Sunday, April 13, 2008

Work in Progress on a toned canvas

Back to my normal palette of colors for now.
I started two 24" x 30" canvases this weekend. For this painting I thought that a neutral gray toned canvas would work best.
I took all my leftover paint from the first start, added a little more red and yellow to get it warmer, thinned it a little, and toned this canvas.
Another great way to get this neutral toned canvas is to have a failed painting attempt and wipe it down.


The toned canvas was my mid tone. I started painting with my lightest lights, an off white on the warm side. I worked the negative space around the figures legs to get them positioned. The highlights on the hat and the scarves are enough to get the image to read. Then I sketched in a few lines and shapes of a darker tone. There you go, my main value pattern with a light, mid tone and dark.


I did not want to get into too much detail too soon. I am just putting down value notes and adjusting my drawing with paint as I go, working all over the canvas to avoid getting bogged down with the details. I pull the big shapes out first, trying to capture the gestures of the figures. This needs to be accurate before I can start to finish with details. I need to have the framework down so I can lay the details in with confidence in the right spot and leave them.


I continue to make slight value adjustments and begin adding more color. I make some adjustments to the gestures of the figures. I moved the arm up on the woman in the middle. I also moved the right shoulder of woman on the left just a bit to make her look like she is carrying a heavier load in that bag. I have not put the highlight back on there yet.
This is where I had to stop. I hope to wrap this one up before long and post the results.

43 comments:

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--Can't wait to see the finish. The contrast of the massive shapes with the three fragile people is awesome. Also love the textures in the street and wall. Gracias...

Alicia Padrón said...

What you do is truly amazing to me Frank! I love this!
Heck, I even love it at the first stage in sepia!

The subject matter you chose to paint is wonderful, the alley type of place were they are makes it so intimate. You captured a perfect moment.. the quietness of a small pueblito. Perfect.

I can almost hear the stray dog barking in the distance.. :o)

Eric Orchard said...

This one's great. I hate to say this but I'm so drawn to the monochromatic stages, I think it has to do with my love of drawing and responding to the way you are drawing with brush strokes.
Again, I find this extremely evocative of a place and time.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jack. I like that contrast too. The toned canvas really helps get those textures you mention. That is one reason I went with it on this piece.
This one is in the home studio and I paint at the gallery today. It might be a day or two before I can wrap this one up.

Frank Gardner said...

Ja Ja. Alicia, I was talking about that same first stage with my wife Julissa last night. I said that I start out great and then mess them up, refering to the fact that the first stage is so fresh and simple, almost all I need. She patted me on the back and assured me that the finish was looking good too, more like a finished painting, and the first was more sketch like.
I still like the first stage, but appreciate the encouragement.
Thanks for your comments on the subject matter. I'll comment more on that when I post the finished piece.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Eric, I was just responding to Alicia's comment about the same thing and some feelings of my own on this one.
I like the first rough stage too.
I think the finish will be a much more complete painting, but that initial drawing stage is always one of my favorite parts. I guess that part is just for me to enjoy and then paint over. It is why I thought the step by step would be fun for this piece.
Thanks for dropping by. Looks like you had fun with the art talk Mr. Orchard.

Alicia Padrón said...

Your wife is right Frank, your work is beautiful in many stages and it really needs to go through them in order to get to the finish piece. Your finished pieces are wonderful and you just got to think they developed from a masterful first stage, no doubt about it!

BTW give some hugs to Bart, Maya and Molly for me :o)

Elizabeth said...

There is something rather lovely about the painting with the very few colors at the beginning - granted it's richer later on - but the quietness of the opening is rather lovely.

Frank Gardner said...

I agree Alicia. I Do like those starts though and I see others feel the same. I would like to know how collectors felt about it. Rough vs. Finished.

Oh thanks, You hug them, they are shedding right now. I'll just pat them on the head. Ja ja

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Elizabeth. I have to agree. I like the very simple loose stage. It either looks real good or real bad at this point without all the bells and whistles.

Glad to see that you made it home.

Stacey Peterson said...

I love seeing the stages on this one - especially how you've started with a toned ground, and left so much of it showing through!

christine mercer-vernon said...

i too love this rough stage, the toned ground is really nice showing through. i think when you photograph larger paintings like this one and then view them smaller they seem more finished than they are in person. your process is fascinating, it kills me how easy you make it look, like anyone could whip a painting out like this. i think we all know better! can't wait to see the finished painting, this is such a beautiful composition.

onpainting said...

Beautiful piece.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Stacey. I appreciate your feedback on this one.
That is some view out your back door. I thought that those were parking spaces until I read that it was the top of a fence.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Christine, I know what you mean about a large painting seeming more finished when it is viewed small, but this one for some reason looked good in that rough stage even on a large scale. I have been thinking a lot about how much finish is needed. Sometimes I put off "finishing" a painting and I wonder if it is best to just leave them alone.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks for commenting onpainting, aka Lisa and Bill.
Nice of you to stop by.

Jennifer Bellinger said...

Hi Frank,
Speaking of demos..this is the perfect one, it holds still! Thanks for sharing your process!

christine mercer-vernon said...

i know what you mean too. i always worry about going too far and you can't exactly hit UNDO. i looked at the larger image again and i like where this painting is at, the color palette, the detail, i wonder if more would take away some of the intimacy? everyone is going to hate me for saying this, but the only thing that stands out is the values on the far right figure's face, they seem too dark to me for the light source...I'M SORRY :)

Jennifer said...

