An oil demon­stra­tion with Mary Sau­rer

Camille, oil, 10 x 8" (25 x 20 cm)

International Artist - - Contents -

STAGE 1: I be­gin by sketch­ing out a ges­ture of the head with a pen­cil, tri­an­gu­lat­ing ma­jor fa­cial fea­tures. I usu­ally don’t spend more than 10 to 20 min­utes on this stage.

STAGE 2: I usu­ally use a raw um­ber di­luted with some medium to lay in the dark­est darks of the paint­ing.

STAGE 3: I paint in planes on a raw white can­vas, so I work dark to light all over the en­tire form. This way, I am reusing the same color in more than one por­tion of the face, uni­fy­ing shad­ows and darker mid­tones as much as pos­si­ble. I also look for the most sat­u­rated hue in the flesh tones and try to lay that in quickly to give my­self a guide for how vi­brant to make the rest of the palette. In this case, that is the red in the lips.

STAGE 4: I try build­ing up the same val­ues in mul­ti­ple forms as much as pos­si­ble. Now that I have the hue of the lips in, I can more eas­ily gauge the more del­i­cate pink in the cheeks. I am us­ing a stiffer brush so that I can ap­ply more paint at once. This stage is par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant for paint ap­pli­ca­tion. I try to lay down my big­gest and thick­est strokes early on as I am sim­pli­fy­ing shapes and try­ing to see large planes. As I re­fine the form in the paint­ing, the strokes be­come smaller.

STAGE 5: I get the rest of the mid­tones laid in, in­clud­ing the fore­head, cheeks, nose and chin. I am ab­bre­vi­at­ing the form by choos­ing to find strong flesh tone col­ors first. STAGES 6 AND 7: I am now try­ing to re­fine my tran­si­tions be­tween col­ors and val­ues. I will typ­i­cally find more neu­tral col­ors be­tween the mid­tones and shad­ows and try to soften hard edges. At this stage, I use more care in turn­ing the form, es­pe­cially try­ing hard not to kill the life of the ear­li­est brush­strokes. At times, I will leave a bolder, early stroke even if I dis­cover that it was the wrong color or value. This stage is about find­ing a bal­ance be­tween ac­cu­racy and spon­tane­ity/en­ergy.

STAGE 8: Once I feel the form turns, I find that I typ­i­cally need to cool down some of the warm­est col­ors in the palette to bal­ance. My ten­dency is to see the ini­tial col­ors more vi­brant than they are. Not un­til the con­text of all the col­ors are laid down can I judge what the col­ors

ac­tu­ally are. When adding strokes to even out ar­eas, I let the edge of the stroke be dic­tated more by the shape of the paint­brush than the ac­tual line of what I am see­ing. The more tex­ture cre­ated in los­ing and find­ing edges is one way I think the paint­ing breathes life. I can do this by putting enough paint on a brush that is maybe too large for what I ac­tu­ally need. In this way, I can­not com­pletely con­trol ev­ery stroke. When I feel that paint­ing one more stroke will be­gin to kill this en­ergy, I know I must stop while I’m ahead.

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