Hopefully you are all well on your way to completing Project 1 for our critique tomorrow. In case you need a refresher, below are instructions for putting the polish on your paintings.
Tips to Remember
- Use the largest brush you can manage for the painting job at hand. Big brushes cover better and help prevent nitpicky brushstrokes.
- Mix dark colors into light, since dark colors tend to be stronger.
- Keep your paint gathered in piles to avoid premature drying.
- Spritz your palette/painting with a fine mist atomizer (water bottle) to keep the surface wet and workable. Beware of getting drippy, though.
- You can also add water for several hours after Chroma Atelier Interactive Acrylics have started to set, which allows you go back in and get your blend on. You know Chroma paints are beginning to set when it feels like your brush is dragging.
- Add a little water directly to your brush to reduce brushstrokes, but avoid getting too sodden or you will end up with patchy washes instead of full-bodied passages of paint.
And most importantly….
- Painting (and art) is not a process of working from point A to Point B, but rather of circling around and around, moving ever closer to your goal. To that end, always think general to specific.
Refining Your Master Study Step-by-Step
- CHECK YO’ SURFACE
Look at your value blocked painting against the light to see if there are any highly-raised or unsightly brushstrokes.
- SAND PROBLEM AREAS (OPTIONAL)
Use a fine sandpaper such as 220 grit to gently polish out any brushstrokes or other textures that threaten to haunt your dreams. This is not absolutely necessary, but it’s worth doing if you have highly raised areas that will get in the way of further paint layers.
- MAKE YOUR PLANS FOR PAINTING DOMINATION
Take a few moments to examine your painting in order to determine a plan of attack. Where will you begin your refinements and how will you progress through the work? It usually makes sense to start with the larger, more generalized areas. These areas tend to take up significant real estate in your painting, so it’s good to get them set up early. Besides, a nice, plain background is a lot less intimidating when making your initial approach than a delicately rendered still life object. General to specific… I’m tellin’ ya….
- READY, SET, MIX
Once you have selected your starting point, mix the values you will need to refine it. Typically, you want to figure out the value range in each area and create a few mixes to help you paint that range. For example, in the background of my still life, the value moves from a 9 to a 5. There are two approaches to handling this. I can either mix something in the middle (7) and then alter it with black or white as needed, OR I can pre-mix the darkest value and lightest value in the range (9 and 5 in my example) as well as the middle value. Remember to mix dark into light.
- TESTS AREN’T JUST FOR COLOR THEORY NERDS
Test the value of your mixes by holding your paint-covered palette knife up to your photocopy image or—even better—to a high quality online image. Squint to help you compare.
- PILE ON
Gather your mixed paint into a pile to help prevent drying. You can use two palette knives to collect the paint, and then scrape it off each one.
- REAL PAINTERS SCOOP
Use the largest brush you can manage for your chosen area to scoop up a distinct piece of paint. Scrubby rubbings of barely-there color on your brush are SO last season. You need an actual amount of paint to… you know… paint.
- IT’S CALLED A BRUSHSTROKE NOT A BRUSHSCRUB
Lay the paint on the panel using brushstrokes that have a distinct start and stop. This helps your paint stay crisp and fresh-looking rather than overworked. You can usually get three or four brushstrokes out of each scoop. Does a certain brushstroke look lumpy or bumpy or just-plain-yuck? No worries: you can go over your strokes more than once to achieve the degree of texture you desire. Just remember to use distinct movements; avoid scrubbing.
*BONUS TIP*—You do not have to cover over all of your value blocked underpainting. Certain areas may be the correct value as is, and you can incorporate them into your refined grisaille.
To blend, Lay a darker value in your range alongside a lighter one. While the paint is wet, use a clean, brush that has been blotted dry to pull paint from the lighter area into the darker area (and/or vice versa).
- A CLEAN BLENDING BRUSH IS A HAPPY BLENDING BRUSH
Wipe the brush you are using to blend frequently on a paper towel to prevent tracking unwanted paint into your blended area. You can also rinse the brush and blot it dry.
- MOAR BLEND!
You can further smooth your blend by running a rinsed, blotted brush along the edge between your different values/colors.
- CHECK IT OUT!
Step back and carefully observe your work. Compare it to your source image. Do the values appear the same? Is it blended, textured or brushstroked in the manner you want?
- DETAILS GONE WILD
It is expected that you will lose some of the detail of your drawing as you paint. As you compare your painting to the source image, look for these areas. All is not lost, you can bring them back by using visual measuring such as sighting lengths and angles to bring the shapes back. Most of you have probably done this in Drawing.
- ARTISTS GET AROUND
Although it’s fine to zero in on an area temporarily to refine it, remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect the first pass. In fact, it’s important not to get locked into sectional perfection. Remember that your piece is constantly evolving based on what new information you add. Therefore, it is better to get an area working decently well and then move on knowing you can always come back and refine further.
- CHECK IT OUT: THE NEXT GENERATION
Step back frequently to check your work. In the image below, I have finished the background and am working on the table. Once I step back, I can see the table will need to be lightened in value. This wasn’t readily apparent up close.
- DON’T FORGET…
Each new area you paint will put all the other areas into perspective. You might have to alter older areas of paint based on information gained from the refinement of adjacent areas. If you do need to rework an area, you can rewet it with a brush or with an atomizer or simply add new paint. There are no mistakes, only refinements waiting to happen.
- CHECK IT OUT: THE REBOOT
When you have finished working all the areas, step back and take one more critical look. *MEGA PRO TIP*—You can sometimes better judge what you have done by giving yourself a new perspective. Turn your painting upside down, look at it in a mirror, or take a photo. All these methods filter your view and may help you see something you missed.