Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More on The Opaque Palette

The opaque palette was introduced to us last month by Jan Saether during a portrait workshop at Kline academy. Personally I am pretty set on my combo- Florentine/"California Caravaggio" palette which I have developed over the years but I am always up to a challenge to try new techniques and then try to make them my own by figuring out what works for me and what does not.
Last week I started this portrait of Steve using the opaque palette ideas.

Step one:
was to cover the canvas with mars brown and then draw the head in using mars brown (I added touch of black in order to see the drawing). Once I was happy with the drawing, I began working in the lights with Naples Yellow- Italian by Williamsburg.

Step two:
After 3 days of drying, yes, these opaque colors take much longer to dry which is a bit of a pain, I moved on to a limited palette. In Jan's workshop, he had us only using mars red light the second time but I really felt it was too redundant to work a second day with only Mars Brown, Naples and a bit of red, and especially - the palette is way too warm and I want to differentiate temperature early on. So, I added to that palette on the second day Nickel Yellow, Mars Violet and Black. That way I could easily get some warm and cool tones and get closer to a natural skin tone.

Step three:
You won't see a huge difference yet ---
but on step three I re-in-forced what I was doing in step 2 and tried to build up the lights and get a little more detail. I am still not sold on the very first part where we cover the entire canvas in mars brown and paint into it wet. I feel like I am struggling to get my lights lighter because of this under painting. On step four I will add the rest of the palette -- Chrome Green, Vermillion, Yellow Ochre and White. But I have to admit that I am amazed at what I could get by using a limited palette of:
Nickel Yellow, Naples Yellow Italian, Mars Red Light, Mars Violet, Mars Black. Thats it.

Step Four --The final Image:

Okay so the last day on the opaque palette painting I added my choice colors to do the finishing touches:
Glazing with Ultramarine, Alizarine crimson, Transparent Red Oxide. Then to my palette I added
Yellow ochre, Vermillion, Chrome Green and Titanium white. This allowed me a full range of colors and ones that I am more used to painting with ..along with the all the mars colors.

I found that the final image takes less time to finish because the form is so well worked up with all the base tones. Most of the colors on my typical palette are either semi opaque or transparent which is why the struggle in the beginning to bring up the values. With the opaque palette in the beginning stages you build the foundation (but have to wait longer between layers
to dry because mars colors are more oily). In my painting - I chose not to use Jan's medium with the wax and stand oil or stick to the tedious layering of mars brown and naples yellow for 2 days and then only adding red on the second day. Instead. I cut to the chase and added a fuller palette to achieve warms and cools in the beginning. There are some other minor modifications I will make to this approach. On the next portrait I will let you know, but overall I must say that I am pleased with my painting of Steve.

Cheryl Kline. Director/Owner, Kline Academy of Fine Art

No comments: