Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"El Mexicano"

"El Mexicano", 18" x 24" oil on canvas, 2006
Private Collection

This is another painting that I like very much, for some of the same reasons that I discussed in my last post "Burro Bonito".
It has a lot of loose painterly brushwork. The few hard edges are reserved for the center of interest, the man and horse. The the rest of the painting is mostly soft and lost edges, which play a supporting role to the center of interest.
In this painting I wanted to convey the sense of heat from the hot sun, so I used a burnt sienna under painting, and let a lot of that color show through.
I paint a thin wash of burnt sienna mixed with lots of paint thinner all over the canvas. When it has set for about five or ten minutes I rub it down with a rag to even it out and leave a transparent wash which I let dry before painting over it. Always do this in a well ventilated area.

Detail "El Mexicano"

For this painting I used a reference photo that I took up the street from my house. There were a lot of trees and nopal cactus in the photo, but I chose to just hint at those so I would not distract from the man on the horse. The background is really just color notes. There is not much value contrast within all of that brush and cactus. That would draw too much attention away from my focus.

Detail "El Mexicano"

The sharpest edges are saved for the center of interest and so are my brightest colors. The red blanket, the yellow rope and the blue shadows on his white clothes are the three primary colors. Grouped together, they help draw attention to that area.
The lightest value in the painting is the white of the man's clothes. The next lightest value is the sky and a few of the cactus paddles behind the man's face that are getting direct sun. Since the man's face is in shadow, I just painted one main tone for his face. After laying in the shadow colors of his face and hat, I worked the negative space around his head and hat with the sky color. Notice how I continued with the same light value, but a different color (the cactus) on the back side of his head. Then, going down the man's shoulder and arm, I used one of the darkest values in the painting against the lightest. It was not like that in the photo, but I changed it to make it fit my needs. You have to be careful when you use photos to not just copy them blindly. I rearrange, edit or combine elements from other photos as needed.

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