Monday 9 December 2013

The Dream, Oil on board, 8" x 10", 2013

I don't think many of us could dream on public transport. But when it comes to titles, anything can pass for a good one. I transformed this sketch of a young lady I saw sleeping on the train on London Underground from Embankment to Elephant and Castle on The Bakerloo Line. I really sketched as fast as possible and I was so happy with the result.

The Dream, 8" x 10" Oil on Board, 2013
 If you would like to purchase this work, you can click HERE

The Original Sketch for "The Dream"

Here's how I went about this one.

  1.  I used my usual limited palette of 4 colours The Zorn Palette). (Titanium White, Cadmium Red, Yellow Orche and Ivory Black.
  2. I didn't make a preliminary sketch to start this one off, I was so inspired, I just went straight into placing large patches of colour on the surface to plan the way her face would be, value wise.
  3. Once I had all the large shapes placed on the board, I added the brief notes of a washy background.
  4. It was after this that I then sketched the features on the face tones. It was almost like drawing on a painted surface.
  5. I was working really fast without thinking most of the time but I really wanted this piece to have a sketchy feel.
  6. In someways it almost looks a bit flat but I made a bit of adjustments around the left side of her face, where the light hits her face.
  7. I did my best to keep this piece simple and you can see from the picture below how it looked while working on it.

Work in progress on the easel

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Nightmare!!!, Oil on Board, 10" x 8", 2013

THE NIGHTMARE!!!, Oil on Board, 10" x 8", 2013
To Purchase this painting, please click on the link HERE

This is another transformation that I really enjoyed! I took some liberties here and made a lot of creative and imaginative additions to suit the title I decided to give the painting.

The actual sketch had nothing to do with a nightmare, it was actually of a lady who sat in front of me while traveling to York recently. She was awake for most the journey, enjoying her book, snacks and an occasional phone call. She seemed to me a delightful person!

But I kept getting absorbed by her features and how she would look great if I got the opportunity to pull out my sketchbook and make a quick sketch of her.

Then all of a sudden some few minutes before getting to York, she slept off! Ahah!! I got my sketching stuff out and did a "Quckie", once I finished it was just about the time when the train got to York. I tapped her and showed her the sketch, she just said, "thank you for that!".

We both departed happy souls! There's never a dull day for me when I get to show the commuters I sketch everyday, the sketch that I have done of them.

Lest I forget the transformation was done completely from imagination and the original sketch.  The original sketch was done with a BIC black ball point pen with a N75 TOMBOW Dual Brush Marker.

How I went about it.

  1. I used only 4 colours for this painting. The Anders Zorn palette, which consists of Titanium White, Cadmium Red, Yellow Ochre and Ivory Black. 
  2. I worked on an MDF board, 10" x 8"-I gave it a wash of Yellow Ochre and White in acrylics to remove the white glare of the primer.
  3. I stared by sketching it all out with a wash of red and black.
  4. I made sure I started with lean colour mixtures, these are mixtures that have less paint and more turps.
  5. I was careful to make sure that I painted the shadow shapes on her face first before adding the lights with thicker mixtures.
  6. Some people ask me how I manage to get the skin tones. Well, basically I just work out what I think I'd be mixing if I was looking at her in real life, I always observe colour temperature and tones on people I sketch and even without making notes I just remember what the closest mixture to it would look like. Remember these sketches are not about accuracy but they are a good challenge to see how well we can combine observation with intuition, which I think is valuable for the development of all representational painters.
  7. Once satisfied with the face I added the glasses and then went for the background. I just went crazy with the background because I didn't have much information in the sketch to take it much further.
  8. Then finally I added some really gestural and organic strokes to add to the mystery of the piece.

The sketch for nightmare- there's nothing like the original sketch! but it's always good to see how far we can push our sketches and take them further. Just start from somewhere and see what progress you'll make!

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The BIG ISSUE SELLER Colour version 1

The Colour Version, 8" x 10", Oil on Board, 2012

The post that would be coming up here in the next few months would be how I convert my black and white sketches of Big Issue Sellers to Oil Colour sketches.

Stage 1

Here I sketch in oil the sketch on the board using a grid reference for accurate transfers. The program I use is called Accurasee you can download it for free and it is great for accurate grid scaling. I printed out the sketch to the proportion of the painting I was working on and did the initial sketch with a mixture of vermillion and black. Looking at my palettre you can see I have only 4 colours for this painting. Its a Zorn palette and I love it. I also did the same proportional grid lines on my board.

Stage 2

Here I do the initial broad block-in shapes to cover the whole face. working from larger dark shapes to smaller lighter shapes.

Stage 3

More detail is added, the goal is to draw into the broad shapes with more precise marks.

Final stage

Here, the refining takes place with a round pointed sable number 2. It's at this stage that the main features are refined and all the edges re-adjusted.

The sketch

Thursday 8 September 2011

Scarlet Solitude, Oil on Board, 16" x 20", 2011

Today I was a able sketch a homeless guy I have always wanted to sketch.
Once he agreed I just got my studio to do a quick conversion to colour from the sketch without any reference to a colour reference.

I went about it thus

1. The board I used was given a colouful warm underpainting of light and dark tones.

2. I added liquin to the board to add some resistance, so the colours don't sink.

3. I used the Zorn Palette for this piece, which consists of white, yellow ochre, cadmium red and Ivory black. It's a limited palette but very tonal and powerful!

4. I sketched the head in with mixture of red and back.

5.After which I just painted shape by shape from memory and from the sketch to get a feel of how I saw him today.

6. His face came out a bit longer but I was still happy with the result.

Thursday 17 February 2011

DAZED, 7" x 9.5", Oil on board, 2011

This is another transformation from black and white to colour.

1.I started with a Lightly toned gessoed board,, the colour of the tone was light cream, a mixture I derived from white, yellow ocher and raw umber in acrylic colours.

2. I start to sketch directly with a brush and oil colour slightly diluted, this is a quick colour sketch and I don't plan to spend more than 45 mins. So it's Straight sketching and colour filling as I go along.

3. I start by using a light colour of a mixture that consists of yellow ocher, cadmium red and white, I grey and cool this mixture with a bit of blue. I apply this mixture to all the light planes of the head-forehead Cheeks, jaw, chin....

4. Next I get my dark tone by adding burnt sienna and Ultramarine blue to the mixture above. I apply this to all the dark passages.

5. I then soften the edges between the dark and light passages. and this creates a more solid looking face.

6. I then accentuate the lights and add darker details like nostrils and eye lashes with the tip of a round long sable brush.

7. I then work on the hood by simply starting from the dark side and moving into the light.

8. Then I add the background with some warm and cool browns to create a hazy background to show he is dazed.

9. I just wanted to do this one quickly to capture the guys mood, one that truly caught my attention in a 453 bus last week. I think I finished it in 30 minutes.
I think these colour sketches are good to train one to quickly capture gestures in colour.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT II, 8" x 6", mixed media on gessoed card, 2010

This is another transformation of my sketches to colour. I worked from memory with some notes I added on my sketch.

Here I used this sketch as a springboard and went a bit wild with my imagination.

This is how I went about it.

1.I sketched the face on a lightly ochre/brown washed toned surface, with a mixture of Terra Rosa and ultramarine blue.

2. Working this way brings an immediate harmony to the piece as the browns and ochers quickly form a warm colour scheme.

3. Then I used very light washes of skin tones to throw the interplay of light and shade on her face.

4. After this I used a very small sable rigger to put the main features in with delicate touches.

5. Now, I added in the dark "hoody" she had on, and the light beige jacket she was wearing, after this it looked OK and I thought it was fine and finished. I had left the background as the initial wash of ochre/brown, but it didn't bring out her face, there was some sort of clash.

6. So I decided to darken the background, that helped a bit. Then I did a bit of
scratching back with my Biro to enhance some lines and her hair.

7. Then I introduced coloured pencil marks when the piece was touch dry. This helped to spice up the value balance and add a varied mark to the oil brush-strokes.

8. Finally I added more wild strokes with my coloured pencil to spice up the background, so it would have a spontaneous effect that goes along with the title I planned to give the piece.

Thursday 8 April 2010

MISERY, 8" x 8", Mixed Media on Canvas Board, 2010

This is another transformation from black and white to colour, using no colour references but working from memory. What drew me to this man was his interesting features, even though his face looked a bit hardened, there was a bit of beauty in the midst of the storms. I sketched this guy on the 30th of March last month, so his features were still fresh in my mind.

I went about this piece, thus

1. Stain the canvas board with a mixture of burnt sienna and raw umber oil washes

2. When happy with the background staining. I sketch the face in, with my sable brush pointed to give delicate marks of precision.

3. I went on to finish the sketching with oil washes and some thicker paint in the lighter areas, keeping all my colours with a more tonal feel, something I planned to experiment upon.

4. When the oil dried up, I now tried something quite new, I worked back to get the drawing with a ball point pen(bic biro, as I normally call them)I did this also to create some textures and a "etchy feeling" to the surface.

5. After that, I used some brown coloured pencils to add some light and spontaneity to the face, just to create some mood as it was almost lacking a bit of spark.

6. Then it was time to quit before further ruins