Saturday, 5 December 2009

Contemplation, 6.5" x 6.5", Gouache, 2009

This is another transformation purely from memory. I sketched this guy, he must have had a hard day at work. He looked like a builder to me. I loved his face and was quite pleased to get this opportunity to sketch him.

1. Get my museum mountboard and give it an acrylic wash base of cadmium yellow and yellow ocher.

2. I start by placing the main large shapes with my flat sable, no initial drawing in this one.

3. After the main shapes are in place I begin to use a glazing technique to keep laying colours until I get both transparency and opacity in various places as I want.

4.The remaining touches are done to add detail to the main features.

5. I soften the edges around the background by spraying water over the area.

6. I have to stop before this piece gets overworked by the glazing technique.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

"Grumpy Joe" 9" x 12", Pastel on gessoed cardboard, 2009

Another transformation. I sketched this guy yesterday, so his image was still fresh in my memory. I was attracted to sketch him because he had a really interesting face, the kind of face I love to sketch. The only problem was that, I was a bit to far away from him and couldn't really get to see his features clearly. Nevertheless I managed to get the most important bits down and when I got to my studio I quickly did this pastel sketch of it. I have also taken a picture of the set up to show how I laid my pastels, with the working area and reference.

I went about working on this piece as follows.

1. Got my gessoeed cardboard primed with white gesso and a neutral grey tint, which was a mixture of ultramarine blue and cadmium orange.

2. I start by running a few colours of pastel across the surface in a haphazard manner, just to break the plainness of the grey tint.

3.I start from the light areas, working on the big shapes first with all the light coloured pastels I feel will work for his skin tones in the light. There's no real formulae to this, I only respond to intuition.

4. Then I move to the darks and repeat the same process as I did for the lights. Its the big shapes first.

5. Now when the big shapes begin to look good, I start drawing into the shapes with my darker coloured pastels to get some of the features in.

6. It generally looks finished at this point and this is how simple 2 tones and some brief sketching basically bring the face forms to life.

7. Just before I wrap it up, I use some soft thin willow charcoal to sketch in some interesting lines and details, just to add some life to his face and that's it!

8. This was purely an experiment and the pastel medium gives one a lot of room to do that.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

After a rough day at work, 8" x 10", oil on canvas board, 2009

This is another transformation of one of my sketches into colour.

I sketched this guy last year on the 14th of June as the date reads and I can't really remember what made me sketch him other than the fact that sleeping commuters are the best-No disturbance and they keep still, with the exception of some drifters!

I went about this one, thus:

1. I got my canvas board primed with neutral grey (white gesso with orange and blue acrylic)

2. I started by sketching his face with a a number 2 sable brush, using the tip of it with some Terra Rosa oil paint.

3. When satisfied with the terra rosa sketch, I just started to paint section by section starting from the eyes and moving right round the face, just like a jigsaw puzzle. The colours used were, titanium white, raw umber, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow, yellow ocher, cadmium orange, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, viridian green and chromium oxide. The medium used was oleopasto-impasto liquin.

4. When almost all the face had been completed with the neck, I used the tip of my brush to adjust all meeting planes and edges around the face so that it wouldn't look patchy. e.g where the forehead meets the hair.

5. After adjusting the edges, I run over the whole sketch again with the goal of refining the drawing. Also, just going over the sketch gives room for the face not to look overworked but still maintain a sketchy feel.

6. I struggled with the particular flow of light across the planes of the face, as my reference sketch was quite confusing. But because I have use no colour reference and this is just experimental for me, I go with the flow, hoping that the mistakes might even make the face look interesting!

7. I have a look in the mirror and see some sore spots, I refine them and decide to stop.

8. I didn't want to put any background in this one, just to keep it looking like a work in progress.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Before the Interview, 8" x 11" oil on gessoed cardboard, 2009

With the same methods employed in the last transformation I have painted this piece from one of my best sketches on public transport.

I remember it was an early morning ride from Abbey Wood to London Bridge and there were many delays on the train which helped for more time to sketch this lady.

I have used a limited palette of 3 colours (Cadmium yellow deep, Alizarin Crimson and Winsor blue(red shade) with white) for this piece.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Solitude Satisfaction, 8" x 8", Oil on linen canvas board, 2009

This is another transformation. I sketched this guy a while back and I have always wanted o paint him because of his large turban. Funny enough I am never really pleased with the colour results as much as the sketches.

I have used very direct painting here.

Block by block, section by section without any colour reference but just an experiment of taking the sketches a step further.

1. Transfer the sketch to the canvas board, I enlarged the sketch to the size of the canvas and then rubbed graphite at the back of the paper, then used a pen to make lines which gave me an accurate image.

2. Then starting from the check bone, I worked section by section, painting shapes and blocks of colour, moving along the canvas.

3. Each area was resolved before moving to another, so there was no after-detailing in this method.

4. I only tidying up some edges around the background and profile and called it a day after 2 hours!

Alla Prima is great especially when looking for spontaneous results like this one!

Monday, 20 July 2009

...wish it didn't happen, apprx 12" x 16", Acrylic, 2008

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This transformation was done with a clear purpose of demonstrating how great the new Winsor & Newton Artists Acrylics are. I did it while recording was going on so I didn't really have much time to think.

But I remember this was done with 3 colours- Cadmium Red, Ultramarine Blue, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White.

1. the method I used here was direct. As it was to finished in one sitting.

2. No colour references, just memory and a passion for faces.

3. I sketched the face from the sketch, which you can see is far more spirited in mood than anything my colours can produce!

4. Then with just the three colours at my disposal I mixed and mixed until I got what I wanted- Now this is no hit and miss game but calculated mixtures as I feel you can get all colours from just the primary three.

5. It started with mass colours. middle tones first then darks and then lights-Life is always easier when it has a structure!

6. The details were added succinctly

7. No water was used in this painting to mix and no medium just the wonderful lively acrylic paints!

8. I finished in about 25 minutes as it was a quick demo- you can see little parts of the video by clicking here

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Tale Bearer.....6" x 9", Mixed Media on White Cardboard, 2006

Now this transformation was done 3 years ago! I can't remember the process but all can remember was that she was an old woman and she played gossip, all the way from London Bridge to Abbey Wood. I seem to have lost the twinkle of desire in her eyes as she told the story in the colour transformation but it is more apparent in the sketch.

The materials used for the transformation were brown coloured pencils, white gouache(dry brush) for highlights and a bit of Biro for some lines. The order and manner at which I attacked the piece cannot be remembered. But please enjoy the transformation which was done this time in more of a monochrome feel without any colour references but just a pure passion for the human face!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bitterness, 10" x 8", Acrylic on Canvas Board, 2009

This is another transformation, once again with no colour reference but just a love for painting the human face and a bit of experience from memory.

This was an Asian man I sketched on the the tube in February last year. He just had those perfect features that tell stories and while transforming him, I just enhanced them a bit to suggest the title of this painting. This piece was done in Acrylic with a slow dry medium, almost giving it the qualities of an oil. I love acrylic because it is so versatile- it can do almost all the effects that other mediums do.

I have also put up a photo of my set up so that you can see how I go about these transformations.

This one went thus:

1.Direct transfer of the sketch to the canvas board, that had been primed with a warm grey colour.

2. With the slow dry medium, I went about this one with very light glaze sketch strokes till I had enough information on the canvas.

3. With the simple formula of light washes to darker washes I built up the layers making sure I kept all the strokes free and loose. This method is often used in watercolour paintings.

4. Then when I got to the lighter parts that had the most light, I introduced some impasto gel medium into the paint mixtures to help with the heavy build of such areas.

5. The background was very important in this piece because I wanted it to have a sort of direct effect to the past events in his life that have sparked bitterness in this his heart.

6. Before completing I turned the piece upside down and just painted the abstract qualities of this piece -tying the strokes together to help the overall design.

7. Then I flipped it over and signed it before further ruins.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

"Can't get it out of my head", 8" x 8", oil on linen canvas board, 2009

This is another transformation, by what the date on the sketch says, I must have sketched him in May last year. All I can remember about this guy is written all over his face. But I scribbled some notes at the bottom that read, "An amazing face, structure, weathered, lined..." that was enough to spur me into action. I love painting faces with character and mood and this was a delight.

