvas.  This is why I want to try again.  

I think I was most successful with the white on white painting.  The black on black is also not bad but I did even more smoothing here.  The subject of the limited palette was quite challenging for me because it was a portrait at an unusual angle that I had to complete in less than two hours.

 I made some adjustments in order to finish this limited palette.  In the source, you could see the eyes of the model through the transparent lenses.  I made them opaque.  Even though I coped out on painting the eyes, there was a point that I wanted to give up altogether but I stuck it out.  Although the painting really isn’t great, values are off and I had warm colors where cool should be and vice versa (ie. just above the shoulder on the left side) I’m glad I took on the challenge and finished and I’m sharing a bad painting which is very difficult for me to do.  The truth is there will be many paintings that don’t turn out great.  It’s all a part of the process.

The foreshortening sketches and drawing can be quite challenging.  Measuring is essential because the body part closer to the eye is always larger than one would expect.  The sketch of the ballerina’s foot proved this to me.  I couldn’t believe how big it actually was when I was drawing.  Definitely can’t eyeball it in foreshortening.

This charcoal drawing is an interesting subject choice for me.  I wasn’t sure why I chose a source of a punching fist but it was interesting to me so I went with it.  Upon further reflection, I recognize that hands are very interesting to me.  Some people are very expressive with their hands when they speak.  I am one of those people.  

Last week, I was listening to an interview with the actor Riz Ahmed who plays the role of a musician who loses his hearing in the movie Sound of Metal.  It was a very interesting informative interview that spoke a bit about the Deaf community.  One thing that he said stood out to me was that using your hands to speak as with sign language puts one more in touch with their emotions because the conversation is expressed with the body.  He said he in fact found that he became emotional when speaking about things with sign language that he wouldn’t become emotional about when speaking it.  This has me thinking a lot about our hands and how we use them.  Do you use your hands when you speak?  Do you find it distracting when someone uses their hands a lot?  I ask because I was told this once.  Below, I’m sharing a commissioned painting I did of hands titled “These Hands.”

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