Hi Frank-- I so agree with your comment about the initial drawing stage being a favorite part. Maybe we're less worried about messing up at that point!

As others have already said-- these are great posts. Even though I don't work in oils it is so helpful to read your thought process. Always something to learn.

Frank Gardner said...

Jennifer B. Yup, it sure helps when the subject and light are not moving. These folks passed by while I was painting that scene, so I have a good feel for the light on the spot to go with the photo for their gestures.
The demo is easier when I don't have to talk and paint at the same time too.

Frank Gardner said...

Oh Christine, if I had an UNDO button I would have it made.
"...I wonder if more would take away some of the intimacy?"
That is what has me worried at this point. I like it how it is. Too late to like it how it was.
You are right about some of the values on her face and other bits here and there. This is just where I had to leave off for the day. I still have not gone back into this piece yet.
No need to be sorry. I really appreciate that you feel comfortable enough to speak up.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Jennifer, I do really like sugested detail and looseness. It is a dance to know when to leave it. What works for one piece may not work for another.
I know Eric has talked about "finish" on his blog as it relates to illustrators. How the client expects to get a certain "look" so you are kind of tied to that.
I am curious how painters feel about "finish" and also collectors. I think that painters have a freedom to be flexible on this that illustrators may not have.
An idea to continue in another post I guess.

silvina said...

Love the composition. The massive walls dwarf the villagers, yet the picture feels comforting and intimate.

I've never started a painting with mid tones. I think my brain would go haywire if I tried.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Silvina. I cropped the design in tight, and left out all clues to the location, to give that intimate feel.
Glad you like it.

Aw comon. It is an easier way to block in values than you think. And I posted it for you, cause you asked about why some painters toned their canvas.
Give it a try. Let the tone dry before you start painting on it.

Stephen Magsig said...

Frank, I hope you know how much artists and non-artists enjoy and learn from your posts. Being able to share your knowledge is a great gift. Thank you so much. I really enjoy the grab bag palette paintings. Watching your proccess is so inspiring.

Ed Terpening said...

Wow, incredible sense of light. Sipmly beautiful.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for introducing yourself to my blog (where I am writing the story of how I created a garden for wildlife), Frank. I'm so glad you did...otherwise I would have missed the delights of yours :)

I love your work. It is very textural and atmospheric. I love watching how it builds up. I love the lights and darks. I love how it feels impressionistic when it is completed...and does not resemble photo realism when there is often too much fiddly detail.

I paint too, though my mediums of choice are watercolour, silk painting and pastel (though it makes me wheeze) :)

If you would like to view some of my work you'll find it at

http://barleycornwatercolours.blogspot.com/

I've put you in my favourites...so I'll be back :)

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Stephen. Your comments made my day.
I hope that both artists and non artists are enjoying the posts as much as you say.

Frank Gardner said...

Hi Ed, thanks! It's all about the light.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks wildlife gardener. I appreciate your kind comments on my art.
I'm glad you stopped by. That way I can introduce you to some readers of my blog who might enjoy your "Little Corner of Paradise" in Scotland.

http://ourlittlecornerofparadise.blogspot.com/

Any of you who love nature and or have some kids(and I know a lot of you do) might want to check out the posts on frogs and tadpoles over at this site. Start at "The Miracle Of Rebirth At Barleycorn" and keep going to the earlier posts. There are several. There are even some cool videos of the frogs and tadpoles. My daughter Erin and her cousin loved checking them out.
Beautiful gardens!

Don Gray said...

Hey Frank, another great post--terrific step by step. It is marvelous to witness your keen sense of observation translating into that fine draftsmanship, a beautiful visual shorthand with the brush. Full of life at every stage.

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Don. Coming from a fine draftsman like yourself , that is quite a compliment. I won't show anyone what I am messing up today (different painting). I don't want to feel unworthy of all the nice compliments from this one.

Karen Cole said...

Lovely painting, Frank.

It's wonderful how you describe your process.

Frank Gardner said...

Thank you Karen.
I hope to wrap this one up soon.

silvina said...

Thanks for posting about starting with a toned canvas! I wondered if it was just a coincidence. Very kind of you. : )

Frank Gardner said...

No coincidence Silvina. I'll post some examples of other to tone or not tone options too.

Frank A. said...

Sweet !.. This is important 'stuff' and a nice carry over from the grab bag palette. Thanks Frank ! (love the drawing)

Take care..

Frank Gardner said...

Thanks Frank A.
I appreciate you words and support.

silvina said...

You're a good teacher. ¡Gracias!

Frank Gardner said...

De nada Silvina. Hago el intento. Gracias a ti para el idea por un post.
Despues subo un foto del cuadro terminado. Toda via no lo acabo :(
Tengo dos estudios donde pinto. Uno en mi galeria y el otro mi casa. He pasado toda la semana en la galeria. Tal ves lo terminare este fin de semana.

Sorry non Spanish speakers.
Just trying to practice writing spanish. I learned by speaking, and my spelling es pesimo. My daughter is learning to spell in English and Spanish and Dad needs to know what he is talking about. Toda via me falta mucho.

Celulite said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathryn Law said...

I keep coming back to look at this post again. The light on the coral wall at right and the reflected light on the women's dresses--maravillosa! :)

Frank Gardner said...

I like that to Kathryn. I hope I don't mess it up.
Worked on this one this afternoon. Maybe I'll be able to wrap it up tomorrow. If I don't, email me and tell me to stop.