Rather than list much steps as I have done before without a picture, this time I have decided to add a picture of my worktop which actually shows all the materials I have used and the set up. Remember, the sketch is the only reference, all I hang on to are my memory of skin colour, which is purely experimental and a love for the human face.

This transformation goes thus:

1. I load the picture sketch reference onto my computer screen

2. I sketch the face on to the linen canvasboard with a tombow marker (black)

3. I plan to work in Alla Prima method, so I make sure I have plenty of liquin oleopasto this helps thicken paint and fastens drying time.

4. Because I am painting at home and not at my studio, I make sure I don't clean my brushes with turps or minerals spirits because it would not be great, pollution wise, and because my home is not as well ventilated as my studio. All my cleaning of brushes came at the end, during the painting I just wiped the colour off the brushes with my rag.

5. I lay out my colours in an album box, which I have converted as a mini-pochade box to help while painting at home. It keeps the colours from being messy and I can close it when finished and its out of the way.

6. Painting proper starts with me blocking in all the middle tones, everything I felt was middle tone went down first. I use my filbert number 6 for that.

7. Then all the dark tones, where painted in, with my number 4 filbert and the lights with a sable round number 4.

8. Each time I pick some colour with my brush, I pick some liquin too.

9. I soften some edges around the neck area and other parts of his face where the transition from light to middle tone or middle tone to dark is soft.

10. Finally I work on his top, then turn the piece upside down to add some effects that have to do with the planned title.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Sweet Memories, 7" x 10", coloured pencil on cardboard, 2009

This is another transformation. I sketched this guy way back last year. He was a black man, so to make this look a bit interesting I decided not to use any of the brown family of colours on this piece.

This was pretty straightforward.

1. Started sketching on a beige mount board with purple coloured pencil

2. Make sure I am satisfied with the drawing, proportion and features

3. Just start to add different colours (all colours apart form the browns) really with no particular order, only that I make sure that it has enough tonal balance through out, putting dark colours for the dark tones and light colours for the light tones.

4. I really start enjoying this and I begin to stroke with some freedom just adding a bit of expressive strokes to "jazz" it up!

5. It is at the very end that I introduce a black coloured pencil to enrich the main sketch lines and outlines of the man.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Lonely Londoner, 6" x 9", Oil on canvas board, 2009

This transformation was done yesterday from a sketch I did yesterday. this woman just sat in front of me like she was prepared for this.

This was tricky because I haven't attempted a three quarter figure yet and also with oils on an "Alla Prima" technique -It didn't give me my usual freedom, but this is a learning process for me too.

For this piece it was pretty straightforward

1. Give the canvas board a neutral grey background,

2. Sketch the figure in detail with charcoal pencil

3. Without wasting time I paint shape by shape with oil moving from top to bottom. The main things I note are the edges and tones.

4. Suffer when I get to the hand as my reference sketch doesn't have enough information.

5. I try to get back some drawing with the charcoal pencil but it is in vain.

6. Try to play around with haphazard strokes to unify the whole piece.

7. Have to stop because the oil is so wet all over, nothing seems to stay on again.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The Casual Onlooker, 9" x 12", Mixed Media, 2009

This transformation was very fresh in my memory, I sketched this guy today on my way to my studio, so immediately I got to my studio with his image still fresh in my mind I go on to produce this transformation thus:

1.I painted the gessoed card with an acrylic warm base of cadmium yellow, burnt sienna and white

2. I sketch main features with burnt sienna, I love the contrast.

3.I then start adding the basic flesh tones, first starting with the mid tones, the darks, then lights.

4.It is looking balanced value wise now, need to add details......

5.I almost end it here, but with just acrylic, I don't feel I have captured this guys spirit, he looks too casual.

6.I spice it up with some coloured pencils

7.Still lacking enough spice, I work into it to get back some drawing lines and darks with my Black Biro.

8.Then finally I add some highlights with oil pastel sticks

9. He almost still looks casual, I have to stop or I'll end up making him even more casual.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

FROSTY , 8" x 11", Mixed Media on Grey Cardboard, 2009

This is another transformation, I sketched this guy just last week. Immediately I got into the bus and I saw his face I said to myself, "I'm not missing this one" So I positioned myself adjacent to him and sketched him, this lasted for only about 9 minutes after which he disappointingly had to get off at his stop.

