(Editorial Note: What you read in Part 2 truly puts Ed’s work in the category of mixed mediums. I would have never thought to use what he uses to create the effect he creates in his pieces. That is what makes this a very different SBS. I hope you enjoy it.)
If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
PART 2. Painting
Now comes the fun part. The painting. Before I start putting any paint on the figure I plan out what I am going to do. In part 1 I had taken a photo of the primed figure. I take that photo, crop it, and print it out on my HP color printer as a 5×7 print. See figure 6.
I then take a #2 pencil and kneadable eraser and darken in the shadows. After I have added the shadows, I spray a coat of Testor’s Dull Coat over the figure to prevent smudging. When the paper is dry I add color using a water based marker set. I work the picture until I am satisfied with how the picture looks. Now I have an idea as to what the figure will look like before I start. This step enables you to try out various color schemes and different lighting sources without having to restrip the flat and start over. See figure 7.
Now that I know how I am going to paint, I assemble my painting supplies. I have picked out the initial paint colors I will use. I am not stuck on a particular brand of oil paint, but have a collection of many different brands. I pick the brand based on what the color looks like. See figure 8.
For brushes I only use two or three during the whole painting. They are sable (W7N Series 7 preferred), plus an old synthetic one I use for scumbling. I also have on hand a 5×7 white bathroom tile that I use as a pallet. The pure white of the ceramic tile shows the true color of the paint and is very easy to clean up after a painting session. Also on hand are toothpicks for mixing colors on the tile, and paper napkins. I use the napkins to wipe off the paint on the tile when I am finished painting in a particular session. I keep a small garbage can next to where I paint with a plastic shopping bag in it as a liner. When it get full, then all I have to do is pull it out, tie a knot o with handles and into our normal outside trash can. I also keep an old tee shirt folded up n next to my paining area to clean my brushes on or to wipe off paint or solvent. See figure 9.
Since I am getting older I also use a 10X Optivisor to help me see fine detail. See figure 10.
Now to apply the first coat of paint. I start with the flesh color. I put a small dab, about i/4 the size of a pea on the tile. A little goes a long ways. I then take my brush and dip it straight into the jar of solvent (you can use any brand of thinner). I use Winsor and Newton Sansodor because it comes in a handy, small jar and does not smell. After dipping the brush into the solvent I place it next to the paint and pull the pigment into the wet brush until I get a very thin wash. This is then applied to the shadow areas of the face. After applying the paint to the figure, I wipe my brush off on the old cloth tee shirt and then make corrections to the face. Because the paint is very fluid on the flat, it can be easily manipulated or removed. After the face I do the browns of the shoes, scabbard, and the grey of the mail. See figure 11.
You can see the first coat is very light. However it is starting to define the depth of the figure. After this first coat dries, which usually takes a couple of hours, the next coat can be applied. The layers are built up until I have the basic color scheme, and depth of the figure established. When I say depth, I am actually referring to the 3 dimensional look that we try to achieve. As the layers of paint are applied, I keep the colors in the shadow area and the medium tone areas. I reserve the highlight area by not applying any paint to the areas that will see bright highlights. I am using the bright white primer coat to help establish the highlights.
As I progress to the third coat, I have added new colors to the mix. I am using a dark grey on the mail and a neutral black for the shadows. See figure. 12
The first three coats of paint have been very light. Building up the shadow areas and defining the shape of the figure. In all coats, the paint has been applied very thin and light. After dipping the brush in the solvent and pulling a thin wash from the pigment, I always wipe the brush off on the cotton tee shirt to get rid of excess solvent. Otherwise there will be a runny mess when the brush is touched to the flat. After wiping the brush I take the brush tip back to the thinned paint and pick up a small amount and apply. A rule that serves me well at this stage is: It is a lot easier to add paint than it is to remove paint after the fact. Application of the paint is controlled and I apply it according to the drawing that was made earlier. Figure 13 shows the figure at this point. You can see the development of the basic shape emerging. The early coats will also give the painter a feel to how the piece is going to evolve.
While I am painting I always take photos. I find looking at the piece in a photo gives me a different perspective, it also highlights painting errors and mistakes easier.
I find myself an inpatient painter. I prefer painting to waiting for the paint to dry between coats. Because of the thinness of the paint not much time is needed for the solvent to evaporate and the paint to dry. To speed up the process I use a 300 watt halogen lamp set about 12 inches from the flat. The heat that is produced by the lam and applied to the flat speeds the drying process by several factors. See figure 14.
At this stage I have 7 painting sessions completed, each working a small area. Always keeping the paint thinned. The last two sessions I have concentrated on hard and soft shadows. I study the figure as I go along to discern where there should be value changes also. Figure 15 shows the figure at this stage. You can see nice depth and shape of the figure developing.
When painting a figure that has a ground element to the scene it is important to remember there will be shadows on the ground. It is important to align them with the rest of the shadows. When shadow s are not in proper alignment, the figure loses its 3D appearance. Always look and ask yourself where would it be light, where would it be dark. And how dark? To aid in answering this question we refer back to our drawing we made earlier. Figure 16 shows what the figure looks like in relationship to the drawing.
If you can make the drawn figure look 3 dimensional, then you know what the values of the figure will be.
At this point I have let the figure dry for several days. I am now going to work on fine detail and shadows. To aid me, I am going to use water soluble markers. The markers that I am going use are two side, a broad tip and a fine tip. The colors are vivid and they work well over painted surfaces. Figure 17 shows the markers that I use.
I have three sets that I use. They cover all shades that I would ever use. I have several “Go to” colors that I use extensively.
Figure 18 shows my most used colors.
I predominantly use the fine tip of the purple marker for outlining the deepest shadows. The purple color gives the paint an added depth. Figure 19 shows the size of the fine tip in relationship to the figure. You can see that the tip is fine enough for very fine detail work. I especially like the fact the colors dry to a matt finish.
Now that I have worked the fine details, shadows, it is time to take an analytical look at the figure and correct mistakes. Figure 20 shows the figure at this stage.
At this stage the figure has a good 3 dimensional look and has a realistic feel to it. This is what I was hoping to archive. The next stage of this project will be mounting the figure for display.