I have gone about this one thus:

1. I sketch the face and vital features withe a brown Tom Bow dual brush marker.

2. I then use soft pastel by Winsor and Newton to bring out some basic tones and colour.

3. When there's enough pastel all over the piece, I retain the main drawing marks with the oil base pencil.

4. While using this black oil base pencil I try my best to give the piece some vibrancy and sensitive strokes- things I really like in lines.

5. I then introduce some more detail with my graphite H pencil, it is hard and can produce etch like lines to bring out forms without obliterating the pastel below.

6. I then introduce sanguine oil base pencil to liven up the black dull lines

7. Finally I add some highlights with soft pastel again and call it quits before further destruction

8. This whole piece is done in high tempo with a lot of whacking and hitting to produce a spark of life, something I strive to achieve when transforming these sketches so they won't become static transformations but still retain some of the vibrancy of a sketch!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Shattered! 11" x 13" Mixed Media on pastel paper, 2009

I sketched this guy not too long ago. The date on the sketch says 19th of December, 2008- so that wasn't long ago - still had memories of him.

I really wanted to capture him in a still but tense mood. He was sleeping and most likely snoring- could have been the result of a hard day at work or something else more personal......

I went about this one, thus

1. Start sketching directly with daler rowney hard pastels on dark grey pastel paper.

2. I then add tones with the hard pastels.

3. When I have enough information for a balanced tonal face, I switch to soft pastels

4. With the soft pastels I make the face richer with more colour strokes are added wildly to project the mood.

5. When I have enough colour on the whole surface I re-draw the main features with the Pitt extra soft oil base pencil.

6. Thought I would end this with the chalk pastels but it still lacks the punch I need to see, so I switch to wax crayons.

7. With the wax crayons I can get more permanent marks and it also binds the chalk below.

8. With the wax crayons I feel satisfied and call it quits before the ruin...........

This transformation again is done without any colour reference but just a love and passion for human faces and everything about them!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

"Remembering what he told me", 5" x 7", Mixed Media on watercolour board, 2009

This is another transformation, I can vividly remember sketching this girl because I sketched her this month. It was an evening in the train and I was on my way to London Bridge. My eyes just caught her green and black hair.

I have gone about this one as follows.

1. Sketched her face and main features with H pencil (very hard pencil)

2. I then use a wet on wet technique with watercolour to almost finish this piece in watercolour, but when it dries I am not happy with the fussy wet on wet look.

3. Then I decide to add some details with a carbon pencil, still not good!

4. I introduce water resistant wax crayons and I seem to enjoy the intensity and spontaneity it gives the piece

5. I continue working all over the piece with the wax crayons in an excited passionate way, stroking haphazardly.....

6. I throw in some detail around the eyes and mouth with coloured pencils.

7. Then I finish off with some black accents of the carbon pencil again, need to stop as it gets to point I don't know where to put the next stroke!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Weathered, Oil on Raw Linen Canvas Board, 8" x 8", 2009

I sketched this very interesting looking man in December 2006. I can't remember much about him, but while looking through some of my archived sketchbooks, he seemed to look weathered by the storms of life!

I have painted this in a technique very commonly known as "Alla Prima"- this is when you start with oil and finish it in one sitting without going back to it. So it has a certain freshness and spontaneous look in the end. Its quite a while I used oil so I struggled a bit.

This was my process

1. I decide to start this without any drawing.

2. I decide to use only 3 colours and white (YELLOW- Yellow Ocher, RED-Terra Rosa, BLUE- Ultramarine Blue.

3. I attack the canvas by just thinking his head was a lump of clay, so, no details just painting shapes in three mass tones.

4. I soften all passages where the three basic tones meet.

5. Then I start sketching into the painting, some of the basic details like eyes, nose and mouth.

6.I make sure I don't over work the details, but add a few smaller strokes where needed to bring out the form.

7. I have a look in reverse through my hand mirror to see where anything has gone wrong.-I correct basic alignments.

8. All through this exercise I have no colour reference, I just wanted this guy to look worn out so I mixed all the three colours into each other as much as possible to get a wide variety of tones and colour temperature shifts.

9. Finally I couldn't resist but sketch into the wet oil with a charcoal pencil to get in some details(his strands of hair )that my impatience with oil will not allow me to do because it drys so slowly.